Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Review

'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines' Movie Stills

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Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator
Nick Stahl as John Connor
Kristanna Loken as the T-X
Claire Danes as Katherine “Kate” Brewster
Director: Jonathan Mostow

A powerful cyborg from a post-apocalyptic future appears in search of a drifter. Soon, he must protect himself and his companion from a deadly robotic threat.

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The first two Terminator movies are widely regarded as action sci-fi classics. However, the following movies in the series has been receiving a rather mixed reception. That being said, I like them all, and that extends to Terminator 3. Made and released over a decade after the excellent Terminator 2, Rise of the Machines is enjoyable despite its many issues.

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The biggest problem of Terminator 3 is how similar it is to Terminator 2, to the point where it almost feels like a copy. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator goes back in time to protect John Connor from a more advanced Terminator, and there are plenty of one liners and action scenes. It doesn’t help that much of it feels like it is on autopilot. The plot is less interesting, the characters aren’t as strong, and there’s not nearly as much emotion or depth to it, despite some of the opportunities presented here. The attempts at comedy are increased, but come across as being more forced, and I think its goofier than it was intending to be; the scene in which the Terminator gets his clothes here is an example of this. While some one liners are memorable, they were more misses than hits. That being said, I was fairly entertained with the movie, helped by a tight pace. It is also elevated by a surprising third act, with the bleak ending being a standout. While I can see why people wouldn’t like it, it is at least admirable. It is a bold move for a franchise movie to end on such a nihilistic note. At the same time, you get the feeling that it could’ve been more impactful had it been handled better.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as another Terminator sent back in time, and is solid as usual even if he’s feeling a bit tired here. One thing working against him is that he just feels like a copy of his Terminator from Terminator 2, only he’s not as good, almost like an empty shell. His characterisation isn’t as strong and doesn’t feel as human. At the same time, there are plenty of human moments where he acts like his Terminator 2 counterpart, despite not having humanising moments like he did with young John Connor. The rest of the cast aren’t as good. Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are fine as John Connor and his future wife Kate, but are forgettable. Terminator 3 is a logical and accurate continuation of where John Connor would go after stopping Judgment Day, but they don’t do much beyond the first act. Danes is also fine with what she is given but is underdeveloped despite playing a major role in the movie. Then there’s the new villain Terminator, this time it’s the T-X as played by Kristanna Loken. While the idea had potential, the execution has much to be desired. It’s a female Terminator and that’s all that’s going for her. She wasn’t menacing, she was hard to take seriously and was a step back after the Terminator villains.

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Jonathan Mostow directs this, overall his work is just okay but unsurprisingly pales in comparison to James Cameron’s work on the previous movies. Much like the writing, a big part of the problem is that it just feels like a copy of Terminator 2, except not as good. It doesn’t have much of a style of its own. Its also feels on autopilot, not helped by the generic score from Marco Beltrami. That being said, the action scenes are quite entertaining. It can be a bit messy and sloppy at times, but at the very least goes all in with the bonkers action. An early chase scene involving a truck in the first act particularly shines. While there is clearly an overreliance on CGI and the effects haven’t aged well, there are still some good practical stunts.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a decent enough sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger is entertaining as usual, the action is fun, and there’s some aspects that are well done. The problem is that its just pretty much just a copy of Terminator 3, only not done as well. The only purpose of the movie seems to be the direction of its ending, and even that could’ve been handled better. Still, it’s okay if you manage expectations going into it.

The 6th Day (2000) Review

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The 6th Date

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Adam Gibson
Tony Goldwyn as Michael Drucker
Michael Rapaport as Hank Morgan
Michael Rooker as Robert Marshall
Sarah Wynter as Talia Elsworth
Robert Duvall as Dr. Griffin Weir
Director: Roger Spottiswoode

In the distant future, human cloning technology falls into the destructive, corrupt hands of a multinational corporation. But one man refuses to be a pawn in this deadly conspiracy.

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I have been meaning to check out The 6th Day for some time, I knew it as another Arnold Schwarzenegger action sci-fi movie. However from what I heard going into it, its not exactly one of his most beloved movies. It definitely has a lot of problems, but I liked it overall.

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The story of The 6th Day definitely has some holes and issues; it starts off intriguing but becomes less interesting as it progresses. I liked the slightly futuristic setting with the technological advancements, some of those predictions are even accurate to today. It also raises some interesting ethical questions, especially about cloning. However, the movie is not clever enough to do anything interesting with those ideas, like its in completely the wrong movie. As a result, it is all over the place tonally, it has dark and disturbing implications with the future but has plenty of silly moments. However there is a charm to the movie, ,and I think The 6th Day does work better as a silly Schwarzenegger film with sci-fi elements than a serious sci-fi movie about cloning. The movie definitely succeeds when it has fun with its premise, and it definitely has those moments. While the overall plot isn’t memorable, there are some individual sequences which are. It is also a funny movie and has some great one liners.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger leads The 6th Day, and this is definitely not one of his best movies or performances. However, he’s as enjoyable and charismatic as ever, handling the action and the one liners with ease. Robert Duvall has also done much better in other movies, but he’s decent in his screentime here. The villains aren’t anything special but work well enough for this plot, from Tony Goldwyn as the main antagonist, to Michael Rooker as one of his henchmen.

