Disney announces release dates for upcoming MCU Phase 4 movies and Disney+ shows

Marvel StudiosOkay, deep breath. Thanos is snapped away along with his minions, and Ironman (luv u 3000) is hanging out with his daughter in the Soul Stone.

That’s the past. It’s time to create new stories, heroes, villains and get the MCU Phase 4 underway.

Here’s the movie/TV lineup Disney has announced:

2020

black-widow-may-2020May 1st, 2020 – Black Widow

What we know so far: the story takes place between the events of Civil War and Infinity War.

Stars: of course, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, and also introducing Florence Pugh (Angela in Malevolent, Saraya Knight in Fighting with My Family) as Yelena Belova, David Harbour (Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, Dexter Tolliver in Suicide Squad) as Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff…and oh yeah, this guy named Robert Downey Jr. may have a cameo as Tony Stark.

eternalsNovember 6, 2020 – The Eternals

What we know so far: It introduces the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

Stars: Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden (Robb Stark in GOT) as Ikaris, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Gemma Chan (Astrid Young Teo in Crazy Rich Asians) as Sersi, Kit Harington (Jon Snow in GOT) as Dane Whitman, Kumail Nanjiani (Stu inStuber, in Silicon Valley) as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff (Connie in The Walking Dead) as Makkari, Barry Keoghan (George in Dunkirk) as Druig, Brian Tyree Henry (Jefferson Davis in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) as  Phastos, Lia McHugh (Jessica Nolan in American Woman) as Sprite, and Dong-seok Ma (Sang-hwa in Train to Busan) as Gilgamesh.

falcon-and-winter-soldier-show-disney-plusNovember 12, 2020: The Falcon and Winter Soldier on Disney+

What we know: Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale) will direct all six episodes of the series.

Stars: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will officially reprise their roles as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Daniel Bruhl and Emily VanCamp will both be joining the cast — reprising the roles they played in Captain America: Civil War.

2021

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsFebruary 12, 2021 – Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

What we know: an introduction of the Marvel Comics character Shang-Chi the Kung-Fu Master. In the comics Shang Chi’s main power was really just a skill: the ability to rapidly master forms of combat. Although in later years, he did gain the power to replicate himself, which could come in handy. It’s unknown if the MCU will duplicate that power from the comics.

Stars: Simu Liu as Shang-Chi and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as The Mandarin.

wandavisionSpring 2021: WandaVision on Disney+

What we know: There will be six episodes that follow after the events of Avengers: Endgame. It’s unknown how they will explain Vision’s return after he was killed/unstoned by Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. We do know that the events of WandaVision will cross over into the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which premiers around the same time.

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their roles of Maximoff and Vision. They will be joined by Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies and Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man. In addition Kathryn Hahn (Afternoon Design, Bad Moms) will also be joining as a “nosey neighbor.” Teyonah Parris is cast to play the role of Monica Rambeau — the young girl introduced in Captain Marvel.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessMay 7, 2021 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

What we know: the plot is unknown but it will involve a crossover with the Disney+ show WandaVision.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer (Strange’s girlfriend from the first Dr. Strange movie), Benedict Wong as Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, and a To-be-confirmed actor as Nightmare.

Who is Nightmare, you ask? In Marvel Comics, Nightmare is a Class 3 demon —equal to Dormammu, Shuma Gorath, and Cthulhu — who rules the Nightmare World, located within the Dream Dimension. Nightmare feeds off humanity’s collective psychic dream energy, and terrorizes humans and superheroes alike.

Loki on Disney+Spring 2021: Loki on Disney+

What we know so far: Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role as Loki, even though Thanos killed him in the first scene of Avengers: Endgame. But remember, later in the movie the Avengers go on their time travel adventures —  and Loki ends up holding the Tesseract and disappearing with it.

Hiddleston said: In the years since Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which came out this Spring… Two questions I’ve been asked are ‘is Loki really dead?’ and ‘what’s Loki doing with that cube?’ It’s always the cube somehow. And this series will answer both of those questions.

Spider-Man-3July 16, 2021 – Spider-Man 3

What we know: not much. The good news is that Spider-Man is returning to the MCU at all. The bad news is this is likely his last solo movie in the MCU. The plot is unknown, but will likely pick up on the ending of Far From Home, where Spider-Man was revealed to the public to be Peter Parker. And since Sony and Disney aren’t playing very well with each other, this movie might reveal why Spider-Man won’t be continuing as an Avenger. Unless Disney buys Sony and makes this whole mess go away.

MCU What IfSummer 2021: WHAT IF…?

What we know: this is the first animated adventure in the MCU. The first season will have 23 episodes that explore what would have happened in previous MCU stories had things gone differently.

Stars: Jeffrey Wright (West World as Bernard, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as Beetee ) stars as the Watcher, who narrates the series.

Thor Love and ThunderNovember 5, 2021 – Thor: Love and Thunder

What we know: Director Taika Waititi, who did Thor: Ragnarok, is back. So is Natalie Portman as Jane, only this time she’s going to level up and gain the powers of Thor herself. (50/50 odds that she cries at some point.)

