Tag Archives: Linda Hamilton

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.