Classic Films in the Age of Blockbusters

the-avengers-battle-in-cool-concept-art-for-captain-america-civil-warWith the releases of major blockbusters such as “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” etc., I thought it would be fitting to take a step back into some old school cinema. Over Christmas break, I picked up the Steve McQueen collection on Blu-ray at Best Buy on sale, and I watched them all to try to appreciate some “classic” films. Admittedly, they don’t all hold up to my spoiled, CGI-ridden expectations, but I could definitely find things to enjoy in them. One of these films we have at IU Media & Reserve Services, and the most recent film I watched from this collection was called “Bullitt,” which IMDb describes as “an all guts, no glory San Francisco cop becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection.” Here are my thoughts on the film…


I watched this movie about 3 days ago, but wasn’t sure exactly what to think of it for the first few days. Recently, I’ve thought about this film a lot and many aspects of it have now been made clear to me. I won’t lie to you, I was slightly disappointed while watching it because I was told this is “one of the best car-chase films ever” (thanks, Dad). That statement could not have been more misleading. Don’t go into this film expecting a car chase movie; actually, don’t go into this movie expecting anything at all. In this little review, I will discuss the film in-depth without spoilers, and talk about why this film may just be a masterpiece. As I mentioned, I was initially disappointed with this film because it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I wasn’t really able to follow the story and I’m still wondering exactly what all happened; I also asked myself at the end “what was the point of that?” After watching it, I knew that there were things that I was missing (not just in regards to the story itself, but the film as a whole) and I wouldn’t feel right writing an “okay” review for this. The more that I think about this film, the better it gets and now I want to talk about why. “What was the point of that?” Like I did, you may also ask yourself after watching the film… and the point is that there really isn’t a point; more specifically, the point is just to show what police officers do on a daily basis. This film isn’t meant to be an action-packed extravaganza, but rather just to show a day in the life of a cop with extreme realism (I suppose… I’m not a cop so I can’t assume it’s super realistic but I definitely got that vibe). This wasn’t obvious to me until I thought about it a lot and even did some research online. To make this film seem real, the doctors and other extras in the movie weren’t actors but real people. There is a scene in an Operating Room, which feels very real and not like your average film because they hired real doctors to perform here to emphasize the realism.


There is one scene in which Bullitt’s wife sees a murder victim in a house and freaks out about it, confronting Bullitt, commenting on if seeing this everyday is making him numb to everything else. One of the things that stood out to me here is the camera angle. Simple over-the-shoulder shots are common in films; they allow you to see one person’s face while recognizing the position of the other. In this scene, an over-the-shoulder shot was used, but the camera was so low that Steve McQueen’s shoulder blocked the mouth of his character’s wife. As I watched this, I was bothered because the cinematography/directing here seemed so lazy and misplaced, but as I thought about it I realized how brilliant it was. During that whole scene, the actress’ eyes (and voice) were the only things that showed us her emotion. We couldn’t see her mouth, so like Tom Hardy’s Bane, the emotion in her eyes is all we could perceive. This is actually a recurring “theme” throughout the film; Steve McQueen didn’t have much dialogue in the film at all, thus he had to use body language and facial expressions (especially with eyes) to convey emotion. The character of Bullitt is a stone-cold, tough-as-nails cop because he deals with these hard cases every day, like his wife mentions. He has become accustomed to seeing death and dealing with it like any other thing in life without making a big deal out of it, which makes this day not stand out to him at all, even though his wife is beside herself at what she saw. Remember what I mentioned about the eyes when we didn’t see the mouth? There is a saying in writing and in film to “show, don’t tell.” The scene with the wife and the strange but brilliant camera angle exemplifies this saying- literally in the fact that we can see her eyes but not her mouth. The whole film is a “show, don’t tell” example because we see so much more than we hear, as far as dialogue goes.


