The Morning After: Jul. 6, 2015

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Terminator Genisys

Built largely on the events of the original 1984 Terminator, Genisys sees a victory for future forces against Skynet, the pervasive A.I. computer network hell-bent on preserving itself against interference by humans. As these forces destroy Skynet, a Terminator (a visual effects-derived version of 1980’s Arnold Schwarzeneggar) is sent into the past to kill Sarah Connor (originally played by Linda Hamilton, now played by Emilia Clarke). Future John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends back his second-in-command Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) after this Terminator, but discovers someone else has sent further impediments, forcing all involved to try to unravel and thwart Skynet’s new plans.

I was never a fan of Schwarzeneggar, but I cannot imagine this franchise without him. Because of his position as Governor of the state of California, he was not able to appear in the fourth film of the franchise, but has returned as an aged version of his character from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the non-lethal Terminator sent to protect Sarah and not kill her. This is the element in which Schwarzeneggar thrived in the 1980’s, though he may be as creaky as his edifice in this film, he performs better than his two-dimensional counterparts.

Courtney doesn’t play a very convincing romantic lead. Emilia Clarke does all the heavy lifting in the relationship. Meanwhile, Jason Clarke (no relation to Emilia) lays his villainy on thick, a fact revealed in the trailer, but not obvious early in the film. These three actors have all been better elsewhere, though in the case of Courtney, that betterness hasn’t been by much.

The effects are terrific and the familiar music cues are there, but a lot of what made those original films so captivating was a sense of awe in terms of effects, photography, music and sound. Much of what’s here is old hat by now with the photography and music significantly sub-par. The one thing I can give the film credit for is a faithful, detailed and layered script. It considers time travel and heeds the potential paradoxes mucking with it can cause, though some of the explanations are a bit troubling.

The Human Centipede

Because the images available aren’t the kinds I would want to post, I’ll leave this pictureless for now. This is a film that requires a great deal of mental fortitude to watch. An iron stomach will only help you for small portions of the film, but being able to endure common horror tropes with a sick twist is what you need most.

A German doctor famous for his successful separation of conjoined twins has a dark, disturbed fantasy of joining patients that were not previously conjoined. Using his expertise, he abducts a number of strangers to turn into a three-person human centipede. His work is nearly successful if not for the continued refusal of his patients to accept their fate and a pair of detectives working a trio of missing persons cases.

If you’ve read anything about the film, you already know the twist, but it’s not the twist itself that allows the film to work within its own twisted framework. Take away the centipede concept and you have a bargain basement horror film that might have found popularity on home video in the 1980’s, just by happenstance. Today, the “have you seen it” model works supremely well for selling the film even if it’s neither special, nor original in terms of cinematic devices. What you expect to happen generally does.

There are some clever shifts in perception that lead the audience astray, but leaps of logic are required to believe half the plot devices on display. This is the kind of movie you want to see just out of curiosity, but ultimately wonder why you exerted any effort to see it.

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