I’ve read a lot of the comments people have written about the upcoming Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Originally, the idea of a female Terminator sounded good to me, but casting some generic model and dressing her in some weird disco/club girl outfit is probably going to ruin it, not to mention the model’s utterly predictable name: when is the letter “X” going to stop signifying all things cool, up-to-date, or “edgy” (another word that needs to go)?
Personally, I think the film will suck, mostly because James Cameron is not involved. I think Cameron had more ambition than to just make another action franchise tentpole series and I think the new film is being treated no different than another “Lethal Weapon” film (and am I the only one who found “Lethal Weapon 4” to be sickeningly bad and racist?). I mean, come on! A chase scene with a hearse?
The original Terminator was a great film that unfortunately shows some age today. The bad 1980s synth score, some of the makeup effects (why does Arnold lose his eyebrows later in the film?), and Sarah’s Walkman-obsessed roommate (why did every ’80s movie insist on having some character who was always DANCING?) detract somewhat from a great and thoughtful film that functions for me better as a thriller than a kickass action movie. Even the action sequences are a bit cheesy. The undercranking is pretty obvious (although, to be fair, the Terminal Island freeway chase in “T2” suffers from the same thing).
It’s hard for me to not consider “The Terminator” to be upstaged by its megabudget sibling, “Terminator 2”. The effects are better, the performances are better, and the action sequences are more adeptly-staged. Although it’s hard to call the T-1000 a character (he IS a robot), Robert Patrick made him fascinating to watch and I loved the idea of a small, unassuming guy being able to hold his own against the likes of Schwarzenegger, especially since it goes hand-in-hand with the concept of the Terminator as an infiltrator who attracts little attention. However, the film IS preachy at times (particularly Sarah’s voiceovers), the passages with Edward Furlong get a bit annoying at times (although I still like the idea of “a boy and his Terminator”) and, in retrospect, all that “Hasta la vista, baby” shtick sounds stupid today.
“I’ll be back” became Schwarzenegger’s signature line after “The Terminator”. In the original film, it’s meant to be a line of comic understatement (similar to the T-1000’s “Say, that’s a nice bike” comment in “T2”) and not a cheesy catchphrase. However, this gave birth to the “kiss-off line” – a brief, quotable, usually profane line of dialogue meant to sound both humorous and tough. Probably the most infamous example of such is “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker”, from “Die Hard”, which I always found stupid since there’s no cleverness to it. It’s simply a fancy way of saying “fuck you”. Schwarzenegger himself has become so infamous for such groaners that I still like to use such horrid one-liners as “You’re luggage!” or “Because I’m going to say … pleeease!” (from “Eraser” and “The Running Man”, respectively) to get a cheap laugh.
The reason why this movie is going to suck is because the studio knows that its core audience are raving fanboys who follow certain movie sagas unquestionably (“Star Wars”?) and that they don’t really have to make a great film to get that all-important opening weekend gross. Although most fanboys like to think of themselves as intellectuals, it seems to me (and the studios) that they want the same things that their more loutish counterparts demand: action and tits.
On one hand, we decry the industry for making continuous bad movies cobbled together out of previously successful films, but when they do this, we go to see them and say “Oh, what the hell, it’s only a movie. And although ‘Attack of the Clones’ may suck, at least I got to see Yoda with a lightsaber!” This sort of novelty-seeking behavior is what is killing our industry. Look at the news: every TV show or movie from the ’70s and ’80s has or will be remade.
Try watching one of these so-called “awesome” shows from the 1980s without the nostalgia factor and you’ll realise that “The A-Team” and “Knight Rider” suck unless you are eight years old or are on weed, and that the last thing any of us need is some stupid cheesy movie about “The Transformers” that is only there to sell a new line of toys or cash into our own nostalgia over shit we liked when we were little. I may rent the new DVD of “SuperFriends” because I loved it when I was six, get high, and take a little time travel trip and maybe laugh, but I certainly don’t want some $100 million+ movie made with state-of-the-art special effects.
I think it’s time that we grew up a little and started demanding more from films beside explosions and tits (and can we PLEASE stop calling them “boobies” as if we were five?). I’m not saying that we need to start flocking to the films of Mike Leigh instead of James Cameron, but I think that we need to demand that even our kickass action/superhero films have some dramatic weight to them.
Do we love and anticipate “The Hulk” because he’s a big green monster or because we ourselves wonder what it’s like to deal with uncontrollabe rage? Was “Spider-Man” a good film because it’s about a superhero that can swing from building to building or is it because it makes us wonder if we ourselves have the maturity to use augmented powers to help mankind rather than to just get rich or famous? This is what makes sci-fi/fantasy/superhero films engaging, because it makes us use our own imagination and apply our own personal feelings to such extravagant situations as receiving special powers or even to contemplate our own human futures – will they be utopic or dystopic, and what will make them that way?
Aren’t these the things that make us fans, that make us enthusiastic, that make us camp out at Hollywood and Orange for the first show, first day of some film that we’ve been talking about for months or even years? The future of film is in the hands of the audience, and each week proves that we, the geeks, control what is and isn’t shown on screens all over the world. We should be rewarding those films that choose to try harder, to strive for human depth, and shun those that insist on being nothing more than a cheap carnival ride.
Copyright © 14/06/2003 Will Shaw