LOGAN: The Death of the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

This is not a review, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of Gods, X-Men, Destiny, Time, Love, Storm, Rogue, Beauty… Comic Books.

Logan: The Death of a the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

…Or this is just me rambling on about movies and comic books as usual.

Logan (20th Century Fox)

Directed by James Mangold

Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green

Starring Hugh JackmanPatrick StewartRichard E. GrantBoyd HolbrookStephen Merchant & Dafne Keen

“I get the feeling this review is gonna hurt, kid. The kind of pain that doesn’t heal. You know what I mean?” “Of course I do. I’m extraordinarily wise for a lab experiment… oh yeah and I can drive.”

Make no mistake, people. Logan is not a good film. It’s not a good superhero film or a good western. Even as it tries to compare its own shit writing to the classic western Shane (SACRILEGE!!!), it is not a good movie, period. But what it is, what Logan turns out to be, is the latest in a welcome trend. A regular movie that just happens to star a comic book superhero. Not a superhero movie. Not a comic book movie. There are comic books in the movie. Wolverine waves them around from time to time, if that helps to put the character in context. But that’s about it. And it does not.

“You see, in this reality they made us into comic book superheroes for their kids but still hunted us down like dogs… because that makes total sense.”

Wolverine, everyone’s favorite X-Man, has had three solo movies. The first and the third have been complete bullshit. The second, however, is one of my favorite comic book movies of all-time. The second Wolverine is an homage to his stand alone title. It is a perfect replica. The pacing. The cinematography. This is The Wolverine. This is the comic that I collected from issue ONE. I say this all the time and I will say it here again. “If you do not respect the source material do not take on the job of bringing it to the screen.” But I was about to tell you what this awful movie Logan means for the industry.

“Awful? Well that’s just harsh. Play that Johnny Cash song again. I think I’m gonna cry.””

The first sci-fi genre was a straight space adventure. Trip To The Moon. The second was The vampire Film. Nosferatu. Since those two, we’ve had tons of space adventures and tons of takes on the vampire. These are tried and true genres that once every decade somebody tries to reinvent and breathe new life into. But also there are other types of movies that aren’t as flexible. They come and go from era to era. They disappear and have resurgences. Like the western or the gladiator movie. These are just types of movies not genres. (in this context anyway. Because words can be tricky)

“I will kill you all with my Star Wars Prequel Yoda-like, physics defying, aerial acrobatics because I am a cartoon character in a serious movie!!! ARRRGH!!!”

In the past, the superhero movie was a type. (type vs genre) It was a costumed adventure. Fight the bad guy. Save the girl. Save the world. Period. End of story. There were a few comedy bits thrown in but mostly it was the superhero’s tale. But these types of movies are coming to an end. Their time has passed. Logan is not a comic book movie. It just happens to star a character from a comic book. And that is awesome. (Even while the movie Logan is not that awesome).

“Say my movie is bad one more time. I dare you… Bub.” *snikt

Logan is not a western either, by the way. I read that somewhere. I disagree whole-heartedly. It thinks it’s a western, but it’s not. If anything it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story like Mad Max: Fury Road. But instead of a global apocalypse, Logan is about the mutant apocalypse. The chase to hunt down the last mutants. At the start of this movie all but three mutants are dead. Professor X, Callaban and Wolverine. By the end of this movie… no spoilers but everywhere you look people are saying this is the last Wolverine movie. This is the last Wolverine movie. So you figure it out. And don’t talk to me about the kids. They were made in a lab (*see note). So not a natural mutation. Logan, the end of the Wolverine franchise, is some dark stuff.

*note: Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was added in a lab but his mutation, his healing factor (Deadpool has the same thing but that too is from a lab) and Wolverine’s heightened senses (smell mostly) are a natural mutation. Of course the movie Logan all but ignores his sense of smell. It’s almost like the writers never read the comic books… but anyway. What was I saying? Oh yes.

“Wolverine, would you please tell Mel to stay on topic.” “He doesn’t listen to me, Professor.”