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Roger Spottiswoode directs The 6th Day, and his work here is fine. Some of the CGI is very early 2000s and is dated, but it can be enjoyably silly. There are some entertaining sequences, and I liked the futuristic setting shown in the movie, especially with the technology and weapons. The action isn’t fantastic but between the laser shootouts and car chases, its fun and well shot.

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The 6th Day is not a good movie, despite an intriguing premise and ideas, it really doesn’t utilise them to their fullest. Out of Arnold’s action movies, its not one of his best. That being said, I still had fun with it. The cast are decent, and the action was at least entertaining. It’s definitely no Total Recall, but if you’re a fan of Schwarzenegger, then The 6th Day has enough to make it worth checking out.

The Expendables 2 (2012) Review

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The Expendables 2

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains Violence
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Chuck Norris as Booker
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Liam Hemsworth as Billy the Kid
Scott Adkins as Hector
Yu Nan as Maggie
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Vilain
Bruce Willis as Church
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench
Director: Simon West

All hell breaks loose when Barney, along with his band of old-school mercenaries, sets out on a path of carnage after one of their comrades gets killed during a simple task assigned by Mr Church.

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I rewatched the first Expendables and while I enjoyed it, it was worse than I remembered it being. Afterwards, I wanted to watch the sequel again because I remember it being much better. That proved to be very much the case, The Expendables 2 is a noticeable and immense improvement over the previous movie, and was fun in itself.

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The plot isn’t the best, its very standard for an action movie and doesn’t really matter that much. However, the straightforward nature of the plot was for the best, and it helps that it’s at least coherent and paced well, with never a dull moment. Like its predecessor, The Expendables 2 continues to be a homage to the action movies of the past, and embraces much of its tropes. That being said, the sequel seems to serve better as that. Part of that has to do with the tone, which is way more consistent throughout. Despite many of the ridiculous moments, the first Expendables movie took itself too seriously. It would go from a goofy airplane action scene to a well written and performed but nonetheless out of place emotional monologue from Mickey Rourke. In contrast, The Expendables 2 leans more toward being an over the top blockbuster, and not taking itself too seriously. That’s not to say that there aren’t any dramatic moments, but it works with the rest of the movie much better. Much of the dialogue and humour came across as being very forced in the first movie, this again is improved in the sequel. There are some good one liners and enjoyable references. It does unfortunately has the odd situation where it can overdo it with the meta jokes. There’s particularly an exchange between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris which make 3 meta jokes in the span of 20 seconds, and in those cases they could’ve dialled it done. Otherwise, it was just on the right level for me.

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Much of the cast from the first movie return and are even better here, including Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham. Everyone here delivers as you’d expect, though the standout might be Dolph Lundgren. One disappointing aspect of the last movie was that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis were in just one scene (though it was one of the highlights of that movie). However, they actually play more notable parts in the movie, we even get to see them involved in the action in the third act and it was great to see. The new additions are good too; Liam Hemsworth plays a new member of the Expendables and while he feels out of place, he serves his purpose well. Nan Yu is also a good addition to the cast, playing a notable part and is alongside the Expendables for much of the film. Chuck Norris appears in a few times for a fun cameo, and it really is credit to this movie that they somehow make the tired Chuck Norris jokes actually funny here. Another aspect that was improved here was the villain. Eric Roberts was quite forgettable in the first movie, this time they got Jean-Claude Van Damme to play the villain, who’s name is literally Vilain. He feels like a worthy antagonist to the main team, and fits perfectly here.

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Sylvester Stallone’s direction of the first movie was fine, but was ultimately lacking. The second movie is a noticeable improvement it with Con Air director Simon West, who does a much better job. From the opening action sequence, you can already tell the difference in the handling. The action is much better, its well shot, better edited (especially for the fight scenes), and it reduces the shaky cam. It still has the problem with the bad looking CGI blood that messily splatters everywhere, but it does look a little better than in the first movie.

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I’ve been constantly stating this point throughout this whole review, but The Expendables 2 really does improve on the first movie in just about every way, and is everything that its predecessor should’ve been. The action, characters, plot, humour and more are just more finely tuned to deliver on its promise of being a throwback to the action movies of the 80s and 90s, I was consistently entertaining from beginning to end. If you are fan of those movies, The Expendables 2 is well worth checking out. You don’t even need to watch the first Expendables, just jump straight into this one.

