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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Terminator: Genisys

Amy Schumer's "Trainwreck" and Ryan Reynolds' "Self/Less" are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an imposing figure. He has been for the past forty years, starting with his final Mr. Olympia bodybuilding championship win in 1975 straight through to his appearance in “Terminator: Genisys” in 2015. Sure, he’s not the hulking mass he once was in the 1970s and ‘80s, but he’s still a big man who stands tall.

One of the things that “Terminator: Genisys” has fun with is the difference between the Arnold of today and the Arnold of the original “Terminator” movie from 1984. In “Genisys,” the opening moments of the 1984 movie are lovingly re-created. A very large, very muscular, very serious looking man appears from out of a bright flash of blue light. Some punks mess with him at the iconic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. Everything is as we remember it from thirty-one years ago. That is, until an older version of the man, whom we know is the “Terminator” (Schwarzenegger) shows up and the two go head to head in a brawl.



The older Terminator shows the signs of his age—he doesn’t have as much hair, there is less muscle mass, some wrinkly skin—but he still holds his own with the younger, bigger, Terminator. Later on the older version, whom young Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) has affectionately named Pops, tells Sarah’s would-be protector Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), “I’m old, not obsolete.”

That’s one of the themes of “Terminator: Genisys.” Action movies, due to their sheer physicality, tend to be a younger man’s game. That’s not to say that older people can’t perform well in action movies, but they have more to prove. The question asked is, “Can he still run and jump and do all of that at his age?” The answer is that yes, he can—just not as well. It’s a natural fact of aging that a person is not going to be as athletically sound in their 60s as they were in their 30s. It doesn’t mean that they’re not up to the task. It just means that they may need a bit more time, and their risk of injury is greater. I personally love seeing the action stars I grew up with still going strong.


The most important thing to have when watching “Terminator: Genisys” is a sense of humor. This movie isn’t afraid to have some fun with the characters or with the history of the series. While there is nothing wrong with the seriousness of the first “Terminator” movie, which worked very well, “Terminator: Genisys” is aware that it’s a fun action movie about time travel and robots, and it knows to not take itself too seriously. While I liked the last installment, “Terminator: Salvation” a lot, I thought it could have benefited from a bit more levity. “Terminaor: Genisys” gets it right.

Viewers of “Terminator: Genisys” also need to be able to take the idea of time travel and stretch out its believability. The most helpful hint I can give is to think not only in terms of time, but also of dimension. In other words, the alternate time lines create alternate dimensions, and the time travel machine allows for traveling between the dimensions. This is explained in the movie as nexus points. It’s an important consideration if you’re like me and you’re wondering how John can be born in 1984 if his mother time travels to 2017. Just remember: alternate dimension—that’s how it’s possible. Or better yet, just go with it and enjoy “Terminator: Genisys” for the giddy, imaginative, action-packed ride that it is. Buy it.

Buy Terminator Genisys (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

Also New This Week:

Trainwreck

Ostensibly, the title “Trainwreck” refers to Amy (Amy Schumer), who was told as a young girl by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t possible, and it ruined her for serious relationships from then on. That is, until a kind and understanding young sports doctor (Bill Hader) starts to woo her and challenges her conception of commitment and faithfulness.

I, however, contend that “Trainwreck” refers to the performance of Miami Heat turncoat LeBron James. He’s cast as himself in this movie, and every scene with him is painfully awkward. The camera loves him, but acting does not come natural to him at all. You can see him trying to remember his lines and the relief on his face when he gets them out—and gets them right! It reminded me of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) trying to do those commercials in “Rocky II.” I imagine director Judd Apatow having the same reaction to LeBron as the commercial director had toward Rocky.

Or look at it another way: Does Leonardo DiCaprio play pro basketball? Does Christian Bale belong to an NBA team? What kind of stats has Matthew McConaughey put up at Madison Square Garden? The answers, respectively, are no, no, and none. This is because these men are at the top of their profession in acting. But being the best actors around does not mean they should start shooting pro hoops anytime soon. The same is true in reverse. Just because LeBron is arguably the best player in the NBA right now doesn’t mean he should act.

That’s not to say that athletes can’t be actors. It’s just that if he is going to act, then he should at least take a class (or several) and get his skills up to where they should be. For proof that athletes can act—or at least be really funny—John Cena steals the show early on in “Trainwreck” as a boyfriend of Amy who may have some homosexual tendencies. The scenes with him are the funniest in the movie, and the rest, except LeBron, is funny enough to Rent it.

Buy Trainwreck (Unrated)

Self/Less

Genre is important. The same concept—what the industry refers to as a logline—can be taken and turned into a movie that fits any genre. Take the concept of “Self/Less”: A dying older man (Ben Kingsley) seeks to prolong his life by inhabiting the body of a younger, healthy man (Ryan Reynolds). That can go anywhere—comedy, drama, horror, action, etc.

For “Self/Less,” the action genre was chosen. This is fine, as long as it’s exciting and plotted well. This movie is neither. The action is dull and lifeless, and the plot is frustratingly boring because it’s too easy to decipher the twists. This puts the viewer in the position of being way too far ahead of the lead character and sitting there waiting for him to catch up. This is an instance where being a less astute viewer is a good thing since it means that the twists in this movie will actually be surprises. I’m not so lucky.

The real shame of “Self/Less” is that the concept would have made for such an excellent drama, particularly given the ingredients the movie starts with. The dying man has an estranged daughter (Michelle Dockery). What could this movie have been if it was about the father inhabiting another body and reconnecting with his daughter to try to get close to her and correct the mistakes of his past? It could have been brilliant. Instead, we get a half-baked thriller about the real identity of the younger man coming through and him protecting that man’s family from being killed by using Army combat skills that conveniently appear whenever needed.

Director Tarsem Singh can be a great visionary when he wants to be. His 2000 movie “The Cell” was a Blu-Ray pick of the week a few months back, and as much as I disliked 2011’s “The Immortals” (and I still cringe thinking about that guy getting that big hammer between the legs), I at least appreciated the artistry of the visuals. With “Self/Less” there are no great visuals—or any vision at all. Skip it.

More New Releases: “Star Wars” episodes I-VI, just in time to watch one per week until “The Force Awakens” comes out on December 18; “Passage to Marseille,” a re-uniting of the director and cast of “Casablanca” for another World War II drama, this one featuring the audacious move of having a flashback within a flashback within a flashback; and some essential movies from Clint Eastwood’s career: “Play Misty for Me,” Eastwood’s directorial debut from 1971; “The Beguiled,” Civil War era movie form 1973 featuring one of the most gut-wrenching amputation scenes of all time; “Coogan’s Bluff,” fish out of water story from 1968 about an Arizona cop who has to track down an escaped prisoner in New York City; and “The Eiger Sanction,” great Eastwood entry from 1975 made all the better for the moment when he gets mad at a guy and screams, “You aassssssshooooooollllllle!” on the side of a mountain--just awesome.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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