Archives for posts with tag: Terminator 2

Richard Spencer and Mark Brahmin discuss James Cameron’s films The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Readers may want to compare this pair’s very insightful commentary with my remarks on Terminator: Genisys (2015).

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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Wedding Crashers costars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite in The Internship, adequate underdog comedy fare that plays it safe and superficial, never deviating from genre conventions, and gives audiences exactly what the trailer has led them to expect. Vaughn and Wilson play Billy and Nick, wristwatch salesmen who, finding themselves the latest casualties of modernization, apply for a competitive Google internship in the long-shot hope of employment.

The protagonists’ plight will be an uncomfortably poignant one to endangered data entry workers, Blockbuster Video clerks, and all of the other expendable relics of the late twentieth century, along with that general portion of the audience comprising the rear guard of the technologically squeamish. There is an irony to the early scene in which Nick and Billy cavalierly order a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, as they themselves, like Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, are suddenly made conscious of the fact that the world they knew until now is gone. After being dismissed as dinosaurs by their younger and more brilliant rivals, however, the pair finds that their age and experiences lend them a skill set and a valuable difference of perspective, a reconciliation that finds expression in the image of a tyrannosaurus skeleton wearing Groucho glasses.

Nick and Billy’s obligatory (and unlikely) comeback notwithstanding, the film offers little hope to those still haunted by the words of former employer Sammy (John Goodman) when he tells them, “Everything’s computerized now. [. . .] They don’t need us anymore.” Then, too, there is one cynical young intern’s assertion that, “The whole American Dream thing that you guys grew up on – that’s all it is nowadays – a dream.”

Vaughn and Wilson make a great comedy team, and the supporting cast, from John Goodman to Josh Brener, Will Ferrell, and the delightfully arch Aasif Mandvi, greatly enlivens an uneven script by Vaughn and Jared Stern. The Internship is funny, if not, perhaps, as consistently hilarious as one might hope; but the pacing is impeccable, so that the movie is never in danger of grating on the viewer’s patience – even if that same viewer’s sense of the decent is in for a thrashing.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Internship is:

13. Statist. The eccentric Yo-Yo’s (Tobit Raphael) traumatic homeschooling serves implicitly to endorse the public education system (cf. The Bling Ring).

12. Feminism-ambivalent. Dana (Rose Byrne) admits that her single-minded careerism has prevented her from having a happy and normal domestic existence. Her solution, however, is not to quit her job and raise a family, but to begin an affair with a new coworker. (cf. The Heat)

11. Pro-gay. “Seriously, same-sex partners make excellent parents,” Neha (Tiya Sircar) gushes. “I so wish my parents were gay.” Strippers engage in lesbian play. Anal sex is a “life changer”.

10. Pro-miscegenation. The sight of curvaceous black booty gets an obnoxious mattress salesman (Will Ferrell) hot to trot. Asian guy Yo-Yo, meanwhile, receives serial lap dances from one or more white strippers. There is also flirtation between Indian Neha and white guy Stuart (Dylan O’Brien).

9. Pro-wigger. Lyle (Josh Brener) appropriates ‘hood lingo throughout. “Hells yeah,” fist-bumping, etc.

8. Anti-Luddite. Things are getting better all the time. One suspects that Nick (Wilson), after finally landing a job with Google, would retract his earlier words of despair: “People have a deep mistrust of machines. Have you seen Terminator? Or 2? Or 3? Or 4?” (cf. no. 7)

7. Technology-skeptical. Despite its basic endorsement of innovation, The Internship does imply critiques of what gadgetry and the internet have done to human interaction. “People hate people,” Sammy observes, and post-adolescent representatives of Generation Y exhibit social dysfunction ranging from crippling shyness to barely human rudeness and lack of any shame whatsoever in the discussion of matters best left private. Neha, like many of her generation, fetishizes Japanese pop-cultural garbage and says she enjoys cosplay (dressing up like anime characters). (cf. no. 8)

6. Pro-slut. Dana sleeps with Nick on the night of their first date.

5. Pro-drug. Billy (Vaughn) unwisely suggests he would be happy to have a “cold one” or “get high” with the severe Mr. Chetty (Mandvi). He also expresses a willingness to procure alcohol for underage co-interns. Students have the best night of their lives getting drunk and raising a ruckus at a strip club. The film does, however, at least discourage drunk driving and warns against overzealous imbibing (“I think my liver hurts”).