The comic book superhero is officially a film genre and not a type of movie now. And I know I’m not using the right words but bear with me. Because the word genre can fit for both of these categories of things and it gets confusing. The way I’m differentiating here is in the ways they can be presented. Some film types are the same no matter what. Different plot. Different characters. But you know the beats. Romantic Comedy. You get the gist. International Spy Thriller. You know what you’re going to get. Gladiator films changed from Roman to Martial Arts but they generally stayed the same. The Comic Book Movie was just like that not too long ago. Dark or Light. Marvel or DC. Nolan’s Batman, Donner’s Superman, Whedon’s Avengers and Raimi’s Spiderman are all the same fucking films. Like the western. It was a box. You could throw whatever superhero you wanted into it and the beats would always be generally the same. I’m not saying they are all the same quality because they are not. And there’s nothing wrong with opening up a box, knowing what you’re going to get and still being pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to like movies unless you’re okay with that.

“Wait… Are you the vampire, Callaban? And does that make me the Zombie? I don’t get it.”

But then you have the full on classic genre that’s not beholding to any style. Vampires. Are probably the best example. There are no rules. You can have a space opera with vampires. You can have a rom com with vampires or a western. Most recently Zombies have become the go to for putting them wherever the fuck you want. If you made a section of vampire movies it would make no sense. There would actually be more types of movies than you could shake a stick at under the vampire genre. Comic book superheroes are now officially crossing into that zone. And I’m psyched. The R rated comic book film with no crime to fight, no world to save… fuck yeah.

“Did somebody call for a super-villain? That isn’t really super or necessarily a villain. Just a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders. Did somebody call for a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders?”

And again I’m talking Sherlock Holmes in space type shit. Not just some detective. I’m talking about recognizable comic book superheroes in all kinds of movie boxes. Not just some generic superhero they made up that’s supposed to remind us of stuff from the comics, but the name-brand heroes from the comics. It’s time for a Batman movie where he never puts on the cape. Just a detective story or a revenge tale. One of my favorite aspects of The Hulk movie (still my favorite comic book adaptation) is the romance between Liv Tyler and Ed Norton. And that’s what the Hulk was for me when I was a kid, a romance. Stop trying to make him into a superhero. He’s not a superhero. He’s a monster in love. Spider-man as a teen drama would be nice. Sure he’s still the spider-man but that’s not the movie. The movie is about a kid trying to finish high school. Stop it with the super-villains. Enough already. We get it.

“Logan, do you remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Picard has a full life and grows old in a simulated tribute to an alien species?” “No I didn’t watch that nerd crap.” “I wish that was what this was. Because this movie is depressing as fuck.”

So anyway, what Logan represents to me is the death of the comic book movie. We saw the beginnings in Winter Soldier… that’s more of a spy thriller than comic book. And Deadpool… an R rated fourth wall comedy, a parody of itself. The comic book movie as movie type, is burning itself out. There will still be tons made, because you know how it takes Hollywood a couple of decades before they get the point, but we’re already getting tired of them. Bring on the comic book heroes in regular movies. These are great classic characters. They don’t have to fight The Riddler every week. That’s just their job. It doesn’t have to also be the movie plot.

“Here Lies The Superhero Movie Genre… I mean Movie Type… May It Rest In Peace… I mean Pieces. – Hugh Jackman.”

So Logan, this mediocre, unbelievably corny and poorly written take on The Wolverine, really wasn’t that great of a movie from where I was sitting (seat L10 right behind the wheelchair section because, you know, leg room ftw). Even though Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, here he reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back to play the Terminator one last time… nostalgic. And to tell the truth, I didn’t see Wolverine in Logan at all. I saw the actor who plays Wolverine and a character with claws who references the comic books like that’s enough. That’s not enough.

“Daddy?” “Yes Laura… wait. Did you just call me daddy? Damn, maybe Mel is right. This is some corny ass shit.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Hold it. We’re almost there.” “AARRRRGH!!” “Really? Again with the screaming?”

But what I also saw, in the theater, and on the screen, is what it means for comic book movies going forward… a whole new set of rules. The possibilities are endless. Creativity run amok. And that shit was better than the movie. That shit was beautiful.

– Mel

The Comic Book Movie is dead.

Long Live the Comic Book Genre.

Top 20 Biggest Cinematic Disappointments of 2015

Looking back over a year’s worth of Spared or Spoiled Reviews, I noticed that there were a lot more spoiled than there were spared. It’s not me, it’s the movies. There were a bunch of extremely disappointing movies in 2015.