Total Recall (1990) Review

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Total Recall (1990)

Time: 156 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid
Rachel Ticotin as Melina
Sharon Stone as Lori
Ronny Cox as Vilos Cohaagen
Michael Ironside as Richter
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Douglas Quaid tries to find the reason behind his recurring dream about Mars. He soon learns that a false memory has been planted into his brain and the people responsible for this want him dead.

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I remembered watching the original Total Recall for the first time ago many years ago when I was younger. I remember enjoying it with all the action, over the top violence, and one liners. More recently I decided to revisit it. Watching it again when I’m much older, it’s even better than I was remembered it to be.

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Based on a Phillip K. Dick novel called We Remember It For You Wholesale, Total Recall is well put together and fun to watch. It moves at a fast pace, there’s a decent amount of comedy and has plenty of quotable lines, in fact some of the best from an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. There’s plenty of parts that are silly and over the top, but there is a real self-awareness to the ridiculousness, so it makes it all the more better. I also was consistently entertained by a story which takes its twists and turns and does its world building in such an effective way.  There’s even a psychological aspect with lead character Quaid not knowing what’s real or not, or who he can trust. As a sci-fi action flick it’s really good, but its even more than that. Director Paul Verhoeven brings his trademark satirical approach to this story, like how he did with Robocop. The satire is loud, in your face and quite fitting. As to be expected especially given this is the 80s/90s, the movie takes jabs at capitalism and corporate greed, but also colonialism.

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The cast are also quite good all round. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the main character of Douglas Quaid in one of his best performances. As usual he is good in the action scenes and the cheesy one liners, but also does a good job at being genuine, and this is one of the few times he isn’t playing the typical hardcore action hero. Some have found him to be out of place in the movie and while I can see that especially given that he’s meant to be playing the everyman, I just can’t imagine the movie without him. He somehow just fits in with the tone and vibe that Verhoeven is going for. Other supporting actors like Sharon Stone and Rachael Ticotin are good, and Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox make for enjoyable scene chewing villains.

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Total Recall is directed by Paul Verhoeven, and he brings a lot of his style and energy to this movie. I really like the cinematography and look of the film, I loved the environments and the production design is great. The amount of practical effects on display are amazing, and most of it holds up today. There are even parts that venture into body horror. The special effects can be cheesy in a late 80s and early 90s way, but I feel like that fitted the overall tone of the movie that Verhoeven is going for. I really like the portrayal of the future, some of the technology can be clunky but even that is endearing. The action sequences are energetic, exciting and imaginative. Verhoeven’s trademark over the top and gory violence is on display and it is glorious to watch. Adding on top of all of that is the amazing score by Jerry Goldsmith.

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Total Recall is a wonderfully entertaining and over the top 90s action sci-fi thriller. The cast are good, the writing is fun, satirical and self-aware, and Paul Verhoeven’s direction and style are amazing. It’s even a strong contender for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movie yet, up there with the first two Terminator films at the very least. If you are a fan of action and/or sci-fi, I highly recommend checking it out.

The Expendables 3 (2014) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer
Antonio Banderas as Galgo
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trent “Trench” Mauser
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte
Ronda Rousey as Luna
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee
Glen Powell as Thorn
Victor Ortiz as Mars
Robert Davi as Goran Vata
Director: Patrick Hughes

Years ago, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) co-founded the Expendables with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). After Stonebanks became an arms dealer, Ross was forced to kill him — or so he thought. Now, Stonebanks is back and he’s on a mission to end the Expendables. Ross decides that the way to fight old blood is with new blood, so he assembles a team of younger, faster, more tech-savvy recruits. The battle to topple Stonebanks becomes a clash of old-school methods vs. high-tech expertise.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the 3 Expendables movies. I seem to remember that the first was an okay but rather forgettable action movie, and the second was noticeably better and rather fun throwback flick. However, the 3rd movie really doesn’t work, and its surprisingly because the filmmakers somehow forgot the purpose of these movies to begin with. It’s not even entertainingly bad, it’s just middle of the road flat and average.

The movie starts off well with an entertaining opening action scene (it involves Wesley Snipes breaking out of prison). After that though it’s rather weak, even as a standard action flick, and on the whole still manages to be quite boring. Expendables 3 doesn’t seem self aware like in the 2nd movie and its worse than in the first movie. The Expendables was meant to be this throwback to 80s action movies but instead this movie is about getting a new team, in fact this movie spends too much time with recruiting the new Expendables. I’m also not expecting some kind of compelling story, but even on the level of trashy action movies, this falls pretty flat. Even some of the sillier aspects aren’t entertaining this time, its just incredibly hard to get into the movie. It does improve in the third act as it gets into the climax but it’s not worth sitting through the entire 2 hour runtime to get to that point.

