Archive for the ‘Spotlight On….’ Category

Spotlight On…..The Terminator

Posted by David On September 22, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

The Terminator series is one of my favourites. Not only is it a cool movie with lots of action, it is also a thought provoking idea. What if our increasing reliance on technology worked against us, instead of for us? Add an iconic character (the only fictional character to be in the Hall of Fame as both the hero and villain), and a blockbuster is born. Also, on a personal note, a highlight for me was when I got to meet Michael Biehn 🙂

The Terminator

Released: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

Written by: James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd (and ‘inspired’ by Harlen Ellison – see video at bottom of this post)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn

Plot: In the Year of Darkness, 2029, the rulers of this planet devised the ultimate plan. They would reshape the Future by changing the Past. The plan required something that felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable. They created ‘THE TERMINATOR’.

For: The ultimate sci-fi action movie? If not then definitely up there. Action, romance, thought provoking story, this film has it all. And a standout performance by Arnold.

Against: The music sucks, but that’s all I can think of for Against 🙂

Favourite Scene: The nightclub, the assault on the police station, & the gun shop – ‘Hey, only what you see pal!’

Rating: 5 Lukes

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Released: 1991

Directed by: James Cameron

Written by: James Cameron, William Wisher Jnr

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong

Plot: The same model of cyborg that once tried to kill Sarah Connor arrives in the present with a new mission – protect Sarah’s teenage son, John Connor, from an even more powerful and advanced Terminator.

For: Practically a remake of the first film, T2 ups the stakes with the introduction of the awesome T-1000, and putting the young future leader of the Resistance in jeopardy. Great action and story, and Linda Hamilton gives it her all as the nearly psychotic Sarah.

Against: The comedy bits are hit and miss.

Favourite Scene: The T-800 gets new clothes, the chase down the canals, everything at the Mall, everything at Cyberdyne.

Rating: 5 Lukes

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Released: 2003

Directed by: Johnathan Mostow

Written by: John D Brancato, Michael Ferris, Tedi Sarafian

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken

Plot: John Connor is now in his 20’s, and a new model terminator, the T-X, is after him. Another model similar to the one from T2 is sent back through time to protect John once again on the verge of the rise of the machines.

For: The new terminator is quite cool, the deleted scene showing the military inspecting the terminators is hilarious, and the end sequence showing the rise of the machines is well done.

Against: Nick Stahl can’t act. The inflatable boobs bit is terrible. Not very exciting.

Favourite Scene: The deleted scene showing the military inspecting the terminators.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

Terminator: Salvation

Released: 2009

Directed by: McG

Written by: John D Brancato, Michael Ferris

Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood

Plot: After Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.

For: Christian Bale is good. The CGI Arnie model terminator scene is well done. Good to finally see the future war.

Against: Sam Worthington is the most over-rated actor in Hollywood, his character is pointless, and he can’t act. Most of humanity has been wiped out by nuclear war, yet they all look quite healthy and there doesn’t appear to be any fallout. The terminator bikes are stupid. The idea of mobile terminators is fine, but why build them with the capability to be used by a human (by having handle bars)?

Favourite Scene: The T-800 model terminator

Rating: 2.5 Lukes


Special extra bit – see the alleged true story of the origins of the Terminator:

Spotlight On….Kevin Smith

Posted by David On September 14, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

I have a lot of respect for Kevin Smith. He is the living embodiment of the Nerd Who Made It. He’s funny (his stage shows and film commentaries are hilarious), influential, and just seems like a nice guy.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for most of his films (or terrible comics for that matter, but that is for another post).


Released: 1994

Written by: Kevin Smith

Starring: Brian O’Hallaran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith

Plot: A slacker comedy about a day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.

For: This is practically a documentary for all people who have worked in retail. Drawing on his own experiences, Smith has crafted one of the funniest looks into the seemingly dead end lives of all retails workers everywhere, and also introduces the world to the great comedic duo, Jay & Silent Bob. His finest work.

Against: Gets a little slow in places. Dante’s not a very likeable character.