Stars: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tessa Thompson as Brunnhilde/Valkyrie, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor, Taika Waititi (the director) as Korg.

hawkeyeFall 2021: Hawkeye on Disney+

What we know: The show will act as a passing of the baton as Clint Barton ( Jeremy Renner) passes the title of “Hawkeye” to a new character: Kate Bishop. Kate is rumored to be played by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Enders Game, Bumble Bee), but that is not yet confirmed.

Note: Disney+ series for Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight are also in the works, and will debut after Hawkeye.

2022

October 7 – untitled movie

I’m going out on a limb to speculate that there will be more than one MCU movie released in 2022.

2023

February 17 – untitled movie
May 5 – untitled movie
July 28 – untitled movie
November 3 – untitled movie

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

Spoiler-iffic Review of Terminator – Dark Fate

Please don’t read this review if you haven’t seen Terminator: Dark Fate yet. You’ve now been warned.

So, I did a story where I neatly ranked every Terminator film from 1984 through 2015, and they slot themselves perfectly by year. As in the first being the best, T2 coming close on its heels…and then each one a little (or a lot) less good than the one before.

Now I have a big decision to make. Where does T6: Dark Fate (“no dark fate but what we make”) fit in? And what about that short-lived but underappreciated two season TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles? Now I have to rethink the whole thing. Way to mess up my ranking order, Hollywood.

Talking Dark Fate

Man, the fans loved it. Whoo-ee! Me, I like some things they did and am pissed off about the rest.

LIKED: Grace the augmented human was wonderful. She stole the movie and our hearts. Too bad this was a re-tread of the plot in Terminator: Salvation. I’ll return to this thought.

ALSO LIKED: Carl the Drapery Terminator. What does an out of work T-800 do? T2 established they can’t self-terminate. So once he fulfills his mission, the cyborg creates a family and a business, and sends encrypted messages to former nemesis Sarah. Why does he bother? He must have felt bad about things and joined the human race. Like Spike in the Buffy series, he grew his own conscience. I’m fine with this — actually, more than fine….really happy, actually. I never expected this plot pivot and find it super charming.

Arnold nailed it. The writers did good. This is a very neat turn of events, and we at RunPee would gladly watch a prequel TV show about T-Carl’s Drapery Business. Who wouldn’t?

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl
#ThereAreNoDrapesButWhatWeMake

Where Dark Fate Failed

So, yes, Mackenzie Davis as Grace was the main reason this film is so good. But having JUST watched the entire series for my ranking post, I’m annoyed that Grace, the augmented human-Terminator hybrid, is a retread of the Sam Worthington plot in T4: Salvation. T4 actually picks up quite well where T3: Rise of the Machines leaves off, with a pregnant Kate and the other remnants of humanity eeking out a post-Judgement Day life. I’m not sure why we had to have another go at an “augmented human” plot.

All I can think is Linda Hamilton wanted to return before her T-3 cannon “death” and the producers felt a soft reboot was the way to go…and — bonus — liked the idea they ran with in Salvation. So, a soft sort of re-telling had to happen to bring back Sarah. (And if you saw Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you’d see another way to side-step this pesky issue, using time travel to just skip right over the…um…cancer.)

But, as I mentioned above, we are dealing with TIME TRAVEL in this franchise. There could have been many ways to bring Sarah back without ditching the storylines in T3 and 4. (Forget 5. That was entirely unnecessary). We could have also added Grace without ditching the 1-4 film cannon.

Although…I’m not certain at this point what’s considered cannon in this franchise anymore, or if we are to accept three or more timelines.

(REALLY,  STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN  TERMINATOR: DARK FATE.)

Hasta La Vista, John Connor?

So, there’s my main beef. John Connor. Remember him? Well, forget about everything that mattered since 1991, because he’s unceremoniously offed in the first few minutes of Dark Fate.

That’s right. John’s gone. Out of nowhere, on a lovely beach. Poof.

What was the point of making me care about everything that came before? (Yes — I’m angry.)

I guess it’s better than where they took John Connor in 2015s  T: Genisys, which insulted everything ever done before and pissed all over the fanbase…seriously, who though that was a fine idea? Does anyone even remember what happened in Genisys, even just a scant few years ago?

More Pissy Thoughts

Lastly, I was rather bored by the new, spiffy Terminator in this outing, which was a real shame, in spite of Gabriel Luna’s earnest attempts to make it work. He just wasn’t as amusing as Robert Patrick’s T-1000. The Rev-9 was…made of tar? And had a skeletal drone? Was that really the best the writers could come up with over the last decade of thinking about this?

This just should have been better and more up to date, like something using nanotechnology. Or a pure internet-based intelligence that hunts and kills using our world-spanning interconnected cyber systems, tracking you like the “God’s Eye” in the Fast & Furious franchise. (If the F&F movies could come up with something more exciting, you know there’s trouble.)