There is very little talking, but a lot to be seen (not even to mention the absolutely gorgeous cinematography and directing which far surpasses many films these days), which immediately reminds me of “Drive.” If you’ve seen Drive, you know what I’m talking about. There is hardly any talking in Drive, and everything that you can take from the movie is what you see. Many people also went into that movie with the wrong expectations: wanting a “car chase” movie as well only to end up receiving a movie that was smarter than they were (but no offense if you didn’t like it. I’m mainly talking about the lady who tried to sue for her lack of enjoyment…). Also like Drive, the emphasis on character and not just story gives this film a very intimate feel to it, which allows the audience to feel for the main character on a more personal level. By common definition, this may not be the most “entertaining” or “enjoyable” film to watch; it’s one of the few that I’ll sit down and expect not to be merely “entertained” while watching it, but will be amazed while thinking about how well-made it was afterwards. Not comparing the film with this other material (as to not offend anybody), but like Holy scripture, many people don’t just sit down and read it for light reading or entertainment. They read to be able to take something away afterwards and I think there’s a lot to be taken away from this film- more so than what just meets the eye for sure.


Many may pass this film off as a simple cop drama, but it’s so much more than that. This is one of the best cop dramas I’ve seen- not for the story, but for the filmmaking genius. The part of the film that really drove the main idea of realism home for me was one of the last shots of the movie, of a bumper sticker that read simply “Support Your Local Police.” This reemphasizes the idea of realism in the film, that the people in the film *are* your local police in what they do every day- which is what this film represents. To me, the story was good, and the acting was great but the directing was incredible. Now go watch this film and come back and read this again and think about the movie and I hope it grows on you as much as it did for me. I hope you can have as great of an epiphany as I did! Thanks for reading and be sure to check this film out at IU Media & Reserve Services.

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Deadpool at the IMU!

If you were unaware, our very own union board hosts film screenings Thursday-Saturday at 8 PM and 11 PM during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. The screenings are shown in the Whittenberger Auditorium on the first floor of the Indiana Memorial Union (that’s the floor with Starbucks) and are FREE to IU students! This week, UB will be showing Deadpool, a film adopted from Marvel comic books. It’s about a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. He undergoes an experiment which gives him accelerated healing powers, transforming him into Deadpool. The film was released in theaters about  2 months ago and received outstanding reviews. If you have any extra time and want some free entertainment before taking on dead week and finals, swing by for a viewing!


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the Mid-’90s Female Bildungsroman, Part 2 : “Party Girl”, Adornment, and the Sublimation of Femme Intelligence

“Party Girl” (1995), Parker Posey’s feature debut, has the dubious honor of being the first commercial comedy-drama film to be broadcast in its entirety over the internet. Over twenty years later, deep in the internet age, it still provides plenty of #inspo fodder for blogging aesthetes and fashion magazines due to the remarkable work of its costume designer Michael Clancy. Indeed, Clancy’s genius (in conjunction with Posey’s performance, the ‘90s house soundtrack, and the high school existentialism)
is what draws me back to this movie every few months: his intentional design work creates readable surfaces throughout the film–the clothes become a text, in a (tactile?) sense.

Posey’s character Mary is epitomized in reviews as a wayward girl whose only preoccupations are amassing a couture wardrobe and attending “it” functions. That is, until she’s arrested for hosting an illegal rent party and must pick up a clerk job at the library to cover bail. She’s a reluctant worker, but finds over time–through acknowledging the potential Sisyphean value of the drudgery–that she may have an innate skill for library work. She also strikes up a romance with the falafel vendor on the corner, all the while turning look after look, in the stacks or at the club. Continue reading

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Once, The Film and Musical

MV5BMTEwNjExOTc2MTJeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDYzODQ3NDE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_ This week at the IU Auditorium, the Tony Award winning musical, Once will grace the stage. The musical is actually based on the Academy Award-winning film which was written and directed by John Carney, Once. The film and musical take place in Dublin, Ireland and tells the love story of an Irish man and a Czech-immigrant woman as they write and record music together. The films soundtrack is filled with songs written and performed by the actors themselves, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. If you are looking for a film that tells a captivating story, and is both beautiful on the eyes and the ears, then Once is the film for you.

