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I try my best to keep the language age-appropriate to the film or game; I also warn, verbally or in text before I go into any spoilers, and the reviews themselves seldom contain any. While I love both mediums, I do try to be objective and critical, so that you get an idea of if you'd like the game or movie.
Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
Hits the mark
An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry. ...no, really, that's it. Well, there are twists, and it doesn't do everything you think it might. But much like the IOI games, this has little plot, focusing instead on extensive backstory. And at least it isn't the overly complicated mess of the '07 film, which this handily beats in all respects, keeping a few elements from it.
This has a surprising amount of character moments. Interactions and when they're alone. 47(Friend, detached from what he does feel, in control of the situation and not shy about it. He pulls off the baldness without it looking chemo and his face is "plain", not Hollywood, so he could disappear into a crowd. Or could, if he had hair), is entirely by himself. By necessity. And desire? Katia(Ware, keeping her distance, owning her anxiety and using what it to comes from to her advantage) may have been abandoned, and is driven to find out why, yet is a strong, independent woman. They compliment each other, rather than her being towed along. The others, I shouldn't give away. The genetic tampering allows bringing up the old determinism vs. free will debate, and the ethics of the practice itself. Is this too dumb to take those on? Otherwise, yes. And it owns it.
The action is elegant, choreographed, often OTT and ridiculous. A stronger, faster and smarter human, trained from childhood to kill, creatively taking on dozens of literally faceless goons? That is exactly the direction to go with it! She has incredible memory, instincts, intuition and senses. He's in his red tie, black suit, white shirt, and uses his R93 Blaser sniper, his dual silver .45s, his knives, melee and tactics. And it is glorious. The first third of this feels like The Terminator, with our titular hero as the T800! This is stylish, slick and badass.
There is a ton of bloody, violent and disturbing content, a little gore and strong language. I recommend this to anyone who wants to turn their brain off, and I mean, fully off, and enjoy themselves. Fan or not of the decade and a half old franchise? You'll grin through it either way. Doesn't matter whether you know the material, or not even like it. 8/10
Flight of the Amazon Queen (1995)
The crash isn't way off base
1949. As Joe King(Lavelle, our Han Solo-y hero), pilot for hire, you have to fly movie star Faye Russel(Valdez, full of herself, sadly not a Leia) to the jungle for a location shoot. You have to get to her first! They will constantly make up a lot of the obnoxiously bicker in this to be fair, some of that is between guys... with how much there is, it almost had to. You're supposed to side with him, of course. Along with you, you have your pal and mechanic Sparky, the superhero comic book-writing and -collecting, uhm, both, apparently, nerd. One of the best moments is when a short issue of one is read aloud, complete with pronouncing the goofy sound effects. You have to stop Frank Ironstein(Hootkins, over the top. Some say it like the real person...), the evil scientist(that trope certainly never gets old... ugh) turning people into dinosaurs. He runs the James Bond type international terrorist organization, Floda. Indiana Jones the movies are an inspiration, but this is not a movie-tie-in. You survive numerous steep drops. And this goes into sci-fi along with the elements of fantasy, with supernatural beings coexisting peacefully in an otherwise realistic cartoony world. The last part of this feels like they realized it was too short and added some extra. There's a bunch of dumb writing required to get you through the thin plot. You have to skip the whole intro and then load each time you start it up after the first one. While this, of course, can be done when they converse, highly useful for when you've heard it before, it can't be when walking, making the frequent, not to mention extensive, trips back and forth a slog. Saving can be done anytime. You can't die or mess up to where you have to restore progress. A few times you might waste time going back and getting a spare of something used wrong. I can, and will on-going be, comparing this to Beneath a Steel Sky, Dragonsphere and The Curse of Monkey Island, the only others in this genre that I've played. It opens up a lot, far too soon! Paths, sometimes even objects can be hard to see, and you have to manually scan for them. Maps quickly get extremely complex, as well.
