Terminator Genisys

[1.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

It seems I just mentioned that I'm cynical about Hollywood filmmakers resurrecting beloved characters in slapdash efforts to vacuum money out of the suckers' pockets. Sometimes that works for me (Star Trek, Rocky) and sometimes it doesn't, like here.

In fact, I am kind of at a loss to even describe the plot premise. The series has gone back and forth in time over and over. Associated paradoxes, multiple timelines. Multiple actors playing the same character. The only constant is our old friend Arnold, who plays Good Terminator once again here. I'm just not sure where he came from.

Suffice it to say: there's a Bad Terminator relentlessly pursuing the Good Guys. The Good Guys are on a quest to avoid Armageddon, and in order to do that, something needs to be blown up. Along the way there is considerable amounts of gunplay, explosions, crashes, yelling of "get down". And someone says "I'll be back" and "Come with me if you want to live".

"Hasta la Vista"? I could have missed it. I don't think so.

Executive summary: special effects are great, J. K. Simmons is great, everything else is mediocre.

Brooklyn

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I got this from Netflix mostly for Mrs. Salad: a period drama revolving around a young woman gradually finding her way in a strange land. (She also likes Outlander.) I was prepared to be bored into slumber; instead I was somewhat surprised: I liked it too.

As the movie opens, the time is early-1950's, and young Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) has no prospects in Ireland. She's stuck in a menial job, and has no suitors. Fortunately, America beckons, specifically… well, you see the title up there. Helped out by her church, she hops on a ship, and gets set up with a retail job and a spot in a rooming house with other immigrant Irish women, run by mother-hen Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Waters). Eilis is desperately homesick, but she's helped out by a kindly priest (Jim Broadbent) and unexpectedly takes up with earnest Italian-American Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen). He's a plumber with no apparent mob ties. She starts taking bookkeeping courses at Brooklyn College.

Things are looking up. Then tragedy strikes. Eilis is called back to Ireland, and feels the pull of her old home. Will she stay or go?

The movie was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. (Didn't win any.) It is a well-acted, interesting story with sympathetic characters. That's rare enough these days.

I also found myself talking with an Irish accent for a couple hours afterward. Scary, but I got over it.

Creed

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I fell off the Rocky series by missing Rocky V 26 years ago (!) and Rocky Balboa 10 years ago. I am as cynical as the next guy about Hollywood filmmakers resurrecting beloved characters in slapdash efforts to vacuum money out of the suckers' pockets.

But I heard that Creed was pretty good. Sylvester Stallone was Oscar-nominated for his performance. And, yeah, it was pretty good.

The idea: Apollo Creed had an illegitimate son, Adonis. Fortunately called "Donnie" here, mostly. As the movie opens, Adonis is in some sort of juvie, and parentless. (We knew about Apollo, but his mom also passed away.) He's an angry young man, who likes to punch other kids.

Fortunately, Apollo's widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad, woo!), becomes aware of young Adonis and takes him away from his orphan life. He gets a good education, a good job in finance, and… well, he still has the urge to hit people, fighting in Mexican venues. That's his true calling.

Mom's not happy about that, but Adonis takes off to Philly, tracks down Rocky, and inveigles him into becoming his trainer. You can probably plot out the narrative arc from there, right?

Sylvester Stallone fits into the Rocky role like a glove. A boxing glove, sure, but still. The movie is heavy on sentiment and nostalgia for past movies, but you know what? It all worked for me.