So here are 20 movies I reviewed that weren’t up to snuff. I’ve arranged them in order of disappointment. With the movies I had high hopes for ahead of movies I had little hope for. With the movies that were very bad ahead of the movies that weren’t really that bad.

So I’ve ranked my disappointment, you see. You get it, right?

I also include a link for each one to my original review. If I don’t, just click on the title.

To the list…

My Top Twenty Biggest Cinematic Disappointments of 2015 

At number one is the only movie on the list I did not review but hated just the same… I mention it in my What’s Good post under the headline of What’s NOT so Good.

1. Chappie

Chappie is crappy

Chappie is crappy. And I wanted it to be good. I really did. I had high hopes for the director, Neil Blomkamp. I loved District 9 and Elysium wasn’t all that bad. But Chappie was in fact crappy.

2. Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending Poster

Again. I love the directors. I’m a big fan of The Wachovskis. Jupiter Ascending was complete garbage… in every way. Click on the title for my review.

3. Ted 2

Ted 2 Poster

The first Ted was very funny. The second Ted… not so much.

4. Get Hard

Get Hard Poster

I wasn’t expecting much from Get Hard but it is one of the worst movies of the year, so disappointing (by definition).

5. American Ultra

American Ultra Poster

I wanted American Ultra to be good… it was not. Click on the title for my review.

6. Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four Poster

Wow was I disappointed with Fantastic Four but I kind of knew going in that it wasn’t going to be that good. It was horrible.

7. Hot Pursuit


I knew this would be one of the worst movies I would ever see. I had no idea it would be the worst movies ever made. I wrote…”(Hot Pursuit) is bad in every way a movie can be bad and then it invents new ways to be bad.” Can’t wait for Hot Pursuit 2.

8. Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys Poster

I thought this would be a return to form for The Terminator franchise. Needless to say I was disappointed. But I didn’t spoil it. I invented a new category for it: UNSPOILED.

9. Run All Night

Run All Night

They should have just made this Taken 3. But it was just as bad.

10. Aloha

Aloha poster

I knew it was going to be bad and it was bad. Not disappointing. Just bad.

11. Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Poster

Tomorrowland was a big disappointment but the movie had its moments. Decent effects. A few great action sequences. Tomorrowland was bad but it wasn’t that bad.

12. The Voices


I knew nothing about The Voices going in but it was a little too much creepy for me and far too disturbing for its own good.

13. Jurassic World

Jurassic World Poster

What can I say about Jurassic World that I haven’t already said in my rant. You can find my rant here. It bothered me. It had its moments but it bothered me.

14. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman Poster

Wasn’t expecting a lot from Kingsman but I was hoping it would be fun and funny and exciting and cool. And it was none of those things. It was bad.

15. Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah poster

I saw this movie as a racist, ageist, sexist, horrendous political attack on science and Liberalism but maybe I was reading too far into it. Click on the title for my review .

16. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really wasn’t that bad. It just wasn’t that good. My disappointment was that it started so well and then went off on a tangent.

17. Cinderella

Cinderella Poster

Didn’t think anyone could screw up Cinderella… but they did.

18. Dope


This movie was too silly for me. It was about my people and it was just too silly. Great music though. Really great soundtrack. Click on the title for my review.

19. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

Here’s another one with great music but a disappointing movie. A great beginning but it loses its way halfway through. If only they had concentrated on the music more.

20. Paper Towns

Paper Towns Poster

As much as I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, I expected more from Paper Towns. It was cute and I loved the characters, I just didn’t believe HER as a character, or a love interest. And the story doesn’t work without her. I think I would have liked the book better.

And that was my list of disappointments.

There were more bad movies in my 2015 than I would have liked, but I still had fun reviewing them. Don’t get me wrong, my favorite reviews are the ones where I love the movie. Where I absolutely love the fuck out of it. Those are the most fun. But when a movie makes me angry, those can be fun too.

So here’s hoping that the movies of 2016 are either incredibly good… or hilariously and horrendously bad. No middle ground.

Raise you glasses in the air.