Favourite Scene: Silent Bob suddenly bursts into dance, 37!, Randal orders a bunch of porn videos for the store while a female customer and her young child are there.

Rating: 4 Lukes


Spotlight On…..the Back to the Future trilogy

Posted by David On September 4, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

For my next Spotlight On I’ve decided to do the trilogy that includes my favourite film of all time – Back to the Future. When I first saw the original Back to the Future I was smitten and after many subsequent viewings later (easily over 100!) my love for this film hasn’t lessened.

Back to the Future

Released: 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemekis

Written by: Robert Zemekis & Bob Gale

Starring: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

Plot: 1985 teenager Marty McFly travels back to 1955 and accidentally disrupts the first meeting of his future parents, threatening his own existence.

For: Everything. The perfect family film.

Against: Nothing 🙂

Favourite Scene: As this is my favourite film ever, there are obviously too many great scenes to list just one. But a couple of highlights would be the 1st appearance of the time machine, & George asking Lorraine out in the cafe through to the skateboard chase.

Rating: Does it need to be said? – 5 Lukes

Back to the Future part 2

Released: 1989

Directed by: Robert Zemekis

Written by: Robert Zemekis & Bob Gale

Starring: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Plot: After visiting 2015, Marty must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disastrous changes to 1985… without interfering with his first trip.

For: Inventive interaction with scenes from the first film, with Marty desperately trying to avoid bumping into his other self. More Back to the Future!

Against: A tad too dark and violent.

Favourite Scene: Everything with Marty in 1955.

Rating: 3.5 Lukes

Back to the Future part 3

Released: 1990

Directed by: Robert Zemekis

Written by: Robert Zemekis & Bob Gale

Starring: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen

Plot: Enjoying a peaceable existence in 1885, Doctor Emmet Brown is about to be killed by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen. Marty McFly travels back in time to save his friend.

For: A return to the more family friendly entertainment of the first film. Everyone involved clearly having a blast / Time machine train! / Mad Dog Tannen / and Michael J Fox as..Clint Eastwood!

Against: The final film 🙁

Favourite Scene: Marty in his ‘western clothes’ and the train trying to get to 88mph.

Rating: 4 Lukes

Spotlight on…..The Star Wars Saga

Posted by David On July 31, 2011 4 COMMENTS

Continuing my Spotlight On ‘mini reviews’ I thought I’d do what the majority of nerds consider to be the greatest run of films ever – the Star Wars Saga! With my last Spotlight On series (on Steven Spielberg) I reviewed the films in order of release date but this time I’m going to put them in order of lowest to highest ratings. Let me know what you think of my choices and post a comment!

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

Released: 1999

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman

Plot: While acting as emissaries to Queen Amidala from the blockaded planet Naboo, two Jedi Knights uncover a wider conflict, with hints of the return of the Sith. While investigating this mystery they meet young Anakin Skywalker, who Master Jinn believes is the Chosen One.

For: A new Star Wars for a new generation! Liam Neeson makes a great Jedi. Darth Maul is friggin’ awesome. The Podracer sequence is exciting, with some truly magnificent sound effects. Senator Palpatine is a great villain. An exciting new score from John Williams.

Against: Jar Jar Binks – I understand that this is aimed at kids so I have no problem with comedy relief characters, but the ridiculous amount of screen time this idiot’s over the top antics receives is offensive. Anakin Skywalker is strongly hinted to have been ‘conceived’ by the Force – a Jesus analogy as subtle as a slap in the face. Darth Maul is setup to be a major player, but is defeated in a really annoying way. Nitpicking here but, it’s never fully explained just how the Trade Federation has the legal right to blockade Naboo, and if they don’t, why Naboo doesn’t just hire some mercenaries and blow them all away.

Favourite Scene: The Jedi vs Sith lightsaber battle & anything with Senator Palpatine.

Rating: 2 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Released: 2002

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman

Plot: Anakin Skywalker, now a Jedi Padawan, and his Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, investigate a Separatist assassination attempt on Senator Amidala which leads to the discovery of a secret Republican clone army. While assigned to Padmé as her bodyguard, Anakin declares his feelings for the young Senator and they begin a forbidden romance.

