May 2009 Movie Madness! Wolverine, Star Trek, & Terminator
What a wonderful month this has been for movies! I am an avowed cinephile, as I have frequently stated. I love most every type of movie, depending on my mood, but proudly proclaim that I am a huge fan of the so-called “popcorn” action flicks that hit hard in the summer months. Too often they are disappointing in some way even if entertaining – cheesy special effects or a dumb plot line – or something I am just not all that wild about. Last summer THE MOVIE for me was Iron Man. I still think that movie totally ROCKED!!!! When one sees a movie as fantastic as Iron Man – and I should add Twilight, although it isn’t precisely in the popcorn realm – it can almost be scary to get one’s hopes up for something as wonderful. The disappointment is then especially acute. Therefore I entered the May launch of summer blockbusters with tremendous excitement but a healthy does of trepidation. After all, we had 3 movies offering new takes of 3 of my favorite franchises of all time. I adore serials – big surprise there! – but at times a good thing should be left alone. Can we say an Amen to the latter 3 Star Wars.
So first there was Wolverine. Now, I am not a Marvel/DC aficionado, so I had no expectations regarding story line nor could I care less if the back-story to my personal favorite X-Man followed the “canon” of comic-book lore. I just wanted to watch a kick-butt action flick that complimented the previous X-Men movies, all of which I really enjoyed. Well, I got that in spades!
Additionally, much to my happiness, it was also a tightly woven story that not only answered many of the Wolverine origin questions opened previously, but it introduced more interesting mutants to the mix. Sure some of the special effects were a bit over the top, even for super-powered mutants, but I can live with that. Especially when you have one of the finest specimens of manhood on today’s movie scene, the scrumptious Hugh Jackman, dashing about in states of partial and complete lack of clothing for a goodly portion of the 2+ hours! Who notices a plot hole when Hugh is flexing his perfectly defined pecs and scowling with those incredible eyes? Not me!
Yet despite that admittedly shallow attitude, it truly was a great movie. Don’t listen to the critics who, as I know all too well, relish finding fault with everything fun. Wolverine is a must-see on the big screen and well worth the bucks.
Next up was the newest Star Trek cleverly titled…. Star Trek. Now, a bit of history: I was too young to remember the original series, believe it or not! I have caught a few episodes in syndication now and again, but my love affair and initiation into the Trekker world really began with the movies, especially The Wrath of Khan – definitely on my personal Top 10 Sci-fi movie favs of all time – and then with the TV series Next Generation and later on Voyager. I grew to love Spock, Kirk, Bones, et al in their older incarnations.
Not all the movies have been that great, nor have the other series captivated me. Nevertheless, I consider myself a Trekker so like many fans of the franchise I simultaneously groaned and cheered when I heard another Star Trek movie was to be made. Frankly, I think I groaned, the cheering only occurring when I learned, 1) It was being written and directed by JJ Abrams, who I believe is a Genius, 2) It was going waaayy back to the beginning, and 3) Zachary Quinto was cast as Spock! I knew right then that I would be there as close to opening day as possible. But even with that and with all the articles I read, I was still a bit nervous and prepared to be disappointed.
Well, all fears were eliminated within the first 15 minutes, even before James Tiberius Kirk was born amid a mind-stunning action sequence that saw the original Enterprise destroyed! Could it keep up the momentum? YES!!! I just can’t say enough how stunning this movie was. BLOODY FREAKIN’ AWESOME! I shall say it again: JJ Abrams is a genius. I do not want to give anything away, story-wise, but let’s just say that he managed to reset the entire franchise and place it on a course that with careful handling should keep Gene Roddenberry’s vision alive for another 40 years.
Every last actor was perfect. Zachary Quinto of Heroes fame was so amazing as a younger Spock that it was eerie. Like he truly had mind-melded with Leonard Nimoy – still awesome himself at 70-someodd years and playing older-Spock in a terrific twist that should have been stupid but SO wasn’t. I really expected to cringe when Scotty yelled, “I’m giving her all she’s got Captain!” and Bones grumpily muttered, “Dammit Jim! I’m a doctor not a physicist!” – but I clapped and whooped instead because it was so wonderfully executed. The Star Trek geek alive and well within my soul was 100% satisfied. But what is even more fantastic and, yes I’ll say it yet again – genius – is that a person could watch this movie having lived in a cave for the past 40 years with no idea who Spock is and absolutely love it. It was sci-fi at the pinnacle of what sci-fi is supposed to be.
After the sheer bliss that was Star Trek, I was really afraid to get my hopes up for Terminator Salvation. Here again I readily admit that I am a devoted Terminator fan. I loved every movie, although the original is arguably the best, and thoroughly enjoyed the Sarah Connor Chronicles which I just learned, sadly, has been cancelled. Sob It made such an impact on me when it was released in 1984 that I can vividly remember exactly where I was, whom I was with, and how I felt when I saw it the first time. My husband and I so loved that movie, and so loved Michael Beihn’s character that we decided to name our son Kyle! I have watched the movies so many times that I can quote them. Everything I saw or read regarding the new movie impressed me and eased my mind that they weren’t going to mess it up too badly. I was especially stoked by the casting of Christian Bale as the iconic warrior and savior of mankind, John Connor. Those are some big shoes to fill, but Christian is an actor with the gravitas to do it.
So today we went to see it, not sure what to expect since the stupid critics – who really should quit reviewing movies altogether since they pretty much universally hate everything – were not overly favorable. Once again their flawless streak of knowing absolutely nothing holds, because this was a fantastic movie! We were blown away and so was every last person in the theater.
You had action galore. James Cameron must be so proud at the handling of his masterpiece. The writers of this installment went back to Cameron’s drawing board, largely ignoring the second and third movies. The influence both visually and in the story was strongly of the original. In fact, we even got an obviously digitalized but uber-cool visit from Arnold as the prototype T-800. The post-Judgment Day devastation and ensuing war were right out of Cameron’s glimpses in Terminator and enhanced to greater bone-chilling proportions. The themes of humanity surviving, love, and redemption were never overshadowed by the guns and bombs. And I have to add that I have seen few special effects movies that were this well done. I lost count of the number of times I jumped and gasped! No matter where you may sit on the Terminator-fence, big fan or just a so-so enthusiast, this is the type of movie, like Star Trek and Wolverine, that defines what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be. And it further proves that sequels can be continually made that are just as incredible. I like that fact!