The whole thing about Expendables is that part of its appeal is that it had 80s action stars all together (except Jason Statham for some reason). Expendables 3 forgot that, Stallone is very much the lead but much of the original cast of the first two movies is sidelined for the younger cast. The younger cast includes Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz, and the younger cast really don’t add anything to the movie at all and just end up being annoying more than anything else. The older cast fare a little better, the returning Expendables cast with the likes of Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger do well enough but again, sidelined. Harrison Ford in this movie pretty much replaces Bruce Willis’s role (since Willis didn’t return due to some disagreements between him and Stallone), having a few scenes and all. It’s nice seeing him here but unfortunately doesn’t elevate the movie enough. Wesley Snipes is also a nice addition. Antonio Bandareas is a good actor and on paper him being in the Expendables movies sounds really great, but his character is really annoying, so it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Mel Gibson was a good villain for the movie, the best villain in the trilogy by far, in fact he’s probably the best part of the whole movie. There’s particularly a standout scene with him in a truck like halfway through the movie.

The first Expendables was directed okay by Sylvester Stallone and the second was much better directed by Simon West. The third movie is directed by Patrick Hughes and unfortunately wasn’t all that done well. There is a lot of cuts and shaky cam during the action scenes, its like it was directed like an average modern action movie. Unlike the previous movies in the series, The Expendables 3 isn’t given an R rating. My problem isn’t necessarily that it’s not rated R (since you could just remove the blood from the other movies and they’d work almost as well, if not better), the problem is that it feels like it was shot to be R but then they changed to PG-13, resulting in some things looking different. For example, instead of blood spurting out when people are shot, it’s just lots of dust bouncing off them. There is some really poor CGI here, I know we shouldn’t be expecting much from it, but it even feels poor compared to the previous movie. The climax is entertaining enough, however the Stallone vs Gibson fight should’ve been more than what we got, doesn’t even touch the Stallone vs Jean-Claude Van Damme fight at the end of the second film.

The Expendables 3 is not awful but it’s rather average and somehow pales in comparison to the previous 2 movies, which weren’t even that great. It feels watered down, the new cast mostly don’t add much to it, and it’s just rather boring. Pretty much the only part about The Expendables 3 that is good enough that might be worth watching is Mel Gibson, who makes for an effective villain and the best out of the trilogy. Really the only movie in this trilogy that I’d say is worth watching is the second movie. Even if you’re a fan of the first two movies, I’m not sure that you’ll like this one.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Strong violence & offensive language
Cast:
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Terminator T-800 (Model 101)/”Carl”
Mackenzie Davis as Grace
Natalia Reyes as Daniella “Dani” Ramos
Gabriel Luna as Terminator Rev-9
Diego Boneta as Diego Ramos
Director: Tim Miller

In Mexico City, a newly modified liquid Terminator (Gabriel Luna) — the Rev-9 model — arrives from the future to kill a young factory worker named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Also sent back in time is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a hybrid cyborg human who must protect Ramos from the seemingly indestructible robotic assassin. But the two women soon find some much-needed help from a pair of unexpected allies — seasoned warrior Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

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I was cautiously optimistic about Terminator: Dark Fate. The first two Terminator films are absolute classics, and for very good reason. The next 3 instalments on the other hand received a mixed to negative response, I actually liked them, but they were quite the significant steps down from the other movies and had a lot of problems. Instead of continuing the new bizarre storyline created by Terminator Genisys, the 6th movie would essentially only acknowledge the first two Terminator movies and act as a Terminator 3, a bit of a ‘soft reboot’ like Halloween 2018. On top of that, not only were they having Deadpool director Tim Miller helm the movie, the likes of Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna starring, and especially Linda Hamilton returning to the role of Sarah Connor, but James Cameron would also be a lot involved with the next instalment. There was a lot of potential, but I kept my expectations in check. Dark Fate definitely isn’t on the level of the first two movies, but I actually thoroughly liked it, flaws and all.

Now something to get out of the way, this movie makes a bold decision in the different direction it’s taking the Terminator story, especially with the opening scene. This new direction will either work for you or won’t. I’m on the side of liking it, without revealing too much I think it’s at least trying to keep things fresh. I’m being as vague as the trailers and not going into too much depth about the set ups. The movie is very fast paced and action packed, with action scene after action scene, it can feel a little overwhelming at times. At the same time there are moments to breathe with the characters, and it give them just enough for you to be invested in them. It seems to take a very Mad Max: Fury Road/Mission Impossible: Fallout approach to the story (although not being quite as good as those other movies). In the third act though they really just go all in with the large action scenes, probably a little too much, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There are obvious choices made to shift the focus towards a female driven story (with the 3 leads of the movie being women), and I think they handled that well. The movie definitely leans into that and it felt earned and genuine. Complete side note but that’s made even better considering how this movie got so much backlash for being “too woke and just pandering to SJWs” for merely having women be the focus of the story. It seems like the writers almost sort of knew that was coming and you can tell in the writing they kind of wanted to piss those people off, and needless to say I’m glad for it. I guess Dark Fate was a little too much like the first two Terminators at times, with the types of action, certain plot points, setups and revelations that we’re used to seeing, but that was also the case with Rise of the Machine, only this movie did it better. There was a reveal at a point later in the movie that it was trying to conceal and build up to but it was kind of obvious where they were going with it, I was more than fine with the decision though. Here and there, there are some silly or poorly written lines that took me out of the movie but only just a bit. They definitely plant the seeds to have more sequels if they choose to do so, but it works well enough as the final movie I guess too, it doesn’t leave the story on a massive cliffhanger or anything. With that said, the Terminator series really needs a definitive ending to the story, and given the unlikelihood of seeing a follow up to Dark Fate, part of me kind of wishes that it found a way to end it here.