A large cast of memorable, distinct characters. One is made to mock EA! Excellent! TV evangelist Jim Baker and his wife Tammy are parodied! They teach monkies, having moved up from raccoons. Will a man save a woman or the other way around? Still, the gender politics of this are pretty troubling. And yes, I realize that was common when this came out. That's not an excuse. It's worse than several of its contemporaries. All the women are comically ugly or curvy, wearing tight and/or revealing clothing, sexualized and often against their will, mostly with a career and/or life that is largely or fully based on their appearance or require them to let it show: a half-naked dancer at a hotel, a diva Hollywood actress, plenty of Amazonians who are of course all about that snu-snu, etc. One you can come on to, until she responds too aggressively, while she was showering no less. This is after passing silently by ones that are in less awkward situations. And lo and behold, he might just be rewarded with sex or 1st base. They're not so much no help as they're a problem, in the way and irritatingly complaining, and we're supposed to laugh and cheer as the protagonist insults them, sometimes specifically by our request. One of the very first things you do is put on a dress, wig and comical fake breasts to pass for female. This comes right after you were fooled by a biological male who identifies as a girl. Because it's a joke when someone puts on clothes, make-up and the like that don't fit what they were born as! How undignified, to be viewed as the lesser of half of the world's population! I'm in stitches. So are, sometimes literally, all of the real-life victims of beatings and even, some say as much as 1 every 3rd day, murder based on that viewpoint in its extreme. Especially the ones perceived to be "tricking" someone by that. Given the setting, there's some xenophobia regarding the people living there and their culture. Thankfully, a lot of the joke material is not like that. And no, I wish I didn't feel compelled to analyze this from a feminist perspective. However, this constantly brings up its view on these subjects.
The inventory box only shows 4 at a time, and you soon spend forever scrolling. You click on one of the commands: open, close, move, give, talk, get, look, use: then on an object, inventory item, etc. Click on object, location to move there. Why not only the latter. Made by 3 people on a minuscule budget, which I can respect... this does lead to simple programming, and, yes, I understand and sympathize with the strain that puts on people and the expectations should be adjusted... it shows. It keeps randomly switching back and forth between whether to use LMB or RMB, you'll Command and he'll Look or Walk. You'll keep doing what you're supposed to to proceed, and he'll keep doing something else, until you finally find the right and narrow combination of the keys, the order and what else it thinks you should've already done. You keep thinking you're doing something you shouldn't when you're not. There's no logic to it. That goes for some of the puzzles as well.
There is a lot of violence in this. It is easy to get a legally free copy today, with the solid 49 minute soundtrack, a 35 page interesting, in-depth, picture-laden, code-explaining, spoiler-ridden making of, a useful manual in 25(4 per language, English, French, German and Italian), both in .pdf format. I recommend this to fans of graphical 2D point-and-click adventure games. 7/10
Sinister 2 (2015)
Ex-Deputy(Ransone, still no name, and charmingly awkward as ever) continues the investigation. He's found another house. Rural, middle of nowhere, instead of a small town one. Burning them seems to work - it's tied to the locations. But there's a problem. There's someone living there. Now, he has to keep them from leaving, without wanting to tell them why.
Sequels to horror stories fail. They just do. We know too much now. You can't pretend we don't. Retread? Too different, it won't be the same. How could you possibly follow up? By shifting the perspective, setting and approach to the material by just the right amount, maintaining yet expanding the lore and cleverly retooling key elements. The children are creepier and better used, the family is more prominent and interesting, a writer's studying is replaced by a protective former cop whose fondness for, and bonding with, his charges grow and develop. And the films are shown for a different reason. Bughuul appears in different ways, somewhat more overt, hardly any of them compelling. That does bring up the negatives. Deaths go too far, ending up as torture porn, if at times genuinely scary rather than merely gross. The CGI is limited in use but never looks convincing.
This builds solid tension and suspense. The jumpscares are quite good, always surprising and not too frequent. Ideas for what grips us are creative, at times excessively so. This moves nicely along, giving enough time to each major plot point. In addition to the welcome increase in dialog and lines in general, far more happens in this. While this improves on the first in few ways, it takes enough risks and gives us the right amount of the unexpected, that which we didn't get before.
