Tag Archives: Channing Tatum

Movie reviews: ‘Terminator Genisys,’ ‘Magic Mike XXL’

Arnold Schwazenegger in 'Terminator Genisys' (Paramount Pictures)

By Tim Lammers

“Terminator Genisys” (PG-13) 2 1/2 stars (out of four)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is bigger, bolder, funnier and older (but not obsolete, as he tells us throughout the film) in “Terminator Genisys,” a surprisingly effective reimagining of the “Terminator” movie franchise. It’s far from a perfect movie and hardly original in that it borrows heavily from the first two “Terminator” films, yet, it earns a rightful place in the franchise canon with a inventive script that’s willing to break free from the traditional storyline and in effect, be in control of its own destiny.

“Terminator Genisys” begins in the post-apocalyptic future, where the Resistance, led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) gets ready to strike its final death blow on the machines: a group of Terminators and other deadly weapons made self-aware by the defense program Skynet. Connor, however, discovers he’s a bit too late, as a T-800 (a younger, CGI version of Schwarzenegger) is sent back in time to kill his mother, Sarah Connor (Emila Clarke), to ensure he is never born, and effectively, taught to be the leader he is to become the leader he is today. To thwart the machines’ plan, Connor sends back Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) in time to find Sarah and protect her.

Interview: Jason Clarke talks John Connor, ‘Terminator Genisys’ twist

Arriving back in 1984, Connor arrives to find out that Sarah is not the helpless waitress John said she would be, and has already been trained, in fact, by The Guardian (Schwarzenegger) to be a proficient warrior. Eliminating the current threats by the machines, Reese and Sarah travel forward in time to 2017 to stop Judgment Day altogether, only to encounter a John: who seem to have taken on the form of a Terminator himself – and the protector of Genisys – an all-powerful computer operating system for personal and military devices that will turn into Skynet, and eventually, against the human race.

While the first part of “Terminator Genisys” plays like a mishmash of the first “Terminator” and its first sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the film eventually forms its own identity by expanding Sarah’s and Reese’s back stories. Also expanded is the story of The Guardian, a T-800 unit sent to protect Sarah as a 9-year-old girl – and a machine that remains tried and true despite its aging technology. It’s human skin and features age, too, which explains how Schwarzenegger can still play the character more than 30 years after the original film.

Despite some muddled, crisscrossing timelines and confusing leaps of logic,  “Terminator Genisys” is far better than the past two “Terminator” installments – and thanks to director Alan Taylor’s intense pacing and employment of spectacular visual effects and sound,  definitely has the tone and feel of the first two blockbuster hits in the franchise. The best development to come out of “Terminator Genisys,” though, is the big twist involving John, a major spoiler unleashed during the film’s second trailer.

The big reveal was a smart marketing move by Paramount, because, quite honestly, the first trailer for the film felt like more of the same.  Jason Clarke is definitely up to the task as the film’s new bad guy, and bring intensity through his performance in both human and CGI form. Emilia Clarke also makes for a likable, ass-kicking Sarah, as does Courtney as Reese in a role far more involved in the plot than the original film.

The biggest winner in “Terminator Genisys,” though, is  Schwarzenegger, who, while embracing his age and his creaky cyborg frame, is completely willing to poke fun at himself. The great thing is, for the first time in years, we’re laughing with Ah-nold instead of laughing at him. With “Terminator Genisys” Schwarzenegger is, for the lack of a better words, back.

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“Magic Mike XXL” (R) ** (out of four)

Channing Tatum is in his element and out of his clothes once again in “Magic Mike XXL,” the sequel to the 2012 surprise hit original starring Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Of course, you have to enjoy dancing male strippers to fully enjoy Tatum and his fellow beefcake co-stars, which is to say the film was made with the female club-going element in mind. For the poor guys they drag with to the movie, get ready for a dull and pointless two hours of nothing.

Tatum is back as Mike, a hard-working small business owner who after three years out of the stripper game is lured back to the for one last road trip by his buff buddies. Making stops at various public and private strip venues on the way, the goal for the Kings of Tampa (minus McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer’s characters – whose absences are explained), as they are called, with the goal of getting to a big-time male stripper convention in Myrtle Beach.