At Media Services we have two copies available for checkout in our Browsing section!


Regardless of if you have seen the film or not (you definitely should, it is phenomenal), from someone who has seen the musical before, it is definitely worth going to see. Once is a very unique musical, in that all the actors and actresses play their own instruments on stage, so there is no band or orchestra accompanying their singing—it is quite impressive. Additionally, the entire musical takes place on one set—a bar, which is actually operating so that before the show or during intermission, those seated on the ground floor can buy a drink on stage and actually see the set up close. If interested in seeing this musical, tickets can be purchased through the IU Auditorium. Once will be in Bloomington Tuesday April 19th, and Wednesday April 20th this week. For more event details visit:

MV5BNjAxMTI4MTgzMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAwODEwMjE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Once you have seen Once, either on stage or from watching the film, if you are looking for another musically-centered movie, also written and directed by John Carney, then check out Begin Again. It stars Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, and tells the story of a struggling music producer who discovers a talented singer at a bar. They then decide to collaborate together on an album they record outdoors, all over New York City. Media Services also has two copies of this film available for checkout!



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The First Annual IU Day!



Break out the cream and crimson gear and show some pride for your school! For the first ever IU Day, there will be a 24-hr live broadcast of all IU events, so you can celebrate wherever you are! Share your support and IU spirit on social media and add your name to the IU Day map. Spread the word!

IU Day events will be held on the Bloomington and Indy campus, so be sure to take part in the scavenger hunt going on from 11am-3pm on both campuses! Clues for the IUB hunt can be found here. IUPUI clues can be found here. You can download the clues from either link or pick them up on campus at any of the IU Day stations! You definitely don’t want to miss this! There are prizes at stake here! You could win anything from t-shirts and sunglasses to the grand prize: a 2016-17 IU parking pass! (Where was this scavenger hunt when I lived on campus?)

Come by the WIUX Station House on the IUB campus and grab all the free CDs you want! They are giving them out from 1-5pm, so be sure to stop by and share your finds on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #IUday. Don’t forget to tag WIUX in your post!

On campus isn’t the only place you can celebrate in Bloomington. From 5:30-7:30pm, you can stop by and try some beer samples or just come for some IU swag.

Show and share your IU spirit! Take part in the events on campus and share your Indiana University experiences with your family and friends on social media. Let’s make the first annual IU Day one to remember!



**For more info, visit**

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The Challenge Continues!

As some readers may remember, back in early February I wrote about attempting the Doug Loves Movies Challenge by watching 366 movies this year (being a leap year), of course the pace to ideally be watching one film per day.  At the time of my last post, I was a few behind this pace, but I really kicked it into high gear in March and am currently coming out ahead of schedule.  This entry like my last will highlight some of my favorite movies that I’ve watched as part of the challenge in the last 2 months, all of which can be checked out right here at Media Services!


James Franco has become an interesting figure in Hollywood in the last few years to say the least.  Between his growing list of acting credits, his seemingly everlasting academic career, and his disastrous stint as Oscfars co-host with Anne Hathaway, it can be puzzling to know where his head is at times.  Knowing this, and having only seen him in less serious roles like Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man trilogy and as himself in This Is The End, I was curious to see his critically-acclaimed performance in 127 Hours.  Franco stars as Aron Ralston, an adrenaline-seeker who on one of his regular climbing excursions finds himself between a rock and a hard place – quite literally (a lame joke, I know, but it’s the truth!)  The film largely follows Ralson’s struggle to preserve his precious few resources, including his sanity, long enough to survive.  Though there are some notable appearances besides Franco, like a young Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, and Lizzy Caplan, the majority of the film relies on the performance of one person (Franco).  While films that rely so heavily on one person can often swing and miss, the musings and struggles of Franco keep you engaged from the very start and never let go.  After hearing the award-season hype of this film years ago and only seeing it now, I can honestly say it lived up to and exceeded expectations.  If you’re a fan of Franco, but would like to see his serious acting chops, I suggest renting this film today.