There is a lot of gruesome, disturbing content, violence and some graphic gore and strong language in this. I recommend this to any fan of the genre. 7/10
Lost and Heaven, indeed
Set during the years of 1930-38, including during the later part of Prohibition, the supply of liquor runs under the surface. Protection money, smuggling and public murders are all in a day's work. You star as Tommy(Sorvino, living up to his father's name), a taxi driver who, unwittingly, gets mixed up with Don Salieri(DiCenzo, sympathetic), who takes a liking to you, whilst hating his evil rival, Morello, who has a short fuse and no mercy. You'll work with Paulie(DeMeo, Joe Pesci-ing) and Sam(Servitto, trustworthy). It's all about family, biological or otherwise. With or against. From right away, the violence outrages you. You can't just leave, so you find solutions for the especially egregious murders. How long can that kind of double-life last? And who will come out on top in the war? While your employer is powerful, what goes up must eventually come down. Given that when you start this, they're already well-established, there's a lot of the you being told "bad news, everyone", "we're having bad luck", things go wrong, or the outcome is bad in some way. Yes, I appreciate what they're going for, still, it's repetitive and it flies in the face of the otherwise romantic and nostalgic tone. Something that owns its tragedy is Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, everything is dark, gritty, bleak. That also helps answer the other issue: no, you don't have to just entertain and give us something fun, some wins. As long as it's done right, a destructive story in a can work as well as one where "we did it!". And given that it starts down that road, maybe this should have gone in that direction: even minor victories are unpleasant, such as having to mow down cops by the dozens, betray others, etc. Sure, those happen in this, and while the former is unpleasant and the latter dramatic, it doesn't have anywhere near the same impact. Twists and unexpected events keep this from sticking too close to the stereotypes. In the last third, your guys finally take more of a proactive approach to the plot, and it gets much more interesting. The story is told by the protagonist to a policeman after the fact as a framing device, allowing him to narrate it in past tense. Doing this, he can point out a lot of interesting truths about the lifestyle, much like a work about the subject made by Martin Scorsese. The references to excellent organized crime pictures are too on the nose, and the humor can really be goofy. At one point, the two of them will briefly debate justice by law and justice by their two sides, with their sense of fairness which is more effective, and harms less. He isn't blind to the flaws and illogical elements of that life, and will openly talk with him about it.
The difficulty is... well: It does know how to do it properly: conserve ammo and check bodies for it, aim before each shot, think about when to reload since it'll toss the clip you discarded, check bodies for ammo, seek out, and use at the right time, healing items, take care not to just run into rooms that may hold foes. It gets old-school gaming tough, to where you only beat it if you approach it very specifically, with some memorizing and using any exploit and the like, *and* getting lucky. Also being fortunate. However, it's worse: that kind was more dependable, since it was often very tightly and sharply set in place: in this, at times strange, random things will happen that make you lose even when you do exactly what you're technically asked. And unlike Aliens Vs Predator, you don't have the tools to deal with these surprises. Instead of purely relying on our skill, constructing compelling yet fair challenges, this cheaply has the enemies, even though they greatly outnumbering you, take a lot of damage before they die, any hit stunlocks, they have a ton of ammo, and recoil, firing speed and the like are ridiculous even if they are accurate. You have to hope you get them. This often needs them to come 1 at a time, or from far away, when they may crowd you instead. This is too realistic, and does well exactly what such pieces of fiction always do: make us appreciate the ones that don't go that far, because too much of it, much like life, is *boring*. Not all of it, of course... let's be honest, the majority of the time you're just passing the time until something fun comes along. That's too true of this. The 3 revolvers, 1911 and melee weapons can be hidden, 5 tops. Bat for knocking out from behind if charged, crowbar, knife and brass knuckles let you beat information out of people, and a lot of the time, your solution involves you interacting with something you wouldn't expect. The sawn-off or other shotgun are not fast or ranged enough to be very useful. Mission design is compelling, albeit ends up samey because of the limitations to the period, location, etc. You may have to take down someone who keeps surviving on chance the bomb was triggered by someone else, the Tommygun, as it was notorious for doing, jams, etc. Leaving or entering a car might mean the AI, adversary and suicidal ally alike, will do the same. Cut down on a chase by turning and blasting them. Avoid a shootout by getting into a fast, smooth ride, possibly run some of them over.
