John Brancato

John Brancato

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Surrogates Review


Weak
Lean and sleek, this futuristic thriller propels us entertainingly through its story without pausing for breath. Perhaps director Mostow was hoping we wouldn't notice how clunky the script is, with its rudimentary dialog and paper-thin plot.

It's been 14 years since a scientist (Cromwell) invented surrogates, robots controlled by brainwaves that let us experience anything. Now some 99 percent of the population has one, and people spend their lives in darkened rooms living virtually. Then FBI Agent Greer (Willis) and his partner Peters (Mitchell) discover that a guy (Noseworthy) has a weapon that can kill both surrogates and their human controllers. But the hunt for this weapon opens old wounds with the humans-only religious fanatics who live on reservations and follow the word of their Prophet (Rhames).

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Terminator Salvation Review


Grim
Sound and fury overpower story in Terminator Salvation, which applies big-budget defibrillator paddles to the hulking franchise but can't breathe fresh life into the now 25-year-old concept.

That's how long we've been hearing about humanity's war against the machines, a battle James Cameron first initiated in 1984 when he sent Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to terminate an unsuspecting Linda Hamilton. Armageddon was averted, then later triggered, in subsequent sequels before arriving at Salvation. But our predestined, apocalyptic future looks a lot like products from Hollywood's past. Specifically, imagine the love child of Mad Max and The Matrix as delivered by Michael Bay, and you're beginning to get this picture.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Review


Good
When Arnold Schwarzenegger first uttered, "I'll be back," nearly 20 years ago, someone should have asked him, "How many times?" Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines marks Arnie's third go-round as the futuristic cyborg, and tweaks the formula just enough to keep us entertained.

Already, T3 has a strike against it. Sequels with "Three" in the title tend to reek, from The Godfather: Part III to Jaws 3-D. Strike two comes in the form of high expectations. Twelve years ago, James Cameron raised the bar with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a superior sequel and a long-standing leader in the high-tech special effects field. The shoes director Jonathan Mostow (U-571) was asked to fill look mighty big.

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John Brancato

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