In the last couple of years, I’ve learned something about myself.  I am a HUGE Jake Gyllenhaal fan.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “There’s no way I can take the dude from Bubble Boy seriously.”  To that person I say watch PrisonersEnd of Watch, and Nightcrawler and get back to me (all of which are phenomenal, by the way, and I highly recommend them).  Given this fact, and seeing an ensemble of him, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. on the Browsing shelf here in the movie Zodiac, I knew I couldn’t go wrong.  Zodiac follows the case of, well, the Zodiac Killer, a serial murderer who ran rampant in Northern California in the late 60s and early 70s.  The unknown killer sent encrypted letters to Paul Avery (Downey Jr.) and the staff at the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper to toy with the media and the criminal forces that were after him.  Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), a cartoonist at the Chronicle became obsessed with these coded letters and catching the killer himself.  After years of trying to piece evidence together and annoying Avery with his seemingly crackpot theories, he seeks out Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) himself to finally catch the Zodiac.  Even knowing now that the case of the Zodaic was never completely solved, the directing style of David Fincher kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time.  If you’re a fan of some of Fincher’s other films like Gone Girl or Fight Club, or just love a good crime thriller, this movie is a must-watch.

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Finally, I’d like to end this article on a lighter note.  Based on the above picture that may not make sense, but hear me out.  Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil may look like your typical forest slasher flick, but in reality it is a hilarious send-up of that very genre.  This film stars Alan Tudyk (Tucker) and Tyler Labine (Dale) as two redneck friends who buy a “vacation home” deep in the woods of West Virginia, which is a fixer-upper to say the least.  When a group of college spring breakers’ camping trip goes awry and a string of hilariously unfortunate accidents leave the college group dwindling by the minute, Tucker and Dale must fight to clear their name and, in Dale’s case, fight for his dream girl.  If you enjoy spoof movies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (which I mentioned in my last post), and have an affection for the slasher genre, you should definitely check out Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil at Media Services.

I implore you all to do as I am and fully take advantage of the vast selection of quality films that Media Services has to offer.  You’re probably in the Wells Library anyway, so come on over to the East Tower and visit us!  And wish me luck in the challenge!  Ninety-eight films down, 268 to go! (oh boy…)


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Marvel vs DC


The title may seem like I intend to pick a fight, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  With the recent release of Batman vs Superman: Dawn Justice came a great deal of bad reviews.  A bothering portion of the reviews stemmed from the fact that critics and fans were often comparing not DC to its comics but to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This is serious problem as both are very different in what they often bring to the table.

If you’ve seen a super hero within the past eight years, odds are it was a Marvel film. Sense Disney’s acquisition of the franchise, movies have been pumped out every year.  They are often funny, action packed and light in nature and, due to DC’s lack of cinematic presence, have set the sort of super hero narrative audiences grown to expect from the genre.  This is definitely one of the reasons the new DC movie received such harsh reviews.

DC is in one word: dark.  The stories are often gritty and riddled with often painful story lines that really run its heroes through the ringer.  Within the DC world too the word ‘hero’ doesn’t fit nearly as cleanly at times as it does with Marvel either.  The characters are usually scarred by some traumatic event, much like Marvel. However, their reaction to the event tends to take on a darker edge than Marvel ranging from brutal revenge to becoming a vigilante that kills with brutality on par with Marvel villains.  They are more likely to be called anti-heroes and fit the bill seamlessly. Batman is probably the most well-known DC vigilante and contrary to his multiple versions within movies, he is a brutal fighter, compassionate person and a hapless billionaire.  In some ways it would be easy to compare him to Iron Man but that wouldn’t do either parties justice.

