Terminator Genisys (2015)

He said he would be back.

He said he would be back.

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint- it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, time-y wimey…stuff.”

Doctor Who

I should thank the film Terminator Genisys, since I have been waiting to use that quote in a review for some time (I am a huge fan of Doctor Who).

This was actually the first Terminator film I saw in theaters (I was not born when the first came out, only four when the second was out, and have yet to see the other films). I did not have much hope for this film (I feel it should have ended after T2: Judgement Day, arguably one of the best sequels ever made). Half way through the film, I realized I was right, but I also came to the conclusion that I wish I was wrong.

The movie does have its positive aspects, the main one being that, in his late 60s (!), Arnold Schwarzenegger still has the ability to kick butt and take no prisoners. His character assures us that he is “old, not obsolete”, and his actions more than back that line up. He stars as the latest Terminator, (the credits show him as “Guardian”). The rest of the cast do the best they can, but really, the fault here is the script. I will not describe it entirely, because I am still confused by it. All I will say is that it makes the other films seem unimportant.

I am always ok with films that make you think a lot (“Minority Report“, “Inception“, “Memento“), but it has to be fun to think a lot about the film. Terminator Genisys had too many issues that made it hard for me to like it (mainly the choice of a villain, which I thought was a huge let down).

Parents, the film is PG-13 (obvious that there is violence and swearing, and a little sexual stuff), but I would not take kids to see this unless they have at least seen the first two films, which were stand alone films by themselves. Have them see those films (when they are old enough, of course). Those are what film goers will love to remember most of all, and what Arnold was, and always will be, most famous for.

Overall: Two Stars **

San Andreas (2015)

Dwayne Johnson is the one unbreakable "rock" in "San Andreas".

Dwayne Johnson is the one unbreakable “rock” in “San Andreas”.

Poor San Francisco.

Just one year after Godzilla destroyed you (well, not on purpose), you are now vulnerable to an earthquake in San Andreas. I for one think San Francisco deserves a romantic comedy or drama now.

San Andreas stars Dwayne Johnson (you know, “The Rock”) as Ray, a search and rescue pilot. He is getting over the loss of one of his daughters, and is in the process of divorcing his wife Emma (Carla Gugino). She is moving in with a “seemingly” nice guy named Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd). Riddick is taking Ray’s other daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) to college. Meanwhile, a Geology professor (the always good Paul Giamatti) has discovered a way to finally detect earthquakes before they happen. Sadly, he discovers this just as the earthquake that will “be felt on the east coast” begins.

I am not one who approves of talking much in movies, but sometimes, when a movie is so predictable, I can’t help myself. For example, just before the earthquake hits, Blake will meet Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), a one in a million guy who you would be a fool to think they won’t eventually fall for each other. He is traveling to San Francisco with his little brother Ollie (a good scene stealing young actor named Art Parkinson) from England.

The special effects are kind of cool to look at, but nothing we have not seen in other disaster movies. There were times I was thinking this movie should have almost been made on the Syfy station on TV (and you are talking here to a fan of Sharknado, people).

One of the things that disappointed me the most was Dwayne Johnson. He truly is a good, overlooked actor. Audiences (myself included) love to see him lay the smackdown (yeah, I watch wrestling from time to time), but, now, in his forties, we can start to maybe see him getting a little deeper with his characters.

Parents, there is some swearing and (obvious) violence, but no real sexual content (despite some cleavage). I would say middle school and above would be fine seeing it. Keep in mind, there are better movies out there. San Andreas is not a terrible film, but a forgettable one.

A while ago, I saw an old movie from the 1930s called San Francisco that was based on an actual earthquake (with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy). Now I have seen San Andreas. Wow, have times changed.

Overall: Two Stars **

Tomorrowland (2015)

Disney's TOMORROWLAND..Casey (Britt Robertson) ..Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015

Casey, played by Britt Robertson, visits Tomorrowland.

The trailer for Tomorrowland gave me hopes of a sleeper hit for the summer, but left me with a distaste in my mouth.

While the movie has great visuals, you would expect the film (directed by Brad Bird, who turned down the new Star Wars film to make this one) to spend much time in Tomorrowland, but you don’t. It also manages to deliver a message that has been given to us in other (and better) films: we decide our future as humans.

The film opens up as a monologue (that is interrupted, confusing me a bit). We see a young Frank Welker (Thomas Robinson) at the 1964 Worlds Fair. He is greeted by Athena (a very talented Raffey Cassidey), who introduces him to Tomorrowland. The narrating then shifts to present day where we meet Casey (Britt Robertson), who is arrested after trying to stop the destruction of a launch site. One thing that confused me a great deal was Casey’s age: I was not sure if she was in High School or College (Robertson in real life is 25).