In terms of cast and characters for Terminator sequels post Judgement Day, I’d say that it’s the best. I’ll start with the newer cast first. Mackenzie Davis is really good as an enhanced soldier sent back in time to save Natalia Reyes’s character from a new Terminator. She sells the action scenes and is quite convincing, I really hope that this puts Davis on the map as someone to pay attention to her because she deserves it. The only annoyance I have with her character Grace was that I was hoping for a little more delving into her. Sure her backstory is touched upon but it felt like there was a lot more to explore, especially with the augmentations that she has, which are in themselves just explained very vaguely. Everything else about her was great. Natalia Reyes is the one being hunted throughout the movie, she’s pretty good in the role but for the majority of the movie is sort of a plot device and doesn’t get a lot of time to shine as a character. Gabriel Luna plays the Rev-9, the new Terminator that our main characters are up against, and he did serve well as a difficult adversary. It’s a little more advanced than the T-1000 liquid Terminator from Judgement Day, but just at the right level and not like what they did with the T-X in Rise of the Machines. Essentially the Rev-9 is a bit like a liquid Terminator, except that it can split into two. Luna could appear very charismatic and natural passing off as a human when he needs to but also feels very much like a machine, and he’s got a very threatening screen presence. Now for the two returning actors, starting with Linda Hamilton who is fantastic here reprising her role as Sarah Connor. She’s even more experienced and hardened than the last time we saw her, and I really liked how her story played out (won’t talk about it in depth here). Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was the centre of the first two movies and was a big part of what made them work, and the same is the case with Dark Fate. This is the first time in a present day set Terminator movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t one of the main leads, you don’t actually see him for much of the movie. Without spoiling anything I really liked how they handled his character here. The only issue is that after Judgement Day, they kept trying to add comedy to Arnold’s Terminator and a lot of the time it just comes across really goofy and forced. Thankfully most of the jokes involving him in Dark Fate are genuinely funny and aren’t as embarrassing as those in Rise of the Machines and Genisys, but there are a few lines which were too silly for their own good.

Now Tim Miller is no James Cameron but he definitely did a good job at directing this. This is the first R rated Terminator movie since Judgement Day, and it definitely benefited from the lack of restrictions. On top of being able to show a lot more graphic violence than the past few movies, there is a level of intensity and impact in so much of said violence that added so much towards making the action better. I really liked the action overall, I don’t think I need to sound like a broken record and say that they don’t reach levels of the first two Terminator movies, but on its own it worked well. Unfortunately like with Genisys, some of the action is filled with a lot of CGI and often have set pieces that were a little too large. The CGI is also a bit overused, to mixed results. With the Rev-9 it kind of needed to use a lot of CGI, sure it looked a little bland at times but it personally didn’t bother me too much. Junkie XL’s score as usual really adds to the movie, especially during the action scenes.

While a lot of people consider Dark Fate to be the 3rd best Terminator movie, it’s quite apparent that not everyone is a fan of this movie, especially with some of the decisions it makes. There’s also the very low box office, I get the feeling that Genisys for many was the final straw for a lot of audiences, and so they don’t really want to see yet another potentially mediocre Terminator sequel. I’d say that if you were fine with the Terminator movies after Judgement Day, I’m pretty sure you’ll like Dark Fate as well. All the same, I thought that this movie was relatively decent, the cast and characters were great (with Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton being the standouts), Tim Miller handled the direction of the movie well, and I personally liked where they took the story. I guess the series could possibly end here but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat interested in seeing a follow up in some format.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) Review

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 “Model 101”
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Robert Patrick as T-1000
Edward Furlong as John Connor
Joe Morton as Miles Bennett Dyson
Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman
Director: James Cameron

In this sequel set eleven years after “The Terminator,” young John Connor (Edward Furlong), the key to civilization’s victory over a future robot uprising, is the target of the shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a Terminator sent from the future to kill him. Another Terminator, the revamped T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), has been sent back to protect the boy. As John and his mother (Linda Hamilton) go on the run with the T-800, the boy forms an unexpected bond with the robot.

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Just before Terminator Dark Fate rolled around, I decided to re-watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The Terminator back in 1984 was such a hit, and became an instant classic upon its release. 7 years later however, James Cameron made a sequel which not only was at the level of the original (and for some surpassed it), it also became one of the best iconic action movies of all time. Nearly 3 decades later it still holds up rather well.