Think about it. The liquid metal special effects looked better in 1991 than the the tar special effects in 2019.

Moving on.

Dark Fate: Girl Power Version

So, some gal in Mexico steps up as the new savior. Okay. Fine already. She’s not a womb; she’s the real deal. At least the real deal-to-be.

Except Dani’s kind of boring. I can’t remember a single significant moment she had. Do you?

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
Come with her if you want to live.

Sarah Connor…is back

And the long awaited return of Sarah? Of Linda Hamilton reprising the iconic role?

Well, for one thing, she needs to lay off the cigarettes, since her vocal cords are shot. And she’s really, REALLY bitter. Not that I wouldn’t be too, after running away from several Terminators, losing her lover, losing her son, getting locked down in a facility for the criminally insane, and being wanted —  apparently — in all 50 states.

Hamilton does a great job in the role, fitting easily back into her Sarah Connor persona, but it kind of hurt to see how awful life treated her character, and how little she had left to live for. She is brittle, and so, so damaged. It’s got to suck when an ex-Terminator who killed your son has a nice home, a good job and loving family, and you’re alone and on the run…with nothing but hardship and a lifetime of regrets. While the Terminator franchise depicts an apocalyptic near-future and isn’t intended to be a happy story, it’s just not fun to see characters you care about living in such pain for so long. No wonder Sarah drinks herself to sleep every night.

At least she was up to date enough on her film history to realize the first “death” of the Rev-9 was bogus. That made me smile. Linda Hamilton wasn’t married to James Cameron for nothing.

I’m going to go back to the John thing. I understand it’s cool to see a woman herself being the hope of humanity vs a just another Mother Mary, but there really was no need to off poor John. It actually makes me angry that I cared about the series at all. It retroactively makes the first two wonderful Terminator movies pointless.

So, I had to see Dark Fate again

I saw Dark Fate twice to see if I’m just being too picky about all this. Well…the answer is no. I’m not. Right now I feel betrayed, like I did with Aliens 3, when they unceremoniously killed off Newt and Hicks. That STILL bothers me, and I can’t really appreciate this new Terminator entry until I come to terms with what they’ve done.

I’ll say this: Dark Fate is probably the third best Terminator film, but not as good as the Terminator TV series. Damning with faint praise?

It seems like it, but honestly, in spite of my annoyance, Dark Fate really is a good movie.

dark-fate-grace
Strictly human or not, she kicked some serious machine butt.

Judgement Day: Now What?

One final thing. It does seem the Terminator franchise posits that we’re going to have an AI apocalypse, in any possible timeline, no matter how we try to prevent it. Skynet, Cyberdyne, Legion, Google, whatever. As Thanos would say: Judgement Day is… inevitable.

Chew on that.

Movie Grade: B+

Ranking the Terminator Movies

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review – The Terminator

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

In Defense of Terminator 3

 

 

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

A Beautiful Day in the NeighbourhoodThere’s something so satisfying about the idea of Tom Hanks playing children’s TV show host Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  Who can resist one of America’s favorite actors playing one of America’s most beloved TV icons?  And I know Mr. Rogers was beloved because every time the preview for Won’t You Be My Neighbor played at the local art house theater last year, it got applause.  In honor of Hanks’ latest performance and a possible sixth Oscar nomination, here’s a look back at some of his best and worst films.

Tom Hanks’ 5 Best Movies

Tom Hanks has such a plethora of great films, it was hard to whittle it down to just five.  His IMDB page is an embarrassment of riches.  I encourage you to explore his filmography.

1. Philadelphia

PhiladelphiaTom Hanks won Best Actor for his role as a man with HIV suing his law firm for wrongful dismissal.  Antonio Banderas plays his partner.  Denzel Washington plays his attorney in a powerful performance.  Hanks gave a memorable acceptance speech, thanking his gay high school drama teacher.  The movie was groundbreaking at the time for not only having a gay main character but casting an A-list actor in the role.  It was also one of the first mainstream films to take on the topic of HIV.

2. Forrest Gump

One year later, Hanks won his second Oscar for playing the dim but big-hearted title character who was always at the right place at the right time throughout the twentieth century.  He is one of the few actors to win back-to-back Oscars.  (Others include: Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Jason Robards.)  Forrest’s famous quote from this movie is, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.”  This is probably the movie Tom Hanks is most famous for.  The film spawned a popular soundtrack and even a chain of restaurants named Bubba Gump’s.

3. The Green  Mile

The Green  MileEveryone knows The Shawshank Redemption.  This is director Frank Darabont’s other Stephen King adapted prison movie.  Hanks plays a compassionate death row corrections officer in this Best Picture nominee.  He and the other guards face a moral dilemma when accused child murderer John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) displays extraordinary supernatural gifts.  This is one of my favorite movies of the ’90s.  The entire cast is amazing.  It features one of Sam Rockwell’s great early performances.  I think about Tom Hanks and Graham Greene’s discussion about the afterlife all the time.

