Tag Archives: lee byung-hun

Terminator Genisys – Review

21 Jul

Has anyone in this universe never watched a Terminator movie? If that is the case, I feel extraordinarily sorry for them because, as far as movies go, they’re pretty damn cool. The Terminator put James Cameron on the map for putting a masterful example of “tech-noir” on the screen, and the lore only got a million times cooler with Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Since those two films there was Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines in 2003, which wasn’t bad, but 2009’s Terminator Salvation was a catastrophe. Here’s one thing I can now say about Terminator Genisys: At least it isn’t as bad as Salvation.

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In the future, leader of the Resistance and all around savior of the human race, John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads a massive assault on Skynet. It’s at this point that we see Skynet send the original T-800 through time to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), which prompts John to send his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), back to protect her. When Reese gets back to 1984, however, everything has changed. A T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) is running amok, and Sarah is being assisted by another T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). After being convinced that the future is now changed and things could never happen the same way, that they travel to 2017 where Skynet is developing the Genisys program, an operating system that will connect everyone and everything. Things quickly go awry when the heroes run into John Connor, who has been changed into a T-3000 by Skynet in the future.

Going into this movie, I had very low expectations. I mean, after Terminator Salvation how good could another one be? I’m not the kind of person who thinks that every series should stop after a certain amount of movies, but I was confused as to what they could possibly do with the universe that was established in the previous movies. That being said, I really had a good time watching Terminator Genisys. It had a brisk pace and some really cool scenes that would please any fan of the series. There were in-jokes, references, and entire scenes recreated. After that, I slept on it and woke up the next day still thinking about it. That’s where the movie started to lose its credibility very fast.

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Part of the enjoyment of a movie is to be able to think about it and talk about it in the hours and days to come. You can learn new insights or hear lines you might have missed or even be able to look at the movie in a new light. The worst thing you can do with Terminator Genisys is think about it. Now, I’m a person who can enjoy a brainless action movie where you don’t have to think, but this is a movie that plain and simply doesn’t make any sense. There’s a huge difference between those two kinds of movies. Plus, there are so many twists and plot points and goals throughout the story combined with technobabble about time travel, I began to not even really know what it was all about anymore. Finally, there are so many questions left unanswered which can only be explained by awful writing, and that is unacceptable.

Now, Terminator Genisys isn’t a total waste, and it isn’t even the worst that this series has to offer. There are some redeeming qualities. Like I said, there’s some scenes that are shot for shot recreations of scenes from the first movie. There’s also quick little nods to the other films that are subtly hidden throughout the dialogue that takes a keen ear and knowledge of the Terminator universe to pick up on. It was also really great seeing Schwarzenegger return as the T-800 and Jason Clarke’s John Connor is actually the best portrayal of the character yet… At least the parts where he actually is John Connor.

Terminator Genisys is a movie that didn’t have to happen, but if done well I’d be behind it 100%. Unfortunately, the storytelling is weak, scenes just happen to move the story forward, questions go unanswered, and things just start not making sense after a while. As a big budget summer blockbuster, it’s entertaining enough to watch, but for a series that has been growing for over 30 years, some respect should be given to the source material, instead of just rewriting everything in the laziest ways possible.

Masquerade – Review

2 Jul

I feel like I’ve been watching a lot of South Korean movies lately. What can I say, though? They’re a country that seems to have no problem churning out great movies that unfortunately don’t seem to get the attention they deserve over here in the States. One of these movies is the 2012 film that took South Korea by storm, Masquerade. It was so well received there that it took home 15 wins at the Grand Bell Awards, a ceremony that can be described as the Academy Awards for South Korea. Unfortunately. it didn’t get much play here in America, just at the certain film festivals, but I’m going to tell you now that it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

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In the early 1600s, the Korean king Gwanghae (Lee Byung-hun) attempted to make peace with the Chinese Ming and Qing dynasties. Under a constant threat of assassination, the king’s advisor, Heo Gyun (Ryu Seung-ryong), finds a double that can be placed in the throne as a means of protecting the king, but only under extreme circumstances. He finds his double soon enough in the street performing jester Ha-sung (also played by Lee Byung-hun). One night, the king is poisoned and has to be rushed out of the palace with the his double being brought in under the cover of night. Ha-sung, as the king, soon is forced into learning his way around the court and meeting its many characters, but he is also exposed to the corrupt nature of many of its members. Against the wishes of Heo Gyun, Ha-sung makes it his mission to become an actual king for the people, even when he begins risking his own life.

There’s so much to love in Masquerade. On the surface, it is a beautifully shot movie with one of the most impressive and artistic production designs I’ve seen in quite a while. These Eastern costume dramas have such an elegance in the way they are shot and designed, which means even if you aren’t a huge fan of the movie as a whole, you’ll definitely have a lot to look at. There’s also a lot of great history and speculation in this movie about a time that went completely unrecorded in Korea’s history. It’s a clever idea for a movie and is executed very well. The bottom line, though, is that amidst all of the politics and intrigue, this is a movie about humanity and kindness.

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All of these components come together to form a movie that is almost impossible not to love. There is literally something for everyone in this movie. There’s even plenty of moments that will make you chuckle. It’s a great fish out of water kind of movie, putting a jester from the streets on the throne, but that’s kind of an old idea. What really works about this movie is that we’ve all thought about something like this. Ha-sung wants to change the court and the laws to favor the people, which is what every government should think like, ideally. Who hasn’t thought that if they were given the chance, they could do a better job than whoever was in charge? We’ve all thought that. Masquerade praises that idea, and also shows that it isn’t as easy as you may think.

My only complaint with Masquerade is that it takes forever to actually get started. The film begins with some set up, which is to be expected. It then moves on to some more set up and then FINALLY we get a little bit more set up before the actual plot begins. When they story gets started, though, it becomes impossible not to watch. Like I said before, there’s a lot of political intrigue that really immersed me in the time period, but what was more important to me was the effect that the double had on the people of the palace. He brought a huge dose of humanity to a place where it didn’t seem to exist, and seeing his actions affect the characters around him made for some really interesting scenes and arcs, some of which unfortunately end in tragedy. This is a very happy movie, but for every scene of joy there is a scene of sorrow that is equally as powerful.

Simply put, Masquerade is another gem that has come from South Korea and has remained far too under appreciated. This film is just as good, if not better, than a lot of the films that come out at the end of the year that are your typical “Oscar Baits.” Like I mentioned before, this film took away 12 Korean equivalents to the Academy Awards. That has to be some kind of a record. This may not be that easy of a film to track down, but if you can it’s pretty outstanding.