If you don’t know anything about this movie, I’d recommend stopping reading this review right now and watching this movie (of course watching The Terminator beforehand if you haven’t seen it already). I remember when I saw this movie on DVD around the age of 13 not knowing much of the plot, and it was definitely better for it. The Terminator from 1984 was more of a thriller, Terminator 2: Judgement is more of an action movie. Despite this, it’s not just an action movie with explosions, there’s also lot of time spent with the characters. I’ve seen the movie multiple times and I’ve seen both versions, the theatrical cut and the extended cut. The extended cut adds more character development and story, and so I’d recommend that version. Also the ending of the extended cut works if you count Judgement Day as the official end of the Terminator series. On top of the entertainment and thrills, Terminator 2 also has an emotional payoff at the end. So all around, Judgement Day handles its plot very well.

Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the Terminator, this time as not the antagonist he initially became known for in the first movie. As I said, I went into the movie not knowing for sure that he’d be protecting John Connor, so that was quite a surprise. He definitely was convincing as a terminator fighting this time on the side of the main characters. Edward Furlong is the young John Connor and his acting is a little mixed. The worst is early on when he’s just being a kid on his own, and occasionally in some of the scenes where he’s showing emotion he’s underacting, overacting or is coming across a little forced. As the plot continues on he gets better. He’s great when paired with Schwarzenegger, those scenes where the two of them interact are amongst the highlights of the whole movie, especially with the Terminator learning more about being human. Linda Hamilton also returned from the first movie as Sarah Connor, she was good in that movie but she’s great here. She’s a lot more hardened and experienced and she gets to do a lot to do here. Can’t wait to see her again in Dark Fate. Robert Patrick this time plays the Terminator antagonist as the T-1000. After the success of Arnold’s Terminator, it would be easy to just assume the next model would be just an even larger Terminator. This time they decided to go with a smaller liquid metal Terminator and he worked very well. He can definitely blend into a crowd and certainly acts more human than the T-800. Yet you can still feel through and through that he’s a machine and he’s very threatening. He’s a strong challenge for the Terminator, John, and Sarah Connor.

James Cameron directs this, and once again his work here is absolutely stellar. Direction-wise, Terminator 2 certainly moved from a thriller with the slasher feel (with the terminator as the killer), to a much more action movie feel. The visual effects are very effective and have certainly advanced from the first movie from 1984. The effects with the T-1000’s liquid metal may be a little dated now, but you can definitely tell that for 1991 this was something special. Despite the use of CGI, there’s still quite a lot in the action scenes that’s practical, and all the action scenes are fantastic. They go much larger with the action and it is great, from the chase scenes to gunfights to Terminator on Terminator action, all of it was filmed very well and still holds up well today. The soundtrack was also solid, though I certainly remember the synth score from the first Terminator a little more. The main theme for Terminator 2 however has cemented itself as the absolute main theme of the series.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day is fantastic and still holds up after all these years. The cast are mostly great, James Cameron directed it excellently, and it definitely deserves its recognition as one of the greats. Whether you like this movie or the first more, I think it’s generally accepted that both of these movies are excellent and essential viewing.

The Terminator (1984) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes.
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 “Model 101”
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Paul Winfield as Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen as Hal Vukovich
Director: James Cameron

Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.

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With Terminator 6 coming later in 2019, I thought that I should rewatch and review the other Terminator movies leading up to its release (aside from Genysis, which I reviewed already), even though the first two movies are the only ones relevant to the upcoming movie. James Cameron’s The Terminator and its sequel Judgement Day had a massive effect on cinema, especially for the sci-fi genre. While the sequel is generally praised more than the original, the first Terminator still deserves a lot of praise, with both standing the test of time as being fantastic pieces of science fiction cinema.

When it comes to The Terminator, plotwise, it’s perfectly crafted. It feels like everything that needed to be in the movie is here, there’s never a scene that feels unnecessary, and it doesn’t feel like there needs to be anything more added to it, its all fits well. It’s a pretty straightforward story, cyborg goes back in time to kill one of the protagonist and the protagonists need to survive from said cyborg. Even all the time travel elements and all the information about what happened (or in this case, what will happen) are explained sufficiently enough and aren’t too complicated. All the pacing is done very well, it’s under an hour and 50 minutes long and it never feels like its moving slowly. It feels heavily in the 80s and I guess there’s some aspects that you might call a little dated (some of which is to do with the way some scenes are written or directed) but it doesn’t get too distracting.