In comparison to Marvel, DC’s movies tend to move at a slower pace while Marvel gives you one explosion after another and some witty banter for good measure.  There is banter in DC as well, but it is usually wrapped within a narrative that runs much deeper.  There is often symbolism within phrases and the content of the film while one could take in a Marvel film easily without much need to over think the lines or imagery because they often are exactly what they mean to be.  The pacing in DC next to Marvel can be stifling but both have their own differences for a reason.  They move to tell their own distinct narratives that carry weighty thoughts of their own and are executed differently because they are different.  Yes they both may be super hero franchises but, when it comes down to it, that’s the strongest tie they share and have in common.



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April Happenings

Every month at media services, we put up a display of media items that represent the given month. While there are many things happening in April, we decided to highlight some of the biggest and important ones. Listed below are five categories with sample DVDs linked alongside.

IU Day

Held online on April 12th this event is a worldwide celebration of Indiana University. It will include binge-watching, social media engagement, IU gear and gift-giving extravaganza.

Cutters of Stone

Make your own kind of music

Autism/Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is also Autism and Parkinson’s Awareness month. Events and ceremonies will be held to shine light and to promote awareness, acceptance and draw attention to the tens of thousands facing a diagnosis each year.

My Father, my brother & me

Autism: The Musical Continue reading

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A Very ‘Super’ Spring!

A Very Super Spring!

As most of you probably already know, Batman Vs. Superman has been released into theaters. The synopsis is basically the two heroes having an action packed, cinematic clash about how the city should be protected. Both Batman and Superman are respective super heroes in their areas. Both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent know that there lies a greater evil that is bigger than them, which is Lex Luthor. Definitely a movie worth scoping out with some buddies!

Another ‘super spring’ title coming out this May is Captain America: Civil War.
With a similar plot, we have Captain America and his compatriots in an all out ‘war’ against Iron Man & Co. The basis behind the civil war is Bucky, a friend of Captain America, who has become a national danger. The government feels that super heroes should be monitored and contained while others believe in free will. Till then, we shall see who wins.

For all of you fans of the DC and Marvel Universe fans, this will be a spectacular spring.

Make sure to check out our media library titles from the Marvel and DC Universes!

The X-Men Trilogy
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Captain America                                                                                                                                        Iron Man Trilogy
Spider-Man Original and Reboot
And More!



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Can “Terminator” be Great Again?

The Terminator

Over the past 32 years, the world has received five different Terminator films, vastly ranging in quality. The first film, known simply as The Terminator was released in 1984, written and directed by the legendary James Cameron and is hailed today as one of the greatest science fiction films anybody has every seen. It had thrills, romance, action, story, and actually make the audience think rather than serving all plot points to them on a platter. The Terminator was a genius piece of cinema and stands as one of the greatest films, period. Terminator_2_posterSeven years later, the second film came out. Titled Terminator 2: Judgment Day, this project marked the return for writer/director James Cameron in one of the best received and successful sequels of all time. As the highest grossing movie of 1991 (and my favorite movie of all time), T2 followed in the spiritual footsteps of The Godfather Part II or The Empire Strikes Back in showing how to be a great sequel: deepen the characters, expand the story, and improve on all aspects of the original and NOT just rehash what made the original good (ahem, all horror sequels ever). Terminator 2 isn’t just a run-and-gun, loud-and-dumb, smoking-barrel and empty-shell of a movie at all; it’s smart, romantic, heartfelt, profound, and inspiring in just about every way. That’s how you make a good sequel, or a good movie in general.Terminator_3_posterIn 2003, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines happened- I mean, was “released.” Honestly, T3 is one of my least favorite movies of all time right next to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Alien: Resurrection and is the textbook example of how NOT to make a great sequel. Lead by an annoying cast, penned by lazy writers, and directed with such bland taste, Terminator 3 would be a pointless movie even if it was a good one- which it was far from. All timeline contradictions with the other films aside, this movie can’t even stand on it’s own as a smart movie because of it’s own plot holes. This film tried to up the ante of villainy by combining the two villains from the first two movies into one, so instead of a terminator with just a metal endoskeleton OR an entirely shape-shifting body, this one had shape shifting metal over a metal endoskeleton…which was actually an embarrassing downgrade all-in-all, topped off with a supermodel body, for the appeal, I guess. Terminator 3 is a mess of a film, but somehow, the franchise kept moving.

