"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Warner Home Video Hates America

Terminator Salvation Target ExclusiveI’m not sure how they released it in other countries, but my fellow Americans will remember that TERMINATOR SALVATION followed the LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD pattern of cutting it to a PG-13 rating in hopes of getting a wider audience (they weren’t interested though – I’m pretty sure it made less money than its three R-rated predecessors).

Not too big of a deal, because the problems that sunk the movie for me had nothing to do with them cutting out the boobs and death, and now that it’s out on DVD I can see what the R-rated cut would’ve been, right?

Well, shit.

What they’ve done is release a director’s cut that’s 3 minutes longer. If you have a Blu-Ray player you can find it anywhere, but if you need it on DVD you can only get it at Target. Because that’s who cares about director’s cuts: people who buy their movies at the same place I buy my socks and underwear. If you buy it anywhere else looks like it’s gonna be the PG-13 cut, and most rentals will be that too. Video stores do have the legal right to buy copies at Target and rent them out, but I don’t know how many of them bother with that.

I’m not trying to be a hard-liner against big box stores. I mean, I don’t really like them (and decided to skip Prince’s last album because it was a Target exclusive) but shit, alot of stores don’t sell socks up to my size. I’m not pure. And this would be more infuriating if the movie was better. But I still wanted to call the brothers Warner on this shit because it’s a straight up asshole move to give all the independent video stores and smaller chains only a lesser version to sell this Christmas. I’m sure most if not all of them are struggling in this economy and I want them to stick around. If they all go under and I have to buy movies and music at fucking Target I might just call it quits and move up into the mountains living off berries.

It just occurred to me that maybe I’m contributing to the problem by publicizing the fact that it’s only at Target. But hopefully I can balance that out by making you consider where you choose to buy your goods. By all means buy what you can afford, but if you have options in your area try not to leave the passionate little guys high and dry. I like having independent record and video stores in my neighborhood. These are the entrepreneurs and small businesses politicians always talk about and never actually stand behind. They bring the diversity to our regions and neighborhoods that we claim is what America is all about. And in my experience they’re the people who know what they’re doing and care about doing a good job. They bring in interesting things I wouldn’t know about otherwise. And I don’t think Target could’ve special ordered the BLACK DYNAMITE soundtracks for me and then talked to me about blaxploitation when I picked them up.

I’m sure some of you will say that in your city you don’t really have mom and pop stores or small locally owned chains, just Wal-Mart and strip malls. There are too many areas already where there aren’t many unique businesses for the locals to claim as their own, only the same national chains you see all across the country. That sucks. So if your area’s not like that yet, don’t let it happen. Take advantage of what you have while it’s still there.

Thank you and may God bless America, etc.

p.s. another warning. Don’t rent TERMINATOR SALVATION: THE MACHINIMA SERIES. I thought it was some computer animated tie-in, which it sort of is, but it turns out “machinima” means “using the characters from video games.” Moon Bloodgood’s character stars and she does the voice but after 15 minutes of looking at her emotionless video game face I got the heebie jeebies and had to turn it off. You people who keep saying A CHRISTMAS CAROL or AVATAR looks like a video game are such fucking liars, man. Also, this must’ve been made for the web so it has credits every 5 minutes.

I don’t get it man, from what I can tell using video game characters to do animation is something that kids do at home and put on youtube, it’s a repurposing of copyrighted material for low budget creativity. But a giant corporation creating it as an official tie-in makes no god damn sense. In conclusion, THE MACHINIMA SERIES and the Target exclusive director’s cut – both plots by Skynet. Fuck you, Skynet.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 at 12:05 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

156 Responses to “Warner Home Video Hates America”

  1. Well, Germany got the director’s cut ONLY on Blu-Ray. there is no DVD of it and so far there is none announced. Same with the Tropic Thunder DC. (But I wouldn’t be surprised if they will realease it on DVD one day anyway. They will never let a chance of making some extra money slip. And DVD sells still very well.)

  2. P.S.: I still don’t have any intention to buy a Blu-Ray Player or even a PS3.

  3. The trend of releasing “Unrated” cuts of PG-13 movies on video is infuriating enough already, now this shit is pretty despicable. The upside is that TERMINATOR SALVATION wasn’t a good movie and I wouldn’t have bothered buying or renting it even if the director’s cut wasn’t a Target exclusive.

  4. Great Vern.I’am completelly with you. We got to help the little entrepeneurs (no matter where you are) Those are people that really care that you buy them something. Wallmart, or tower records or wathever don´t even care what you are buying as long as you pay.

  5. My addiction to movies was supported by a local family store that was located in a chain of stores, collected together as a Denoula’s. The people behind the counter were incredibly friendly and after a bunch of trips I got pretty friendly with them and they figured out my tastes so we would have nice talks. The prices were great to, a lot of good, high quality used DVD’s that played beautifully. Only there could I get my hands on Videodrome for three dollars. I went off to school, came back and found out that they were tearing down the whole building, then making another, slightly bigger right behind the old site, converting the old store space into a slightly bigger parking lot. The people couldn’t afford to buy space in the new place, so they were gone. Fuck.

  6. Regarding Machinimas, the only good Machinimas that I`ve seen are from this Guy Raykoefoed… This one should interest you. It´s about Hellraiser http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BNtemarmL4 Or this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6shQhZEmwjA

  7. what do u have against blu-ray Cj?

  8. Technically I got nothing against Blu-Ray. I just think it’s unnecessary. I’m very satisfied with the picture quality of my DVDs. I tried it with the PS3 of a buddy. Blu-Ray is not really a quantum leap that justifies an “upgrade”, not even on my 32″ LCD TV. Not to mention that we can be sure that sooner or later (from what I’ve heard it even already happened) labels will release movies in subpar quality on Blu, just like they did on regularly base on DVD. And I don’t wanna hook my player to the internet to upload some new firmware every few weeks.
    I think the Blu-Ray disc is a great medium and will have a bright future as storage medium for computers, but as a movie viewing device it just does nothing for me. I wait till at least the Blu-Ray follow up, which will probably be a big enough leap to justify a change. (Like from VHS to DVD back then.)

  9. I think blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, it’s just not enough of a leap from dvd for me to jump in. The difference in quality from these 2 formats feels like a tenth of the difference between vhs and dvd, so for many, awesome, but not worth it.

    But I did like Terminator Salvation so what do I know? I’ll make it up tonight, finally watching Blood and Bone, on glorious dvd

  10. Quality rant, would also add that in the UK it appears that only the Blu ray has the director’s cut (hey McG, what happened to the 40 odd minutes you promised that would fix all the problems you introduced into the Terminator World, guess i was wrong about some of the issues with Salvation and 3 minutes obviously fixes it all)

    I have no problems with films being cut for a lesser certificate


    Terminator 1 was an 18 in the UK (like R)
    Lethal Weapon was an 18

    Terminator 2 was a 15 (like a PG-13 but more swearing and violence)
    Lethal Weapon 2 like wise

    Where is the problem ??

    These changes worked because they didn’t change the nature of the subject, now we have movies that are director’s cuts or unrated versions that are like 5 seconds longer, or have some swearing dubbed in and some extra CGI blood. Why don’t they ever shoot as intended and either don’t cut, or edit out the bits they want to hold back. I remember movies like Aliens (everybody loves a sentry gun), T2 (freaky melted bad terminator), Hellboy (eyes) or even something as recent Dawn of the Dead: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS to lesser degree (i think that was what it was). That actually added to the original movie, now its a bullet point on a spreadsheet or something to try to sucker the fans into thinking it is the essential purchase or a superior product on a superior format.

  11. Terminator 2 is an interesting thing. Aside from Linda Hamilton cursing up a storm, and Arnold cutting his hand off, there’s not much of the violence that’s harsher then, I don’t know, the Joker’s pencil trick. The gun fights and whatnot are relatively bloodless.

  12. I picked up a reasonably priced blu-ray player earlier this year and I have never regretted it. While I agree that it’s not quite the revelation that DVD was compared to VHS, well-produced blu-rays viewed in 1080p are a real treat and an appreciably improvement for movie fans. For instance, the Criterion blu-rays of LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD and CHUNGKUNG EXPRESS are absolutely gorgeous, a feast for the eyes that you wouldn’t quite get on DVD. Animation also really pops on blu-ray, I’ve already given my copy of RATATOUILLE a few spins this year. And occasionally you see something that’s sort of a revelation… watching HALLOWEEN on blu-ray for the first time enhanced my appreciation for what was already one of my favorite movies. It was kind of a moving experience, really, noticing minor details in the film I hadn’t picked up on before, and enhancing my visual enjoyment of the film.

    So I’m a big fan. It even makes old DVDs look a little better when you play them.

  13. Wait a minute… How big are your feet that you can’t find socks that fit? Socks are kind of one size fits all, aren’t they?

  14. Dude, maybe his Mom cut his feet up like the lady in Antichrist. Jesus, Gwai, have a little sensitivity.

  15. Well it’s fair to say that if this kind of thing (releasing lesser copies of movies at most stores and leaving the “proper” editions for certain big-box ones) happens over here in the UK, I haven’t heard of it. On the other hand, I can’t imagine it would be publicised much over here.

    As for the Blu-ray / DVD debate, it’s simple economics for me. I don’t care about the “extra” quality – the difference is noticable but I’ve never been bothered by DVD quality, heck I grew up on VHS, so it really means nothing to me. Once blu-ray becomes cheaper than DVD, I’ll buy it. Until then I’ll stick to what I have.

  16. I think the same thing is coming with Inglorious Basterds, although I dont know if someone is selling a DVD version identical to the Bluray special cut like Target is with this. If they are I havent seen it. I understand blurays hold more info/data but come out with a 2dvd set than this is so incredibly lame

  17. Fuck the Directors cut anyways Vern and Co.

    I saw T:S in theaters but it was a theater that serves alcohol…so I didn’t really remember it, except for a feeling that it was shit. I rented the bluray at blockbuster last night, and yeah, its shit. I didn’t notice one goddamn difference in the “R” version. No swearing, no extra violence, no extended Arnie (which is the best fucking part of the movie), no extra exposition.

    And why the fuck does Christian Bale have to yell all his lines? I can see McG on the set with his bullhorn, “No no no Bale. We need VOLUME! This is supposed to be INTENSE. Don’t you get that? To communicate the intensity of my film I’m gonna need you to kick it up to 11. Don’t even bother trying to emote. Volume Bale, volume!”

  18. Man, I hate Bale in that movie. He’s just not a charismatic leader in any way. I wouldn’t let him choose the restaurant, let alone lead me into battle.

    I have, however, started to forgive Bale for his many crimes against awesome. I rewatched Rescue Dawn recently and remembered that he’s actually a damn good actor when he’s not trying so hard to be badass.

  19. I think Bale is dead set on playing Gloomy Gus for the rest of his life. It’s a shame, you can tell from his take on Patrick Bateman that he has some comedic chops.

  20. You may not care about this because TERMINATOR: SALVATION kind of blew, but what happens when they pull this shit with a property you actually care about? When they came for the crappy summer blockbusters I did nothing etc.

    In Australia this “UNRATED” stuff is even weirder. Over here it’s illegal to release a movie without it being given a rating by the OFLC, so it’s pretty common to see an “UNRATED” edition with a big ol’ rating plastered along the bottom (which covers up about a 1/4 of the cover art, another gripe of mine).

  21. Vern’s comment about that store ordering the Black Dynamite soundtrack for him reminds me of the time the lady who worked at my beloved place pre-ordering There Will Be Blood for me, so I wound up buying the two-disc a week early, with that awesome Criterion cover-esque art, still cheaper then if I had gone to a more mainstream store. Suck on that Target.

  22. Sadly, the only mom-and-pop video retailer I know in New York is Kim’s, which I’m pretty sure is going to sell whatever the fuck it wants and Warners can come downtown and lick its taint if it doesn’t like it. The only other real option in New York these days besides Best Buy and J&R (a local superstore that does totally rule, I might add) are all these sleazy discount stores that stock a lot of porn, kung fu imports, and used DVDs. They’re probably all owned by Ukrainian slavetraders, though, so I don’t know if they count as mom-and-pop operations.

  23. Yeah, because the director’s cut will make a huge difference on this piece of shit movie. Just for the people who are expecting more from the director’s cut, allow me to remind you that the director that is getting his cut is McG. Think about it. For me, that’s as exciting as having my dick chopped off by a rusty kitchen knife by Hellen Keller. As in, not very exciting at all.

  24. WB aggravates me a little bit with their R2 releases of their DC Animated Stuff. They put out the first 2 box sets of the Batman Animated Series, then stopped before the third one came out, claiming lack of demand, despite the fact they made it exclusive to HMV over here, so how can you really say that’s a fair assessment? They seem to only release their recent DTV movies if they’re specifically about Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman(so no New Frontier for me, which blows), with some vague hint that they might release the other ones “eventually”.
    We also had to wait 3 frickin’ years for the extended Sin City to come out over here (while it got a near simultaneous release in the states) because they were apparently planning on leaving it till a sequel came out to put out, and with that stalled, they apparently just went “fuck it”, and then when I bought that it turned out the initial copies all had the barebones discs in them instead of the extended ones, so I had to return it and wait for that to be fixed before I could get it.
    We also get boned on american tv shows too, as they tend to release those in two seperate volumes before a whole complete boxset. So while that sucks for you, Vern, just be thankfull you don’t have to put up with this shit as the Prime Market.

    (and no, I don’t consider the Segal movies that get released over here before america adequate compensation, sorry).

  25. A shitty moronic big budget blockbuster movie made to milk cash out of a franchise like Terminator 4 is EXACTLY the type of thing made for the big box crowd. It is the movie equivilent of one of these stores. If one of these big box chains gets an exclusive on the next Pedro Almodovar movie or something then I’ll get pissed, but fuck, complaining that you can only get Terminator 4 at Target is like complaining that you can only get shitty coffee at McDonald’s.

    I will agree with Vern’s statement “this would be more infuriating if the movie was better”.

  26. Hey, I work for Target (at HQ and nor a store not that it really matters) and I have to buy food, clothing and keep a roof over my head too. Don’t get me wrong I am also, for the most part, anti-giant corporation and pro-mom and pop stores. I shop a lot of independent book stores and the like. Obviously I buy most of what I can from Target including groceries due to my discount and such. I’m just saying while Target, Wal*Mart and the rest might be giant behometh Fortune 50 companies don’t forget that most of us there are just trying to get by like everyone else.

  27. Also, to Wolfgang it is actually possible to enjoy big Hollywood extravaganzas and smaller films from an Almodovar, Hanaeke, Lynch, Guy Madden, etc. Pretending that everyone who shops at big box stores, or enjoy things like Terminator 4 ate braindead morons who you are superior to is as stupid as people who think that all Muslims are American hating zealots or homosexuals ate going to destroy marriage.

  28. Sorry for all the typos including the many uses of “ate” instead of “are”. I am using my phones virtual keyboard and I am at a bar.

  29. Homosexuals are EATING marriage now? THAT’S THE LAST GODDAMN STRAW.

  30. em_tee_em

    I am not pretending that it is impossible to enjoy artsy films and blockbuster popcorn flicks because I myself do exactly that. I enjoy plenty of stupid movies.

    In fact, I am not pretending at all. Pretending would be acting like Terminator 4 was not made by a giant corporation for the sole purpose of making huge amounts of money.

    Just like it would be pretending to act like big box stores care about selling quality products or providing knowledgeable service. They don’t. They also just care about money. Just like the studio and director who made Terminator 4.

    Maybe I am wrong about the typical big box customer. But having been to some Wal-Marts and seen the movies they choose to stock and the ones they choose not to based on market research into their stretchy grey cotton pants-wearing target demographic, I doubt it. And do I think I’m better than those people? Probably. Do they think they’re better than me? Probably.

    As for you and your job working for a big box corporation. I don’t care. I don’t resent big corporations nor do I wish to deny you your right to earn an honest living. I like money too. It’s come in handy a few times in my life.

  31. Up here in Toronto we’re still in good shape for cutting edge video stores, but there are really only two or three good alternative music shops left. Bookstores have been hit hard too.

    One of the problems with chain stores of any kind is that their presence can radically change a neighborhood, even when they’re not in direct competition with Mom & Pop. When a Starbucks moves into an edgy neighborhood, the property values skyrocket, forcing all of the cutting edge stores with shoestring budgets to move out to a neighborhood with more reasonable rents.

    And aesthetically it’s just murder looking at those fucking big boxes. Every one of those buildings is the death of an emotion.

    Can someone explain this to me: what’s the benefit to Warner’s to sell a product through only one chain? Does Target give Warner’s some sort of compensation for all the other revenue sources that are now unavailable under such a scheme?

    Or does some parent company own both Warner’s and Target?

    On the topic of Blu-Ray: forget picture quality, I’ll upgrade when they come up with the technology to change movie images the way old Casio organs used to work, with their “jazz” and “bossa nova” settings. I want a dvd player that gives me an Exploitation option, saturating any given film with grainy, lurid color, or a Film Noir option, or Maddin Vision. Let me take a movie the THE WEDDING PLANNER and give me the option to watch it as if it was shot by Fritz Lang and the dialogue was recorded through two soup cans, then we’ll take about upgrades.

  32. It is true that Warner Bros made T4 for the purpose of making a lot of money. That is the reason that Warner Bros does everything. However, I agree with Vern’s original review in that I believe that McG was trying to make a film fans would enjoy, but that he spent too much time paying attention to, and trying to please all the fanboys resulting in the muddled mess we got. I support Vern’s suggestion that film makers be given laminated cards that remind them to have a script first and then make the movie second instead of what they did here.

  33. Well, first of all, I *am* more interested in a new Terminator movie than a new Almodovar movie. So for me it does matter. If you read my review you know there were plenty of things I liked about Terminator Salvation, and that I don’t hate McG, and also that I think he was legitimately trying to do a good job (he just didn’t succeed as well as I would’ve liked).

    I wasn’t planning on buying it, but I would some day like to rent the other cut to give it a chance, and this makes that difficult.

    But whether or not you or I like the movie or have a problem with McG has nothing to do with the point I’m trying to make. The fact is there are people in this world who will want to buy this movie, and the version they should buy is probly the uncut one. And therefore they cannot be supporting the superior video stores where you buy your wonderful Pedro Almodovar movies, which will contribute to them eventually going out of business and good luck finding VOLVER: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS at Target.

  34. I refuse to buy any more Warners DVDs since they started putting all the extras on the Blu-Ray’s and nothing (or next to nothing) on the standard releases. For example the OBSERVE AND REPORT and TRICK R TREAT discs… The BD’s have commentaries and more. There’s no reason not to include them on the standard releases other than trying to get people to upgrade.

  35. And honestly, no disrespect since I’m sure Blu-Ray from what I’ve seen and understand is a terrific piece of kickass hardware.

    But at this rate, its still glorified laserdisc. There is no substantial reason to upgrade from DVD to BR. Its a luxury item for tech/movie nerds. Not essential, at least not yet.

  36. Hey remember when some Shawn White Snowboarding game came out and the Target version had a whole bunch of extra courses you couldn’t get anywhere else? I mean, yeah it sucks that alot of people got screwed out of not getting the full product they wanted, but c’mon, that’s capitalism. How else is Target going to compete with Walmart and their AC/DC exclusives or Best Buy and their Chinese Democracies? (Speaking of which – had John Connor tricked the Mototerminator with a pre-Judgment Day bootleg of GNR’s Riad N The Bedouins, I would have given this shit an extra star)

    Anyways, as they say on AICN: Target gotta eat.

  37. “Target gotta eat.”

    Target can eat my dick.

  38. Neither Blu-ray nor HD-DVD were big enough leaps in storage capacity to warrant their introductions as a replacement for DVD, but in every other way they shame DVD. If you don’t see or hear that your TV is too small, your sound system is too crappy or you’re deluding yourself.

    DVD’s improvements over VHS came from progressive scan, anamorphic video expansion and audio. In terms of sheer pixels it’s not really a leap over VHS, but VHS’ reliance on pure NTSC standards (interlaced video, analog stereo) along with analog tape degradation show DVD’s progress, along with the digital niceities such as instant jumping to spots on the disc.

    Blu-ray’s improvements in video and audio are a quantifiable leap over DVD with four times the pixels and the storage space to hold uncompressed audio, resulting in a minimum ten times better fidelity and range. As someone who hasn’t owned a TV smaller than 50″ for a decade (my current 65″ is great, but I really want something 70″+) there is simply no comparison. One easy test is the television series Lost which was broadcast in high definition from the beginning. Watching the early seasons on DVD was okay, but didn’t compare to the original broadcast, much less the Blu-ray which doesn’t suffer the same limited bandwidth as originally aired. Watching Lost on DVD then on Blu-ray is a dramatic difference, not just in resolution but in terms of color and detail. The only real downside is the revelation of so much bad skin on many actors that is muted by lower resolution.

    The recent trend of two disc Blu-ray releases shines a light on its inadequate storage space as a leap forward in cosumer media, but to say it is not a huge leap from DVD in terms of both video and audio is just wrong.

  39. I didn’t say it isn’t a leap of tech.

    I’m arguing from the eyes of a consumer. OK Blu Ray has more storage. Wonderful. What does that mean outside of best sound/video quality?

    Funny but you did mention one of the major reasons why DVD replaced VHS….scene selection. No more taking forever to rewind/fast forward and fucking the tape up in the process.

    So again why should the regular joe customer buy it? Why should it replace DVD? Why invest hundreds to replace the DVD library?

  40. Vern;

    I understood the point you were making in this article. And I don’t hate McG. Like you, I saw Charlie’s Angels and thought it was pretty fun and watched the special features on the DVD and saw McG talking and liked him as a guy. He seemed pretty down to earth and so I gave him way more credit than it turns out he deserves. At the time I figured he was some Zach Snyder type who knew how to play the game and deliver a couple good fun mindless blockbusters so that he could build up some credit with the studio and cash it in to do something interesting. But he’s not. I’ve watched the guy go from one ‘franchise’ to another. After two Chuck’s Angels movies he was going to make a movie about Hot Wheels toys. Then he was going to make a Superman movie. Then he finally settled on Terminator 4 and restructured the movie to give more screentime to a bankable star. I don’t think he’s shown interest in anything that doesn’t have name recognition, toy and video game tie-ins, and a promotional Maxim spread for one of his lead actresses.

    I agree that the guy knows how to hold a camera and put together a decent action sequence. But I’ve long given up on the idea that this guy is anything but a studio lapdog. And I have read your review for Terminator 4 and you definitely liked it lot more than I did so maybe this at the heart of the disagreement, but to me the story in Terminator 4 really did just seem like a terrible idea agreed upon by a bunch of movie execs to milk more money out of this series and then made even worse by contorting it meet the demands of the bankable lead actor.

    So it would be my argument that in addition to the 3 minutes added to McG’s director’s cut, it was part of his creative vision to make as much money for as many big corporations as possible and not buying this film from some big box store is like watching one of those Robert Zemekis mo-cap movies in 2D. You’re just not respecting McG’s creative intentions.

  41. Oh yeah, and McG made some sort of based-on-a-true-story poorly-recieved sports movie with big name actors in between chasing franchises.

    I missed that glimmer of independance.

  42. Joe Sixpack still watches Pan&Scan movies. Fuck Joe Sixpack.

    I can hardly watch my DVDs anymore, the picture quality is such utter shit. Black levels are crap and shadows turn to mud; bright scenes are radioactive making skies washed; depth-of-field is nonexistent.

    I watched a 16mm, speckled, scratched, popping copy of CITIZEN KANE and it was a whole order of magnitude better than the DVD on the best quality plasma screen.

    Once you’ve seen PLANET EARTH or FIGHT CLUB or WATCHMEN in HD, you’ll know whether you’re Joe Sixpack.

    (rah-rah-rah WATCHMEN sucked rah-rah-rah. I’m not talking about the quality of the movie, I’m talking about how fucking *amazing* the picture looks right from the shadowy opening scene)

    Even the opening helicopter shots of THE SHINING on HD-DVD take on a wide-angle, wrap-around depth that blew my mind.

    The only DVDs I can stand anymore are my Criterion and Superbit disks, and my Extended Editions of LORD OF THE RINGS. Everything else looks exactly as VHS looked when I first started renting DVDs.

    (and sounds about as shitty too)

    – – – \

    Jareth Cutestory:

    I used to live at Lawrence and Yonge so there were two mom&pop bookstores and two independent video stores within walking distance, just north of Eglinton. One of those was on the second floor and I forgot the name of it but they had EL TOPO.


    Blockbuster moved in. Indigo moved it. There went the neighborhood. Unless SUSPECT and BEGUILING are still opened (I moved to Montreal 8 yrs ago so I’m out of touch) Toronto is fucked – since they also lost The Annex Videostore . . . where I rented Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat movies back in the days when all the gway-los said “Jet who?” and “His *name* is Fat?”

    PC players allow all the things you asked for, btw.

    – – – /

    Digital distro will make this argument pointless soon enough but until then I’m replacing my important titles with Blu.

    HD whore,

  43. The only thing tempting me to buy BluRay is that they have those juicy extras not available on DVD. It kills not having access to all those extra commentaries or documentaries or fluff publicity pieces. I want it all.
    Just saw Zombieland as well, though not previously discussed. Liked it a lot.

  44. For me, it’s a simple matter of economics. DVDs are cheap, I can’t afford an expensive TV with surroundsound, and my apartment wouldn’t fit it anyway. There’s also the fact that I don’t really give a shit about pixels and depth of field and blah blah blah. It’s never made a shit movie good and it’s never made a good movie bad. Like Vern, I’ll still watch a movie on VHS if that’s the only way I can get it. Besides, if you’re staring at the blacks, trying to decide if their dark enough, you’re not really watching the movie. It’s FUCKING DISTRACTING.

  45. It’s not like that, Majestyk and I know you know. Let’s not play one another for the sake of winning an argument. These boards are too good for that!

    God forbid this place become like AICN so let me park my ego at the curb. Just a sec. Here we go.

    I’ll tell you what *I* find distracting: not being able to tell the foreground from the background in THE CROW, in SE7EN, in the whole Afghan section of IRON MAN, in almost every shot of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, in some really great fucking shots in ALIEN. The whole forest section near the end of CROUCHING TIGER is a *mess* of bleeding green on standard DVD, in large part rectified on the Superbit disk. I won’t even watch HERO anymore – it’s too painful.

    Even the way thermonuclear skies completely wash out Julie Delpy’s hair in BEFORE SUNSET bugs me (admittedly because I saw it twice in the theaters and the cinematography, though understated, was beautiful)

    Look, I know that one can fully appreciate Caruso’s talent on those barely audible recordings from the beginning of the last century. But if given a miracle to hear the man in DTS, I wouldn’t look down on the tech making it possible.

    And I agree that a big plasma complements an HD player but I can still see enough of a difference between my 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY disks on a 32″ LCD running 1080i to give the DVD away.

    I am the kind of guy where the presentation matters because I won’t bother watching a shittily made flick – life is too short and there are still thousands of movies to catch up on (not including books, comics, TV shows, games, fucking, etc)

    I will wait for a really great transfer of a film I’m interested in. I waited for the upgraded BARRY LYNDON, for example. Like I said, it’s not like I got nothing else to watch.

    Maybe that’s the thing – to me, home video must approximate the theatre experience and so far HD-DVD and now Blu is the only thing where I don’t have to “make do”.

    Your mileage varies; it’s all good. In any case, digi distro will kill physical formats soon enough…

    HD Whore,

  46. You can adjust your blacks on your tv if they’re not deep enough. Problem solved!

  47. I appreciate that this something that matters to you, Vince, and I respect that, but it seems like a nightmare to me. I don’t want to develop an eye so sophisticated that I can’t watch my favorite movies without getting upset about the color of somebody’s hair. I don’t want to even think about that stuff. Sure, if the picture quality is particularly shitty it can ruin the viewing experience, but most of the time I just assume that however the movie looks is how the movie is supposed to look. As long as it’s in the proper aspect ratio, I don’t give it a second thought. The fact is, most movies will never come out on Blu-ray, which means that most movies must look like shit to you. That sounds awful to me, like the guy who gets so into microbrews that he can no longer enjoy a Bud Light at the ballpark.

  48. SirVincealot: Small independent video stores have been doing well in Toronto lately, and, more surprisingly, several Blockbuster and Rogers chain stores have closed. Edgy new stores like Black Dog open every year and both of the film-buff stores, Suspect and Queen Video, have expanded.

    Since the TIFF became a big media spectacle, it seems most stores have been stepping up their game to meet the standard set by the very best.

    On the home theater experience: I have no qualms with anyone who has set up his home to look like the star ship Enterprise, with the big screen and the sub-woofers, but I’d much rather watch a movie in a theater. I’ve also noticed that the blu-ray/mega t.v. stations that are set up in retail stores often look really odd to me. It’s like the film that is playing doesn’t even look like a film. I saw GLADIATOR playing on some top-of-the-lineset-up in a store and it looked like Heavy Metal Magazine, all waxy and fake. It certainly didn’t sell me on the technology.

  49. Mr. Majestyk: You make a good point. I’ll always sacrifice picture quality for good composition. It doesn’t really bother me that THE
    ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES doesn’t look as good on dvd as it did in the theater simply because the composition is so strong.

    I’ll cut a poorly scripted movie some slack if the visuals are strong, but I find the strength of these visuals isn’t in the resolution quality but in the care and inventiveness put into the shot composition.

  50. Jareth,

    I’m not a hardliner like Vincent is, and I understand your point about composition… certainly the inferior quality of DVDs hasn’t prevented my enjoyment of many, many films.

    But to play devil’s advocate: doesn’t the quality of the picture impact your ability to appreciate the composition? When colors bleed in to other colors, when objects in the background are fuzzy and indistinct when they are supposed to be… all of these things affect the composition. It may not make an appreciable difference on visually indifferent movies, or movies with a bold and obvious visual style, but I would venture to guess that more subtle, well-crafted images lose a lot on DVD.

  51. Wolfgang: “I don’t think he’s shown interest in anything that doesn’t have name recognition, toy and video game tie-ins, and a promotional Maxim spread for one of his lead actresses.”
    If it counts for anything, he’s executive producer of SUPERNATURAL, a pretty underrated (imho) horror/action show on the CW Network. And I agree with Vern about Terminator Salvation. And in fact, I probably like it more than he does.

    On a related note, is it just me, or does it seem that any movie (especially new installments to well-known/loved franchises) that doesnt meet expectations and is underwhelming (not AWFULL, mind, just underwhelming. A 3 out of 5 movie) gets completely shat on by those it let down and it’s badness is blown all out of proportion? INDY 4, T4, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, WOLVERINE…I enjoyed them all to varying degrees, but even the ones I liked least I don’t consider particularly bad, but because they didn’t hit it completely out of the park and surpass all that had come before it, or even get to the same level, it seems the fans go into hyperbolic criticism mode with them. “Nuke The Fridge”? Try “Dingy The Planecrash”, motherfucker!

  52. VHS was about 320×480 = 150k pixels
    DVD is 720×480 = 350k pixels
    Blu-Ray is 1920×1080 = 2M pixels

    So Blu-Ray is about twice the improvement in resolution over DVD than DVD was over VHS, if that makes any sense. But the better SNR and better dynamic range of DVD over VHS made it much more of an improvement than just the pixel count.

    Most high volume stores like Best Buy etc. have no clue how to adjust an HDTV so it looks good, so you end up with the waxy oversaturated crappy looking TVs that actually convince a lot of people that HDTV is not much of an improvement. This is probably why a lot of the stores put on cartoons like ICE AGE, etc rather than real video – less detail, more colors, so the poor adjustment is less obvious.

  53. call me the problem, but i got so fed up with shit like this, so now i’ll very rarely purchase a movie, i’ll steal it from the internet. if i do pay, it won’t be from a big chain store.

  54. bit don’t worry, i’m buying Black Dynamite. that’s a film that deserves my money, not Terminator.

  55. Wolfgang, I don’t know what communist state you live in, but over here in rainy capitalist Britain, art is a commodity, the same as pretty much anything else. Its only intrinsic value is in how much people are prepared to pay for it. Hey, I don’t like it any more than you do, but the fact remains that economics are one of the few quantitative measures you can make to determine an object’s worth. Heck, what else are you going to use – reviews? Hell, you might as well use comments on a forum.

    This is why “Transformers 3” will inevitably get made, and why crap like “Robots” can co-exist comfortably in the same genre that also includes “Wall-E” and “Toy Story”. It’s not about what’s good, it’s about what will sell. Always has been, always will be.

    On the positive side of living in homogenized commercialised world where every high street in four continents of the developed world is now dominated by the same top ten brands – you may not like everything that gets greenlit, or the processes that film-makers have to go through to get funding, but guess what? You’re free to ignore as much of the crap as you want, and just concentrate on the occasional good stuff that does get made. (This fact alone stops me from putting a gun in my mouth every time somebody mentions the amount of money spent on the Star Wars prequels, Speed 2, Bad Boys 2, Superman Returns, or Transformers. I’m sure I can come up with a few more examples of dire pointless movies that I’ve hated and that have cost astronomical amounts of money that would have been better spent getting me a lot more sex than I currently have, but those ones top the list right now.)

  56. Also Stu, I quite enjoyed “Live Free or Die Hard”, although I think Timothy Olyphant was even more wasted than Bruce was (sorry Vern!) – if you can remember him from “Deadwood” or “Go” you’d know what I’m talking about. Heck, even in “Scream 2” he pretty much owned every scene he was in even when given practically nothing to do. But having him play a placating whiny nerd as a nemesis for John McClane… sorry, that was never going to work.

    I haven’t seen any of the rest of the movies that you name, but I thought T3 was a lot more enjoyable, albeit ridiculous, than a lot of people gave it credit for. That also had the same knee-jerk negative reaction when in fact it had a lot of good (Kristanna Loken, rocket launcher, coffin, bathroom brawl, Earl Boen, and also the final scene although I was one of only two people in the entire world who thought it worked) to counterbalance the bad (Claire Danes’ over-acting, PG-13 rating, “Just die you bitch!”, “Talk to duh HAAAND”, looooooooong car chase, technophobe who can operate a particle accelerator, suburban vet who can fly a light aeroplane, etc, etc).

    So yeah, on the whole I’d agree with a lot of what you’ve said. But I would note that there are exceptions: as well as the films I’ve named (of which “Superman Returns” get special mention for actually being WORSE than everybody who slated it said it was), I’d cite X3 (remember when you used to like those characters? Y’know, before they turned into mindless goons with no motivation whose “powers” were used only for the purpose of cheap CGI effects for the trailers?) Batman and Robin (although that’s almost come full-circle and has become a camp pleasure that you can laugh at over a drunk night in with the lads) and Speed 2 (which somehow never gets any less boring).

    Most of the time the haters get it wrong, but occasionally they’re spot on. Heck, even a blind archer can hit the bulls-eye if he takes enough random shots.

  57. LIVE FREE was good. Better than DIE HARD 2, not as good as WITH A VENGEANCE or especially the original.

    Olymphant is a good actor, but honestly he seems to do better as a stoic or understated lead than he is as the villain. HITMAN is pure disposable, but he was good as the hero that he was intended to be.

  58. Olyphant’s performance in Live Free has started to grow on me. I like how prissy he is in contrast with McClane’s blue-collar vulgarity, but then that veneer of civilization slips away the angrier he gets until he’s kind of a cruel, sadistic bastard by the end. Like Holly said, only John can make someone that crazy.

  59. Stu;

    I think you’ve hit some of my frustration with McG on the head. This guy has been kicking around Hollywood working as a producer on big shows like Supernatural and The OC as well as directing music videos. Surely he has seen some great auditions from actors still unknown to us and heard great music from undiscovered acts and seen great scripts that nobody will take a chance on, yet all he does with his directorial gigs is try to make the safest choices possible. He always casts big names in franchise movies and lines his soundtracks with surefire crowdpleasing songs. I think he’s a decent director in terms of building scenes, blocking out action, maintaining a steady tone, and getting okay performances out of likeable actors, so I guess I used to think he had more in him.

  60. Paul

    I live in Canada, which is not communist country and I am not a communist and would not even consider myself anti-capitalist. I am willing to admit certain truths about the callousness of capitalism that might make me sound like I think it is a bad system. I have no problem with the fact that Hollywood studios are huge corporations that make movies with the intention of making profit. This system has produced many of my favourite films.

    I was not being sarcastic when I said I have no real problem with corporations in general (I do have problems with specific corporations mind you). I understand that art is a commodity, but I think we can all acknowledge that it has varying degrees of craftsmanship.

    I guess “value” is a weird word to use for it. I don’t come on the internet and discuss movies with the hopes of arriving at a numeric value for them. I chat here and on other sites because I am interested in other people’s perspectives and observations as well as debating as a method of testing and realizing my own values.

  61. Okay, Vern. Love the movie writins’, but enough with the Michael Moore boo-capitalism straw man. People like Target b/c it’s convenient to get cheap dvds, toilet paper and groceries in the same spot, plus you know what you’re getting with a Target, no matter where you are. For the average consumer, being able to buy a cup of coffee, and batteries, a dvd, and Mom’s birthday at the same place is going to be more important than being able to swap blaxsploitation stories with the clerk and then pay an extra $4 bucks for the movie.

  62. birthday card, that is. Maybe I can go to Target and buy a person to proof read.

  63. Wolfgang
    “Surely he has seen some great auditions from actors still unknown to us and heard great music from undiscovered acts and seen great scripts that nobody will take a chance on, yet all he does with his directorial gigs is try to make the safest choices possible. He always casts big names in franchise movies and lines his soundtracks with surefire crowdpleasing songs.”
    I have to call you on that a bit, because I don’t T4 has anyone particularly big named in it other than Bale (who’s got the majority of his attention due to Batman). It was Sam Worthington’s first big role (I mean in terms of when it was released. I know he filmed Avatar first, but that’s not even out yet, so he was still untested as an sort of lead), we hadn’t seen Yelchin in Star Trek yet, Bryce Dallas Howard hasn’t got that big a body of work, and isn’t that big a name. Helena Bonham Carter has a cameo.
    Charlie’s Angels is a Star-Fest, though I think that’s to be expected with what that movie was. A big colourfull OTT pantomime almost. With that approach, I don’t see how putting unknowns in there would necessarilly have improved it. In fact, if you look at how the films are presented with intro sequences with “clips” from other “episodes”, it’s almost like it’s a big screen TV show, and all the supporting roles played by big stars are more like Special Guest Stars. I think it fits the overall feel of the franchise. I’ve not seen anything else he’s directed though, but the synopsis for his next project about “a group of 19th century german teens going through sexual awakening” doesn’t sound particularly mainstream to me.

  64. Skani — Well, maybe they should consider that there might be more important things in life than one-stop shopping, and that by embracing something like that, you give up other things which might be important too. Maybe every consumer has weighted their options and decided to say fuck it to small business –which is certainly their free decision to make– but I still think it might be worth mentioning a time or two, just to be sure. I don’t think anyone has a monopoly on what is or is not worthwhile, but it seems pretty narrow-minded to chide someone (on his own website, for fuck’s sake) merely for saying that to him, is IS worth it to go somewhere which is not a ubiquitous, affectless, amoral efficiency machine, and explaining why those places have real value. To call that fairly reasonable attitude anti-capitalist michael-morreism is also pretty meaningless and hyperbolic.

  65. I’m hoping that the amount of negative talkback T:4 has gotten will actually make the decent/okay film enjoyable to me.

  66. Dan Prestwich: I can see where you’re coming from. It’s possible that you have a more keen eye than I do, because I can’t think of a dvd movie where colors have bled the way you describe. I’m sure if they did it would be a cause for concern. And I’m enough of a tech guy to prefer Criterion to your standard release, both for the visual restoration they do and for the respect they have for the work.

    Having said that, my tastes tend to favor lo-fi, so I actually like a lot of grain and mud and blur in the images I look at. I’m probably the worst test subject for blu-ray stiff. But like I said, more power to anyone who wants the perfect home system.

    rainman: It hadn’t occurred to me that the dude at the t.v. store might not have known how to set up the blu-ray machine he was selling. That’s kind of hilarious. At the same time, I think that digital camera and projection technology, and especially editing techniques, are moving in a direction that I don’t really like: this kind of visual unreality that looks more like a cartoon than a film.

    General question: does anyone think that 20 – 40 minutes of previously unseen TERMINATOR: SALVATION footage could potentially improve the movie in a drastic way? What additions would be most beneficial? I’m really on the fence with this one. I have my doubts that the film could be salvaged, yet I can’t put my finger on anything that was outright awful about the theatrical cut. Does the extra footage even exist, or is that just a rumour? Any thoughts?

  67. Don´t get me wrong. I love my mom and pop video stores. I try to support them as much as I want but having the director´s cut of a movie only at Target isn´t a big deal and isn´t what is going to destroy the mom and pop stores. Talking with a guy I used to rent HK movies from was that one of the reasons why he decided to stop renting his movies to the public was the tax he had to pay to rent movies. You all probably don´t realize but there is an extra entertainment tax just to rent movies. Sure he could have circumvented the system but he would then have to pay the large fine if he got caught.

    Additionally, the general movie public never really gave a shit about the local video store. It just happened to be the only option they had. If they had a Target to buy their movies from in the 80´s, they would have gotten them at Target. The general DVD buying public aren´t movie nerds like us that enjoy talking about the movies almost as much as we like watching them.

  68. Jareth, I’m with you. I’ve never noticed any of the picture problems these guys have mentioned, but if I ever did, then I guess I could understand this whole Blu-ray thing. For the sake of my bank account, though, I’m glad that my eyes remain ignorant. I bet it’s like those 3-D magic eye posters; once you see the sailboat, you can never unsee it.

    Seriously, though, what the hell do I know? I got a cathode ray tube TV sitting on top of another cathode ray tube TV. I’m thinking of getting a third one so I can make a snowman.

  69. Wolfman – I was being more sarcastic than my quote conveyed with the “communist” comment, I think. I was sorta intending to laugh with ya, not at ya. Reading back, it came out wrong, so apologies. :(

    Damn, all this debate over Terminator: Salvation is making me seriously consider renting it, despite my obviously low threshold for big-budget crap. Question: is there actually a chance that I might enjoy this? I’ve enjoyed bad films before (“Mission: Impossible 2” springs to mind here) but T4 didn’t strike me as a likely equivalent to that film from what I’ve read about it. Also I liked the TV show, especially the second season, but that’s probably not a fair comparison.

  70. Wow, you really are Mr. Subtlety. Hey, it’s discourse, and it would be a sad day if I couldn’t do some chiding. Or is there some obligation to maintain the groupthink anti-corporate lovefest you all are having? I would think this is a venue for raising alternative points of view. Anyway, Vern’s a big boy.

    People’s decisions speak for themselves. Many people do value efficiency, predictability, and one-stop shopping more than supporting the folksy little guy who is more expensive and has a more limited stock or selection. A minority feels the opposite. What I can do without is a sermon about what a bastard I am for buying groceries and dvds from a publicly traded corporation as if economies of scale and free trade were intrinsically evil, amoral things. But if it makes you feel better to pat yourself on the back with one hand and while using the other to wag your finger at me, have fun with that.

    P.S. I love Vern’s reviews, his tangent, and his heart for the little guy. I just think the narrative of honest, blue collar/mom-pop versus evil, lying, polluting corporate fat cat can be misleading.

  71. P.S. I have Terminator: Salvation in the Netflix bin (yes, big evil Netflix that delivers whatever video I want to my door for $10/month). Expectations are pretty low. Once T3 came out, I put a mental partition between T2 and everything thereafter. I really think that T2 was the perfect ending to the story, leaving you feel that they’ve really closed the loop and ended on a positive note. The whole idea of going to the future machine war is a lot less interesting than a true sci-fi/horror/chase epic. The future war works as backstory and for flashbacks, but the whole sense of time and what is real and true and what is an alternate reality…kind of leaves you feeling like none of it is true or matters, so it’s hard for me to feel invested. Plus, I thought that CGI Arnold from the trailer looked pretty cheesy, which I know is only a brief snippet, but ugh.

  72. You’re certainly free to say and feel however you want, and it’s a perfectly valid opinion to have. And of course you’re right, the idea of a evil corporations vs the honest decent small timer is simplistic to the point of meaningless. I’ve been screwed by the little guy at least as often as the big guy, and it probably even feels a little more personal when its some small timer screwing you.

    So I’m not telling you how to feel, but if we’re in a free and honest exchange of opinion I don’t think I or anyone else can really be fairly accused of enforcing some sort of Stalinist groupthink on you, either. I just disagree. I think probably a good percentage of people who are into some of stranger cinematic stuff tend to favor smaller stores with people who love their medium, for the simple reason that their greater knowledge means they take chances on more offbeat stuff and frequently have a larger and more varied catalog. If Blockbuster and Target are the only places in town to get movies, good luck finding PAPERHOUSE or THE COCA-COLA KID or something… at least, in-town. It’s not some kind of ommunist hippiefest, it’s about appreciating institutions which value and provide access to the things we’re interested in. We’re a small segment of the population, so unless we support this sort of enterprise, they really do risk going under, since most people tend to be more interested in the major stuff which Blockbuster etc do provide.

    Lots of people like box stores for the reasons you mentioned, which is fine, but I think it worth bringing up the point that they really do make life very difficult for smaller outfits, especially when they do stuff like Vern is talking about. There’s no way an independent business can compete with the majors on this stuff, and its IS a hard economic climate for them anyway. And if they go away, I think we lose something valuable, and I think that’s a worthwhile point to make.

    Looking back at my original post, it does kind of read like I was telling you to shove off, which was not my intent, so I apologize. I thought it was a little unfair to basically call anyone who wants the mom-and-pops to have a fighting chance communists, and to my reading Vern is pretty nonjudgmental about people who shop at Boxes, regardless of their reasons. If it didn’t come through in my original post, I’d like to state again that I’m not trying to hate on your or anyone else for making whatever choices they make- just to point out that any choice has consequences, and one of the more unfortunate ones in my view is the death of independent media retailers.

    But please feel free to disagree without guilt or judgment. I don’t know you and it would be truly ridiculous for me to give a shit where you do or don’t shop (which I’ll never even know). Having worked for an indie video store for a long time, it’s an issue near and dear to my heart, but I don’t expect everyone to have the same experience or opinions that I do. So, hopefully we can peacefully disagree and move on to talk about religion or sexuality or some less hot-button issue. Cheers!

  73. Plus, it seems you and I have the exact same strategy for dealing with post-T2 terminator movies. Cognitive Dissonance, they name is “unnecessarily extended franchise.”

  74. Jareth,

    Well put. I’m honestly with you about 90%… as an owner of many, many DVDs I have no intention of replacing them all with blu rays. The hardline view on this discussion, which SirVincealot seems to have, strikes me as utopian and vaguely condescending. I mean, take a movie like DETOUR, which gains so much from its gritty, low budget, almost ugly aesthetic… how could one really argue that remastering it and releasing a crystal-clear, technically perfect blu ray release would improve it in any way?

    That said, I’m a proponent for trying to see movies the way the filmmakers wanted them to look. And certain DVDs don’t quite capture that. And I do really believe that a handful of the blu rays I’ve watched of beloved favorites of mine have been an eye opening experience to their visual splendor. But for the most part, I’m satisfied with the experience that DVD offers.

    And, just to be a nit picker, cinephiles actually LOVE grain, and a lot of well-produced blu rays effectively reproduce film’s grainy quality.

  75. Paul: Comparing TERMINATOR: SALVATION to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 actually seems quite appropriate to me. TERMINATOR: SALVATION isn’t as slo-mo cheezy as MI2, but MI2 is probably better plotted and structured. The performances in both films are decidedly B-movie.

    Mr. Mayestyk: I like to tune my old radio between stations: bits of jazz and soul barely audible through a haze of static. So your old cathode tubes are things of beauty in my eyes. I’d rather hear those old tubes heating up than the whirring and grinding of dvd players or computers. I should probably get professional help.

  76. Dan Prestwich: I’m glad to hear that some blu-rays try to reproduce the grain. Never go against the grain. Is it like when modern musicians sample old vinyl pops and cracks on digital recordings?

    Maybe Mr. Majestyk’s “3-D magic eye posters” analogy will catch up with me some day.

    I don’t remember where he wrote it, but not too long ago Vern asked his hi-def-obsessed readers if they really thought seeing someone’s shaving rash in a hi-def porn film was really a desirable thing. As far as I know, no one responded to his challenge.

  77. Jareth,

    The sampling analogy is not an accurate one, on my view. It’s more like, blu ray is the best home video facsimile we have so far of the actual look of film, grain and all.

    I guess my point being that a movie with a lo-fi aesthetic isn’t going to lose that aesthetic on blu ray, because blu ray can maintain the “flaws” visible in the film print. But a high-gloss type of movie DOES lose more on DVD than it does on blu ray.

  78. Regarding the whole Big Box issue…I can definitely see both sides of the argument and I guess I’m on the fence about the whole thing. On one hand, as an employee of a small retail business, I certainly understand how important it is for small businesses to get some consideration from customers, and to that end I try to shop locally-owned whenever I can. On the other hand, I don’t entirely shun large retailers, and this is mostly a cost issue. If I’m shopping for clothes, for example, I don’t have any qualms about going to places like Macy’s, etc., since all the locally-owned women’s clothing stores where I live are upscale “boutiques” that would be prohibitively expensive for me to patronize exclusively. However, I think that that’s a symptom of the way that independent retail is evolving in my town. Many business owners in town don’t try to directly compete with Big Boxes, and by that I mean they try to tap into customer bases and interest groups that aren’t necessarily served by Big Boxes. There are a lot of comic book stores, there are a lot of funky gift stores that sell off-the-wall but cool stuff that places like Target and Wal-Mart wouldn’t even touch (think of the chotchkes that Urban Outfitters sells, but nicer), there’s a Kid Robot-type “toys as art” store, there’s a Vespa scooter store, there’s a locally-made pottery store….the list goes on. I guess the The store where I work is a jewelry store, yet we don’t even carry wedding bands or flashy diamond jewelry, because why try to compete with Jared, Zales, and other such crap? Yet we do carry a couple of lines that maybe only 2 or 3 other stores in the whole state carry, and that type of exclusivity does bring us business. Really, my store being the only one in the state to carry a certain jewelry line isn’t any different than Target being the only place where you can get a certain DVD or album – exclusivity is a great way to bring in customers, no matter how big or small your store is.

    Sadly, there are no independent movie stores left in my town, but IMO the Big Boxes are not entirely to blame for that. The entertainment media biz has to be one of the most volatile today, for both indie stores and the big guys. Even if every Target on Earth vanished tonight, you would still have Netflix, iTunes, and on-demand cable, sources that may not be appropriate for serious movie COLLECTORS but nonetheless draw away the droves of casual movie buffs who are content with a single viewing or a low-fi digital copy. You also have the vast number of internet retailers – I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention Amazon yet, which is the internet equivalent of the Buy n’ Large MegaStore from WALL-E (“All you need…and so much more!”). How much business have websites like Amazon, DeepDiscountDVD and half.com drawn away from brick-and-mortar retailers? And this goes for the casual shoppers as well as the film nerds. When you want some obscure region-free anime DVD but can’t exactly leave Des Moines, much less the country, to get it, where else can you turn but the internet? I’m certainly sympathetic to the little guy independent movie stores, and it will truly be a sad day when you can’t walk into a local store and pick up your favorite arthouse film on DVD, but clearly there are forces at work here that go way beyond Target. Probably at some point the ONLY option in movie-buying will be to download them directly to your home HDD. Target is merely fighting this tide as much as anyone with its various “exclusives” – you can’t buy the T4 Director’s Cut from other stores, but you can’t download it from iTunes either.

    As far as all retail goes, I think the best most people can hope to do is: 1) buy from the mom-n-pops when they have it and if you can afford it (and disregarding a few megastore “rollback” discounts here and there isn’t going to break the bank for most people); 2) if you can’t buy from an independent, buy LOCALLY all the same, in your home county. This (unless you are in some place like Delaware or Puerto Rico) keeps the sales tax dollars in the community which benefits everyone. And 3) support smaller, regional chains more than national retailers. For example, many grocery store chains are regionally-owned, so why not shop at one of those instead of Super Target?

  79. Skani: I don’t think you’re being fair though, you accused me of having a straw man that actually wasn’t at all what I wrote about, which is a reverse straw man or something, I think. You can’t say I’m “boo-capitalism” for encouraging people to spend money at businesses. And you call it “a sermon about what a bastard I am for buying groceries and dvds from a publicly traded corporation” even though I said in the piece “I’m not trying to be a hard-liner against big box stores” and admitted that I shop there. The only people I attacked were Warner Home Video for making an exclusive deal. It’s not fair to pretend I attacked anybody for where they shop, I didn’t do that at all.

    Mr. S is right, not because he agrees with me but because he accurately conveyed what I was trying to write, which was a reminder to appreciate the superior local institutions that don’t have the same massive machinery behind them to keep them afloat in this economy. Fuck the blaxploitation stories, the point is you will never buy the BLACK DYNAMITE soundtracks at Target. I don’t think we’re on the same page here, the independent record and video stores I’m talking about here are better because they have WAY bigger selections. Otherwise I wouldn’t care so much.

    Not trying to be combative, bud, I appreciate disagreement, but I hate being criticized for things that I never wrote or meant to imply.

    (What was it, the underwear line? I just meant that the stores aimed at movie nerds who care about director’s cuts should have the option of selling it too.)

    Jareth: I doubt there is footage to save TERMINATOR SALVATION, but if they shot more of the Marcus storyline that could help. To me the biggest problem is that they padded the Christian Bale scenes at the expense of the more interesting lead character.

  80. Hello Everybody,

    I usually do a lot of lurking and enjoy reading Vern’s reviews. I wanted to post in the article because I find the whole large-retailer vs. mom-and-pop store thing interesting.

    When it comes to DVD’s and music, I think the problem for smaller businesses is that they are dealing with a commodity product and when you work in commodities the easiest difference the customer can see is price. Think of it this way, would you drive an extra 10 miles to a store to buy the same kind of milk you can get at mal-mart for less money just because the clerk is friendly? The fact is that for the most part, the DVD or CD that is sold in one store is the same as any other (except for cases like Vern mentions with Target). The store itself can’t add any extra value for the customer to the product. The product is what it is. If the small store could somehow improve a movie then that would be worth an added cost, but they can’t. What they can add is superior service and a wider selection, which are both viable means of attracting customers. But they have to think, is there a big enough customer base interested in obscure films or music to sustain my business. In Vern’s case, the answer seems to be yes and it’s great that his store is doing well. This is why you don’t see a lot of small DVD and CD stores outside of large/medium size cities, the populations of smaller cities and suburbs just don’t have the demographics to keep them afloat because (since you’re dealing with a niche product) your customer base is already going to be smaller than a chain store.

    I think what happened to a lot of small stores is that for a long time they were the only game in town and doing well. And then a large retailer rolls into their area and undercuts their prices (which isn’t bad, that’s just how they add value to their customers) and the small businesses weren’t able to adapt to the fact that they could no longer compete on price. The good ones are able to change their internal structures and find a new way to compete (on say personal customer service or special orders). You can’t just sit back and hope that your old customers will keep coming back just because you’ve been there longer.

    Though sometimes that isn’t even enough because perhaps in your area price is that big of a deal (like a depressed area or something), but that’s the problem when you deal in a commodity, no matter where I go, a normal DVD of a certain movie will always be the same. You can’t compete with Wal-Mart on price, you have to find another way to want customers to want to come to you.

    I think I rambled a bit, sorry about that.

  81. As far as the Target and Warner Bros. thing goes, I think it is Warner Bros. attempting to fix a problem that they themselves helped to create (and I think you’re going to be seeing stuff like this a lot more with major retailers). When director’s cuts first started coming out they were often for movies that weren’t in regular circulation anymore so people were more likely to “double dip” for the movie than one they bought only a year prior. But movie studios saw that they could make money off of these director’s cuts (very low overhead because all the filming is already done, it’s basically just the cost of making the DVD at that point) so they started to print more of them, but usually a year or so after the normal release. But the release of these cuts has slowly gotten faster and faster as Hollywood tries to get instant gratification, not thinking about the long term.

    So now we get the director’s cut coming out the same day as the regular release. This cuts into the normal DVD sales greatly because who wants to buy a movie when you can get this copy for more movie (maybe for an extra 5 dollars or so). Some people won’t but a lot will when given the option, especially if it was a movie the enjoyed (and why would the buy one the didn’t). So the studios now have created a system where they undercut their own DVD sales in the long run (no double dipping cause you won’t buy the first run when you can immediately get the director’s cut) for a short burst even though it probably wasn’t a big change from normal sales anyway cause people are buying “instead of” as opposed to “also.”

    So what do they do now? They give exclusive rights to one chain. They probably got money from Target for the rights (a nice boost for them) while also getting people to buy the normal version (maybe there isn’t a Target in your area and don’t want to pay the added money and shipping to order on-line) and perhaps getting people to “double dip” later when either the exclusive with Target goes away (I don’t know if it does, I’m just assuming it would cause Target will eventually stop ordering them and Warners may then be left with extra copies sitting in a warehouse) or they get access to a Target.

    It’s lame for the little guy, but it makes sense for both Target and Warner Bros.

    I personally think that Warner Bros. is expecting Terminator to underperform on DVD which is another reason why they are having the director’s cut be exclusive. They want to make as much money as possible now because they don’t think people really care that much.

    Granted, I don’t know if any of that is true, I’m just talking out my ass.

  82. Stu;

    I guess we can agree to disagree on the casting of T4. I do see it as McG jumping on bandwagons with more big stars. I doubt it was by accident that he grabbed the lead from Cameron’s upcoming Avatar to star in a sequel to Cameron’s Terminator. Add in the fact that Yelchkin also was in Star Trek released earlier this year and I just don’t see it as a coincidence that McG got the same two guys who would be in 2009’s other two big sci-fi releases. And Bryce Howard was in Spiderman 3.

    Even though I think Bale was good as Connor, we all know Mcg restructured the movie (probably for the worse) to get him to agree to do it because he is a bankable lead from Batman.

    I don’t think any of Mcg’s casting choices have been bad in any of his movies. And I agree with you on Chuck’s Angels needing celebrities we already like to make most of it work. I was just commenting on how for a guy with the inside track he’s never on the cutting edge.

    I had not heard about this frozen German project he wants to do. The last things I heard him talking about doing were Terminator 5 and a Captain Nemo movie with Will Smith.

  83. Chris: you have some excellent points. I definitely agree that small retailers now have to be very shrewd about how they can adapt to not lose so much business to the big boxes. As you pointed out, the way that small video stores are able to do this is by catering to the crowd that isn’t really looking for the kinds of mass-release blockbusters that places like Target typically sell (and like I said before, if you’re a serious movie buff, the selection at Target is actually pretty terrible). They also have to be honest with themselves: is there really enough of a market in my area for indie/arthouse films, imports, and other obscure/special interest stuff? In my town, apparently the answer was no.

    Also as you point out, indie retailers today can’t really sit around hoping that their same old customers will keep coming just out of tradition or simply because your service is a little better. This may well be the case in areas where the same population has served as the customer base for a long time, but in areas where you have a fluctuating population and a lot of people constantly coming in from other areas of the country (this is especially true of college and retirement towns), chances are those newcomers are going to make a beeline for the name brand stores that they recognize. So you have to decide how best to set your store apart from the competition, and that’s where exclusive merchandise comes in. My store makes buying decisions based primarily on what the local availability for a certain jewelry line is: there’s no point in us picking up Pandora charm jewelry or “Journey” diamond pendants because that’s what every asshole big box jewelry store in town sells already, so what’s the point? So we diversify into lines that are nice but don’t have a lot of exposure in our region, and that becomes our selling point. What’s really interesting is that several designers whose lines we carry won’t sell to more than one store in a 20-30 mile radius, which is great because we don’t have to worry about Jared picking up one of our best-sellers and undercutting us.

    The biggest downside of this trend towards indie stores all with really funky and different merchandise is that there will inevitably be certain kinds of merchandise that you flat out won’t be able to buy outside the big boxes. You will have all of these great local merchants selling unusual stuff, but for necessities the big boxes will dominate. This makes it tough to shop at local stores exclusively, which several people I know would prefer to do.

    As to Warner Brothers, it does indeed make sense that they’d want to spread out their DVD sales as much as possible. Aside from blowing their load right off the bat with “Director’s Cut” editions, they also have to give people reasons to actually BUY the DVD instead of popping it in their Netflix queue or waiting for it to run on HBO. The extra 3 minutes or whatever it is added to T4 is sort of like those exclusive in-game weapons you get when preordering certain games from Gamestop: it doesn’t significantly alter your entertainment experience, but it does give some people a little extra nudge to buy something from a particular retailer.

  84. I think when they release a director’s cut at the same time as the regular DVD it is usually because the movie got mixed or negative reviews and they hope the prospect of a new cut will get people to give it a chance and maybe even get people who didn’t like it in cinemas to give it a second chance.

  85. As for this whole indie renters thing, it’s actually Blockbuster that is going out of business where I live. Like you guys have all pointed out, the indie renters tend to offer a diverse selection and that is their main draw. Blockbuster has not been able to compete with services where you can order movies through cable because those services offer the same selection of new release movies as Blockbuster without the ‘hassles’.

    I feel like we are moments away from download services just taking over completely. I know I can download movies on my Xbox and watch them in bluray quality on my television. I haven’t tried it yet because it is more expensive than my local indie renter. As soon as this type of service is cheap and gains a huge selection it will probably kill almost everything else.

  86. Vern: I agree with you that the crucial flaw of TERMINATOR: SALVATION was making the focus on Bale, and, like you, I doubt that any amount of new footage would fix that problem. Frankly, I think it’s just not a good film.

    I’ll give McG some credit, though: the environment that he constructed in the movie is interesting enough that I’d be curious to see more of it, even if I don’t really care about the characters he chose to populate that environment with.

    At the end of the day it’s kind of sad that I’m compelled to give a TERMINATOR movie faint praise because it didn’t have something as
    goofy as that Sgt. Candy bullshit in it. Mr. Subtlety is right, it’s time to draw some lines.

    capefearwx: In fairness to the Amazon.com, they’ve got that feature where you or I can use their site to sell our own stuff. Sure they’re a big box, but until Target or Walmart lets me set up a booth to sell my crap in their Entertainment section, I’ll credit their business model for being a bit more progressive than your average big box.

    Up here in Canada the big music/dvd chain is England’s HMV. A few years ago, the Rolling Stones made one of these exclusive deals for their new release with Best Buy. HMV retaliated by refusing to stock *any* Rolling Stones compact discs or dvds. They even put a sign in the Rolling Stones section of the store saying something like “we refuse to stock Rolling Stones products until their record label decides to stop screwing fans with limited release products.” The story got a lot of media attention, and the Stones had to decide if the revenue from their new release was worth sacrificing their entire back catalogue for.

    At some point Vern is going to have enough loyal followers on this site that we can be mobilized FIGHT CLUB-style to plant similar messages in video stores around the world. We can leave little messages that quote his reviews.

    Of course, to mobilize the troops we’ll need a better movie than TERMINATOR: SALVATION to rally around.

  87. Wolfgang: I wonder if Blockbuster’s policy of editing movies based on moral principles was a factor in the chain’s slow demise. Certainly not having an “adult” section must have been a contributing factor.

  88. Did John Connor have a character arc in Terminator 3? I forget. I only saw it once.

    He certainly did in T2. You watch him go from this messed up brat to actually becoming the leader he’s supposed to be. And Cameron was a smart enough filmmaker that he didn’t do it some super obvious way like having John do some crazy stunt or make some stupid speech. The most obvious scene was actually cut from the movie where John stops his mum from smashing the terminator’s brain. John just made moral decisions like stopping his mother from killing Dyson and not allowing the terminator to kill anybody and risking his life to go and save his mother several times. By the end of the movie he’s bonded with the terminator like it’s his best friend and cries when he has to destroy it.

    I guess you could say they try to repeat that character in Terminator 4. McG decides to have John forget about how a terminator was his best friend and saved his life in both T2 and T3 and they have Bale just shout a bunch about how machines are evil and none of them can be trusted. So by the end of the movie when a character who is only half machine anyway has John’s back it’s not exactly moving. It’s like if they made Lethal Weapon 5 and decided to have Riggs and Murtaugh act like they’ve just been made partners and hate each other again.

    The movie has a boatload of other problems. Continuity with its predecessors and a lack of character arc for John are the least of them.

  89. Jareth and Vern,

    While I’ll agree that the John Connor storyline in T4 wasn’t very good, do you really think focusing on the Marcus/Reese would have been better? Because honestly, I thought that storyline was just as poorly handled. Marcus’s story is predicated on an uninteresting twist (that they spoiled in the trailers) and contains an awkwardly out-of-place and chemistry-free quasi-romantic subplot. And even though ‘lil Chekov makes for an eerily convincing young Michael Biehn, his character is mainly a non-entity and is eventually relegated to the damsel-in-distress roll.

    I mean, I’ll agree that with more time, better writing and some better ideas, the Marcus/Reese storyline could have been gold. I feel like your argument has been… if T4 was a completely different movie, it might have been better. I agree, but I think the same thing goes for the Connor storyline; if it had been completely rewritten and was a totally different movie, the premise had potential and it might have been good.

    I’m a little conflicted on the film myself. I can’t really say I liked it, I thought the screenplay and the performances were pretty much dead zones, but I must admit that McG crafted some enjoyable action sequences. Nothing classic, certainly nothing that comes close to the action in T2, but better than I was expecting from the director of one of my least favorite action movies ever.

  90. I think the only way to save T4 would have been to kill that Marcus plot altogether and focus solely on John Connor. For my whole life, I’ve been hearing about what an amazing leader he is, and I thought I’d finally get a chance to see him do his thing. Instead, I got a bunch of scenes of him sitting around, getting yelled at by some dudes in a submarine while yet again relying completely on his mother. As for Marcus, his storyline sucks because his very existence contradicts all of the other movies. Why would Skynet even bother to make T-800s if they’d already perfected the ultimate infiltration unit? It makes no sense. Why was all that shit even necessary anyway? What’s wrong with the idea of simply making the movie about how John Connor, through smarts, charisma, and determination, slowly but surely turns the tide of the battle against the machines? That’s the story everybody wants to see. Why do they keep putting it off? Oh wait, because they were hoping to save that for yet another sequel. Well, sorry, guys. You have to make every movie count. You can’t ration all your good shit for a later installment.

  91. Dan Prestwich: I’m just as conflicted about TERMINATOR: SALVATION as you are. It gets even worse for me if I add TERMINATOR 3 into the mix. I like Nick Stahl’s Connor more than Bale’s, and I think the big truck chase scene in T3 is better than anything in T4. I also liked the ending. At the risk of incurring the wrath of the legendary AB King, I think the big problem with T3 was Schwartzenegger, not so much for his performance but for the decision that was made to simply rehash T2’s plot around his central presence in the film.

    I think McG had a better grasp on the tone of his film, and I’m glad he broke the mold in terms of the plot, and the Schwarzenegger stuff was done well.

    But there’s just so much junk in both movies.

    I guess we can blame Cameron for coming up with an idea that is interesting enough that we can endlessly discuss the possibilities of even the weakest incarnations. Maybe if T3 and T4 were as bad as those AvP movies, we wouldn’t bother discussing them.

    You know what I find frustrating? I think both MATRIX sequels are flawed, but still way better than anything after the second entries in the ALIEN and TERMINATOR franchises, yet the MATRIX sequels are generally considered abominations. I just don’t get the hatred for those films.

  92. Mr. Majestyk – You know what the sad thing is?

    If you sever the TERMINATOR unvierse ties and obviously remove the Bale shit….the Worthington stuff is a solid sci-fi tale.

    Because I think most of us can agree that aside from cramming that T shit in that universe, its the most engaging aspect of SALVATION.

  93. Me neither, Jareth. I like Reloaded quite a bit. Sure, a lot of the Zion stuff could be trimmed (not the rave scene, though. I consider that scene thematically appropriate and kind of, you know, sexy, something the majority of nerds wouldn’t understand) but otherwise I think it’s a fucking amazing action movie. I can watch the big setpieces from that film over and over and over. I don’t like Revolutions all that much, though, because it illustrates the central flaw of the series: The audience and the characters want different things. The characters want to destroy the Matrix, but the audience likes the Matrix because that’s where the kung fu happens. Since the third movie mostly takes place in the real world, which is all dirty sweaters and overcooked melodrama, it feels like a bait-and-switch. Also, it sort of takes the glory out of the victory when you don’t actually like the thing all these people fought so hard to save.

    Still, autoloaders vs. robosquids has its rewards.

  94. RRA, I agree. I would have enjoyed Salvation as a big, loud sci-fi shoot ’em up if they’d just removed the word “Terminator” from the title. It’s a much better Terminator ripoff than it is an actual Terminator movie.

  95. Mr. Majestyk: If his performance in RESCUE DAWN is any indication, Bale probably would have been better served by your proposed version of a straight out TERMINATOR war movie.

    To this day it amazes me how clumsy T3 was with the time travel stuff, stuff that Cameron handled so convincingly. And
    the attempts at clever plot construction in T4 weren’t much better.

    Is there a petition we can sign asking directors to knock off all the grating callbacks to previous entries in the franchise? All the “I’ll be back” and “come with me if you want to live” – none of that shit ever works.

  96. I can think a few good callbacks, but they are rare. The filmmakers have to go the extra mile and make the callback clever or resonant in some way.

    Like that scene in SPIDER MAN 2 when Mary Jane makes the astronaut kiss her with his face upside down. There’s an actual reson for that to happen in the story, it’s not just a random reference.

    Or the BACK TO THE FUTURE series. The sequels are essentially an on-going callback to the first movie (and to each other) but the fun is hearing familiar dialogue and watching similar scenes play out in a new context.

  97. Mr. Majestyk: Remember that scene in MATRIX REVOLUTIONS when some
    boss machine asks Neo what he wants, and Neo responds, “peace”? The
    dude sitting next to me in the theater said out loud, “Awe fuck, I don’t want
    peace, I want fucking heads to roll!”

    I actually like the dirty real world in those films, and for the most part I think
    they succeeded in creating compelling threats and challenges. I especially like
    how that one actor protrayed flesh-and-blood Agent Smith. I’m impressed that the script for the trilogy ended with an uneasy compromise between the humans and the machines, rather than triumphant carnage. I also think that REVOLUTIONS was better paced than RELOADED.

    Remember Marvin Gaye’s daughter and that cool woman with the missle launcher In REVOLUTIONS? I cared more about them than anything in the last two TERMINATOR movies.

    But you’re right, it’s the matrix itself that is the most interesting aspect. They probably should have reworked the whole multiple Smiths thing to better show off the matrix itself.

  98. I think the real problem with T3 for me is that while T2 was a rehash of T1 in a lot of ways, at least it added lots of new elements and twists with the new Terminator models, Arnold being a hero this time around, Sarah’s transformation, and the addition of John. T3 doesn’t do enough that’s different. Like T2, it’s about a T-800 having to protect John Conner from a highly advanced other Terminator, and a lot chasing and destruction ensues, with none of the inventiveness. They even forego the T-800 learning to be more human with “there’s no time for that”, so it’s just more mindless. And Claire Danes’ hair is stupid looking.
    So I appreciated T4 for making the time travel less overt (because it’s already the future) and being more of a post-apocalypse war movie. I liked the overall aesthetic and the action scenes, and Marcus and Reese’s roles. Yeah, there’s stuff that doesn’t make sense, but there was also such in T2 and T3(if they had stopped the Machines from Rising, how does John still exist if Kyle supposedly wouldn’t travel back in time now? Why aren’t the authorities taking the idea of cyborgs from the future more seriously in light of a SWAT team shooting one about 12,000 times to the point his metal skull is showing?) so overall like I said before it’s a 3-3.5 out of 5 movie for me. Nothing to hold up as a standard of excellence, but not particularly bad by any means.

  99. The one callback I liked was the use of the GNR song. It’s cheesy, I know, but I like the idea that John managed to keep that cassingle safe through the nuclear apocalypse . It probably got eaten once or twice and he had to straighten it out with a pencil and splice it back together with scotch tape. If he still likes to rock out that much, then maybe he isn’t such a stick in the mud after all. I wonder if that song ever makes him think about his redheaded friend who no doubt died on Judgment Day. John hasn’t had a lot of friends in his life and that guy was a good one. After all, he refused to narc him out to the T1000, unlike that snitch with the glasses. That guy who got shot a hundred times in the mall hallway might still be alive if that dude had just minded his own fucking business.

  100. Dan Prestwich: You’re right, a callback can be done well.

    Remember when Christopher Reeve was looking for a telephone booth to
    change into Superman, but all he could find was one of those tiny phone? That
    one was just a sight gag, but it neatly acknowledged the moderization of the character.

  101. Mr. Majestyk: We got to pass the hat and raise the funds to buy the rights to TERMINATOR. You’re coming up with stuff way better than anything McG was talking about, like bringing back Robert Patrick or going to England.

    I’d sit through an entire movie of Bale patching up his old cassette tape, not because I’m a fan of Bale, but because, with the right script, they could totally allow him to throw a tantrum when his splice job ruins the guitar solo, or, even better, when the lights in his little bunker go on the fritz.

    And that red headed friend from T2 had the best hair cut.

    Stu: Even the title of T3 bugs me. They should have saved that “rise” stuff for Michael Bay: TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE FALLEN.

  102. I’m really glad to see all this support for the Matrix trilogy. I really thought me and my Oleg brother Travis were the only ones who liked all three films.

    I agree with you guys that the sequels have some fat, but I’d say that’s the worst thing you can say. It’s not even bad fat. It’s just that they spend a little too long on stuff I didn’t really care about in some parts.

    But in a way I am glad everybody hates them because it keeps anybody away from making some lame Matrix 4.

  103. I was going to bust in and offer a somewhat negative opinion of the MATRIX movies, but it’s just so nice to read y’alls unsnarky, undefensive enthusiasm that I don’t want to start a debate. Hooray to liking movies.

  104. Count me in the “I like most of the Matrix sequels”-camp too. BTW, my mother had an interesting complain about them. It really pissed her off that Morpheus, who was in part 1 the all-knowing, cool mentor, turned out to be in the sequels just one minor starship captain, who is even considered as a nutball by most others.

  105. Half the fun of the Back to the Future sequels are the callbacks, and it’s a nice change of pace from usual time travel stories in that they just stick to showing the past and future of a single small town, rather than meeting historical figures and going to well known historical events.
    I like Reloaded as well as an action movie. Revolutions is pretty meh though. Especially for how Reloaded had Neo using his powers in the “real world”, creating a big cliffhanger and questions. People were speculating that the “real world” was just another level to the Matrix and other stuff like that, so when it’s addressed in Revolutions with the Oracle saying “your power extends into the real world”, it was a pretty huge letdown. And Saving Trinity in Reloaded only to kill her again in Revolutions was pretty bad. And The Merovingian wanting Trinity to get him the Oracle’s eyes in exchange for helping her find Neo, only for her to counter offer by sticking a gun in his face begs the question why did they even bring it up?

  106. Wolfgang: I actually talked to guy once who made a good arguement for stretching out the two MATRIX sequels into three movies, fleshed out with some stuff from that animated thing they did. He had the whole thing story-boarded.

  107. As for lame self-referencial humour. Man, I don’t know what I would’ve done if Doctor Silberman had survived judgement day and shown up in T4. It might have been one of those jokes so bad that you’re kinda impressed they went for it. Especially since the movie was pretty terrible anyway I kinda wish they had.

    But I do respect McG for going for a serious tone. It’s one of the things the movie has going for it.

  108. Jareth Cutestory;

    I probably would prefer a movie that combines Matrix 2 & 3 into one long movie and cuts 30 minutes over the course of the two of them instead of padding them out to be even longer.

    But I did like most of those Animatrix cartoons/animes that they included in my Matrix box set.

    And I really hope they let the Wachowskis make another action movie. It doesn’t need to be super high budget or anything.

  109. CJ Holden: Not to disrespect your mom, but I kind of like what they did with Morpheus in the sequels. It gave him a nice redemptive story. And Fishburne played disillusioned really well. It’s a cliche, but, like so many cliches in those films (especially the war stuff in REVOLUTIONS), they invested them with enough energy for them to work for me.

    It would have been even better if they titled the third movie MATRIX: HOW MORPHEUS GOT HIS GROOVE BACK.

  110. Stu – Nevermind that allegedly alot of shit got chopped out of REVOLUTIONS after RELOADED took a beaming up the ass from audiences.

    If I remember right, the deleted stuff supposedly in REVOLUTIONS was more Hugo Weaving, more him taking over all the realms of that fictional universe. The last Agents fall, the Architect, and so on. Hate that happened because would have been fun to see ole Weaving meet and assimilate that French guy.

    REVOLUTIONS has problems, but really Weaving was FUCKING AWESOME. The dude was given hot sauce, and he used it to chew the scenery. Interesting how the villain becomes more and more emotional (human), the hero more and less emotional (machine).

  111. Wolfgang: Silberman’s head could have been in a pickle jar in that lab with naked Schwartenegger at the end of T4.

    But seriously, I could forgive T3 the “talk to the hand” stuff, but not the Silberman callback. That was just awful.

  112. Wolfgang: since the sequels came out I also talked about trimming them down to the length of one movie. Especially Reloaded has lots of useless ballast (Like the whole Merowinger monologue about speaking French and orgasms)

    Jareth: Yeah, she just didn’t like it. Morpheus was her favourite character in part 1 and suddenly he went from being the coolest motherfucker of the Matrix to a comparatively small supporting role. It’s understandable. I think if they had killed him, she would have been be really mad.

  113. RRA: I didn’t know that stuff was cut from REVOLUTIONS. The scenes you describe sound worth watching, assuming they were ever made. I agree with you about Weaving; I actually found it hard to watch his more restrained performance in LORD OF THE RINGS because it is so enjoyable to see him go all cartoon evil in the MATRIX films.

    That speech in the first MATRIX, where he tells Morpheus that humans are a virus, is the stuff of classic villainy.

    If anything, RELOADED is the one that looks at bit hacked up to me, especially when they depict how Smith gets into the human world. That seemed very abrupt.

  114. About Silberman in T3: When I watched it in theatre with my buddy, I remember he leaned over to me when the Doc appeared and said: “Oh, that’s gonna be cool”. But then just nothing happened. He sees Arnie and runs away. I gotta admit that I can laugh about every joke in T3 (Hey, why should a Terminator know how emberassing “Talk To The Hand” is?), but they just forgot to add any kind of punchline on this one.

  115. I agree that Weaving’s awesome. He’s my pick for Sinestro in the Green Lantern movie.
    One thing that they cut from the first Matrix I thought was interesting and would have explained Morpheus being considered a wacko by some is Cypher telling Neo that he’s not the first person Morpheus thought was The One. Apparently there were others, and Morpheus got those candidates believing like he did, and sent them up against Agents only to get slaughtered. I like the overall WORLD of the Matrix, and I think the anime and comics showed there’s enough stuff in it to do stories not about Neo. The films even end with an intriguing possible continuing point of the uneasy truce between humans and machines, with the likes of the Merovingian and such as wildcards who could have their own plans.

  116. BTW, Silberman appeared in Sarah Connor Chronicles (played by Bruce Davison though), and was portrayed as having gone mad after the events of T2 and preparing for the apocalypse, biblical style. He tries to burn alive an FBI agent investigating Sarah.

  117. CJ Holden: I hope your mom at least got a kick out of Morpheus kicking that agent’s
    ass on top of the moving truck. He even had a sword!

    I’m glad that the Wachowski’s overstuffed the sequels with ideas, but it resulted in some really clumsy scenes of exposition, the Merovingian among them. You can see how the “cause & effect” stuff is relevant to the themes, but it doesn’t make that speech any easier to sit through.

    Come to think of it, REVOLUTIONS had a lot of that stuff at the beginning with the little girl and the hillbilly train guy.

  118. Jareth,

    You hit at one of the major flaws with the 2nd MATRIX movie: the characters are constantly stating the themes of the movie out loud in obvious, longwinded speeches. If you can’t work your themes naturally into the story and action and have to resort to spelling it out os plainly to the audience, then you probably shouldn’t bother with them at all.

    I know I said I wasn’t going to say bad things about THE MATRIX, but I had to at least take one shot.

  119. “Not to disrespect your mom” = something you will never read on any other website.

  120. Is it true that this director’s cut of Terminator 4 includes the John Connor Junior subplot?

  121. Dan Prestwich: I agree with you, and it’s a shame about all that clumsy exposition because the nerd-hated “rave” scene demonstrates that the Wachowskis know how to visualize their themes quite well when they put their mind to it.

    Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if more of the expository statements were done as naturally as the conversation Neo has with that old Zion guy about how the humans need the machines to survive.

    Mr. Majestyk: Any mom who can appreciate Fishburne for his bad assery is worthy of my respect, whatever that’s worth.

  122. Merso: Your post is the first I’ve heard about such a subplot. Does Sourpuss
    Connor have a son?

  123. Well, his wife was pregnant for no good reason.

    I bet the baby is a Terminator.

  124. It was just a reference to Wolfgang review of the movie. I recommend you guys read it, it’s pretty funny.


  125. Chris and Capefearwx — You make good points about the economics behind the competition of bigger and smaller retailers, and I doubt anyone could offer a serious critique of your logic. My point, however, is not to claim its illogical, but that the indies have something to offer when it comes to media which nearly always goes overlooked by the general public.

    We, on the other hand, are a community of people who might actually benefit from a media establishment stocking WITCHFINDER GENERAL or DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE. The general population gets their media needs filled by buying TWILIGHT and Taylor Swift at Target. They don’t have much need of the indies. But unless I miss my guess, the folks on this board need stranger stuff. So if anyone demographic could potentially save these throwbacks, its this one. If we give up on the little guys, that’s gonna be the end of them.

    Capefear, you’re completely right that ultimately the indies will never be able to compete when it comes down to pure mass commodity/price. But there’s only so far they can go on pure obscurities not available elsewhere, and by overtly excluding competitors from competing in some mainstream areas (like the Wienstien/Blockbuster travesty, or the T4 thing Vern’s talking about) they very sharply decrease their potential market share. Given their bargaining position, they’re completely powerless against distributers who choose to limit the things they can legally offer, which means they have no recourse when two major companies like Target and Warners decide they want to squeeze them out of the game. If wider selection is part of what makes a smaller enterprise viable, what happens when their potential diversity of selection is actually NARROWED by forces beyond their control, and awarded to a comeptitor? (Yes, I know the first-sales doctrine allows you to buy it somewhere else and then distribute it, but great, now the indie store has to buy it from their competitor at regular marked-up retail price and then attempt to sell it again profitably without raising prices so much they alienate customers. Either way, Target gets paid). Niche markets are, as you say, the ONLY viable future for most small timers, but you can only get so small before you’re no longer viable, which sadly is what’s happening a lot these days.

    Of course, I’m already on record as feeling that they won’t make it far into this millenium no matter what we do — some Indies will survive the the way Capefear describes, but lots of places, and especially indie rental stores, just don’t have any imaginable future. But remember that voting with your consumer dollar is far more important and meaningful than any political vote you cast will ever be. The more support they get from us and like-minded people, the longer their life will be. And to me, that sounds like a good thing.

  126. Oh, Subtlety, you and your WITCHFINDER GENERAL references. Will you ever tire of them?

    (In all seriousness, thanks for your WG comments on my blog.)

  127. Seriously. They were a pretty good New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. No Diamond Head or anything, but they rocked.

  128. It’s true, the Marcus stuff was flawed too, but to me that was the most interesting part of the movie. I thought Christian Bale as John Connor was a great idea, and maybe it would’ve been if he had more to do. To be honest I don’t remember much about what he did other than the cool part with the Guns and Roses. Most of what I remember when I think about that movie is Marcus going into the town where Reese is having a guerilla war against a crude early Terminator, fighting the big robot harvester thing, the murdercycles, Moon Bloodgood rescuing Marcus, him hanging there half robot.

    I’m surprised to hear you guys saying you want to see John Connor leading the future war, because isn’t that just like the Star Wars prequels? Let’s please not start a debate about those, but it is my understanding that everybody in the world besides me and kids under 15 think those are the worst thing that ever happened in the history of human civilization, including rabies. It’s been ten years and you can’t escape motherfuckers complaining about those movies. Even Saddam Hussein in his foxhole had some nerd bring it up at some point, I guarantee you. Blah blah blah, George Lucas, whine whine whine. Because he decided to act out the backstory you already knew. It seems to me like John Connor’s future war would be the same thing. He defeats the machines.

    When I read after the fact that Connor had been a distant character you hear over a radio until the end it made sense. That’s why Marcus has a story and Connor just has scenes. I think the other way would’ve been the better movie. But what they had happening in the last act (not the shock ending) sounds really dumb, so even if they’d followed the earlier script it wouldn’t have necessarily saved it.

  129. Vern, I’m not really champing at the bit for this story. I just feel that if they’re going to do the War Against the Machines at all, then just fucking do it. We’ve seen three movies now where John Connor is unsure of how to accept the mantle of leadership, and I’m getting pretty fucking sick of it. The man has to step up and be all that he can be or that speech Reese gave about him is going to seem like horseshit.

    That said, yes, not showing Connor at all would have been better than showing the half-assed Connor we got.

  130. Vern,

    Fair points, all. But I think a Connor-centric story had potential for two reasons:

    1) We’ve been with the Connor family for three films, so there’s something of an emotional investment with his character (sadly not exploited in the real T4)

    2) It’s been established that the events of the first 3 films have affected the future, so it’s no longer a guarantee that Connor will be successful in the future war. This would leave a lot of room for the filmmakers to fuck with our expectations. I don’t know if I really think that “John dies and Marcus is given his skin” ending was really a good idea, but at least it exploits the “no fate” theme of the series and would have thrown the audience for a fucking loop.

  131. Just to jump in here I’ll agree with Vern that the Marcus stuff was more interesting than the John Connor stuff and the fact that the Connor stuff was worked into the script after Bale signed on really shows imo. The Marcus stuff feels like they have a story arc going on, but they’ve had to cut it down a lot, and because of the severely altered ending from the original plan, the arc falls apart and we’re left with pointless Connor scenes. It really hurts the films story.

    It also means the most interesting and likeable character in the film – kyle reese, doesn’t get much to do. I think the film would have been a lot better if we were just following Marcus and Kyle. There stuff together was a lot more interesting than the Connor excess.

    Also was this John Connor really the guy we imagined the kid would grow up to be? Why is he so serious? So dour? I know it’s the end of the world and shit but I expect some more wise cracks, some more rebellious nature. Rather than this serious soldier image we get of him.

  132. “It’s been ten years and you can’t escape motherfuckers complaining about those movies. Even Saddam Hussein in his foxhole had some nerd bring it up at some point, I guarantee you. Blah blah blah, George Lucas, whine whine whine. Because he decided to act out the backstory you already knew. It seems to me like John Connor’s future war would be the same thing. He defeats the machines.”

    Yeah yeah yeah, rub it in! My point about these movies wasn’t that they told a story we already knew. (Hell, if that were the case, every single movie about the Bible would be pointless, as would every rom-com ever made, regardless of quality. Although some people would probably argue that were the case already, I’d give a few of them a pass.) My complaint is twofold: 1) that the prequels add absolutely nothing, zero, to the formula; and 2) that two terrible movies and several years in, there were STILL people willing to defend #3 enough to make me waste two hours of my life watching it. In other words, I’m not pissed at George Lucas – the man makes crap, he’s done it for years, we all know it, end of story. You don’t get angry at a dog because it shits on the pavement, you get angry at the guy holding the leash and standing there while it does it. I’m pissed at YOU. Yes, YOU! You guys who persuaded me into watching this shit three times over on the promise that each film would somehow be better than the last one.

    You owe me three broken promises, guys.

    Look, I’m a sucker for peer pressure, ok? Don’t take advantage of my innate naivety. I can only watch so much of Ewan McGregor lava-surfing before my faith in humanity collapses completely, and then where would you be?

    Back on topic, I agree that Chris made some excellent points. How exactly does a local shop add value to a DVD? It used to be that the guy working there would know everything he sold and could recommend a film for everybody, but now we have the Internet for that. If a film is terrible, the two hundred thousand enraged forum posters would be enough to let you know about it.

    Maybe it’s just because of the very accessibility of film that what Warner seems to have done here with Target is so annoying. When you go shopping for, say, exotic spices or ingredients for food, you might expect to have to go a bit out of your way. There might only be one local retailer selling the stuff. Likewise with fine art, if you want to see the originals you have to go to whichever gallery they’re hung up at; you don’t have a choice in the matter. But films are different. We’ve become accustomed to a never-ending supply chain of easily accessible disposable entertainment. So when something happens to disrupt that supply chain, it’s literally jarring.

  133. I agree with Vern with one exception: rather than focus on Marcus’ story (with Connor as just a voice on the radio), I think I would have preferred a story involving young Kyle Reese trying to survive in among the crude early terminators. Sidekick optional. Admittedly, this option is more appealing in hindsight. If the Marcus story was better, I wouldn’t have minded it being the center.

    By the way, if an impartial jury is ever required, I’ll be there: I haven’t seen any of the STAR WARS prequels. I don’t know what kind of a person that makes me.

  134. Vern. Subtlety. I wish knew how to quit you two. Couple things:
    -Hey, no hard feelings. I’m glad we can at least agree on the declining quality of the Terminator films. The real corporate-schmorporate tragedy is that some marketing demographics jag decided that it made the most economic sense for this to be PG-13.
    -Vern, I realize that you started your deal by saying, “I’m not trying to be a hardliner,” but then pretty much everything you said afterward undercut that statement. Kind of like saying, “I’m not trying to be a racist, but I sure don’t like people who aren’t white.” ctually t

  135. “Also was this John Connor really the guy we imagined the kid would grow up to be? Why is he so serious? So dour? I know it’s the end of the world and shit but I expect some more wise cracks, some more rebellious nature. Rather than this serious soldier image we get of him.”
    Well I think it makes sense from the point of view that he grew up being told that he was going to be the leader of the resistance, but what happens is he spends much of his time during the early years of the war as just another soldier, with Michael Ironside being all sarcastic about the rumoured destiny of him, so it probably troubles him that there’s no guarantee he’ll live up to what he’s supposed to be. Fittingly, it’s like what we were talking about with Morpheus going from this charismatic leader in Matrix 1 to it turning out not everyone believes what he does.

  136. Plus the older John we saw at the start of T2 didn’t exactly look like a wisecracking party-animal either, did he? He was all scarred up and stonefaced.

  137. Darn it, got cut off.
    -I didn’t necessarily take you at face value about the underwear. Since everything else you said was about the plight of the small business and the depressing hegemony of Wal-Mart, Target, etc.
    -I think you may have a point that it does not seem like fair competition to essentially refuse to sell a product to certain retailers. And I do think it is a sad commentary on Prince that such an eccentric weirdo will go from only selling his stuff out the trunk (i.e., from his website) to having some exclusive deal with Target. Like the average Target shopper is checking for the new Prince, anyway. That’s just a dumb move on Target’s part, thinking that is a big coup for them at this point in Prince’s career.
    -P.S. I don’t know if Target will special order the Black Dynamite soundtrack, but I do know that another evil, ethereal business called Amazon.com can ship it to you for like $10.
    -I may have misspoke re: selection. Obviously, an indie video place that specializes in 70’s films (or anime, or slasher stuff, or whatever) is going to have a better selection for their particular niche. It’s a breadth-depth thing, and Target will give you more depth (i.e., “Boy, I could go for a Starbucks and a pair of socks and the new crappy Michael Bay movie.”).

    Hey, you guys keep on rockin. Just bustin your chops a little.

  138. Sorry, I mean Target gives you more breadth. I forgot my meds today. BTW Mr. Subtlety, I shop at Radio Shack, Babies R Us, and Victoria’s Secret. Actually, I don’t go out and shop much. I have bought like four DVDs in the last two years, and Dark Knight was the only one that was an actual movie. And I bought it at…Best Buy.

  139. I second Jareth’s enthusiasm for a Kyle Reese-centric TERMINATOR sequel. Although they didn’t really give Charlie Bartlett anything to do in T4, that kid has a lot of natural charm and makes for a strikingly plausible young Michel Biehn.

    If they ever do a T5, despite my disappointment with part 4, I’d be on board, especially if they got Bale and Alpha Dog back, and actually spent time crafting the screenplay. I’d even be willing to give McG another shot, I thought he did a respectable job with the action and suspect that he could make an okay to good TERMINATOR movie if he had a coherent script.

  140. A Kyle-centric story would have been the way to go. I figure that John would get word that Skynet had figured out that Kyle was his father, so he has to find the kid before the army of hunter-killers (including one badass one) can terminate him. John must save him without letting him know why he’s so important. This is an interesting reversal of the first and second films because now John is the protector and Reese is the target. I don’t know, this seems like a more exciting plot than “There’s a robot made out of meat and he runs around for a while.”

  141. Skani – Hey, fine by me. Like Chuck Berry says, its a free country baby, live how you wanna live. I just bought an industrial size tub of Swedish Fish at Target –rather than an independent candy retailer, although I doubt there are any around here– and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. Just something to think about.

  142. I should say in full disclosure that it’s actually more convenient for me to go to the independent record store across the street than to take a 45-60 minute one way bus ride to Target. And I don’t even know where the nearest Wal-Mart is, there’s not one in Seattle proper. Also, Amazon is a local business to me, so if I did want to sit around waiting for it to come in the mail it wouldn’t necessarily contradict my elitist extremist anti-capitalist hardliner status.

  143. Skani – surprisingly that’s one aspect we kind of left out of this whole discussion was the PG-13. That’s part of why it pissed me off, because I have learned to go along with the stupid idea of PG-13ing everything, but with everybody agreeing that the DVD will be uncut. Now they throw another catch in the deal.

  144. well T4 was pretty shitty anyway and if the “director’s cut” doesn’t include Moon Bloodgood’s boobs why bother?

    and unfortunately I live in an area with no real mom and pop stores anywhere

  145. ok after checking celebrity movie archive I see the director’s cut DOES include the Moon Bloodgood topless scene, but it’s also pretty lame, there was a time when a scene like that could be in a PG-13 movie

  146. “I haven’t seen any of the STAR WARS prequels. I don’t know what kind of a person that makes me.”

    A smarter (or at least more fortunate, since we had no way of knowing at that point) one than me. I saw the first one.

  147. So did 75% of the planet.

  148. I like the STAR WARS prequels. And INDY 4. I still think I’m a smart person, but maybe I’m wrong.

  149. BTW, here are the differences between T4’s theatrical and unrated version. (With pictures.)

  150. It’s what’s in your heart that counts, ChopperSullivan.

    I have arteries and blood and stuff in mine.

  151. I saw the last prequel a few weeks ago. So we’re not talking “years” back.

    I used to have a working heart with blood and stuff too, Frank. But years of working for the man seems to have replaced the organ with cold, shrivelled little brussell sprout. :(

    FTR, since I seem to have done more bitching than anybody else these past couple of days, here’s some films I really really love for various reasons: Lost in Translation, Wall-E, Die Hard, Enter the Dragon, Scream, War Games, The Thing (Carpenter version), Sneakers, The Third Man, Evil Dead 2, Hackers (yeah, I know, but it’s pure nostalgia), The Truman Show, The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, Poseidon Adventure (the original with Shelley Winters and Gene Hackman, haven’t seen the remake), 12 Angry Men, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Donald Sutherland version), and I’m sure I could come up with a few more.

    <—– Not just a hater!

  152. I think that what this blog really needs is a long and heated debate about the relative merits of the Star Wars prequels. This subject hasn’t really been adequately covered on the internet, in my opinion.

  153. Frankbooth: Check out last 25 or so post of the TRANSFORMERS 2 review. Its a surprisingly civil discussion of the potential merits of the Prequels (for a discussion of the flaws of the prequels, look anywhere else on the internet). As a champion of their good sides, I am proud to have been part of it, and also was glad to disrespect TRANSFORMERS by completely ignoring it.

  154. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information specially the last part :) I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  155. ** By all means buy what you can afford, but if you have options in your area try not to leave the passionate little guys high and dry. I like having independent record and video stores in my neighborhood. These are the entrepreneurs and small businesses politicians always talk about and never actually stand behind. They bring the diversity to our regions and neighborhoods that we claim is what America is all about. And in my experience they’re the people who know what they’re doing and care about doing a good job. They bring in interesting things I wouldn’t know about otherwise. And I don’t think Target could’ve special ordered the BLACK DYNAMITE soundtracks for me and then talked to me about blaxploitation when I picked them up.

    I’m sure some of you will say that in your city you don’t really have mom and pop stores or small locally owned chains, just Wal-Mart and strip malls. There are too many areas already where there aren’t many unique businesses for the locals to claim as their own, only the same national chains you see all across the country. That sucks. So if your area’s not like that yet, don’t let it happen. Take advantage of what you have while it’s still there. **

    VisArt did a lot of great things for my development as a young movie connoisseur before, sigh, NetFlix & other movie-acquisition methods became necessary for a world-traveler such as myself. It’s a phenomenal place in Charlotte, and I hear other Carolina VisArt chapters are well-regarded by the anti-corporate-domination types among us. I thought this bittersweet story would mildly please Vern:

    ** Thank you and may God bless America, etc. **

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