Sarah Connor in the first Terminator is… well, she’s not the Sarah Connor of Terminator 2. Her character here is not the greatest but Linda Hamilton nonetheless does a really good job playing her. Although her character gets much better in the sequel, it wouldn’t have been as effective if it wasn’t for what they did with her here. She is given a good character arc here, she develops over the course of the movie and it has a very satisfying ending. Michael Biehn is also really great as Kyle Reese, the soldier from the human sent to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator. Hamilton and Biehn also have good chemistry together. It wouldn’t be a Terminator review if we didn’t talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is great in the titular role. Before he played more heroic versions of the Terminator in the sequels, Schwarzenegger here is really convincing as an intimidating, emotionless and literal killing machine. It’s not just that he can talk like a robot or anything, the way he moves, the way he looks at everything, he just doesn’t seem human. The film does a great job at making the Terminator a seemingly unstoppable force, and Schwarzenegger also contributed to that.

James Cameron’s direction is nothing short of excellent. The second movie is more of a big action blockbuster, but with the original movie, Cameron does a fantastic job creating a quieter and more suspenseful movie, with the atmosphere playing a key part in this. The atmosphere is a big part about why The Terminator works so well, it’s not quite a horror movie or anything, but the way certain scenes are filmed are reminiscent of a slasher movie. The third act in particular is all suspense, with the sequence taking place in a factory being a standout. The practical effects are outstanding, especially on the Terminator itself. The only time where it doesn’t quite work is some of scenes with The Terminator when Arnold is clearly replaced by a literal robot made to look exactly like him. Granted for the 80s it is impressive, but you can clearly tell the difference when it goes from one shot of real Arnold, to one shot of fake Arnold and then back again, even if it is a pretty good recreation of Arnold’s face. It is absolutely perfect for the third act as the Terminator at that point received a massive amount of body and facial damage, but before that point it’s a little distracting. Aside from that, the practical effects are flawless. The action scenes aren’t as iconic as those in Terminator 2, but they are still done really well, relying mostly on practical effects and with most of what you’re seeing on screen being really what’s happening. Some of the visual effects aren’t the best like the lightning effects when both The Terminator and Kyle Reese appear but its not too much of a problem, its from the 80s anyway so there’s only so much that visual effects at this point could do. Something that I found effective is that the actually Terminator in robot form, we only see the true appearance towards the end, which seemed to be achieved through a mix of visual effects and practical effects, and its movements are so unnatural that it actually makes it more scary than the robotic forms of the Terminator in later movies. We do get a couple of scenes taking place in Judgement Day are all fantastically done, making it feel really gloomy and nightmarish. The score by Brad Fiedel is quite effective, which was composed and performed on the synthesizer. It gives the movie an eerie and menacing feel to it, yet being somewhat melodic. I guess the only bummer is that the iconic main theme that The Terminator is known for is still pretty early stages here, but the sequel fixed that.

The Terminator is a classic for a reason. With James Cameron’s fantastic direction, good work from its cast and a perfectly crafted plot, it really gets everything right. The two Terminator movies are different enough from each other that there’s no clear film which is better. Whether you prefer this movie or the sequel, there’s not denying the impact that they have made, both well worth the watch if you haven’t seen them already.

Commando (1985) Review

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Matrix
Rae Dawn Chong as Cindy
Alyssa Milano as Jenny Matrix
Vernon Wells as Bennett
James Olson as Maj Gen. Franklin Kirby
David Patrick Kelly as Sully
Bill Duke as Cooke
Dan Hedaya as Arius
Director: Mark L. Lester

Retired Special Forces soldier John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives with daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in isolation, but his privacy is disturbed by former commander Franklin Kirby (James Olson), who warns him that his fellow soldiers are getting killed one by one. After Kirby leaves, Jenny is kidnapped by former Latin American dictator Arius (Dan Hedaya), who wants Matrix to restore him to power. Instead, Matrix sets out to take down the rogue leader and rescue his daughter.

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In the 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger established himself as an action star with The Terminator, and he increased his action icon status with movies like 1985’s Commando. Commando is a very silly over the top Schwarzenegger flick, it’s not one of his best films (even when just considering the action genre) but it is one of his more well known over the top action movies. Completely ridiculous, it has a real self awareness and charm to it that actually elevates the movie and makes it work.

This movie is very straightforward, Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to get his daughter back and is going to kill a lot of people along the way. That’s all that this 90 minute movie consists of. If you want some form of compelling story or character development, you won’t find it here. The characters are very standard and basic, with nothing special about them. However, what makes Commando work as an Arnold flick (over some of his other action movies) is that Commando knows that it’s a stupid and goofy action movie. It’s full of cheesy one liners that seem to be written specifically for Arnold. You don’t really get much tension, you never feel like Arnold is really in any danger, anything that he goes up against doesn’t pose much of a problem for long. The closest thing to being that is the final fight but even then you know he’ll be fine in the end. You’re just watching Arnold kill a bunch of people on his way to rescue his daughter. I will say that it’s really the third act that’s the complete action filled flick that you’d want. Before that, as over the top as it could be, it really wasn’t as large as you’d think it would be. With that said, it is worth staying around for the third act because it is really something completely nuts and entertaining.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in this movie is playing pretty much a basic version of all the action heroes he’s played and would continue to play, the character really doesn’t have much to him. His character of John Matrix is a former killing machine who has a daughter and that’s all that there is to him. It’s not a great performance but it’s not really meant to be. Schwarzenegger is a good actor, whatever role he’s given he does the best with what he’s given and usually delivers what is expected (at the very least), his role here is no exception and he does the best he can with it, even if it’s a pretty generic character. There’s not much to say about the other actors. I guess Alyssa Milano and Rae Dawn Chong are good enough. The villains are all pretty one note and don’t really pose a threat to Matrix at all but their performances all fit their generic bad guy roles. The standout of all of them was Vernon Wells, who was quite entertaining as an crazy over the top villain who’s the only one who seems to be at the level of John Matrix on a physical level.

