Terminator: Dark Fate

Though it’s the sixth Terminator film, Terminator: Dark Fate disregards the events of all but the first two Terminator films and takes place after Judgment Day. In this new future, Sarah Connor’s fate has forever been changed when she teams up with an augmented superhuman soldier sent from the future to protect Dani Ramos, a young woman whose survival is critical to ensuring the fate of humanity. Along their way to stopping the Rev-9 (a new, advanced, deadly Terminator from the future), another familiar face, well, comes back, just like he said he would.

Terminator: Dark Fate attempts to be a course correction by righting all these previous films’ wrongs, including bringing back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and James Cameron as producer, and even straight up retconning them and pretending they never existed, except for the only two good ones. But even in all its efforts to return the franchise to form, the spark that this series once had is still missing in Dark Fate. It’s a step up from the previous installment Genisys, but I’m not sure by how large of a margin. It sticks closer in tone to the first Terminator film than the second, but soon it just becomes a rehash of the 1984 classic. Linda Hamilton gives it her all, returning as one of the greatest on-screen badasses on film. She’s accompanied by another returning ass-kicker, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has some fun moments and even some humor in his role as a new T-800 who conveniently also looks like Arnie. Mackenzie Davis was well-cast to play her role, but the writing for her, as well as for the character of Dani, aren’t as interesting or fresh as they should have been. The villain feels like a ripoff of the T-1000 from Terminator 2 and the CGI for his character doesn’t feel convincing.

Perhaps the thing that’s truly missing from this installment is the groundedness the first two had; they were relatively low-budget so they felt like action chase films. But in the age of infinite CGI, nothing feels real, imminent, or threatening like it did back then. At times it feels like the movie’s attempting to be the Logan of the Terminator franchise with small-scale sequences set in Mexico like a scene involving the characters being apprehended by border patrol officers — but soon it ditches all that for a CGI-filled mess, and the finale is almost as cartoonishly bad as some sequences from Genisys. The action sequences all have nice concepts and were probably storyboarded out really well, some of the action, like an opening fist fight or a car chase, turns out to be poorly shot, although a scene involving two planes colliding and a dam was very entertaining. And the score is no longer haunting or memorable — perhaps they could have benefitted from more use of the original theme? Also, the new evil supercomputer that’s producing Terminators is exactly the same as Skynet and everything is the same in the concept, even though the future battle is well-done. There’s also a “plot twist” near the end of the movie that’s embarrassingly executed and so predictable I could see it coming before the movie even began. The theme of fate recurs throughout the film, yet it never feels like it belongs. All the dialogue about fate feels so forced, if only they had focused more on this franchise’s real theme: humanity. None of this is made better by the fact that there’s a choice made in the film that may anger fans of the first two films, and never really justifies itself — or a “we’ll make a sequel if this one makes enough money” ending that I wish had the finality the first two films had, back when we weren’t worried about the continuations and each film could stand as one. There’s some fun callbacks to the original, like the iconic line that has made the series so popular, or a scene taken directly out of the second film. However, Hamilton’s depth and Schwarzenegger’s charisma is all that make the movie, and even those aspects aren’t as strong as they used to be, to which the script is at fault, not the actors. So many times has the sequel that “brings back the true spirit and nature of the franchise that people cherish so dearly” decades later been done now — it felt exciting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and daring and new with Blade Runner 2049, and was also done by Halloween, Mary Poppins Returns, Independence Day: Resurgence, and soonly enough by Top Gun: Maverick and Doctor Sleep. Unfortunately, though it tries its best to maintain its ties to the original, Dark Fate falls trap to some more modern action trademarks, ending up being too formulaic and not as emotionally raw as before. The big action and concepts often compromise the urgency, excitement, and resonance Terminator used to have, while this one is rather disposal and forgettable. Perhaps the dark fate the franchise may be going down is what the title warned us about.

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The Terminator Franchise

In honor of Terminator Genisys being released tomorrow, I will share with you all my thoughts about James Cameron’s beloved Terminator franchise.

First, let’s talk about the original 1984 classic that started it all. The Terminator is an absolutely amazing movie. The performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Michael Biehn are all unforgettable. They all do a perfect job in their roles, especially Arnie as the iconic cyborg antagonist. The action is beautifully done, and the character development is always excellent. James Cameron wonderfully depicts the film’s setting and the dialogue, and the way he directed the film is beyond compare for its time. A few of the visual effects do look fake, but it’s not like they had that much editing technology at the time, like we have today. The one problem I do have with this movie, and it’s a very minor problem, is that when everything in this movie is finally warmed up, it ends very soon after! The battle that ends the film is definitely a great one, but I think there could have been some more action with the Terminator before the concluding fight. But nonetheless, this movie is amazing, and definitely had a huge legacy over action and science fiction movies to this day. The Terminator is one of my favorite movies and receives a rating of: ratings5

Next, let’s talk about the movie’s sequel, which came 7 years later, and was even more acclaimed by fans. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is easily another one of my favorite movies. Linda Hamilton’s transformation of Sarah Conner from a helpless young woman in the first movie to a trained bad-ass in the second one is amazing. Edward Furlong also delivers a great performance as Sarah’s son, John Conner, and of course, Arnie is fantastic with his return as the Terminator, this time sent to protect Sarah and her son. James Cameron’s directing is once again brilliant, and so is the script and dialogue. The action is way better than the first, given a longer run-time, which means more time for the action to develop and warm up, and there are so many great lines in the movie, including the iconic, “I’ll be back.” Terminator 2 is a brilliant action movie, and is without question on the top 5 movies of my favorite movies list. It is a huge improvement over the first, and earns a rating of: ratings5

I have decided to avoid Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, given that I have heard awful things about it, and I have seen Terminator Salvation, the failed attempt at a reboot, that I pretty much hated, and would give a rating of ratings2 (Arnie’s absence and Christian Bale and Sam Worthington’s terrible performances contribute to that rating). Now here’s what I think about the upcoming reboot. To me, Terminator Genisys looks like a very bad movie, overall. First off, I love the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his iconic role as the T-800, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to capture the charm of his character like he did back in the old days. None of the other cast members look good, either. Emilia Clarke looks a lot like Linda Hamilton and fits the role of Sarah Conner well, look-wise. However, I am still concerned about her acting skills. Jason Clarke as John Conner looks alright, overall. I’m not a huge fan of him, despite his amazing performance in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I don’t like the twist they add to him, since the trailer gave that away. I am not a fan of Jai Courtney at all, and he looks horrible as Kyle Reese. I loved Michael Biehn as the role in the original Terminator movie, and Jai Courtney just looks like this guy in peril with no fighting skills, instead of the protective soldier he’s supposed to be. The story doesn’t look so good. I don’t like the director, and I think instead of going with this new story, they should’ve sticked to the original plot. Hollywood can’t quite always make a perfect reboot, and this is an example of one that will most likely fail. I love the original franchise, and we should appreciate the amazingness of the original films instead of trying to hopelessly remake it in search of more money. Find out what I thought after I watch and Review Terminator Genisys in the very near future.

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