4. Big

Hanks got his first Oscar nomination for this performance.  His character is a boy who makes a wish to be big and wakes up in the body of a grown man.  (A little bit like Shazam.)  Hanks’s performance as a man-child is endearing, as he takes on the joys and burdens of adulthood.  The film features a famous scene where he and his boss play “Chopsticks” by dancing on a giant toy piano.  Hanks started out doing comedies in the ’80s.  This is a great place to start if you’ve never seen anything from his early career.

5. Cast Away

Cast AwayHanks got his fifth Oscar nomination for this Robert Zemeckis film.  When his plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean during a storm, Hanks is the only survivor.  He makes it ashore to a deserted island where he must learn how to survive on his own.  The description may not grab you, but I assure you the movie will.  I have watched people get sucked into this film while watching it on display televisions in stores.  Somehow Zemeckis manages to weave a spell over you.  And he does it with a movie that has hardly any dialogue.

Tom Hanks’ 5 Worst Movies

Every actor has their share of missteps and Hanks has some doozies.

1. The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities

What do you get when  you put Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, and Melanie Griffith in an adaptation of a Tom Wolfe novel?  Pure dreck.  This is generally considered one of the worst movies of the ’90s.  Hanks is miscast as an unlikable character.  The power of Wolfe’s writing is lost in its transition to the screen.

2. Punchline

PunchlineWho wants to watch a movie about stand-up comedians that isn’t funny?  Hanks plays a young comic who helps a housewife (Sally Fields) develop her stage act.  I tried to watch this movie several times in the ’80s and could never get through it.  I was used to seeing Tom Hanks kiss mermaids and solve crimes with dogs.  Nothing nearly as exciting happens in this movie.  The punchline is there are no jokes in this film.

3. The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci CodeOne of the best-selling novels of  all-time, one of the most protested movies ever is also…a total snooze fest.  Not even Hanks’ charm or a controversial plot twist can save this so-so thriller.  Things pick up a little when Ian McKellen finally shows up.

4. The Ladykillers

The LadykillersThis is one of the Coen Brothers’ worst films.  Hanks plays an eccentric Southern professor whose gang is posing as musicians in order to rob a casino.  They practice in the basement of his landlady’s home.  I’ve already forgotten most of this forgettable film.  But I’m still haunted by Hanks’ odd performance.

5. Cloud Atlas

Cloud AtlasWhat can I say about Cloud Atlas?  As a friend of mine likes to say, it’s a lot of what it is.  Nearly three hours to be exact.  It’s a movie I want to like.  But I’m not sure I want to put in the mental work and repeated viewings required to do so.  The Matrix, it’s not.  The movie deals with reincarnation and how our actions ripple through time to affect others.  Hanks, Halle Berry, and others play multiple characters across multiple storylines.  It requires a lot of concentration to keep up with everything.  And that’s before the post-apocalyptic people start talking like five-year-olds (“Tell me the true true.”)

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Virgin Movie Review – Sully

Movie review: Cloud Atlas

A Happy Shazam Review – A delightful time in the DC universe (for once)

 

A Buffy Revival – Vampires Spike and Angel Could Absolutely Do a Movie

buffy-vampire-slayer-title
You can’t keep a good slayer down.

Note the following: David Boreanaz says he’s done playing Angel. Joss Whedon (creator, writer, editor, director, minor deity) has also said he’d make a Buffy movie if the heavens willed it so.

We think David would return with the right offer. With Bones finished, isn’t he free now? And I don’t think James Marsters (Spike) or Sarah Michelle Geller (Buffy) would require too much arm twisting, even though Marsters said he’d aged out of the role of a young-looking immortal. To which I, a fanatic disciple of Whedon, say ” pish-posh.”

A Buffy Movie? Why the Hell (Mouth) Not?

It’s a known quantity: once you’re killed off in a Whedon production, it only means your character will return with a vengeance (or at least a reprise).

So, if Angel and Spike look 14 years older, a creative team of writers could not only make it work, but turn a bug into a benefit.

While Buffy loved both vampires, the best chemistry onscreen was arguably between Spike and Angel. Season Five of Angel just beat the pants off its parent show. I hate to admit that, since I adore Buffy, in every season. (Except that one year, with Riley…)

We Don’t Even Need to De-Age Those Pesky Vampires with a Soul

On the surface, it seems too bad that any kind of revival would have to explain the vampire aging thing or do a (please NO!) recast. But we know Whedon could spin the aging any which way,  and even turn it into a plot point. Kinda like plotting around Terminator flesh aging in the Salvation film. Or was that in Genisys? (Not to mention Dark Fate.) #OldButNotObsolete

Maybe vampires will have some kind of undead plague spreading around and Buffy will have to save her Champions, even though the rest of humanity would be happy to see all vampires eliminated forever.

