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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL

Dearest Blog, thanks to yesterday's holiday that wasn't really, I got out to the cinema a day early this weekend. On the docket: Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL.

Spoiler level here will be mild for Terminator, nothing you haven't seen in the trailers, and just slightly higher for Magic Mike, because there are a couple specifics I want to discuss (but nothing that should ruin it for anyone).

First on my agenda was Terminator Genisys.

Future John Connor sends Future Kyle Reese back in time to save Past Sarah Conner from a Terminator that has been dispatched to...erm...terminate 'er.

In case it's been awhile since anyone revisited the originals, Terminator Genisys helpfully kicks off with a little tutorial to bring everyone up to speed. I recall little more than "I'll be back!," but it still felt like a waste of time, and most of what they explained became evident over the course of the movie anyway. From that inauspicious beginning, Terminator Genisys actually turns into a pretty decent movie. The action is terrific, and, even though some of the sequences go on a bit, I never got tired of it.

Nothing convinced me 3D would be anything other than a waste of good money, but the effects are pretty sweet nonetheless, and an epic score compliments the huge action perfectly. Conveniently, time travel in this universe of hardbodies requires the traveler to be completely naked, and strategic placement of objects to cover the naughty bits for the movie's PG13 audience is hilarious.

Other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is Arnold Schwarzenegger and doesn't really need to be anything else, the cast is kind of ho-hum. Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney have about as much chemistry as a mismatched pair of socks, but luckily, nobody is distractingly bad.

Terminator Genisys runs 126 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity, and brief strong language."

It might be a worthy successor to the original Terminator movies...or it might not...I don't remember.

Either way, it was much better than I expected. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Terminator Genisys gets six.
Next up was another sequel, Magic Mike XXL.

"Magic Mike" and his merry men hit the road for one last hurrah at a stripper convention.
Dear reader(s), I'ma be straight with you: Magic Mike XXL might be the worst movie I've ever seen, and I've seen that benchmark of cinematic terribleness, The Room. That's not to say I didn't enjoy some of it, and that's not to say some of it isn't laugh-out-loud funny (sometimes even on purpose), but it is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad movie.

If you weren't expecting anything more than two hours of good-looking guys taking off their clothes, the first Magic Mike was a pleasant surprise (or maybe a disappointment, if two hours of good-looking guys taking off their clothes was all you wanted). It took a shot at telling a story and made a fair job of it. Magic Mike XXL maybe should have stuck with two hours of good-looking guys taking off their clothes, because, whatever else it hoped to be, it fails in spectacular fashion.
Let's start with a few pluses, shall we?

 It goes without saying there are some fine-looking folks in various stages of undress in MMXXL. Whatever your taste, you'll likely see a lot of someone who appeals to you. What's funny is pretty darn funny, and some of what isn't meant to be funny is pretty darn funny, too. If you're wondering whether the movie's worth the price of admission despite all its flaws, let me just say it's hit upon the best and noblest use of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" ever. The acting is terrible, but, in fairness to the actors, effectively delivering the most awful dialogue ever written is probably impossible.

The usually reliable Matt Bomer couldn't be less believable in his hippie routine, and whenever he said "chakra" I wanted to punch his perfect face. (Sorry, Matt. I still love you.) Channing Tatum is vacant and uninspiring when delivering what should be the movie's key emotional punches. Joe Manganiello, one of the worst actors I've ever seen, weirdly delivers the movie's best performance, hamming it up as the only one who apparently understood that ridiculous was the only way to go here. The lovely and talented Amber Heard is also solid (but wasted) in the cliche role of a free spirit who has "lost her smile." If you've come for the dancing (clothed or unclothed) don't expect too much. I love dance movies, even terrible ones, so I was disappointed by how few routines made the final cut. There are some inexcusably stupid scenarios, too. I'm supposed to buy that a roomful of horny women waving dollar bills will be okay with a stripper-cum-singer performing a little number before dropping trou?

Shut up and peel, you!

Or that stripper will happily spend a night off entertaining a roomful of undersexed old hags in exchange for a twin-bed and make-your-own breakfast? Next time I run into my dentist at Target, I'm gonna ask him to take a look at this tooth that's been bothering me. I assume he won't mind if I tell him I'll pay for whatever he just picked up in housewares.

Worst of all, Magic Mike XXL is founded on the premise that these noble gentlemen do what they do to boost the self-esteem of poor, pathetic females who just aren't getting what they need at home. I have no problem with adults engaging in adult pursuits (including humping up on pretty, naked people), but that idea is a half-step shy of 50 Shades on the "Hooray for Dysfunction" scale, and I found it flat-out gross.

Magic Mike XXL clocks in at 115 minutes and is rated R for "strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity, and drug use."

It has its moments, but falls shy of the original, and I was bored for much of it. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Magic Mike XXL gets three.

Until next time...happy birthday, USA!

Saturday, July 4, 2015


The year is 2029. John Connor, leader of the resistance continues the war against the machines. At the L.A. offensive, John's fears of the unknown future begin to emerge when he learns that SkyNet will attack him from both fronts: past and future.