There’s really no story to speak of in “Magic Mike XXL,” just lots of well-choreographed stripper scenes by the of Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash (there’s no doubt the guys, especially Tatum, have the moves). Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Andie McDowell and Elizabeth Banks bring a little bit of spunk to the film with supporting roles, but in the end, “Magic Mike XXL” is a slick-looking movie that will have female-dominated audiences hooting and hollering, and all but throwing dollar bills at the screen (at least that was the case in my screening). The movie comes off as more of an eye candy-coated fantasy night out on the town than an actual cinematic spectacle … that is, unless we eventually find out that Tatum and his co-stars’ well-chiseled abs are really just elaborate visual effects. Remember “300”?

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Interview: Sean Bean talks Wachowskis, ‘Jupiter Ascending’

Even though his character dies in nearly every film and television project in which he stars, there’s no doubt that Sean Bean considers himself a very lucky actor, given that he’s been able to play so many memorable roles in the first place.

Whether it’s fantasy (“The Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones”), action (“Patriot Games,” “GoldenEye”) or drama (“North Country”), Bean said he’s thrilled that he’s been able,  time and again, to land roles that place character and story at the forefront.

Bean said character and story are definitely at the front again with Lana and Andy Wachowski’s sci-fi epic “Jupiter Ascending,” the writer-director siblings’ long-anticipated intergalactic tale that’s opening in theaters Friday nationwide. The great thing about the Wachowskis, Bean told me in a recent interview, is that apart from their fascinating narratives, the innovative filmmakers are known for so much more.

“They’ve got a great reputation for doing lots of special effects very well, but they’re also great to work with, being on the set and focusing on the characters,” Bean said. “Without believable individuals in this story, you wouldn’t really go for the story. You wouldn’t feel anything for anyone. So it’s their combination of really good special effects, great imaginations and really well-drawn, three-dimensional characters that makes it work. They put a lot of emphasis on characters, though, because it’s important. You can empathize with them and their ambitions.”

Channing Tatum and Sean Bean in 'Jupiter Ascending'
Channing Tatum and Sean Bean in “Jupiter Ascending” (photo: Warner Bros.).

Bean stars in “Jupiter Ascending” as Stinger, the one-time commanding officer of Caine (Channing Tatum), a space warrior sent from the galaxies to Earth to find Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a humble Russian immigrant living in Chicago who also happens to be the reincarnation of a late, powerful intergalactic queen who ruled for thousands of years. Following an incident with superiors, both Stinger and Caine were stripped of their duties and wings, quite literally, and Stinger was as

signed to an outpost on Earth, surrounded by Midwestern cornfields and beehives..

Bean said he was thrilled that Stinger, while very talented with weapons and hand-to-hand combat (he and Caine have a big throw-down at one point), is about much more than muscle.

“Stinger is quite an intelligent guy on the history of the universe with what happened and how everything was colonized,” Bean said. “He knows how for thousands of years things have been manipulated and controlled by certain individuals.”

Unbeknownst to Jupiter, one of the things being controlled is Earth itself — by the late queen’s power-hungry adult children, including the tyrannical Balem (“Theory of Everything” Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne) — and its inhabitants are ripe for harvest.

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And while Bean, 55, doesn’t believe that aliens will be cherry-picking humans for dastardly purposes anytime soon, he does agree that there is other intelligent life out there. He said the universe is simply too expansive to believe that we’re alone.

“You can watch documentaries about flying saucers and think, ‘Rubbish,’ but ostensibly, there are so many billions of miles of space and galaxies — it’s infinite,” Bean said. “It would be strange if it were just us.”

Back on Earth, Bean said he’s not sure why the Wachowskis selected him for “Jupiter Rising” from among the galaxies of stars in Hollywood, but he’s glad they did because he deeply admires their work.

“I was flattered when they expressed interest in me and my agent gave me a few pages from their script because they’re so secretive,” Bean said. “I think they saw me in ‘Game of Thrones’ and various other things, but I don’t know why they thought of me. It’s great, though, because I love their work. They’re so original, avant-garde and don’t give a s—, really. They just make what they want to make that’s in their heads. That’s brilliant.”

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