For: Tighter plotting than Menace. The Clone army idea is cool, including the origin of Boba Fett. Count Dooku is interesting. The sound of Slave I’s mines is one of the best in the series.The Jedi finally go wild!

Against: The so called ‘love story’ between Padme and Anakin is crap, and slightly creepy. Anakin is already clearly unhinged, his slaughter of the Sand People and obsession with Padme is evidence enough of this. The whole thing comes across as forced, stilted and unbelievable. Initially the fight between Dooku and Yoda is cool, but, for such a serious event, it does look quite comical.

Favourite Scene: Mace Windu ignites his lightsaber under Jango Fett’s chin and later fuels young Boba’s hatred of all Jedi by taking out dear old dad.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith

Released: 2005

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman

Plot: After three years of fighting in the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker is now a hero of the Republic, but the machinations of Emperor Palpatine come to fruition and Anakin is drawn to the Dark Side of the Force, at the cost of his friendship with Obi Wan Kenobi and his marriage to Padme Amidala.

For: Best lightsaber battle in the series – the long awaited duel between Obi Wan and Anakin when both in their prime, & the magnificent score by John Williams. Palpatine’s plan all come to fruition with the corruption of Skywalker into his new apprentice Darth Vader, total power as the Emperor, and the destruction of the Jedi Order. The Force Off! (watch the lightsaber fight to see what I’m talking about).

Against: Noooooooo! And the way in which Obi Wan eventually defeats Anakin.

Favourite Scene: The entire lightsaber duel between Obi Wan & Anakin (except the climax).

Rating: 3 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi

Released: 1983 (original), 1997 (special edition)

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Written by: George Lucas & Lawrence Kasden

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Plot: The final chapter in the Star Wars Saga – After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels attempt to destroy the Death Star II, while Luke Skywalker strives to bring his father back to the Light Side of the Force.

For: Luke kicks arse. The SFX are awesome for its time and Jabba still looks great today. Luke vs Vader round 2! Anakin redeemed. Slave costume Leia (sorry, but all you males are thinking the same thing!)

Against: The Ewoks are an insult – a race of teddy bears defeating the Empire is just stupid. Some people have suggested that it is a Vietnam analogy (primitive tactics and weaponry triumphant against supposedly superior firepower), but I disagree. To me it is nothing more than the most blatant merchandising scam ever put on film.

Favourite Scene: Luke strides into Jabba’s palace like he owns the place. The battle at the Sarlacc, & the confrontation in the Emperor’s Throne Room.

Rating: 3.5 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope

Released: 1977 (original), 1997 (special edition)

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Plot: Orphaned Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet of Tatooine in the company of ‘Old Ben’ Kenobi, droids R2-D2 & C-3PO, and smugglers Han Solo & Chewbacca, in order to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader and join up with the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire.

For: The film that started it all. One of the, if not the, most influential Sci-Fi films of all time. A rollicking adventure that draws from the classics of storytelling to take the viewer on the ride of their life.

Against: The dialogue is quite bad at times (a constant throughout the series). The special edition version has the most annoying changes in all of the special editions – including the almost blasphemous ‘Greedo shoots first’ change, and the unbelievably fanboyish Boba Fett nod to the camera (who the hell is he nodding at!!!!).

Favourite Scene: There are too many to mention here, but highlights include the confrontation between Vader and Obi Wan, every scene Han Solo is in and the Trash Compactor scene.

Rating: 4.5 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back

Released: 1980 (original), 1997 (special edition)

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Written by: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasden & George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Plot: After the destruction of their Death Star, the Empire ruthlessly crush the Rebel base on Hoth and pursue the survivors across the galaxy, Meanwhile, as Luke receives Jedi training from Yoda on Dagobah, Lord Vader captures his friends on Bespin in order to use them as bait to draw Luke to him and attempt to turn him to the Dark Side of the Force.

