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JV
Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 08:01 am:   

Lucius:

I just read Mr. Westfahl's review of Terminator 3 on Locus Online, which includes this observation:

Based on responses to previous reviews, some science fiction fans think that a review isn't complete if it fails to discuss the film's lapses in scientific and narrative logic. As explained elsewhere, I regard such priorities as a misunderstanding of genres: films like Terminator 3 are more analogous to amusement-park rides and video games than to human dramas, and egregious idiocies remain embedded in their plots not because filmmakers are unable to notice and correct them, but because they believe, correctly, that they have no effect on their films' popularity.

This statement seems to contain its own rebuttal, but I was thinking about my love for Hong Kong action movies that don't always display a rigid regard for logic. And yet somehow, my mind rebels at the idea of allowing Terminator 3 to be held to a lax standard.

What are your thoughts? I know you like Hong Kong action films, too. I don't know if you like early to mid-career Jackie Chan or not. I do, and I know I'm going in to watch Chan pull off a bunch of outrageous stunts, around which some sort of plot will amorphously take shape--a plot I'll not care about too much, or worry about in terms of its logic.

But, again...something really makes me grit my teeth at the idea of saying "Oh well, T3 is just a rollercoaster ride--the plot can be idiotic."

What are your thoughts?

Jeff
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 10:23 am:   

Two things:

Terminator 3 wasn't very good even on a rollercoaster ride level.

Also, the Terminator movies I think have prided themselves on being smart films. The first actually was. The Terminator was as he should be: one ruthless motherfucker. The Uncle Bob morality thing in T2 was pretty silly, but this T3 overwriting his own programming because he wants to is completely ridiculous. Not to mention that, aside from logical problems, this film doesn't even bother to check its facts: for example, that John was 10 and not 13 in T2. Oi. I've got a whole list of problems with this movie, from the big logical stuff to the little nitpicky stuff.

Overall, it's just an overall crappy movie. I don't mind silliness in my action movies -- I will admit to having enjoyed Bad Boys, for example -- but Terminator 3 wasn't good on any level, with any excuse.

And, re that Locus review . . . the filmmakers have clearly been trying to make the last couple Terminator movies work on a "human drama" level as well.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 06, 2003 - 08:44 pm:   

Jeff,

as Mastadge points out, it's a matter of debate whether or not T3 can be seen as a rollercoaster ride. It seems, rather, a ride through entirely familiar territory during which every once in a while, predictably, something goes boom.

I don't know Westfahl and haven't read his review, but I would hazard that it wasn't written during one of his more persipicacious moments.

As to your core question, in my view if you put a hundred zillion dollars into a movie, I suppose you're entitled to do whatever you want. But you can't compare Arnold to Jackie Chan. One is a large musclebound guy who defines the term "wooden." The other is a talented physical comedian. One is an object, the other a force. I don't mind films with a trivial or facile or clumsily contrived plot so long as there's some virtue involved; but T3 is as ponderous and clunky as its star, with nothing to redeem it. It's just a bore.
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paulw
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 01:58 pm:   

Couldn't agree more, having just seen T3. However, a Chan/Arnie pairing wouldn't surprise me in the least . . .

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John Langan
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 07:04 pm:   

Dear Jeff,

I've been thinking about your question since you posted it the other day, but wanted to wait until Lucius weighed in first. I've been wondering if there isn't some way in which the Jackie Chan movie succeeds because it establishes a certain set of expectations for its viewer which it then goes on to fulfill in fairly satisfactory fashion. The problem with the Terminator film--which, to be honest, I haven't seen; I've only read the reviews--sounds to be that it sets up a set of expectations which it then largely fails to fulfill satisfactorily. Gary Westfahl's review of T3 struck me as an attempt to apologize for this failure by appealing to the notion of an over-arching generic identity(the movie-as-roller-coaster) that is somehow supposed to compensate for the film's shortcomings. It's an explanation that I seem to hear a lot these days, but that I don't find convincing, since it strikes me as a misapplication of the idea of genre. Obviously, films, like any work of art, have to stand or fall on their own merits. This is not to say that viewers of a film won't benefit from a knowledge of its context, only that expecting such context to do the work that the film itself failed to do strikes me as apologetic to the point of absurdity.


Best,




John
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Adam-Troy
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 05:37 am:   

I'm perhaps more forgiving of action scenes than others, but it's the plotting that bothered me. Both TERMINATOR 3 and HULK showed an insane willingness to plot by incredible coincidence.

In TERMINATOR 3, John Connor breaks into a veterinary office not realizing that a woman he knew as a child works there; or that Terminatrix would coincidentally come looking for her and find him; or that her Dad just happens to be the military head of the Skynet project.