There is a lot of blood and disturbing content in this. You will be made to Women are treated as objects to be kept safe. Then other times, targeted just like their husbands who would usually be where the buck stops. This is for drama, but it does fly in the face of the otherwise well-researched and -realized world this creates. I recommend this to anyone more attracted than put off by what I write here. 8/10
Fantastic Four (2015)
At the very end? More or less
Four 20-something brilliant outsiders design and construct a working teleporter and use it to visit an alternate and dangerous universe, altering their physical form in shocking ways and leaves them with superpowers. They must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
This is a well-crafted film. Rating it a 1, as a third of all voters have so far, suggests you saw nothing of value in it, and, to me, is merely an emotionally charged overreaction. Don't get me wrong. This has weaknesses. It's *all* origin. You barely get to see the trailer-promised flight, fire-ball throwing, clobberin'(don't get me started on the explanation given in this for that catchphrase...), elasticity, invisibility or forcefield creation and manipulation. Even less of them using it for anything other than getting better at them. And heroics? Less than I thought possible. The climactic fight is when they do turn on someone other than each other, and it's over faster than you can compare it to that of an Iron Man flick. As far as comic adaptations go, this is also, by far, in a *long* time, the slowest, least funny and heaviest - one joke about how frequent speeches in this are doesn't change the fact that, yeah, there are a ton, the promotional material wasn't overselling that.
Casting, acting and characterization are great. They look, sound and, most importantly, help define, their written and drawn counterparts. Well, Doom's face is boring why ditch the mask? Don't even pretend it ain't awesome. Still, The Thing(Bell, capturing the inherent tragedy) genuinely looks like someone covered the poor guy in glue and broke large rocks over his entire body. The claimed inspiration of The Fly and Scanners is easily seen here: it's emotionally devastating to see the 4 with their bodies broken, as they unconsciously attempt to heal, only to further hurt and harm themselves. Granted, this would be more effective if they had started out less quiet, reserved and, as this whole thing is, gloomy, so they had further to go in that direction once they get these disabilities.
There is some PG-13 violence and a little strong language in this. I recommend this to the bigger fans of the source material and format. 7/10
The team is targeted by, and vice versa, The Syndicate, an international, rogue spy organization that has never been proved to exist. They're behind some of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history, and they're about to get their hands on far more resources. The IMF is shut down in one of the (no, really) well-done Senate hearing scenes, meaning that, yes, as usual, they're betrayed, tricked and/or otherwise work unauthorized in the film.
Our crew return, all of them on point. Cruise strokes his ego and performs insane stunts, a thrill-seeker who rationalizes it by being a movie star. His directors' nerves may never recover. And yet, he's engaging to watch. Alec Baldwin is great as a political foil for our heroes. Newcomer Ilsa(Ferguson, mysterious, physical, a double agent who may betray Ethan and the others at any point, capturing the magic that was The Dark Knight Rises' Catwoman) is immensely compelling, and one of the best elements. As is Lane(Harris, intelligent, elusive), one of the smartest and most dangerous villains of the series so far, recalling Philip Seymour Hoffman of MI:3.
The action is varied, with shootouts, fights(hand-to-hand and with mêlée weapons) and chases, on foot and by vehicles. Exotic locales include Morocco. Setups and operations are memorable and fun. The comedy doesn't always work, but when it does, the material is hilarious and quotable. At times, this does end up repeating plot points from the previous entries, and isn't as interesting as it could be. Nevertheless, on the whole, this is fantastic.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Hollywood spy flicks. 8/10
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (2013)
Nothing could possibly wipe the grin off my face
It's the retro-futuristic year of 2007. The nuclear ashes of Vietnam war 2 makes a new kind of soldier necessary. It is the Mark IV Cyber Commando. The former commander, Colonel Sloan(Blanco Hall, delirious, evil, ranting about the gutless politicians and the Reds) is planning something. His island is protected by the Omega Force army, that force scientists to do experiments. You're gonna stop all of that. As Rex 'Power' Colt(Biehn, having as much fun as we and the developers are, never met a problem he couldn't shoot). 90% not human, you're still 100% man. At least the parts that count. And you aren't alone: his former ally, Dr. Darling(Griffin, a strong female, and only one of the memorable, character... except for when she isn't) assists you via radio.
