Welcome to the Cory C.O.R.N.E.R. (critical observation regarding neo-entertainment, respectfully), a time where your resident know-it-all cinephile, a multi-time Scene-It champion and only slightly-annoying dinner guest, shares his thoughts on whatever movie-ness needs to be movie’d.

Always remember these three things: Hogwarts should switch to email; John Wick is not a cat person; ever since I could remember, I always wanted to find an Infinity Stone.

This week, Cory comes to terms with the languished desolation that is the Terminator franchise and enjoys a fleet rom-com with a few surprises up its jolly sleeve.

Terminator: Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate

I’ve never seen a movie jinx itself in its title, but Terminator: Dark Fate practically reviews itself before it even comes on. James Cameron makes his ballyhooed producing/story return to the cyborg-driven sci-fi/action series and pulls a Force Awakens on it by bringing back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and the Ahnold as whatever new Terminator he’s playing in this series. After three attempts to capture the renegade spirit and thrill of the first two films, this latest attempt is about a few bolts short of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and roughly in the same resistance fighting team as 2015’s “wait, that was a movie?” Terminator: Genisys. This film feels destined to suffer the same fate of anonymity, with its attempt to rehash the story of the first two Terminator films an uninspired as any of these recent “bring back the old actors and tell a revamped story” nostalgia plays.

Hamilton tries her hardest to make something of Connor’s return, but the script very rarely lets her tap into that desperate humanity that made her such a magnetic lead in the first two films. The rugged survivalist she is calls for lots of barks, growls and misplaced one-liners, and it’s deeply disappointing the film didn’t do more with an obviously game performance. Mackenzie Davis shows up as a Terminator-human hybrid, and she’s as engaging as she always is with a role that’s just not there enough on the page to register. Though, the series has always rested on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoulders, and his return helps buoy some of the pandering nostalgia. It never really feels great to be swayed with such obvious attempts to play at what you love about the original films, but at least when Arnold and Linda Hamilton are the ones doing it, it doesn’t feel quite as cheap.  

But this series is four films in with post-T2 attempts at story building, and none of these films have registered anywhere near the iconic first two films. It’s time this franchise got its dignified retirement. The ideas and fears here work best in a pre-internet/80s tech paranoia world. Now it’s hokey. This franchise does not need to be back anytime soon.

Last Christmas

Last Christmas

Rom-coms are a dime a dozen, and a good one should stick on you like snow on the ground in Lansing, Michigan, in February. Paul Feig is one of the most adept filmmakers to bring such a genre to life, and his latest film Last Christmas (a collaboration with actress/screenwriter Emma Thompson) is a holly jolly reminder that romantic comedies can still work with the right leads, tone and appreciation for the genre.

Emilia Clarke has finally gotten a role to showcase her impressive range, and she’s a delight as our fixture point, a George Michaels-loving ragamuffin who leans on a new love interest (a dapper Henry Golding) to improve herself just as the Christmas holidays grow closer.

If you’ve seen the trailers, you’re probably smelling “twist” for something that plays so seemingly straightforward. You’d be right, though we’ll save it to be opened closer to the finale. Just know that you might or might not like where this story goes, though it’s entirely justified in such a setting. This is a cheery hug from the Ghost of Christmas Present, and a film I didn’t really see coming. If you want something relatively inconsequential to warm you as the weather grows colder, you could do a lot worse than Last Christmas. It’s deeply entertaining and might wind up on your nice list.