4. Anti-family/anti-marriage. Old client Bob (Gary Anthony Williams) has an ugly daughter who Nick and Billy have to pretend is pretty. Yo-Yo’s father (Fel Tengoncion) is a henpecked husband. His mother (Chuti Tiu) was overly protective, breastfeeding him until he was seven. She also mentally and physically abuses him, which has made Yo-Yo overly harsh on himself, so that he feels he must punish himself for “inferior performance”. “My mom calls me a maniac every night when I tell her I love her,” he says. (cf. no. 11)

3. Multiculturalist/pro-immigration. “Diversity is in our DNA,” Lyle says of his company. Intellectually bright non-whites appear in depressing abundance as juxtaposed with dopey white guys Nick and Billy. Anti-American zillionaire and ethnosaboteur Mark Zuckerburg will probably get misty-eyed when he watches The Internship‘s depictions of all the technologically adept diversity awaiting the country as soon as “immigration reform” is passed.

2. Progressive. Google is “an engine for change”.

1. Corporate. The Internship is essentially a feature-length Google commercial.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a trucking company owner whose inexplicably Caucasian son (Rafi Gavron) is set up, arrested for his noncommittal involvement in a friend’s ecstasy dealing, and threatened with a harsh prison sentence unless he agrees to rat out the dealers he knows.  The young man is unwilling to cooperate, but his father, the Rock, is not prepared to see his son’s best years wasted in prison and petitions federal prosecutress Susan Sarandon to allow him to use his trucking business to help her reel in a bigger fish, who turns out to be El Topo, a major player in a Mexican drug cartel.  Johnson’s decision to play the Feds’ game is more than a gamble on his personal safety; by going undercover and involving himself with gangsters, he also incriminates an ex-con employee (Jon Bernthal) attempting to go straight and endangers both men’s families in the process.

Johnson brings a great deal of monstrous manliness and gravitas to any role simply by showing his face, and has little difficulty carrying a picture on his shoulders.  Snitch‘s script, however, is nothing special, and before viewers are treated to the fantastic truck action at the climax, they must endure several mopey scenes of family anguish and of Johnson being humiliated – which, frankly, seem somewhat beneath the Rock’s dignity as a larger-than-life action commodity, attempts at faithfulness to true events notwithstanding.  Likewise, the soundtrack of melodramatic violins seems somewhat out of place in a Rock picture, which would be better served by a punchier, angrier, hip-hoppier set of sounds.  More masculine energy and more action sequences spread throughout the film would make Snitch more satisfying, but highway violence on eighteen wheels, in everything from White Line Fever to Terminator 2, has always been a blast to watch, and Snitch, too, delivers in the end, earning 3.5 of 5 possible stars.

The evidence of personal experience is that the Rock’s presence in Snitch has attracted an audience of altogether substandard human types unlikely to be interested by or even aware of meaning apart from appeal to the basest instincts; nevertheless, Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Snitch is:

7. Anti-Christian.  Sarandon’s unlikable character wears a crucifix.

6. Liberal.  “The liberals think you’re a bitch,” self-interested congressional aspirant Sarandon’s political advisor informs her.  The viewer is left to assume that she must be the film’s representative Republican.

5. Pro-miscegenation.  An outdoor barbecue social, complete with a big, squishy, interracial kiss, seems to have been inserted to show that the races can interact socially in wholesome, non-criminal contexts so as to offset the other, less optimistic depictions in the film.

4. Diversity-skeptical.  Despite nos. 5 and 6 above, America’s accelerating diversity comes across as something much less than a strength in Snitch.  Blacks and Hispanics as represented in the film are largely criminal and violent, and a significant leer from a black inmate suggests that the beatings Gavron suffers in lock-up may be the result of racial targeting.  A black receptionist is uncaring when Johnson inquires about his son; a black woman judge’s ugly face conveys naked hostility toward Gavron; and a Hispanic guard at the jail is corrupt and in league with El Topo.

3. Surprisingly pro-liberty.  Johnson buys a gun to protect himself on the climactic run.  It works.

2. Pro-family.  Johnson and Bernthal, parallel characters in their concern for their respective sons, are good fathers at least in that they want to do the best thing for their families.  Both men have regretfully failed in this in multiple instances, with Bernthal having spent time in prison and Johnson’s first marriage having ended in divorce.  Still, family bonds are of central importance and motivate both protagonists.