As far as 80s action movies go, Commando is pretty well directed by Mark L. Lester. It is filled with all of the over the top 80s action clichés and the movie is far from realistic but they are entertaining nonetheless. The action is actually well shot, you can actually see what’s happening. Some of the action scenes are more entertaining than others, as I said it’s really the third act that gives you the goofy and over the top action you’re looking for. The third act is purely action sequences after action sequences with Arnold plowing through countless enemy soldiers like nothing and also has a pretty solid end fight.

If you like silly and cheesy action movies from the 80s, Commando is honestly a must watch if you haven’t seen it already. Arnold Schwarzenegger effortlessly delivers as always, the action is entertaining but most of all, this movie knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more than that, which is why it works so well. As I said earlier, it’s not the ultimate over the top action flick, really its just the last act that goes absolutely nuts with its action. However it’s probably one of the best examples of 80s action movies (Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks particularly), especially when it comes to all the tropes and clichés. So give Commando a watch if you want a silly action flick.

Predator (1987) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer
Carl Weathers as Al Dillon
Elpidia Carrillo as Anna Gonsalves
Bill Duke as Mac Elliot
Richard Chaves as Jorge “Poncho” Ramírez
Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper
Sonny Landham as Billy Sole
Shane Black as Rick Hawkins
R. G. Armstrong as Major General Homer Phillips
Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator/helicopter pilot
Director: John McTiernan

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA agent George (Carl Weathers), land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.

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With the latest Predator movie coming in under a month from now, I decided to check out the original film again. Predator was a pretty big hit upon its release and would lead to 2 (now 3) sequels and a couple of crossover films with the Alien franchise. While the reaction to Predator upon it’s release was mixed, it become more beloved over time. Watching Predator for a second time, I have to say that it is still a really entertaining 80s action movie. It may not be one of my favourite action movies of all time but I still really like it and it does have its place in action cinema.

Predator is a rather straightforward action movie that is rather thin on plot. The first third is a seemingly standard action movie, and the rest is a survival against a mysterious killer who’s picking each of them off. The highlight of the film without a doubt though was the third act with Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Predator facing off. It’s glorious to watch, and I like how Arnold has to go to ‘primal’ tactics to fight the Predator instead of just using all the guns that they have in most of the movie. One effective thing about the Predator in this movie is that the movie doesn’t just show it in all its glory (of course its not quite as impactful now that we all know what it looks like). As I said earlier, there isn’t a lot of depth to the story or the characters, and it’s not that unpredictable. However for the type of movie it’s trying to be, it works well enough most of the time. With that said, there is a death halfway into the movie that is lingered on for too long and it feels stretched out. It’s not like it left any emotional impact, we don’t feel much for the character’s death because we didn’t particularly learn much about said character and weren’t given any particular reason to like him. So really it would’ve just been better to move past that death scene reasonably quickly. Outside of that segment, Predator is pretty consistent in its hour and 46 minute running time.

The cast with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham and Shane Black do a good job in the movie. As I said before, none of these characters get any characterisation or depth and so they don’t really get to do much with their roles. Arnold Schwarzenegger does quite well once again in an action role, there’s no real depth given to him here but he is believable enough in his role and is great in the action scenes, particularly in the third act.

John McTiernan is a very good action director with Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard with a Vengeance and Predator is yet another solid action flick from him. The gun battle (there’s really just one in the first act) and all the action scenes are really done well. The locations really works, it makes you feel like you’re in the jungle and it doesn’t feel fake for at least most of it. It really feels like an 80s action movie, with the sound effects, CGI, explosions, sparks and music by Alan Silvestri, which could really work for you or not, but you do need to go into it expecting an 80s movie. Some of it can look really dated, such as the cloaking effects, also some of the POV shots from the Predator’s perspective in the third act were kind of messy. On another note, the design of the Predator itself is quite great, it feels effective and while we don’t learn the background of these aliens (I don’t know if we ever get to learn in the movies) it works well for this movie.

Predator is a really solid action movie and watching it you can really see why it made such an impact when it was released. Not all of it has aged well, it has a very thin plot with thin characters, and I’m not sure if I’d personally put it on the best action movies of all time list, but it is still essential viewing for anyone who loves action movies.