In HULK, Bruce Banner grows up to meet and woo a woman who he doesn't remember knowing as a child, whose Dad just happened to be an enemy of his Dad, and who will be the Military head of the Hulk-buster project.

Must EVERY story link up with million-to-one coincidences?
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:07 am:   

Adam,

as regards comic book movies (and in my opinion, both the films you mention derive from the comics tradition), I'm fairly forgiving of the reliance on coincidence as a plotting device, because such coincidences are pretty much a comic book trope; but I certainly do agree that in general coincidence is a telltale of sloppy writing and we see way too much of it in Hollywood films.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 09:03 pm:   

Lucius -

I have an abstract philosophical question for you, cinematically speaking: Terminator vs. Reanimator. One knocks 'em down, the other brings 'em back insane. How do you see this playing out? Are they pals or deadly enemies? Does Predator enter the picture at all?

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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 09:23 pm:   

Damn, Michael...the way things are in Socal, you could get some serious meetings with a concept like that. It's true. I like that they're deadly enemies whom circumstance has conspired to make allies. Perhaps they serve the Force...or the Vatican. I see no need for Predator, at least not until the sequel.
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adam-troy
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 04:48 am:   

How about Terminator and Reanimator sloshing about in a big American pie?
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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 05:04 am:   

Wow. I thought the first two American Pies were bad, but American Wedding looks awful.

I think we should throw RoboCop into the mix. What if Reanimator reanimates remains that are cyborged like that?

Besides, RoboCop would crush Terminator in all of about three seconds.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 05:06 am:   

Hey, Adam, anything's possible, the way Hwood recycles. I'm still waiting for that Jason/Austin Powers hybrid.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 05:11 am:   

Mastadge,

I gotta say that Terminator v. RoboCop is 6-5 pick 'em in my view. Too close to call...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 09:28 am:   

With "Freddy vs. Jason" coming soon, I think other moronic match ups will follow. I'd prefer some more cross-genre combos. Legally Blond vs. Reanimator. Rugrats vs. Robocop. Leprechaun vs. American Pie (although beating Leprechaun in the Hood will be tough).
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 09:37 am:   

Robert,

you've touched on a classic: Leprechaun in the Hood. When comes such another?

Yeah, it would be nice if the studio heads lost their minds completely and gave us Legally Blond vs Reanimator. Myself, being warped by religion, I' m kind of hoping for King of Kings vs. Little Nicky.
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Deborah
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 09:48 am:   

According to the pop-ups on Yahoo Mail we've got "Masked and Anonymous" coming wherein Bob Dylan looks like Slim Whitman with a hangover...admittedly not a cross-genre thing, but it looks potentially idiotic. Is it?



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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 09:59 am:   

Deborah, I saw the preview and it looked pretty damned idiotic. But Dylan's always been associated with weird movies, and being kind of a Dylan geek, I might go see it....

Actually, I think Bob more greatly resembles an asthenic Vincent Pirce...
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Deborah
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 10:18 am:   

Yeah, it looked like one of those let-your-IQ-drop-and-roll-across-the-floor-and-enjoy kind of things, fer sure...yeah, maybe VP more than SW now you mention it.

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lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 10:31 am:   

He's been looking like VP ever since that dong he performed for the Oscars. I've got some weird stories about BD, not personal, but related by a friend who did a couple of tours with him. I'll tell ya sometime.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 - 07:35 am:   

On the topic of stupid Vs. movies

http://www.filmthreat.com/Features.asp?Id=715

Some of those ideas are much more appealing than Freddy Vs. Jason.
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2003 - 10:26 am:   

Lucius,

Hmmm... so you're a self-confessed "Dylan Geek" huh?

Well, I'm the type that's always looking for rock 'n roll connections in stories titles,,,

'Floater'. I haven't read it yet of course, but is there a Dylan connection implied in this title? And/or is it based upon a Japanese tome by Dr Saga called 'Confessions of a Yakuza'? ;-).


Looking forward to reading it.

BTW I think we’d all like to hear your Dylan stories…

Rich.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2003 - 10:54 am:   

Rich, Floater derives mainly from the notorious shooting in New York, back during the Guliani admin, of the Haitian man who was accosted by police outside his apartment and shot some ungodly number of times.

I'm working now, but later in the day I'll post some DYlan stuff.
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Friday, August 08, 2003 - 01:11 am:   

Ghanan man shot 41 times; all cops acquitted. Haitian man sodomized w/broom handle that made big (but evidently reparable) holes in his internal organs; one cop convicted.

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