For: Not only the best of the Star Wars films, but also one of my favourite films of all time. A darker film that A New Hope, Empire forces our heroes into situations that look believably dangerous and not un-feasible that one of them might not make it. It also has one of the greatest ‘Holy Crap!’ moments in film and the 2nd best lightsaber duel. I have to stop here or I’ll be going on forever. Brilliant stuff.

Against: Nothing. Even the special edition didn’t annoy me.

Favourite Scene: Too many to list here, but I’ll single out the lightsaber duel and ‘The Revalation!’ & Han outmaneuvers the pursuing Imperial fleet and takes on the odds (3720 to 1) to lose them by going into an asteroid field.

Rating: 5 Lukes

Well there you have it, my opinion on the Star Wars Saga. Thank you for taking the time to read it. What do you think of my ratings and reasoning? Agree/Disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Spotlight On…..Steven Spielberg part #4

Posted by David On July 24, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to the final installment of Spotlight On….Steven Spielberg. WARNING: Spoilers ahead!


Released: 2001

Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor

Plot: A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become “real” so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

For: Great performances, moving story.

Against: The anti-robots carnival sequence goes on for far too long. Tone of the film jumps around a bit.

Favourite Scene: Thanks to some cool looking aliens, David finally has a day with his mother one last time.

Rating: 3.5 Lukes




Released: 2002

Starring: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow

Plot: In a future where criminals are caught before they commit their crimes, one of the officers in the special Pre-Crime unit is accused of a crime and sets out to prove his innocence, and on the way discovers the dark secret at the heart of Pre-Crime method.

For: Great story/concept, visually awesome

Against: Painfully obvious that Burgess is the bad guy & the ending sucks – Burgess should have blown Anderton away.

Favourite Scene: Anderton and Agatha elude pursuit through the mall

Rating: 3.5 Lukes



Released: 2002

Starring: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DeCaprio

Plot: Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor.

For: Interesting story

Against: `Sara Lee’ product placement jars. The opening sequence is too long. I’ve seen these actors do better. More like a Ron Howard movie than Steven Spielberg. Because of this I skipped The Terminal.

Favourite Scene: Don’t really have one.

Rating: 1.5 Lukes




Released: 2005

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins

Plot: Deadbeat dad fights to keep his family alive as Martians invade Earth.

For: Martians/SFX look awesome. Acting quite good, especially Cruise and Fanning.

Against: Original 1953 movie much better. How the hell is the son alive at the end of the film when he clearly walks off to his death earlier? The happy ending really annoys me. I don’t mind a happy ending, but it has to make sense damn it!

Favourite Scene: The Martians arrive / the humans being harvested.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes



Released: 2005

Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig

Plot: Based on the true story of the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for the Black September terrorist attack.

For: The performances are top notch. Australia’s own Eric Bana! When is killing justified? What happens to your soul when you take another human being’s life?

Against: The scene where Avner’s group share a flat with a Palestinian group really jars. It attempts to show the audience that the Palestinians are people, with their own views but then shies away from giving an opinion of its own. It is a very clumsy and frustrating scene.

Favourite Scene: Avner crying at hearing his child’s voice over the phone.

Rating: 3.5 Lukes



Released: 2008

Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia LeBeouf, Cate Blanchet, Karen Allen

Plot: Archaeologist/Adventurer Dr. Indiana Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.

For: Indiana Jones is back! Marion! Cate Blanchet’s hilariously over the top accent. Sitting in a cinema as the iconic theme music blares from the speakers

Against: The fridge! Aliens. Mutt Williams. The Monkeys & the Tarzan-esque vine swinging. I could go on.

Favourite Scene: The warehouse fight & the first appearance of Marion.

Rating: 3 Lukes



And that brings us to the end of my series on the directorial endeavors of Mr Steven Spielberg. As mentioned in part #1, I may go over his producing credits at some stage but this is it for now.

What do you think? Was I too harsh on Crystal Skull? Is my admiration for Saving Private Ryan unjustified? Tell me your opinions, I’d love to read them.

Coming up next – In preparation for the upcoming release on Blu-ray I will be doing – Spotlight On….The Star Wars Saga! (Come on, the website is called Nerd Culture Podcast, so you had to have seen that coming!)