This is a love/hate piece. Will *you* like the tone? Watch the trailers, they communicate it really well. It won't be for everyone, but I'm of the opinion that making something for a certain audience, even if that isn't a huge majority, is well worth doing. The one requirement is to try to make it clear that that's what you're doing, and this does that. This is a big, neon, OTT, fun, black-comedy-sense-of-humor-having, filled to the brim with references, one-liners and charm, comedic parody tribute to 80's and early 90's action flicks, Saturday morning cartoons and early shooter VGs. It makes you the unstoppable hero of one, like Commando, Rambo and RoboCop. The look and feel takes notes, heck, the excellent, heavily synthesized music remixes tunes, from Terminator, Aliens, Predator and Total Recall. The intentionally dumb, cliché-ridden story, told through 8-bit cutscenes are too long right from the start, but you can skip them: Enter, then Esc, takes us from one of the best openings of the medium ever to one of the most amazing finales. This goes back and forth between owning it and being self-aware, with "you" mocking, raging at the tutorial you start with! And it's made to be obnoxious, obvious. He'll also point out the tropes. This has some terrible, and a lot of bad, jokes, but "the good kind". The swearing is gratuitous. This is incredibly cheesy, with moral lessons like "don't litter" and "winners don't use drugs" in amongst the violence and death. Like, seriously, these are written on crates and the like. I do wish it had been completely consistent hints, tutorials, descriptions, all fit this. But "this icon means it's saving", the main menu, they're regular.
A lot of the issues here are relatively forgivable, since the game is so short and inexpensive, at a quarter of its parent title, which this otherwise only shares its engine with. You may notice them, yet not be bothered by them because it just doesn't let you have a lot of time for that. It's giving you a pretty good amount for the low price that it is easily worth. You will want to play in stretches. It lacks content and variation, becoming monotonous almost immediately. Slow, shallow and linear, it's more streamlined than the main one. The joke wears thin after an hour. Everything looks the same. The murky visuals, rather than vibrant colors, are unappealing. It can even be hard to make out what you're looking at. Not being "meant to be taken seriously" is a choice, not an excuse where it makes sense, that is disregarded in favor of the experience. It has the open world annoyance of having going to different places to get to the gameplay. My times for completion are based on me buying maps for the collectibles, though I know I shouldn't take that shortcut, I'm not the type to look for them myself if I don't have to and if I hadn't, I admit I might have tired of this. 3 and a half hours to complete the one campaign, with only single player, and 6 and a half to get all collectibles, the awesome upgrades(explosive bullets, 4 barrel Winchester!) they unlock, and the sidemissions.
You'll liberate Strongholds, each time earning yourself another base you can Fast Travel to, where you can purchase kevlar, ammo, healing syringes, swap out any weapon for any other, for 4 carried at a time. It's also where you go for Hostage Rescue: take out the guards, avoid being seen or they might start killing the man you're there to get out. And Predator's Path: kill one of the various mutated, endangered species of animals, often with the silent, compact bow. They may attack you if you aren't careful. You can look up their territories, and hunting is the one thing you can't run out of. There is no redoing anything else. It does have three slots, so you can restart without losing anything, and even the easiest of the three difficulty settings will challenge you some. Still, it doesn't, much, on purpose. To take one of these garrisons over, you will have to remove every enemy from it. As you do, those on your side inside will start aiding you. And so will the Blood Dragons. They do immense damage, aren't necessarily particular about who they'll kill and their only weak spot is on their chest, meaning if they aren't attacking you, you don't have a clear shot at it. While crouch-walking can hide you, you'll want to throw an artificial heart, that you actually ripped out of one of the downed foes, as it will attract them. You can use that to lure them away from yourself or to get them to take on those inside the citadels. If you want them to eat, slash and the like, so do more than fire their eyelaser at the people through the Mega Shield, you'll have to eliminate it. Turn off/make it boom.