– Mel

What’s Good? (Early Summer)

Early Summer Edition

This installment of What’s Good? (my top ten things I’m enjoying at the moment) is mostly summer television with a few real life stuff thrown in for good measure. (Ha – for GOOD measure – get it?. Ha ha. GET IT?)

Orson Welles

I want to apologize to the regular readers of my blog. I’ve phoned it in this summer. My head and my heart have been elsewhere. I’ve written. I added Jimi Hendrix to my book. (Can I do that? I hope I don’t get sued) It’s literally a long story (I’m on a roll) but one of the characters keeps a skull on her desk. She calls it the skull of the last musician. (It’s a post apocalyptic future) And (long story short) she gains access to an alien regeneration facility and she clones the skull. (It’s less a clone as we know it and more of a recreation of the man before he died. Again long story) But I’ve been researching his interviews and trying to get his voice right. And I’ve been a little obsessed with it. It’s not a big part of the story. It’s just something that happens still I’ve tried to get it right. It’s a mad world.

To the list…


I’m glad you asked.

The 100

The 100 is pretty good. The first season is very exciting but I really enjoyed the second season of this post apocalyptic, young adult, action-drama about the survivors of a global nuclear apocalypse who have lived for generations on an orbiting space station before falling to earth. The first season moves so fast and the changes are drastic and quick and nobody is safe. It’s crazy. But during the second season, a more down-to-earth season, The 100 settles in for lots of political intrigue and survival action and coolness. A bunch of cool characters doing a lot of cool shit. It’s not sensational but it’s loads of fun and the cast is all good-looking and the main character is a serious bad-ass. I love her.

jonathan strange and mr norell

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is weirdly good. I like to think of Strange and Norrell as a prequel to the world of Harry Potter. It is about the return of magic to Great Britain. Very interesting. Very atmospheric. Some pretty cool effects and creepy mysticism and magic. A period piece where magic is accepted by the government and the society. A very dark and funny show. Six, creatively dense and magical episodes. Creepy good.


Museum Trips are really good. My next museum trip will probably be to the Natural History Museum on the west side of the park. I really enjoyed my trip to The Cloisters and my trip to The Met. I finally got out of the house for more than a quick excursion to the movies (from my home to a dark theater and back really shouldn’t count as leaving the house). I took a lot of pictures (see I have proof that I left the house). I’m keeping my promise to spend more time outside my comfort zone this year. Wish me luck.


The Mets Pitching is astonishingly good. I can’t believe the Mets are doing as well as they are with the line-up they have but they’re solidly in the race. It’s been too long since we’ve had a good team in Queens. So long I’ve forgotten what one looks like. And make no mistake, this is not a good Mets team but the Mets pitching staff is Amazin’ (I’m talking Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman good). All of their starters can hit like sluggers as well as pitch like aces. They have a pretty decent bullpen and one of the best closers in the game. All they need to do now is pick up a veteran right-handed power hitter and these Metsies will be a force with which to be reckoned.

Let’s Go Mets!


Mr. Robot is sensationally good. I fucking love this show. If you haven’t seen it yet, try to catch up quick. This is pure cyberpunk. The smartest computer hacking ANYTHING, TV, movie whatever, I have ever seen. Smart, funny, cool, very fucking cool. Fantastic direction that feels like a 70’s hacker thriller about the future. Except the future is today. So everything is just state of the art but with this futuristic cyberpunk feel. I hope I’m not explaining this badly because it is incredible. There is nothing sci-fi about this show (so far). There is nothing futuristic yet the direction and camera work are retro. Making it feel like you’re watching some future shit but it’s in the present day.

Mr Robot

The story is good. The lead character has a hard time interacting with people so he hacks anyone with which he has to talk. He data-mines people’s lives and social media to understand them and gain the upper hand. The acting is good (except for Christian Slater. I’ve never liked that guy) There’s cool tech and all that good stuff. But just based on the way it is shot, this retro-future-present feel, that I’m doing a bad job of explaining, just based on that, it is my favorite thing on TV now. My absolute favorite. (with Halt and Catch Fire a close second)

The Last Ship

The Last Ship is satisfying-ly good. I loved the first season of this (yet another) post-apocalyptic drama. This one takes place after a disease outbreak that kills half the world’s population. One American battleship survives the outbreak and so the show is very Naval and military. I enjoy military shows when they’re done well. And this one is done very well. Not the best acting but a lot of great action and suspense. (It’s Michael Bay) It reminds me of Star Trek except the ship is a boat and not a star-ship. That’s how I look at it. The Last Ship is Star Trek for the ocean. And each season, so far, has had a kick-ass big bad. Last year it was a Russian destroyer. This year it’s a hijacked British submarine. If you’re not totally turned off by military or nautical adventures, The Last Ship is pretty damn good.