Perfect moral ambiguity! The Scoobies/Team Angel (what’s left of them) could be sharply divided on this matter; they could get Giles out of his tweedy retirement…and oh, don’t forget that we have a metric ton of Slayers now, ready to stake the undead. I bet there aren’t many demons and vampires left to fight anymore.

Who knows what Willow and her fellow witches are even up to these days? They could try to be neutral, like Switzerland, with torn loyalties. The newly risen First Order Watcher’s Council could be bogged down, once again, in bureaucracy…with Master Watcher Andrew leaving with a few followers, in collaboration with a new breed of re-souled vampires committed to fighting the forces of darkness.

And the Main Plot of a New Buffy Show?

It could be set up that only Buffy and Faith (with Andrew, Dawn, and Illyria) want to save Angel, Spike, and the other re-souled undead, while every other Slayer on the planet is against helping vampires, even ones who saved the world. (Several times. What is the plural of Apocalypse?)

So Buffy and gang would have to both find a cure, and hide from/fight hundreds of cheesed off Slayers…all while asking themselves what the right thing to do is. There could be betrayals, unexpected allies (like Wolfram and Hart — such uneasy bedfellows), clever patented Buffy misdirection…adding a siege mentality at the end, and…of course…. sacrifice.

Because there is no Joss Whedon production without tear-jerking sacrifice to balance his trademark humor and sparkling dialog.

That could be a hell of a movie.

 

 

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

Ahoy there. Spoilers for Terminator: Dark Fate ahead!

Terminator: Dark Fate isn’t blowing the doors off the box office. It opened with a slightly disappointing weekend of $29 million: $1 million below expectations. In fact, the past three Terminator movies (Salvation, Genisys, and Dark Fate) all failed to meet box office expectations, throwing the future of the franchise in doubt.

Personally, I can’t get enough Terminator. I say keep them coming.

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl

But you know what I would love, Love, LOVE to see? A Terminator TV series that chronicles the adventures of the T-800 (Carl/Arnold Schwarzenegger) meeting Alicia and her son Mateo. It wouldn’t need to be a badass action drama. It would work fine as an comedy, with a sprinkle of action here and there. I would imagine the plot would focus around Carl coming to grips with his existence and searching for purpose, with a little bit of a one man A-Team theme where he occasionally helps out people who are in trouble.

If you’re thinking that Arnold is too old for this, then remember that they de-aged him for Dark Fate. The de-aging technology is getting better and better. It’s getting to the point that they wouldn’t even need Arnold to participate. They could use a double on-set and replace him in post production, along with a synthesized Arnold voice.

What do you think? Would you watch a show like this?

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateAll things considered, I’d say Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthy successor to the 1991 Terminator 2. After 28 years, 3 other Terminator movies — plus a TV show — it’s hard to think of Dark Fate as the 3rd movie in a trilogy, but that’s where it belongs.

Dark Fate had the potential to be an A, even A+ movie. The bones are there, but the flesh has a few too many blemishes. However, I think it earned a good B+ grade.

The action scenes won’t disappoint; they come early and often, and really pack a punch. If anything, there was too much action early, because by the end it feels a little anticlimactic.

Hands down, the best thing about this movie is Mackenzie Davis as Grace. She steals every scene she’s in — which is most of the movie. Her action scenes are creative, and she has the physique to make her character believable.

Kudos to the writers for giving Sarah Connor’s character a great return. Her character arc from the end of T2 to now works, and Linda Hamilton rocks the gritty, sarcastic attitude of her aged character.

My single biggest complaint is that the new character of Dani Ramos has some problems. After seeing the movie with my wife and mother, we all agreed she was the weak link. Upon further consideration, I don’t think it’s the actress’s (Natalia Reyes) fault. The writing for her character was caught in a conflict that just wasn’t going to work well. I’ll get to that in more depth below in the spoilers section.

Spoilers For Terminator Dark Fate Below
I’m including this in the spoilers section because I’m not 100% sure everyone knows Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this movie. First, I want to point out that I love the direction the writers took Arnold’s Terminator character. I was expecting something fresh and got it. Arnold’s scenes with Sarah were pure gold. It’s really cool to see them come full circle.

Here’s the conundrum the writers created for the character Dani: as the story develops, the audience is lead to believe, mainly due to dialog by Sarah Connor, that Dani is the “new Sarah” and that she’ll give birth to the leader of the resistance. However, as we later discover, Dani is the leader of the resistance herself.

In a perfect world, when the twist is revealed, the writers want the audience to think: Gee, I didn’t see that coming, but now that you think about it, the clues were right there.

That’s a tricky plot twist to pull off, and quite a challenge for the writers to undertake. I think they at least deserve kudos for trying. And I’m not saying they failed miserably. They just didn’t do a great job.

The problem: if they make Dani’s character appear strong and competent,  it will be obvious she’s the resistance leader. Therefore, they have to hide those attributes. At the same time, if they don’t make Dani appear strong and confident, then when the twist is revealed, it feels unrealistic.

