Tag Archives: Mackenzie Davis

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.

Tully (2018) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Mature themes, coarse language and sex
Cast:
Charlize Theron as Marlo Moreau
Mackenzie Davis as Tully
Mark Duplass as Craig
Ron Livingston as Drew Moreau
Director: Jason Reitman

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is a New York suburbanite who’s about to give birth to her third child. Her husband, Ron (Ron Livingston), is loving and works hard, but remains clueless about the demands that motherhood puts on his wife. When the baby is born, Marlo’s wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) hires a nighttime nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) to help his sister handle the workload. Hesitant at first, Marlo soon learns to appreciate all that Tully does — forming a special bond with her new, lifesaving friend.

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I had been hearing about Tully for a little while. All I knew really going in was that it has Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis and involved parenting. Otherwise I went in blind, and I think that overall improved my viewing experience. Tully is a pleasant surprise, with some great performances and was a real and honest portrayal on parenting.

I’ll try not to say too much about this movie, as I do think that it is better watching it not knowing too much about it going in. Just know that it’s about parenting and has Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis and that’s all you need to know. At around an hour and 30 minutes long, Tully is really good and I was entertained and invested all the way through to the end. Now I’m not familiar with parenting but Tully really seemed to capture the feeling of it at the very least. There’s something about the portrayal of that and life that just feels so genuine and real. You get that feeling immediately in the film’s opening scenes (by that I mean that it’s incredibly stressful). It’s also genuinely entertaining, funny and even heartwarming at points, so it’s not just ‘raising kids is absolute hell’ for the entire runtime. It’s rather a fresh look at parenting overall. There is a reveal towards the end, and while I suspected it as the film was progressing, it worked well for the movie. However there are aspects about how said reveal was handled (especially by other characters) which seemed a little far fetched and unrealistic, it didn’t bother me too much though. In terms of flaws I guess that there were brief moments where my interest dropped a little but they didn’t last for very long.

Charlize Theron as usual is fantastic, giving her best performance since Mad Max Fury Road. You really feel what she’s feeling as this mother having to deal with so many things at once and seeming overwhelmed. Mackenzie Davis plays the titular character of Tully the night time nanny and she’s great, truly a delight whenever she’s on screen. The dynamic between both Theron and Davis is really good and entertaining to watch. The supporting cast was good as well, whether that be Ron Livingston as Theron’s husband or Mark Duplass as Theron’s brother one who hires Tully in the first place for Theron.

Director Jason Reitman has made a number of movies but the only one I’ve seen is Juno, which is probably his most well known film to date. His work on Tully is really good as well. Probably some of the stand out directing parts that stood out was some of the brief things he decides to show on screen. There might be like a 5 second shot of something happening that doesn’t necessarily tie into the plot, it’s quite simple and subtle but they really added a lot to the movie.

Tully is one of the most overlooked movies of 2018 and it’s a shame because it’s really good. The performances especially from Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis were great and it just a really genuine movie all round. Definitely worth a watch, preferably not knowing too much beforehand.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language and sexual themes
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as K
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard
Ana de Armas as Joi
Sylvia Hoeks as Luv
Robin Wright as Lt. Joshi
Mackenzie Davis as Mariette
Carla Juri as Dr. Ana Stelline
Lennie James as Mister Cotton
Dave Bautista as Sapper Morton
Jared Leto as Niander Wallace
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years.

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Blade Runner 2049 was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. It’s a sequel to a sci-fi classic 35 years in the making and it has some talented actors involved with big names like Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto. But most of all, Denis Villeneuve is directing, and he has made some excellent movies, with them being some of the best films of their respective years (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival). So naturally I was curious about how it would turn out. Blade Runner 2049 truly surpassed my expectations, with the direction, acting and story, it blew me away. This isn’t just the best movie of the year and one of the best sequels of all time, I might also go so far as to call it a masterpiece.

I really can’t reveal too much about this movie, I can’t even really talk about what this whole movie is about as there’s so many plot points which could be considered spoilery (thankfully the trailers don’t contain any spoilers either). So I’ll do my best to not give away too much. You don’t necessarily need to have watched the original Blade Runner to understand what’s going on, but it is a bonus for those who have, you’d be more familiar with this world and be able to understand more about what’s going on (and you’ll have a better experience overall). This movie really is a continuation of the original Blade Runner story, its not been modernised or re-energised to appeal to a conventional movie audience, which I love. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green and the story is really great, exploring interesting new ideas while delivering a very compelling story. Doing a sequel to Blade Runner isn’t easy, you have to make it true to the original but at the same time deliver its own story and not try to just repeat what was done previously. It also must expand on the world built on from the original film and also be a good as a film in itself while not end up being just a setup for more potential sequels. This story thankfully hits all the right notes and the story is incredible. It does have some ambiguity and some questions that aren’t necessarily answered by the end but that could possibly be left to the audience’s interpretation as to what the answers are. That’s all I’m willing to say about it. This movie is longer than the original, with it being around 2 hours and 45 minutes long and while I definitely felt the runningtime, I was glued to what was going on every second. Don’t expect it to be a fast sci-fi flick like the trailers may have pitched it as, this is still a neo-noir mystery science fiction film. With that said, the pacing is handled much better than the original, while it is quite slow in its pace, every moment seems like it matters. It doesn’t ever have moments that seemed to drag on for no reason like the original film. As someone who likes but doesn’t love the original Blade Runner, I thought 2049 was better. Make of that what you will.

Blade Runner 2049 has a great cast, the characters they played were fascinating and they were cast perfectly. Ryan Gosling is once again great, here he plays Officer K, the main character who’s a Blade Runner. Gosling plays every scene perfectly, especially when he’s learning all this new information, he can convey so much with just a single look with no dialogue at all. Make no mistake, this is really K’s story and Gosling was the perfect actor for this role. Harrison Ford is very much a supporting role in this movie but he does have an important role in the story, and Ford does some of his best acting ever. More supporting actors with Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Robin Wright, Dave Bautistia and Jared Leto all are great. All stand out with their unique characters, and that’s all I’m willing to say in a spoiler-free review. Without naming specific people, I would’ve liked to have seen more of them but they all served their purpose to the story well.

Denis Villeneuve is the director of Blade Runner 2049 and as I said previously, his previous work on film has been remarkable, 2049 is no exception. Everything from the visuals, to the lighting to the sound and the camerawork is pure cinematic genius. There is so much attention to detail, there’s nothing out of place. This is among Villeneuve’s best work, along with Arrival and Prisoners. This is hands down the best looking movie of 2017. Cinematographer Roger Deakins does incredible work here and deserves so much praise. This film looks so beautiful, it feels like a lot of the movie weren’t using CGI, and everything looks amazing. There isn’t much in the way of action but whenever its on screen its good. The score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is also great, at times it feels like the original Blade Runner soundtrack and overall fitted the film incredibly well.

Blade Runner 2049 is so far the best film of the year, and with already some incredible movies released in 2017 that’s saying a lot. Denis Villeneuve and his talented cast and crew has created an incredible sequel that surpassed the original in every way. It stands on its own as a masterpiece of sci-fi, I guarantee that decades from now its going to be a classic film that ages well. When it was announced, a sequel to Blade Runner was called one of the worst ideas to ever be made. After seeing 2049, I have to say that it was one of the best ideas ever made. Avoid any spoilers, avoid really reading or watching anything relating to this movie and see it as soon as you can. Also watch it on the biggest screen possible. You won’t regret it.