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Non-Review Review: Terminator – Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate is perhaps the second-best of the four attempts to make a third Terminator movie.

To be fair, the previous three efforts have all been exercises in figuring out how close or how far to hew to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. There has been a sense of watching various chefs trying awkwardly to replicate a signature dish. Does a Terminator sequel need Sarah Connor? Does Sarah Connor have to be played by Linda Hamilton? Is Arnold Schwarzenegger essential, and to what degree? James Cameron isn’t going to direct because he has his own projects, but what level of involvement is “just right”? Is it enough for him to do some press, to be a producer, or does he need a story credit?

Fight and flight.

The results have been as interesting as they have been frustrating. Few film franchises has branched quite as dramatically as the Terminator franchise, perhaps reflecting the series’ own preoccupation with time travel. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys have all tried to figure out a way to make a sequel to Judgment Day, and have only really managed to agree that each of the others adopted the wrong approach. Dark Fate at least seems like the right Terminator sequel for its own time and place, tapping into a wave of nineties anxiety and franchise dominance.

Dark Fate is only moderately successful as a film in its own right, and as a follow on to one of the most beloved blockbusters of all-time. It says much more about the larger Terminator franchise than about Dark Fate that it counts as one of the best sequels to Judgment Day.

Hes back.

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Non-Review Review: Predator

Predator is an absolutely brilliant piece of work. It’s elegantly constructed, beautifully directed and cleverly written. Perhaps the smartest thing about Predator is the way that it so fantastically plays on audience expectations, offering the perfect bait-and-switch, teasing a jungle adventure in the style of Schwarzenegger’s Commando before morphing into something else entirely. It’s so well handled that the film’s reputation and prestige has done little to dampen its thrills.

A predator stalks...

A predator stalks…

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Win! Tickets to a Jameson Cult Film Club Screening of Predator on November 19th!

Due to unprecedented demand, the Jameson Cult Film Club is returning to Dublin for an explosive  screening of the 1987 classic, PREDATOR, at a secret Dublin location on Tuesday 19th November 2013.

These free events are more than just your typical screening, as characters from the movie, live theatre and special effects timed perfectly with on-screen action help to create an electric atmosphere  throughout the movie.

Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Predator - 17.11.13

*Warning* – the Predator blends in with its surroundings, taking trophies from the  bodies of its victims as it goes along.

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Non-Review Review: Escape Plan

Escape Plan doesn’t demand too much. It doesn’t demand too much from its lead actors, and it doesn’t demand too much from its audience. A film about watching two of the biggest action stars of the eighties teaming up should be a celebratory occasion – a trip down memory lane, one last go-around for old time’s sake as we watch this dynamic duo escape a mysterious “off the grid” prison which seems quite like the place I imagined all eighties action stars go in the end.

Instead, Escape Plan feels like the middle section of John Woo’s Face/Off extended out to a two-hour feature film, the story of a man who shouldn’t be in prison forced to escape from a futuristic science-fiction gulag through a series of overly-elaborate action set-pieces. There is, quite frankly, not enough here to support the movie’s extended runtime, with the script never daring to swerve sharply away from expectations or clichés. Escape Plan delivers exactly what the premise promises, but nothing more and never with anything approaching enthusiasm.

Old-timer hard-timers...

Old-timer hard-timers…

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Jameson Cult Film Club: L.A. Confidential & A Talk With Danny DeVito (JDIFF 2013)

This event was held as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

The Jameson Cult Film Club really is a film lover’s paradise, an excuse for the celebration of classic cinema in a unique environment that tries to bring classic movie moments to life – whether bringing the gospel sermon from The Blues Brothers to life, or having the face-huggers from Alien drop into the audience to the satisfying sound of screams. Launched two years ago at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, the club celebrates its birthday by hosting a very special guest at a celebration of one of their best films. Danny DeVito is this year’s guest of honour at the festival – hosting screenings of the superb The War of the Roses and Throw Mama From the Train. As such, holding a celebratory screening of L.A. Confidential was really the perfect fit for a cult film club event.

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Non-Review Review: The Last Stand

In theory, The Expendables demonstrated that age was no real impairment when it came to the task of kicking ass and taking names, even if you might need to put your reading glasses on first. So, you could argue that the issue of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s age doesn’t really need to come up during The Last Stand. We know that he is 65 years of age, and we also know that he’s probably a great deal fitter than most of us will be at that age. (Being honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that a hexagenarian Arnie could trump most people in their prime.) As a result, the fixation of The Last Stand on the age of its leading man feels a little strange.

It feels especially strange because it eats into a lot of the film. The Last Stand is mostly functional, but its pacing suffers greatly. We’re going to see an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, so it’s safe to assume that (a.) we’re okay with his advancing age, and (b.) we want to see him kick some whippersnapper ass. Unfortunately, The Last Stand seems to misjudge the audience’s interest in an Arnie film, and as a result our leading man spends most of the first three-quarters of the film doing very little.

The Last Stand is clearly intended to demonstrate the viability of its leading man in this modern age, but it seems to lack the confidence to just dive into the action that this sort of film is meant to provide. The result is a strange mish-mash of a film that winds up wasting a lot of good will long before it reaches its climax.

He's back!

He’s back!

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Non-Review Review: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

The 1982 Conan the Barbarian is one of what might be described as the “pop culture epics” of the eighties, a decidedly cheesy and campy take on an epic mythology – like Masters of the Universe or Flash Gordon. To be fair, John Milius’ adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s pulp hero holds up considerably better than most similar efforts to get an epic pulp product to screen. It’s still more than a little campy and cheesy, and more than a little dated. It still takes itself, perhaps, a little too seriously. However, it’s also a more thoughtful and considerate film than most give it credit for, and exceptionally nuanced in its portrayal of themes and ideas that most critics and pundits casually dismiss.

Steeling himself…

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