The Philadelphia Experiment, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Safety Not Guaranteed are currently available on instant Netflix.
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) – Rated PG
“A secret experiment to disguise a naval battleship from enemy radar inexplicably sends a pair of World War II sailors 40 years into the future. They arrive in 1984 to a changed world and a bizarre electrical storm that seems linked to their arrival.”
“You know, I got it all figured out… Navy owes me 40 years back pay.”
The Philadelphia Experiment is a whole lot of meh. It has a decent story and is fairly entertaining. Special effects aren’t – they appear to have simply used a negative image. The leads (Michael Pare, Bobby DiCicco, and Nancy Allen) are engaging but not much more than that. The real mystery is how this got a sequel and a reboot. Still it’s not bad if you like his sort of thing.
Sequel-itis: The movie received a sequel of sorts in 1993 with Philadelphia Experiment II, starring none of the same actors although the character of David Herdeg is carried over with Brad Johnson in the role instead of Michael Pare. The brand was revived in 2012 with a Syfy adaptation of The Philadelphia Experiment. Michael Pare returns to collect a paycheck though obviously not in the same role.
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) – Rated R
“A team of journalists are dispatched to find out who’s behind a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel, with payment on return. After tracking down their oddball prey, the team has to decide how best to approach their subject.”
Okay this one is a bit of a cheat. Safety Not Guaranteed isn’t actually about time travel, in spite of Netflix’ description. It is a nice indie comedy about relationships. It is understated and warm-hearted, definitely worth catching.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – Rated R
“A reprogrammed Terminator arrives from the future to protect young John Connor from a relentless shape-shifting cyborg in this sequel to Terminator. On the run, John and his guardian seek John’s mother, Sarah, who is locked away in an insane asylum.”
Cameron loves to have strong female protagonists in his films. This is one of the things I love about Cameron as the action film genre often has a “Men Only” sign on it. Here Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is very buff and capable if somewhat psychologically screwed up. Linda Hamilton does a fine job of grounding many fantastic sequences.
Besides his genius at pacing that I mentioned yesterday, Cameron also excels at injecting appropriate humor into deadly, often grim, encounters. I say “appropriate” because the humor is funny without detracting from the seriousness of the situation.
The opening action sequence where Arnie acquires clothing has great action and humor. Unfortunately if you stop to consider it, the scene makes no sense. For an example of what The Terminator series looks like without humor, watch Terminator Salvation.
Arnold returns as a different T-800 and all jokes aside about his robotic delivery, he makes an excellent Terminator. In the first film he was the ultimate Terminator but here he is practically obsolete next to the new T-1000 model.
Robert Patrick plays the new liquid metal Terminator and the smoothness of his face really lends credibility to the changes. Of course a large part of the new Terminator are the special effects used. It seems with every film, Cameron graphically pushes the envelope of what can be accomplished.
Edward Furlong plays John Connor, future leader of the human race. Unfortunately John Connor at this stage is just a juvenile delinquent. Furlong is pretty good but it is often difficult to see where his leadership qualities will spring from.
Joe Morton has a small but meaty role as Miles Dyson, whose discoveries lead to Skynet and ultimately armageddon.
It can be no surprise that I wholeheartedly recommend one of the greatest action films of all time. The special effects hold up quite well.