She eventually meets up with Athena (who we learn is a robot) and they meet up with the grown up Frank Welker (George Clooney) as they search for another way back to Tomorrowland. We also meet Nix, played by Hugh Laurie, who has fun asking how the human race could have obesity and starvation happening at the same time.

If you saw the trailer for this film, and were expecting a lot of futuristic art work and CGI, I must sadly tell you there is not much of it. I admit sometimes I like it when a movie is not like the trailer (I thought of the underrated Bridge to Terabithia), but not here. I see a futuristic city in a film’s trailer, I expect a good amount of that futuristic city to be in the film. There are two cool scenes on earth, however, involving a Sci-Fi shop and a house booby-trapped to perfection.

Parents, there is some swearing, and some action/scary moments that I feel may be too much for anyone pre kindergarden. Sadly, the film won’t appeal much to anyone over the age of thirteen or fourteen either. I do agree with the lesson of the movie, but not how it was told (nor, for that matter, how long it took to tell it. At just over two hours, it felt like it lasted for three).

Overall: Two Stars **

Home (2015)

Some animated movies are just good enough for a Friday night family time, but are not remembered in the next few months (or even weeks). Sadly, Home falls into this category.

It starts out showing us a fleet of some of the most cuddly creatures since Gizmo in Gremlins. These are the Boov, and they have one thing they do better than any other: run away. One of the most enthusiastic of them is Oh (Jim Parsons). We learn he is called Oh because that is the response everyone gives him when he greets them. The Boov conduct what is undoubtably the nicest invasion of earth in recent memory: they take all humans and transport them to another place (Australia, which I may be wrong, but can that hold all the people of earth?) They then stay until the monster (the Gorg) finds them, and they run again.

Oh, oblivious to the fact that he annoys people, accidently sends a message to the whole universe inviting him to his house party. This includes the Gorg, which means all the other Boov chase him to make him pay for his mistake. Their leader is the zany Captain Smek (Steve Martin).  To escape, Oh hitches a ride with a girl left behind named Gratuity (nicknamed Tip), voiced by Rihanna. She is on a search for her mom (Jennifer Lopez).

The vocal work by the actors is decent (mainly Jim Parsons, who is good at playing the outcast as he has shown on the TV show The Big Bang Theory). It delivers some small laughs (such as Oh saying he has to go number three). The movies message is clear: don’t runaway from your problems. However, it is portrayed rather weakly here mainly due to the story. It is based on the book “The True Meaning of Smekday”, which is a better title. I am not bashing movies with one title (something Hitchcock loved to do so the audience could remember the name easier), but Home? I had a problem even remembering it before I saw the movie.

Parents, this movie is fine for any age, but the main thing it lacks is any nourishment or wit for anyone over the age of 8. I think of the quote from Jerry Seinfeld: “Nothing in life is ever fun for the whole family”. While I know there are many movies that can be good for everyone in the family (E.T., Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Toy Story, etc), Home does not work for every member of the family.

Overall: Two Stars **

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” does what it was meant to do: bring a rousing conclusion to a trilogy released in three years. The problem is that there are not as many characters to care about as we did in the first LOTR trilogy. Yes the special effects are impressive, but through the battle, I got a sense of “been there, done that”.

For those who are not familiar with “The Hobbit”” movies, this third film is about the end of the adventure of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, who does a wonderful job here). He has been accompanied by a handful of dwarves, led by their king Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage, who does well in the movies, despite some bits of overacting at times). There is also the familiar Gandalf the Grey (Ian Mckellan), who does what he can to restore peace between the dwarves and the elves before they go to war.

One of the biggest problems with the three movies this time around is the story. It is not that there isn’t one, but it is too layered and confusing. The original three movies had a simple aspect: take the ring and destroy it. This time, they throw in too much that I don’t even remember from the book (which I enjoyed more so than any of the books from the original trilogy). This includes an elf played by Evangeline Lilly, and Orlando Bloom returning as Legolas, which was not from the book. It is a shame that they wanted to make three movies, I admit, all due to trying to make more money. I still feel this should have been one movie.

Parents, this movie is fine for kids if you know they have seen at least one of the other films (although if they have seen at least one of the films, they probably have seen them all to avoid confusion). There is violence, of course, but not too horrible.

In short, fanboys will love the film, I am sure. As for me, I remember when the original films came out, and I felt the need to watch the previous one to catch me up and get me in the mood for the new one. I did not feel that same magic with “The Hobbit” films.

Overall: 2 Stars **