In addition to what I've already mentioned, there is a lot of gore in this, with heads and limbs blown off. I recommend this to anyone who finds this at all engaging. 8/10
Scott(Rudd, a likable small-time crook, good as the underdog) has put his cat burglar days behind him. Until he realizes it may be the only way he'll get to be with his young daughter Cassie(Ryder Fortson, cute). He ends up in the suit of Ant-Man, a superhero mantle that he is to take up now that the original inventor of it, Pym(Douglas, a mentor albeit angry), who's become something of a recluse, watching the world through a dozen monitors rather than interacting with it. His daughter Hope(Lilly, a strong female character who gets to kick ass) is trusted by Cross(Stoll, also a brilliant scientist, though one without ethics), who they have to steal the tech from, so it isn't spread to the world - as it would end up in the wrong hands, and make for an almost unstoppable force. The three plan a heist, and have to work together, in spite of strained relations between them.
Like Guardians of the Galaxy, this is a far-out concept, which is blessed with an adaptation that embraces that, rather than shying away from it. It took Edgar Wright to get it off the ground, and his departure left a substantial void which Peyton Reed, as game as he is, couldn't fill. What could have been is all over this one. The ending is pure cheese. Like the other origin pictures, which this is one of the best of, there's not much in the way of a villain. Heck, even doing good is limited here. What we do have is essentially one long training montage, punctuated with stunning shrinking scenes that make the 3D worth the extra bucks, and a few solidly planned and executed break-ins. The action is creative, memorable and fun. Dialog is improvised and hilarious, with charm, great interplay and an energized cast.
There is a little strong language and disturbing content in this. I recommend this to anyone persuaded by the cool trailers, which did not give too much away. 8/10
Ted 2 (2015)
Of Fitzgeralds, impromptu road trips and internet porn
Kunis left. I know, obvious, single guy easier than couple. However, apparently, she didn't return because she's pregnant with Ashton Kutcher's kid, which is ironic, since even without being in this, she's involved with the child of someone dumb, obnoxious, inexplicably popular who refuses to grow up. Adoption to fix a failing relationship. No way to do that without being heterosexual... wait, no, being a person. Preaching doesn't have to be boring. Anyway, no, there's no plot, and a lot happens that doesn't progress it. This feels like the same as the first, worse.
John(Wahlberg, dumber and a major jerk... so, reversed from the great portrayal in the sweet-and-standout original, a mix which this messes up. The heart tries to drive, then the comedy wrestles back the wheel) tries to help Ted(MacFarlane, spreading and inviting hate. Directs with a broken arm, writes, along with the other two, half-asleep and without restraint) with a civil suit. They're joined by their lawyer Sam(Seyfried, at times the straight man who doesn't know any pop culture, other times game, crass as them. They bond over pot. She tries... everyone does), so that she can get together with... do I even need to say? Tami-Lynn(Barth, unstable and white trash) gets some to work with, albeit is only in about 50% of this. Donny(Ribisi, as creepy and psychotic as before) is back, in the same role, making less sense this time. Cameos are overused, and oddly full of missed opportunities as a lot else in this. I'm not sure anything was cut from this. Except those two bits that were in the trailers, which thankfully did not give away all of the best material, albeit a lot of it.
Wait, you're still with me? Wow. Well... I laughed. Like, a lot. When this works, it's hilarious. That's one of three jokes. The second you "get", without them getting even a smile or smirk from you. And the third just falls flat. I'm glad I put money towards this, and sat down in a packed theater who were just as into it as I was. I'm not kidding... I stand by that. Yes, of course, I wish this was spared the earlier-mentioned problems, the structure or lack thereof, how this feels like a long cartoon episode, has several climaxes and "calm down" periods, and hope someone cuts it down. Of course, that does bring up people complaining it's two and a half hours, feels longer than that... I don't stay through the credits. And I don't count previews. These are things which, I'd like to note, are entirely possible to avoid. I noted when it started and ended. This is 105 minutes.
