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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Child 44 (2015)

889372DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa

CAST: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Fares Fares, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Charles Dance

REVIEW:

Adapting a book can be a tricky task; change too much and outrage its adherents, but follow the text too slavishly and risk a sluggish motion picture. Book and film are different mediums and should be treated as such.  With its myriad subplots and in-depth exploration of life in the 1950s Soviet Union, Tom Rob Smith’s best-selling historical crime novel (loosely inspired by the case of 1980s Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo) doesn’t lend itself to being inherently cinematic, and director Daniel Espinosa and screenwriter Richard Price’s attempt to bring it to the screen is sometimes murky, scattershot, and difficult to follow.  However, while a flawed film, Child 44 is not the outright disaster that its status as a dismal box office flop would indicate (the film barely played in only 500 theaters before quickly disappearing from them, delaying this review from its limited and short-lived theatrical release in April until it became available on DVD and online streaming in late July).  There’s still plenty of intrigue here, and for those interested in a murder mystery against the historical backdrop of the Stalin-era Soviet Union, Child 44 is worth giving a chance. Continue reading

Terminator: Genisys (2015)

genisysDIRECTOR: Alan Taylor

CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith, Byung-hun Lee

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL “SPOILERS” OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Much like several other once-mighty film franchises from the 1980s and 1990s, including the Alien and Predator series, the Terminator just doesn’t know when to quit.  1984’s The Terminator was a solid launching pad, and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, like its predecessor helmed by James Cameron, stands to this day as one of the best sci-fi action thrillers ever made, and represented the franchise at its peak.  Unfortunately, like Alien, everything was downhill after #2.  Cameron’s two installments told a self-contained story with a beginning and end.  Cameron moved on and Hollywood should have too, but as is so often the case, a property is never left well enough alone when studios smell profits to be made from an iconic brand name.  2003’s Rise of the Machines was serviceable diverting action entertainment but a marked step down, and 2009’s Terminator: Salvation was a superfluous side tangent to nowhere, and now in 2015, just when most people probably thought they’d heard the last of Terminators, the intrepid Connor clan, Judgment Day, and Skynet, Genisys has come along and attempted to bring things full circle by hearkening back to the glory days of the first two episodes.  Unfortunately, despite all its playing on nostalgia and callbacks, Genisys does not represent a return to form.  In fact, it’s a muddled and convoluted episode, marred by bad casting and questionable narrative choices, and comes across like mediocre fanfiction.  “Ah-nuld” may once again utter the words “I’ll be back”, but neither he nor the film makes that an exciting prospect.

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