Early in the movie we see Dani as the leader of her household, inspiring her brother, giving her father chores to do. It’s simple, but it shows she knows how to manage. When she and her brother arrive at the factory where they work and discover that her brother’s job has been replaced by a robot, she tells her brother to do her job…while she goes and complains to the manager. She ignores her superiors along the way, who advise her it’s not her place to question management. That’s another subtle nod to her confidence and “take charge” style.

After that point, she does nothing but cry over the loved ones she lost, and continually puts herself at needless risk as she questions (and sometimes ignores) Grace’s  guidance.

But it could have gone another way. The writers could have chosen to skip the twist at the end, in favor of jumping all over it from the very start. Make it obvious that Dani is a natural leader right from the beginning and never let up.

When Sarah Connor shows up and assumes — because Dani is a woman and the resistance sent her a protector back in time — that Dani is the womb of the future, then Dani can turn the tables on Sarah, and point out that times have changed, and women don’t need to just be vessels anymore.

I get it; writers like to be subtle — especially good writers — but it’s not always the best choice. I think on this occasion, setting up a conflict between Dani and Sarah as the same (but different) would have worked better.

One twist I did like about this story is that Judgement Day isn’t caused by Skynet.  It’s a completely different AI — created for the same basic objective — that becomes the downfall of civilization.

Essentially…saying that one way or another, an AI apocalypse is inevitable. 

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This movie is really packed with action, but I made sure none of the Peetimes contained action scenes. Of the 3 Peetimes, I would recommend the 2nd one. It’s near the middle of the movie and nothing important happens. The 3rd Peetime isn’t bad, but it’s definitely the worst of the bunch. There are a few good one-liners that you’ll miss.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Terminator: Dark Fate. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Read Rob Williams’ Terminator review: Grade A.

Ranking the Terminator Movies

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
No fate but what we make. (Man, does Linda Hamilton look young!)

Well, cool, I just rewatched the entire run of Terminator movies and realized it will be easier to rank them in order of greatness than I thought. For each movie (I’ll get to the TV show later), the best to worst go in order of first to last created. That made it easy!  How often does that happen? Here we go, and YES THERE ARE TERMINATOR SPOILERS through Genisys, but not through Dark Fate:

The Terminator Movies, ranked from best movie to worst:

    1. The Original movie (1984) — I realize that T2: Judgment Day is most people’s favorite Terminator outing, but for me it lacks the excitement and character building — and pure 80s fun — of the classic first time. Here’s my enthusiastic rewatch review of the classic film where Arnold first promised he’d “be back.”
    2. T2: Judgment Day (1991) — Although I wasn’t fond of the young John Connor portrayal, this was the movie that made me ugly cry when Sarah was about to shoot Miles Dyson, before backing off when realizing he was a good man. I was glad she couldn’t do it. When Dyson sacrificed himself, I kept on crying. There’s a lot of humor in T2 (some of it a bit silly), and it’s a very exciting sequel. There’s still just nothing like the first thrill ride in 1984. Linda Hamilton and Arnold really sold Judgment Day, but the whole Hasta La Vista attitude and focus on a young John trying to teach an AI to be ‘cute’ was…well… a bit too cute. This wasn’t as thoughtful as the original, and the move of focus from Sarah/Kyle to a juvenile delinquent John was less gripping. I’m not sure why T2 is most people’s favorite, but feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below.
    3. T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) — I remember thinking this wasn’t as cool as the first two, but I think it was the lack of Linda Hamilton here, back in the early millennium. In my recent watch (all of them in one week, right after another), I now realize a few things: this is the best John Connor portrayal ever (TV show aside), Claire Danes was just lovely in the part, Arnold did a fine job in his three-quel, and the story ended up with an actual Judgment Day. All good stuff, as Golden Man wrote in his Defense of T3. If Hamilton had to bow out, I’m not going to complain about going after John’s best soldiers. My main problem is with the female Terminator. She was…fine. Not awesome, like Robert Patrick in T2. I’d have loved to see some of the sneaky wry moments Patrick imbued his T-1000 with. And he was a LOT scarier. Kristanna Loken as the third Terminator was frankly a bit dull. Sure, it was cool to have a female Terminator, but Summer Glau, in the Terminator TV series, showed that we could have had a lot more. Still, T3 felt like a Terminator film.
    4. T4: Salvation (2009) — I liked Salvation but it didn’t FEEL like the previous movies. There were nods to the previous films, but the tone was off. I think they should have added a half hour of character development & ensemble moments (like in Aliens, as a perfect example), added some more humor. It would have been just lovely. Another issue: it almost looked like T4 was filmed in black and white, which didn’t work for me. Everything was washed out or too dim. And a lot of great actors amassed for T4 were kind of wasted. For example: why get someone like Michael Ironside if you don’t write him some good lines? No wonder he didn’t even try to make anything of his part. I liked the film, I liked it….it just should have been a lot better. It did pick up with the character Kate from T3, which I appreciated, but most of the character writing felt lazy. One thing that does stand out now was how sad it to see a super young Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. I didn’t realize he was in Salvation. Awwww. 🙁  Yelchin did do a nice job coming across as a young scared-but-resolute soldier who John needed to train up. I could see the producers were going for a Terminator/Aliens/Matrix look, but it really didn’t go beyond moments of homage to better material.
    5. T5: Genisys (2015)  Well, this one hits the bottom of the Terminator barrel. I didn’t hate it, or even dislike it, but I can’t say it was good. I’m not sure it fit within the timeline cannon the others all followed so nicely, Dyson dad and son revisititations aside. And where was Kate, John’s wife? Going back to another timeline to follow Han Solo’s girlfriend was fine (ha! I only understand this reference from my re-watch), and ‘Pops’ was cool and all, but what the writers did with John Connor was inexcusable. Hello, WTF? The John actor didn’t look right, didn’t act the part, and his existence as a Terminator was a kick in the gut to anyone who cared about the franchise. I didn’t enjoy this one at all, although it wasn’t a ‘bad’ movie. It just didn’t sit well and made me a little angry. What were the writers thinking, crapping on the John Connor character? This was a misfire on so many levels, even though Arnold and Co gave it a good shot. Like I said, this wasn’t a bad sci fi film, and it was an okay “alternate timeline” for Sarah Connor, but it was too moody and…well, weird. I really hope the soft reboot of Terminator: Dark Fate returns to the adventurous tone and epic storytelling we saw in T1 and T2. 