There is a lot of strong language, gross-out, pardon the pun, gags, and it's immensely mean-spirited. I recommend this to everyone who finds that at all appealing. 7/10
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Determined systematic regeneration: achieved
The only way to beat the robot army is to stop it from preventing us from defeating it. Of course this means going through the time-machine just used by the cyborg Terminator(which we get a lot of cool bits with, including two of them going head-to-head... albeit the T1000 all over the trailers is barely in this, and there are definite anti-climactic, even, very 2010's, pointless, fights) infiltrator hit-man, which here, has not been reprogrammed. And then, it gets complicated. John(Clarke, giving us a credible, and genuinely, and earned, trustworthy leader; poor him, on guy 5, or 6 depending on whether you count both from the '91 one, and barely ever looking similar twice), appears, adult, before the future. Healing his trademarked face-scar, without even requiring copious amounts of cocaine, he reveals himself the main antagonist - so the internet can officially calm right the heck down. They didn't blow a twist, they revealed that this had an actual plot, and this is coming from someone who looked forward to this from the first glimpse of it, and is tremendously satisfied with it.
If you hate the idea of the core structure of the first three being used again, nothing in this will change your mind. Next you'll tell me that something not using that same formula would feel like part of this franchise, and that suggesting otherwise wasn't actually one of Salvation's seemingly countless problems. They didn't even bring back Arnie, who everyone wants on the silver screen in each of these. Offer him a mere cameo?! Who do you think you are, anyway? Sly? And yes, this is a reboot. Go in blind, you'll just find out parts of the canon over the course of it. You will appreciate this more if you do know... don't recall, not into rewatching the others? Skim Wiki for it. This plays with iconic scenes from the original two, using them as jump-off points for the storyline that deviates from them, and paying them respect, or, depending on your perspective, lazily rip them off. If you're in the latter camp, this won't win you over.
How do you justify going back to revisit familiar ground? What did T2 even, and what does this, do? Approach it from a new angle, and toy with already beloved elements, and, giving the audience, surprises, keep us guessing and render it relevant to, again. The four main characters return, with not a single one of them the same as we've seen them before. Kyle(Courtney, making up for not remotely resembling Biehn physically by otherwise doing his performance justice, moreso than any other... maybe they should have gotten a guy whose appearance vastly differs from his much sooner) is out of the (time?) loop, albeit, The Butterfly Effect-style, retaining memories of this alternate timeline that, along with his expertise in combat and strategy, now shared by his allies from the past, makes him invaluable, rather than leave him as "just present" as Wolverine in The Days of Future Past. Pops(Schwarzenegger, able, game and fun as ever) is a parental figure, yet now having lived in that role for about a decade. And he now took that over from the, again, off-screen-killed mother of... Sarah(only on the third talent, having swapped one spot-on take by a Game of Thrones actress for another, always retaining one demeanor). She's had little contact with other humans ever since, and their father-daughter relationship is humorous, real, and, yes touching. This has real heart, and this dysfunctional family gradually finds more common ground and come to care deeply about these not-as-expected people they've known for years, mostly without the other actually being something other than a memory.
The action setpieces are big, memorable and, without seeming false, carefully crafted. Each part of the mythos is reintroduced in a cute, and seldom forced, way. "No fate", the Dysons, abilities, motifs, every. Single. Thing. Irony is used to keep the known from feeling stale. The pace knows how to balance these massive stakes, powerful individuals and plentiful detail with letting us breathe every so often. A two hour running time feels just right. The 3D, adding some atmosphere, and occasionally depth, still ultimately feels like a post-conversation, and can easily be done without.
There is some moderate to strong language and a lot of bloodless, intense combat in this. I recommend this to anyone not put off, perhaps even drawn in, by the conceit propelling this forward. 8/10