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is dark and sickly good. I love this show. I loved the second season more than the first. And I really loved the first season. I like the evolution of Billie Piper’s character a lot. If you don’t know, Penny Dreadful is the story of all the classic literary monsters in one place and at one time solving crimes or something. The show is a period piece. It’s very sexy. It’s very creepy. And dark. With Victor Frankenstein and his family (the monster, the bride), Vampires, Dorian Gray. But it ain’t hokey. It takes itself very seriously while being the story of all these campy movie monsters. And I love that.

Episode 101

But my favorite thing about it was when I realized that Josh Hartnett (minor spoiler but not really) wasn’t playing a werewolf. He’s the Wolfman. He’s the motherfucking Wolfman. That made me so happy. So please please please have Abbott and Costello show up in season three. PLEEEEEEEEEASE. Just a cameo. I’m completely serious. They are the glue that would tie it all together. Please. Pretty please. Abbott & Costello.

Marriage Equality is all kinds of good. This is old news now but finally America joined the 21st century when it comes to equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. It’s about damn time. And except for a couple of bigots in the south digging in it’s going well.

True Detective Season Two

True Detective Season Two is actually pretty good. Say what you want, I’m liking this season of True Detective better than the first season. Honestly. I like the cast better this time around. I like the story better. I like the setting better. It feels like the old L.A. detective stories and it hasn’t put me to sleep. The first season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson was really good but I had to watch every episode twice because I would usually fall asleep somewhere in the middle. Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell are amazing. And even Vince Vaughn is growing on me. Loving it. And this last episode was off the hook. Action packed. Wow.


Dark Matter is a very good deep space drama based on a comic book. I love the sci-fi. I grew up on the sci-fi. But I can’t stand bad sci-fi. Most of the shows that embrace the genre are pretty damn bad. (More on that in a moment) But there are pleasant exceptions. I love Defiance. I still love Falling Skies. And after four episodes, I’m getting into Humans but I’m not quite sold yet. However, my favorite summer sci-fi show this year is a little show out of Canada called Dark Matter (on the SyFy channel). It’s a space adventure about six people and one android who wake up in deep space with no memory of their pasts. They assign numbers to themselves in the order they woke up. They pretty quickly identify each crew members strengths and fall into their obvious roles. Never really trusting, but needing each other to survive. It’s a nice story.

Dark Matter

And they don’t drag out the secret too long. They discover who they are pretty early on but they don’t know “those” people. Their real selves. They have no memory of them. Just strangers with their faces. So they decide to continue as One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and the android. I really like this show. Please watch it. It’s like what you’d get if Firefly and the A-team had a baby with amnesia. Check it out.

Also check out this Suicide Squad teaser trailer with Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto. I think it looks promising.

And now… for everything there is a dark side.


Summer Sci-fi Shows are traditionally not so good. (Extant, Killjoys, Dominion, Hannibal) Honestly guys It’s not enough to have some special effects and pretty actors and to air your show on date nights (when all the nerds are home). You have to have a story to tell and not just a premise to slowly roll out. And a mystery to tease.

Halle Berry Extant

Extant was actually pretty interesting the first season but instead of expounding on that, they fired half the cast and changed the whole damn thing. Like saying, all we need is Halle Berry. The nerds will keep watching. No. No we won’t. It looks to me like they’re trying to change a sci-fi mystery show about a woman giving birth to an alien into a futuristic procedural.


Killjoys is a horribly cheesy premise with a mediocre cast that benefits from being sandwiched between two good Friday SyFy shows. But it sucks. Most of all the acting. And the writing. And everything else about it. It just sucks. Something about bounty hunters or contract killers. Whatever. I just hope its stench doesn’t rub off on Dark Matter. Dark Matter is really fucking good.