Bonus extra: The TV Show: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-09) —

The TV show used an alternate timeline, with yet other Sarah and John actors, but was so damn great that it was a joy to watch as a serialized story on TV. Summer Glau made a wonderful Terminator. I wasn’t thrilled with Lena Headley’s Sarah, but everyone else knocked my socks off, and I was very excited to see how the narrative would progress.

Unfortunately, we never got to see that. When it was cancelled, I was sad. Not as sad, mind you, as when Firefly (another Summer Glau show) was cast aside before its time, but still a bit adrift. I wish I’d known where the John Henry/Cromartie story was headed…and what the final trip to the future was about, and where the loyalties of Shirley Manson’s Terminator were leading us…but we’ll never know.

So how to rank the TV show?

Honestly, it had so much potential. I’d rank it after T2, personally, although it really only got exciting in the second season and left us hanging for the third. I’d watch it again, absolutely. At least this time I’d be prepared for the looming permanent hiatus status, and could appreciate what we did get.

Terminator: Dark Fate Well, howdy ho; I’m excited. I’ll be seeing this one shortly, and understand the story picks up right after T2, creating cannon waste to everything that came after 1991. I’m okay with this, since Sarah, in the timeline from T3 and on, is dead.

And now what?

I won’t hide that I dislike reboots in general (Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica aside), but if Linda Hamilton and Arnold himself are co-signing this new edition, I’m totally on-board. Where it will fit in the overall rankings remains to be seen. Soon, soon…

A bit older, a lot wiser.

What is your ranking of the Terminator franchise?

Movie Review by RunPee Rob – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateI went into this film with mixed feelings. The original landed in the mid 80s with barely a ripple. A relatively small budget film by a new director, with not a well known cast. But it took off.

The early 90s saw T2 launched with a lot of ballyhoo and fuss — and it worked! The new cinematic technology really helped drive the story — apparently James Cameron was considering using a claymation technique for the T-1000. (Can you imagine Arnie vs Wallace and Gromit?)

The current millennium’s offerings seemed to be less successful, maybe due to the absence of James Cameron. Who knows, but personally, I wasn’t sold on the third installment, and still haven’t seen the fourth and fifth ones!

Then the latest episode was announced. Cameron is writing and producing. Arnie is back. As is Linda Hamilton. (Maybe it’s because we’re a similar age, but I think she still looks stunning!).

There are some new faces to keep things fresh. Gabriel Luna is easily a match for Robert Patrick as a soulless automaton. The big problem was always going to be: does it work? James Cameron said it was the rightful third episode and the others could be ignored…so will it slot into the world created in the first two films?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Not only does it fit in, but it does so very smoothly. It is a matter of a few minutes worth of exposition, and you can sit back and enjoy the new story without worrying about loose ends.

And what a story it is! It rattles along at a fair old clip pretty much from the first few frames. There are slower sections where characters new and old are explored, their relationships examined, with even a few laughs, but this is undoubtedly an action movie! Fights, chases, explosions, all over the place.

In short, a well thought out and executed thrill ride.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I worked hard to avoid the amazing action scenes in any of these Peetimes. Anytime my pulse dropped below 100bpm felt like a good time to run and pee. Note from Dan Gardner (RunPee CEO) These Peetimes are from a newly christened Peep: Rob Williams, from the UK. Terminator: Dark Fate is released in the UK one week earlier than here in the USA, so Rob was able to get Peetimes for us. I’ve worked with Rob for a few weeks, training him on how we do things, but this is his first “live run.” From what I can tell he did a bang-up job. I hope you agree. 