MV5BODE1MTM1MzA2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQ5MTA2Mg@@._V1_SX640_SY720_In 2009, the franchise made yet another unnecessary return with Terminator: Salvation, which isn’t a “bad” movie- but it doesn’t feel like a Terminator movie at any point in the film which makes it bad for the franchise. And the plot-twist in the middle of the movie really just didn’t make sense as far as the plot of the saga goes; nothing in the movie adds anything to the series. This one can be skipped.


And then, the return of the series to its roots: Terminator Genisys. For some background information: in order to make The Terminator back in the ‘84, James Cameron had to sell the rights to the movie and all of it’s characters for just $1 to a producer who allowed Cameron to make his pet project. After T2, the rights to the franchise bounced from studio to studio, which explains the varying cast, tone and plot holes that the third and fourth films had. However, Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the franchise and decided to make a trilogy, before the rights return back to James Cameron in 2019. James Cameron has devoted himself to his Avatar series, but the amount of time he needs to allow for the special effects he requires to advance is enough to make another Terminator film if he desired after getting the rights back. So, back to Terminator Genisys; this film was the beginning of Paramount’s new Terminator trilogy- which they decided to make in a hurry before losing the rights to the franchise. Paramount’s film completely ignored Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and Terminator Salvation, which made fans (including myself) extremely happy; the fact that this film would respect the roots of the franchise. Before release, James Cameron got to see the movie and told the press that fans would “love this movie!” I thought the film highly respected the originals and was a very fun movie in itself, but critics and audiences didn’t love it, and the film didn’t make as much money as was projected, so the other two films in the trilogy were cancelled. Now, the Terminator franchise has no fate.

How can the franchise be made to be great again? Well, by learning from the mistakes of the most recent 3 films. A few things that Genisys did well was the villain which- like the second film- was “bigger, badder, and better” than the first. This film paid astounding homage to the original and even expanded the story in surprising ways- which the third and fourth films failed to do. However, the film lacked conviction and was all-around forgettable, mostly because of the confused tone… and the fact that now it’s a cliffhanger without any resolution. So, the best thing a studio could do to make the franchise great again is to hire people who care about the project, even if the last three films in the series have not been loved by audiences- and all three of them aren’t official Terminator films anymore. A studio doesn’t need to pick up where the second movie left off in order to continue the franchise, but the biggest thing to make sure of is that the crew behind it is trustworthy and passionate. Like Predator or Alien, the franchise could be returned to after a few bad movies and still be great (I’m referencing the upcoming The Predator movie written and directed by Shane Black who was in the original, and Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, both directed by Ridley Scott who directed the first). I just hope James Cameron is the next person who says “I’ll be back.”

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However, that is unlikely since he is filming Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4 back to back… to back. So, my dream Terminator 3 would actually be directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity) since he can make great, original films like Children of Men, but also direct great sequels which respect the source material as he did with Azkaban (a movie also involving time travel like Terminator). The best reason I have for Cuaron is Gravity, which swept the technical awards at the 2014 Academy Awards, was nominated for Best Picture, and impressed James Cameron who raved about how much he loved the film. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) or Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) would also be good choices. I would pick Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Sunshine) and Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: Episode VIII) for the screenwriters since they have penned some genius and entirely original scripts which have amazed audiences and critics alike. As far as the story goes, I think it’s been too long since T2 to try to continue that plot with those characters, but rebooting and recasting would be absolute sins, so a new team of characters should be introduced for a soft sequel but with a heart of it’s own like Mad Max: Fury Road or Creed last year. As far as the rest goes, I think I’ll leave that to the professionals! Come to IU Media Services in Wells Library to check out The Terminator, Terminator 2, and Terminator Genisys (or many of the other films I’ve mentioned) to see what you think can be done to save the iconic series!


Thank you for reading!

-Blake Schwarz

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