Dominion SyFy

With Dominion I’m trying. I really am. I sort of liked the first season but I think I liked the sexiness of the angel Michael and also the general’s daughter. She’s a hottie too. So maybe it was the hotness of the cast that got me. But the story and the acting and the accents (I love you Anthony Stewart Head but your American accent is so very bad) make me want to give up on it. I’m pretty close to giving up on this show. Pretty close.


And lastly Hannibal. Listen. The reason I mention these shows is because I can’t help but watch them. These shows are made for me and my ilk. And I want them to be good. I want to like them because I want the powers that be to make more shows like this. Like Hannibal. I want to like Hannibal but that show is so far up its own ass it can see what it had for dinner last night. Honestly, the food is the best part of this convoluted and pretentious piece of crap. And I know the food is suppose to creep us out because he’s a cannibal or whatever. But it just makes me hungry. It looks so good. I’ve mentioned this before but I wanted Hannibal to be the anti-hero if not the hero proper. They make him completely unlikable. And it’s because in the first book he is the bad guy. And this series is based on the first book. I wanted something else. Hannibal is not enjoyable for me but I keep watching anyway. I heard they cancelled it. I’m not too sad about that.

I keep watching these crappy sci-fi shows but I can’t just watch them in silence. Mostly I yell at the screen saying, “Oh my god. That’s horrible. That’s so bad. Why am I watching this crap? Why, Mel? Why?”

I’ll tell you why. Because…

Summer DVDs

Summer DVDs are also notoriously not so good. I have a bunch of mini reviews in a folder. So I think I’ll throw them up here soon. I haven’t seen a good movie on home video yet this summer. I was waiting for a good one to come along before posting a 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New Releases for summer (yeah I was going to bring that back) but I’m up to six with nothing good in sight. I think I’ll post that next. They might be bad movies but a few were at least interesting (Slow West, The Voices)

And that’s all I got.

Quick Note. I really like getting nominated for those blog awards but I am the absolute worst at talking about myself without something to hide behind. Some device. Some gimmick. So it’s not like I ignore them. I actually try to write something and just get frustrated. I thought about doing one with just music. Ten songs that define or describe me. I found a good ten. But that wasn’t going well. So I whittled the list down. I had a seven and a five and I still may post one of those but at one point I cut it down to one song. I’m gonna post that here.

It’s Mayonaise by Smashing Pumpkins.

Fool enough to almost be it
Cool enough to not quite see it
Pick your pockets full of sorrow
And run away with me tomorrow, June?
We’ll try and ease the pain
But somehow we’ll feel the same.
Well, no one knows
Where our secrets go.

I send a heart to all my dearies
When your life is oh, so dreary… dream.

I’m rumored to the straight and narrow
While the harlots of my perils SCREAM.

And I fail.
But when I can, I will.
Try to understand
That when I can, I will.

Mother’s weep the years I’m missing
All our time can’t be given back.

Shut my mouth and strike the demons
That cursed you and your reasons.
Out of hand and out of season
Out of love and out of feeling SO BAD.
When I can, I will
Words defy the plans.
When I can, I will

Fool enough to almost be it
And cool enough to not quite see it.
And old enough to always feel this
Always old, I’ll always feel this!

No more promise no more sorrow
No longer will I follow
Can anybody hear me?
When I can, I will.
Try to understand
That when I can,

I will.

If I don’t say it enough,

I love you guys.

Until next time,

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Terminator – Genisys

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Terminator: Genisys (Paramount Pictures)

Terminator Genisys Poster

Directed by Alan Taylor

Written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier  Based on Characters by James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd

Starring Arnold SchwarzeneggerJason ClarkeEmilia ClarkeJai CourtneyJ. K. SimmonsDayo OkeniyiMatt SmithCourtney B. Vance & Lee Byung-hun

I have to be honest. The first two Terminator movies are among my top twenty films of all-time. I loved the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show and wished Fox had had more faith in it. But having said that, I’ve hated every other Terminator movie. T3, Salvation… garbage. So when I read that this film would be ignoring those others and going back to the original timeline, I was stoked. My excitement was misguided. Terminator: Genisys is a re-write of the Terminator storyline using convoluted time paradoxes and clever call-backs to those first two films. However, Emilia Clarke is not Linda Hamilton (nor Lena Headey). She is awful. The very clever nods to the original film only serve to point out that Alan Taylor is no James Cameron. And for some reason they think they have to stop the action every few minutes to explain the next new time paradox to us. The pacing and direction is horrible. The writing is decent but the performances are so hackneyed they make the dialogue seem stupid. It’s Sci-Fi. You’ve gotta sell it. But then there’s Arnold. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s back. And he is fucking amazing in this movie. The best part of Terminator: Genisys is Mr. Schwarzenegger. Hands down (put your hands down). But it is not enough to save this bland and boring, over-written, action sequel.

Verdict: SPOILED but wait. Don’t go yet. I’m not going to spoil this one. The plot is so convoluted, you wouldn’t believe me anyway. So I’m introducing a third category for bad movies that I don’t actually want to spoil and I’m calling it… UNSPOILED.



UNSPOILER ALERT <<<<< this means nothing by the way

I wanted so much to like this movie. I really did. Can we talk about Emilia Clarke though? I love my Khaleesi. The woman is gorgeous. And although she makes a rather tiny Sarah Connor, I was hoping she would fill those shoes. Those kick-ass female action star shoes. She does not. She is whiny and she over-acts with her eyebrows. Her performance is clunky and it made me miss Linda and Lena a lot.

Emilia Clarke

Can we talk about the director though? Alan Taylor is a television director who, after working on several successful TV shows (including Game of Thrones), directed Thor: The Dark World. He does not have big theater pacing. He has television pacing. And that’s fine for… television. The early call-backs to the original Terminator film brought a huge smile to my face. “Wash day tomorrow. Nothing clean right?” “What day is it? What year?” I was ready for a respectful return to the early glory days of the series. But the best scenes in Genisys are the ones stolen directly from the original movie (shot for shot). James Cameron’s expert action movie pacing and editing is nowhere to be found rest of the way.

Arnold Schwarzeneggar as The Terminator

Can we talk about the music though? Seriously. The music is awful. Boring. Filled with tension when there is none on the screen. Needle drops of songs that are far too on-the-nose or worse, completely pointless. And creepy orchestral pieces that belong in a cheesy horror movie and not a sci-fi action adventure. More evidence that this director was not ready for this assignment. They keep giving him big-budget blockbusters. After two lackluster outings, he still isn’t ready.

Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor Terminator Genisys

Can we talk about the plot though? Time travel creates problems and there will always be plot-holes. It wouldn’t be time travel without plot-holes. But stop explaining to us how paradox works. At one point John Connor states that the principal characters (him, his mom, his dad, the original terminator) are outside of time and unable to change the future. It is the smartest line of dialogue in the movie but his theory is dismissed quickly. Characters from a future that didn’t happen running around in the past trying to effect change and feeling that very change personally (in real-time) is the biggest plot-hole in the history of time travel. Did you learn nothing from Back to the Future. I get that time travel is hard to write but c’mon you can’t have it both ways. The way they rewrite the Terminator story in Genisys destroys the story, its history and its characters. And they stop to explain Time Travel so often that the movie even ends on a convoluted and unnecessary explanation of Time Travel. “Can you send this message to the me that won’t exist in your future… K. Thanks. Bye.” (not actual dialogue from the movie)

Terminator Genisys J K Simmons

Can we talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger though?  Arnold really shines in this film. It’s the role that made him a huge action star. It’s good to see him back at it and he returns to it with fervor and gusto. Humor and heart. He is really impressive. He is amazing. Also J.K. Simmons does a great job as that cop who encounters our heroes in the 80’s and then again in 2017. The two best things about the film are Simmons and Schwarzenegger. But they are not enough to save it from the other bad actors on the screen.

Arnold being Arnold in Terminator Genisys

Terminator: Genisys is not enjoyable. Actually it’s rather boring. And it reminded me a lot of the other big sequel this summer, Jurassic World. It’s a nice bit of nostalgia. Familiar monsters in familiar situations doing familiar things… but in a pretty terribly made and shitty movie. Sorry. I really wanted to like this one. I didn’t.

Happy July 4th Americans (and you Brits as well but for much different reasons)

Until next time,

– Mel