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Terminator: Dark Fate. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In Defense of Terminator 3

Terminator: Dark Fate opens this week.  It’s the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise.  However, it is the official sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day…which basically invalidates Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, one of my favorite entries in the entire franchise.

Billy Crystal once joked that Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to make Terminator 3 in exchange for everything west of the Rockies.  Terminator 2 was so popular that such an outrageous payday almost seemed feasible at the time.  Expectations for the third film were extremely high.

Unfortunately, lightning usually doesn’t strike twice.  I’m the first to admit that T3 isn’t is as good as T2.  However, it’s still a movie I enjoy and I feel like it doesn’t deserve its poor reputation.  So here is my defense of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Before we begin…

Yes, it’s a flawed film and I understand the problems people may have with it.  James Cameron didn’t direct.  Edward Furlong was replaced by Nick Stahl.  And Linda Hamilton turned down the offer to reprise her role as Sarah Conner, and was subsequently written out of the series.  Setting those things aside, can we enjoy what there is to enjoy?  Because there’s a lot.

Nick Stahl makes a decent John Connor.

Christian Bale’s portrayal of an adult John Connor in Terminator: Salvation is too moody for my taste and turns the character into a jerk.  I honestly don’t remember how Jason Clarke played the role in Terminator: Genisys.  (I mainly remember a good movie being ruined halfway through by an unnecessary plot twist.)  Stahl is a good choice to play the disillusioned young man who is uncertain of the future and his place in it.  I buy into his character enough that when the final scene comes, I’m ready for another hour.

It has a strong prologue.

The movie has a great opening prologue that builds audience sympathy for John Connor.  He is saddled with the burden of knowledge, the burden of leadership, the burden of greatness, and the burden of unfulfilled prophecy hanging over his head.

The first female terminator.

Kristanna Loken plays the T-X, the first female terminator in the series.  She also plays a newer model than Ahnuld, so she’s extremely powerful and gets to show off some badass moves.  Plus she looks good in leather.

LGBT representation.

Although Kristanna Loken didn’t come out as bi until she did interviews with Curve in 2006 and The Advocate in 2007 (years after T3 came out), it’s still inspiring to myself (and others) that one of the terminators is bisexual.

You have to love Claire Danes.

Claire Danes adds humor and a dash of romance to the film as Kate Brewster, John’s future wife and a key figure in the resistance.  Any excuse to watch Claire Danes for two hours is a good one, but this performance is especially worthwhile.

It has a great twist.

The movie has a great twist.  SPOILER ALERT:  It’s actually Judgment Day!  What could be more exciting than that?!  You get to watch history in the making.  The long rumored apocalypse is finally here and you have a front row seat.

The showdowns are so satisfying.

The action scenes between Loken and Schwarzenegger, from the car chase to the final battle, are all so satisfying.  The sheer amount of destruction in this film is amazing.  So is the fight choreography.  Rewatching the movie this week, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to defend it.  Instead, I was thoroughly entertained.

The ending is a great set-up.

The ending to this movie is a wonderful set-up to a fourth film that never happened and perhaps never will.  It’s Infinity War with no Endgame.  It’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One left hanging.  John and Kate are in a fallout shelter on Judgment Day.  How do you not want to know everything that happens from there?  It’s such a great set-up for a fourth film, a perfect place to resume the story, but no one ever picked up the ball and ran with it.  Not even in the comic books.  No one has gone back to the fallout shelter and told the story of how the resistance was born from there, how John Connor became a leader starting on Judgment Day.  (Terminator: Salvation shifts the storyline back to Kyle Reese.)  I’m still  hungry for that promised-but-never-delivered movie.

Don’t miss the best parts of your favorite sci-fi/action films.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the movies.  We have Peetimes for all the latest movies including Joker, Zombieland: Double Tap, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

Movie Review – Lucy in the Sky

Movie Review - Lucy in the SkyThis was a pretty depressing movie. I left the theater and was so sad about so many things. It’s not a fun story and certainly not an uplifting one either.

I’m one of the movie goers that like to have fun and be carried away into a riveting or even just plain silly story. What Lucy in the Sky gave me was watching an absolutely brilliant, highly motivated woman spiral out of control and ruin her life’s goal.

Portman did a superb job. She encompassed this role with her entire being. She’s simply perfect.

I’m giving this movie an A because of her. Also, it was masterfully directed and had a simple beauty to many of the scenes. Certainly not because it left me feeling happy and alive. Just the opposite actually. This wasn’t my cup of tea, but I wasn’t the target audience.

To the viewers that do enjoy these truthful biopics, I’m pretty sure they nailed it.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This movie was a slow starter. Really for the first hour you can catch yourself up if you need to step out of the theater. The last 30 minutes is when the true depth of the movie is shown.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Lucy in the Sky. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for language and some sexual content
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi