Movie Reviews: Terminator: Genisys, Magic Mike XXL, Amy

You don’t need to have been a fan of Amy Winehouse’s music to be riveted by Amy (15A) , Asif Kapadia’s documentary about the Grammy Award-winning singer that is composed almost entirely of home-movie footage. 

Movie Reviews: Terminator: Genisys, Magic Mike XXL, Amy

Given that Terminator: Genisys (12A) is the fifth instalment in a franchise that was becoming a byword for baffling storylines, it’s both a cheat-of-sorts and something of a relief that the first part of Alan Taylor’s movie essentially retreads the storyline from The Terminator (1984).

With humans on the verge of finally defeating the Skynet machines in the future, the leader of the human resistance, John Connor (Jason Clarke), sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to eradicate the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who has already been sent back in time to kill John Connor’s mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke).

There Reese discovers that the Terminator is now Sarah Connor’s self-appointed Guardian (Schwarzenegger again), having previously looped back in time, and that Sarah faces a new, even more terrifying enemy.

It’s a recalibrating exercise that is essentially a reboot of the Terminator franchise, but the scriptwriters play many of the confusions and contradictions for laughs, even as Sarah and Reese are running for their lives from the virtually indestructible Terminators.

The story bolts together an adrenaline-charged sequence of chase scenes, shoot-outs, fist-fights and explosions, with Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke in good form as the bickering couple who must eventually, as the audience already knows, fall in love and produce the hero John Connor. The undoubted star, however, is Arnie himself, playing the Terminator.

Guardian for deadpan laughs he makes a virtue of his aging by reminding us, on a number of occasions, that he may be old, but he is not obsolete.

It may not be the best action thriller you’ll see this year, but Terminator: Genisys delivers pretty much everything any Terminator fan might reasonably expect.

Magic Mike XXL (16s) is a sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (2012), which finds male-stripper troupe the Kings of Tampa – led by Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) himself – back on the road and heading for the annual stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, Florida.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it for story in Gregory Jacobs’ sequel: a bunch of marvellously toned and half-dressed guys hanging out together on a road-trip, without so much as the promise of a strip-off competition at the end to give it all a dramatic edge.

Mind you, Mike, Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Ken (Matt Borner) and Richie (Joe Maganiello) don’t need much of an excuse to start peeling off their duds, so there’s plenty of flesh on display for much of the two-hour running time.

There’s also quite a lot of talking, much of it akin to bantering frat-boy stoner conversations, and there’s also a couple of attempts by the boys to justify their roles as male entertainers by claiming that they’re in the business of worshipping women, and healing bruised souls.

Meanwhile, the least dynamic road-trip in the history of filmmaking meanders through Georgia and Florida, the pace excruciatingly slow as the boys make increasingly odd and unnecessary detours and digressions, including a bizarre pit-stop at the home of Southern Belle Nancy Davidson (Andie McDowell).

Easily the worst film of the year so far, the movie is only partly redeemed when Channing Tatum starts to dance, when the combination of his timing, grace and sinuous physicality is a joy to behold.

You don’t need to have been a fan of Amy Winehouse’s music to be riveted by Amy (15A) , Asif Kapadia’s documentary about the Grammy Award-winning singer that is composed almost entirely of home-movie footage.

Tracing the development of a ‘classic North London Jewish girl’, as Amy describes herself early on the film, the story opens in the late 1990s with Amy, a precocious, fresh-faced kid singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her friend.

It’s not long, of course, before the demons that would overshadow her life put in an appearance, and here, Amy is frank about the extent to which she drank and did drugs (“My destructive side has grown a mile wide,” she observes), and committed to a lifestyle that would lead to a tragically early death.

It’s a heartbreaking tale, not least because of the way in which some of those she should have been able to trust the most were least interested in her well-being, and Amy is particularly poignant when she speaks to camera about the seismic impact on her life caused by the departure of her father from the family home when she was still a young girl.

Throughout her troubled life, or so the film suggests, she remained genuine, sincere and unaffected by the lure of fame and money, and she leaves behind both a superb legacy and a haunting sense of potential unfulfilled.

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