1. Anti-state, at least with regard to the War on Drugs.  The threatened sentence for Johnson’s son is correctly depicted as overly harsh, as minimum sentence legislation aimed at locking up drug kingpins has instead had a disproportionate impact on low-level players in the trade.  Sarandon admits that the War on Drugs has been a failure, but persists in prosecuting it with a vengeance to score political points in her congressional campaign.  She is quite prepared, furthermore, to sacrifice innocent lives in achieving her personal ambitions.  The end credits prompt viewers to visit takepart.com/snitch, which, in addition to promoting the movie, offers statistics and a petition to end the high minimum sentences for minor drug offenders.  The film also implies that prison reform is necessary.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has substandard luck with would-be blockbusters titled Last.  1993’s Last Action Hero, released a mere two years after the megahit Terminator 2: Judgment Day, is widely regarded as marking not only the end of Schwarzenegger’s reign at the box office and in audiences’ hearts and minds, but the demise of the larger-than-life 80s action film itself.  Now, in 2013, comes The Last Stand, a lively outing that ought to mark the muscleman’s triumphant return to action adoration, but which, alas, as it turns out, is just another relative flop.

Combining elements of High Noon and Vanishing Point, The Last Stand, with its southwestern flavor, brings Schwarzenegger full-circle in a way, considering that one of his earliest roles was in the western comedy The Villain.  Here Schwarzenegger is Ray Owens (sic), Sheriff of Sommerton County, Arizona, on America’s southern border.  His sleepy rural community is about to get more than its usual share of excitement when escaped drug cartel kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) hatches a plan to use Owens’s own unsuspecting town of Sommerton Junction as the end point of a sure-fire escape route to Mexico.  Making matters more difficult for federal and local authorities is the fact that Cortez is driving a futuristic and seemingly unstoppable thousand-horsepower Corvette.

The Last Stand is an unapologetically lightweight, nostalgic, high-testosterone crowd-pleaser, but no less pleasing for its lack of originality or depth.  Lukewarm box office notwithstanding, an Arnold Schwarzenegger gunplay-and-explosions vehicle – even a second-tier, self-consciously geriatric one – is something of a national treasure.  Schwarzenegger’s acting gives little evidence of having improved during his years in government, and may in fact have gotten worse; but nothing can mitigate the thrill of seeing this man in heroic action.

While he probably deserves a more iconic or physically imposing foe than lanky Eduardo Noriega or weird Peter Stormare (winner of this year’s Most Awkward American Accent Award), the supporting cast does much to enhance Schwarzenegger’s presence through humorous contrasts.  Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville are especially noteworthy in the comic relief department, and Forest Whitaker turns in an intensely invested performance as harried G-Man John Bannister.  The only thing The Last Stand may be missing is Schwarzenegger’s leading lady, as deputy Jaimie Alexander is too young to be the appropriate recipient of anything but his paternal affection.

4.5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Last Stand is:

6. Anti-drug.  Drug dealers, in the finest tradition of 80s action films, are the bad guys.

5. Pro-military.  An Iraq veteran ex-Marine is a key figure in the hometown defense.

4. Immigration-ambivalent.  Americans are reminded of their perilously porous border with Mexico when Cortez points out the irony of Owens trying to prevent him from returning to his own country when 12,000 Mexicans cross in the opposite direction every day.  “You make us immigrants look bad,” Owens tells Cortez.  It is unclear whether by saying “us immigrants” he identifies with the 12,000 mentioned by Cortez or only with the law-abiding variety.

3. Multiculturalist.  The Last Stand celebrates the contributions to law enforcement of blacks, Hispanics, women, Austrians, Asians, and dweebs.  Cortez, though the villain of the piece, represents Mexicans positively as a criminal mastermind and expert race car driver.

2. Pro-liberty/pro-gun.  Eccentric gun collector Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) provides the firepower that allows the sheriff and his deputies to defend themselves against Cortez’s private army.  Notably, Dinkum offers a very useful “Nazi killer” machine gun he has kept in working order against the wishes of the government.  Elderly citizen Mrs. Salazar (Lois Geary) picks off one of Cortez’s mercenaries with her personal firearm.  Farmer Harry Dean Stanton is also admirable in attempting to defend his property with a shotgun.

1. Localist/traditionalist.  Sommerton Junction is a friendly, wholesome, peaceful place rather than the usual rustic nest of hateful Hollywood hicks.  FBI agent John Bannister underestimates the competence of the local sheriff’s department (significantly, an Arizona sheriff’s department).  He is humbled when Owens does his job for him and when the FBI is found to have been compromised by internal corruption.

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