Terminator: Salvation

For some reason, when the sequels hit four, they tend not to put the number in the title anymore — probably a way to try to avoid the usual view of sequels as getting worse and worse. But the Terminator franchise is doing okay, really, maybe because they don’t rush. Four movies in twenty-five years isn’t exactly churning them out, but they’re still managing to attract the fans in droves. And the continuity people don’t even have to worry about what’s come before, because they keep time traveling and changing everything around. So Sarah Connor’s tapes to her son don’t sound quite the way they did in T2, but that’s okay because the whole timeline’s been messed with at least once since then.
They didn’t mess with time travel this time around, though, so they’ll have to watch it if there’s ever a fifth movie. It doesn’t seem like there could be, really, but I don’t underestimate the writers’ ingenuity, or possibly their desperation if they’ve got higher-ups demanding more. It does take some ingenuity to keep going past the world ending, after all… and this time, they even start out by killing one of the main characters. And they don’t time travel, like I said, nor is he a zombie. He’s Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington, another one of those Australian actors who keep coming to the U.S. to steal acting jobs. Oh, and he was in Hart’s War.) and he’s on Death Row when the action kicks off. But when Cyberdyne gets involved, even death isn’t quite final.
You probably know from the previews (skip ahead to the next paragraph if you somehow managed to avoid the previews) that Marcus turns out to be a sort of hybrid, and I don’t mean a hybrid SUV. Every Terminator can look human, but this one believes that he IS human, which makes him extremely convincing, as you might imagine. It’s really cool, though, how they drop all the little clues as to what’s going on — the way he sometimes moves and acts like Arnold from the original, and even a little reference to him being heavier than he looks.

Because you need to have the dramatic image of John Connor and a scary, scary Terminator facing off.

Anyway, he’s pretty confused, unsurprisingly, when he wakes up to discover that the world’s been bombed within an inch of its life. The Machines are even more confusing, but luckily for him, he finds help in the form of the Los Angeles Resistance group. There are only two members, though they don’t make it clear if there were always only two of them, or if they just had some horrible casualty rates. In charge is one Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, Chekhov from Star Trek), and following along to help keep everyone out of trouble is Star (Jadagrace, who hasn’t been in anything before, but then, she is only maybe ten years old, tops, so give her time).
They join forces with Marcus, and believe me, they need the help. The Machines are doing something new, namely taking human prisoners, and the Resistance is worried. Enter John Connor (Christian Bale, the new go-to guy when you need an obsessed, driven, brooding sort of guy), leader of the Resistance — sort of. He actually isn’t, apparently, though he is in charge of a decent-sized segment of it, and lots of people seem to think he really is the last, best hope for humanity, like they’ve said all along. His wife, Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard, finally getting more lines than she had in Spider Man 3, at least) is there, too, now graduated from veterinary tech to people doctor, apparently.
You can’t blame them for not wanting to trust anything that smacks of the Machines, and in the grand Terminator tradition, things go amazingly wrong before they finally start going right. Now that the technology has caught up with the vision, things explode and machines turn into other machines like Transformers and people get half their faces blown away to reveal very realistic looking cyber parts. And it’s great to watch. The plot is a touch iffier in places, but really you don’t care while you’re seeing it all happen.
A solid three and three-quarter idols. The Terminators aren’t quite ruthlessly efficient enough, but the bad guys need to be slow sometimes so the movies aren’t too ridiculously short. But the characters are well-done, and the plot holds up if you don’t squint at it too much, and it’s just so fun to have another Terminator installment. (Rumor has it there might be two more Terminator installments, but we’ll have to see about that.) There are tons of little references to the previous films, but my favorite has to be the little boom box from T2, the one that we last saw blasting out Guns ‘n’ Roses “You Could Be Mine,” while the young John Connor and his friend with the terrible hair were cruising the streets. It gets to do that one more time, and that was really nifty.

Melodica Demo

From the blurry nether regions of YouTube, comes an awesome little iPhone app called “Melodica”.
It is $0.99. Seriously people. I don’t care how musical you are or are not – this app is a blast. Go get it!
You can get the file under a Public Domain license at FreePD.
Did I say Public Domain? Oh yeah. Public Domain.

New Paper?

Yeah, its been a while since that headline came up!

Grid Lined

Grid-Lined PDF Generator – Multiple boxes per each writing line.

It doesn’t need to be as big as it is shown there… you can really cram in the little lines if you want! …for your more-exacting rambling manifestos.

Star Trek

This is a reboot. I really can’t emphasize that enough. This is not your father’s Star Trek. The writers here took all the main characters you remember from the original series, many of the most famous lines, various alien races (most humanoid, a few very much not humanoid), and a few little in-jokes referring back to previous movies and shows, threw them all into a blender, mixed them up for a while, and served up something that’s almost Star Trek, but different.
So yes, Vulcans still bleed green and practice never showing emotion; and Spock (Zachary Quinto of Heroes fame) is still half-human. But now his mother is Winona Ryder, and there are two Spocks. Sort of. See, since this is a sci-fi series, the writers took advantage of that fact and also rebooted it internally, so to speak — there’s a pinch of time-travel and a dash of alternate reality in this recipe, too, so if you want to believe that the entire original series is real and this is just a pale imitation spinning off from that timeline, you can do that. So I’m not sure why there are Star Trek purists up in arms about this movie, though admittedly I was never a Star Trek purist myself.
The point is, it’s a good sci-fi movie; but if you go in expecting a big-screen version of the original series, you’ll be disappointed. It’s good to know the series and the movies — there are in-jokes all over the place, of course. Most of the audience either laughed or went, “Ooh!” when Bones (Karl Urban from The Bourne Supremacy, totally channelling the spirit of DeForest Kelley) first asked Spock if he was out of his Vulcan mind. Ditto when Bones insisted, “I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” And they keep threatening San Francisco in these movies, I suppose because Starfleet Academy is there.

Left to right: The pointy-eared hobgoblin, the Russian wunderkind, Uhura (no longer first-nameless), the captain, the Scotsman, helmsman Sulu (who gets to swordfight!), and the crusty old Southern doctor.

Most of the crew is in the Academy, though they had to strain credibility a little to do that. For one thing, they don’t quite explain why Bones, who could be anywhere from thirty to fifty but is definitely not a young pup like everyone else, is there. I seem to recall that in another movie he mentioned being drafted (though I’m pretty sure Starfleet doesn’t do that), but here he seems to have signed up to avoid being bankrupted by a vengeful ex-wife. He and a young Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) become friends because they’re the only two cadets not wearing the bright red uniforms. All the uniforms kinda look like they came from Old Navy, actually.
Kirk hasn’t grown into his luck yet. He’s usually right about the best strategy and such, because if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be Kirk, but he fumbles through everything, sort of like Indiana Jones. He gets beaten up in a bar fight (though to be fair, he was seriously outnumbered), and Spock somehow manages to have better luck with the girls, so you know this is an alternate reality. But it’s got a lot of the feel of the original series, that recklessness, and now that they have a budget, they can really make this an action flick, with high-tech gadgets, black holes, and alien spaceships that were designed by someone with absolutely no sense of spatial relationships or even the simple ability to walk, safely, from one computer station to the next. The Enterprise even looks like the Enterprise — more modern and sleek than the sixties version, but without looking very different, really. Except on the inside. There, everything’s all white and blue and shiny and absolutely nothing like it used to be. Only a few of the noises are the same.
In spite of the time travel angle, the plot actually isn’t terribly confusing. For a while, I was waiting for everything to get weird and inexplicable, but that never happened, thankfully. So for avoiding that pitfall, for making this a sometimes funny movie without making fun (or making me cringe), and for letting Scotty (Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz, which seems like a really weird casting choice but actually works out quite well) get one more chance to say, “I’m givin’ it all she’s got, Cap’n!” this movie gets four and a half idols. I think this is what Star Trek would’ve been like all along, if Gene Roddenberry had been around to think it up now, and I like that idea.