Director: Alan Taylor

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, Dayo Okeniyi, Lee Byung-hun

Release Date: Jul 01, 2015 RealD 3D

Rated: PG-13 Gunplay Throughout, Brief Strong Language, Intense Sci-Fi Violence and Partial 

Runtime: 2 hr. 6 min. Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy


Proposed Preamble that might make Terminator Genisys more palpable:

Forget everything you know.  Sort of kind of I mean.  The first 2 movies were really good right but since most of you in the audience are millennials you all probably thought they were ok but looked old.  So we’ve just redone some of those sequences but like cooler and with update FX.  Back on point, forget but remember what happened in those first two movies because you kind of need to know but don’t need to know it.  Either way we’ll explain it.  It’d really help if you watched a lot of Star Trek because there are timelines all over the place and yeah there might be plot holes all over the place and if you think too hard it’ll make zero sense, so don’t.  It’s all good we have a great director who knows how to film big action sequences and they’ll be fun, we promise!  Oh and did we mention that Arnold freaking Schwarzenegger is back, giggle, and we totally explain why it’s ok that’s he’s old.  He’s hilarious!  We couldn’t explain Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn being old so we replaced them with the mother of freaking dragons!  OMG she’s sooooo hot, probably not believably tough, but look at her china doll features!  And come on look Jai Courtney, he’s like a warm plate of vanilla ice cream, it’s not great but it ain’t bad either!  I almost forgot about Jason Clarke, he’s like super important, but I think we finally nailed a grown up version of Edward Furlong!  We knew you couldn’t wait for a pretty good twist, so we just told everybody because, come on who hates waiting!  So thanks for giving us a shot on your July 4th weekend, its hot outside and who wants to see stupid fireworks, we’ve got our own and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy our movies a lot more than you thought you would!  Enjoy!

P.S. We threw in JK Simmons because he like won and Oscar and insures my house!  Probably should have used him more because he’s hilarious!


Saturday, June 27, 2015


Ted (voice of Seth MacFarlane) ties the knot with Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), and recruits his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) as a sperm donor in order to start a family in this sequel to the comedy hit about a teddy bear come to life. Later, when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts demands that Ted appear before a judge to prove he's a real person, the frisky bear and his pal vow to fight for their civil rights. Morgan Freeman and Amanda Seyfried co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Morgan Freeman.

Release Date: Jun 26, 2015

Rated: R for crude and Sexual Content, Pervasive Language, and Some Drug Use

Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.

Genres: Comedy


Ted 2 is a perfect example of diminishing returns on comedy sequels.  That’s not to say that it’s not funny, it’s laugh out loud in parts, but it’s just not nearly as consistent as the original.  Seth MacFarlane seems to sense that the novelty of a hard drinking, cussing teddy bear might be wearing thin so he tries to expound on the idea with the civil rights angle.  I appreciate the attempt but it doesn’t work since the character is basically a living cartoon.  As a result, there are lots of dead spots trying to flesh out the concept leaving the comedy on the side for a good portion of the ride.  It’s a shame because if he stuck to what worked in the first film, it might have made for a funnier overall film.  As is, Ted 2 is an overlong comedy sequel that’s quickly forgettable.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Review of Red Army

Dearest Blog: Since this weekend's cinema options ranged from "meh" to "no way," I took the opportunity to jump on a little gem that passed by my cinema altogether: Red Army.

Not sure if it's possible to spoil a documentary, so I'll make no claims on the spoiler front.
Red Army documents the glory years of the Soviet hockey juggernaut of the late 1970s to late 1980s, as experienced by its players.

As is the case with most documentaries, your interest in the subject matter will, to some degree, determine your enjoyment of the finished product. A lifelong hockey lover, I'm almost too sentimental to write about Red Army, but I figure I owe it to one of the best movies I've seen in awhile to try.

Red Army focuses primarily on stellar defenseman Slava Fetisov. While Fetisov is undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever, he's a churlish interview. He's smug about the good, sulky about the bad, contentious when asked anything that strikes him wrong, and repeatedly cuts off the interviewer to take telephone calls. Fetisov's first Olympic appearance was in 1980, and, despite his many, many accomplishments since, that shocking loss to the USA (which went on to win gold) clearly still stings. For me as an American, it's odd to see our Miracle on Ice reduced to an unpleasant footnote!

In stark contrast to Fetisov's sullen stroll down memory lane, Canadian legend Scotty Bowman seems almost amused when recounting how poorly the NHL's best stacked up against those Soviet behemoths in exhibition contests.

Always sport runs parallel to politics, and the film delves into the players' brutal living and training regimen in the USSR, where their success was considered an important vindication of the Soviet system. Aside from 1980, Fetisov also gets emotional about clashes with former teammate and best friend Alexei Kasatonov (a relationship that eventually was mended) and coach Viktor Tikhonov (erm...not so much). It may be difficult for today's fans to imagine the National Hockey League without its Ovechkins and its Malkins, but Fetisov's contemporaries had a rough go breaking into the League, and even Ladlena Fetisov tells of being ostracized by her fellow NHL wives. These days Fetisov--the first Soviet player to earn an NHL contract whose proceeds he wasn't required to share with his government--has returned to Russia and seems almost wistful about the system he was instrumental in dismantling.

Red Army runs a quick 76 minutes and is rated PG13 for "thematic material and language."
Red Army is an outstanding documentary that will certainly be a sentimental favorite for those of us who remember, and that can't help but make new fans of those who don't.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Red Army gets eight and a half.

Until next time...

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