Latest Terminator Suffers From More Than A Dark Fate. Major Spoilers

Terminator Dark Fate is the latest film in the long-running science fiction/action franchise that sees the return of creator James Cameron as a producer and contributed to the story, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and, of course, star Arnold Schwarzenegger as the famous killer cyborg.  The film has been divisive with fans because of rumors about certain plot points and this as such will affect reception of the film. As an action movie, Terminator Dark Fate is decent with some good action pieces and having Sarah Connor back in action is a treat. Unfortunately, the movie also makes the mistake of killing off a key character in the first few minutes. *What follows below will contain major spoilers, so unless you’ve seen the film, read at your own risk.

*

*

*

In this case, John Connor, the savior of humanity whose existence was at the core of these movies, is gunned down as a child a few years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day by yet another terminator sent back in time to kill him. Just like that, the events of the first two films are basically rendered pointless!  The film then jumps to 2020 and shows an augmented human called Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who is sent back in time to Mexico City to protect a young woman named Dani (Natalia Reyes), who now holds the key to the future of humanity. There is, of course, a terminator also sent back to kill her. This model, called a Rev-9 (played by Gabriel Luna) is basically two terminators in one, with a metal endoskeleton and a liquid metal exterior that can separate into a second cyborg. Basically, when John and Sarah destroyed Skynet in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it created a new timeline where Skynet was never created, but instead has another artificial intelligence called Legion that comes into existence in 2042 that tries to wipe out humanity. When Grace shows up and escapes with Natalia only to be cornered by the Rev-9, Sarah Connor shows up and helps them to flee.

Sarah Connor reveals that she has been receiving text messages with the locations of terminators who were sent through time and she hunts and destroys them. The three women find the source of these texts, who is revealed to be the same T-800 that killed John, and now goes by the name of Carl. He currently sells drapes and has a wife and adopted son. Carl explains that it had no purpose after killing John and found a woman who was in an abusive relationship and it developed a conscience (!). He has been sending Sarah the texts to give her a purpose. Frankly, this part of the movies was ridiculous! I could see the terminator learning about human behavior similar to T2, but the idea of it raising a son and having a relationship with a woman is just not believable. Anyway, Sarah wants to kill Carl, but is stopped by Grace and Dani, and they reluctantly team up with Carl to take down the Rev-9. Without spoiling the rest of it, the ending is basically a rehash of T2, with a set up for the inevitable sequel.

Some reviews have said that this movie is better than previous sequels, but I disagree. Both Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation were better movies because at least they furthered the story in interesting ways. I always wanted the story to continue after the future-set Salvation, where we finally got away from the same trope of terminators being sent back to the past. Time will tell how this latest plot will go forward, if at all, but hopefully it will be something unique. I did like the future war scene at the very beginning that shows terminator endoskeletons rising out of the water and coming onto a beach, but it was all too brief. Another flash forward scene was somewhat interesting which showed how Grace got her augmentations after a battle with tentacled terminator models.

Linda Hamilton’s return as Sarah is great to see as she is now a grizzled warrior mourning her son and determined to get revenge on those who wronged her. Schwarzenegger is fine as “Carl” but the misuse of his character is not a good thing. Seriously, a drapes salesman? But more importantly how was he sent back in time if Skynet was never created? The terminators that Legion creatre in the future are different than the T-800 models. He should not even exist! Also, how does he know about these other terminators and Legion if he is not from that new timeline? It is never made clear.

The main problem with the idea of killing John Connor and just having someone else step in to the role of leader of the resistance is that it makes everything in the original Terminator film and T2 pointless. What if another terminator is sent back and kills Dani? No big deal, someone will just replace her! What happens when Dani and Sarah destroy Legion in the future? Again, so what? Another AI will take over. If they wanted to move on to new characters and settings, I can understand that.

Maybe the studio should have just made a full on reboot with no connection to the other movies. They keep trying to tie these films together and it makes everything awkward and convoluted. Terminator Genisys had this problem, as well. It started with a terminator being sent back to kill Sarah when she was a child, which changed events in the first film and erased the second movie. They should of just had that basic story of Sarah being targeted as a child as the first film in a totally new continuity with no connection at all with any of the other films and It would not have had any baggage to deal with. This is so frustrating since James Cameron developed the story, along with four other writers, and is behind this film. With the other derided Terminator films, it was easy to lay blame on Cameron not being involved. Well, there goes that argument.

As it stands, Terminator: Dark Fate is an okay action film and casual fans will probably enjoy it, but as a continuation of the Terminator franchise, fans will find it somewhat lacking since it makes the franchise’s logic even more confusing.

C.S. Link

The Terminator: The 30-Year-Old Sci-Fi Masterpiece

poster 2Thirty years ago, howling winds among the blackened ruins of Los Angeles in the year 2029 AD and a flying machine of death and destruction began James Cameron’s 1984 classic science fiction action thriller The Terminator. This film was a landmark for the director as well as its star Arnold Schwarzenegger and began one of cinema’s best known sci-fi franchises. It has many great qualities that many films have since tried to emulate. Such as its pulse pounding pacing and action, as well as the many interesting themes it explores (i.e.: the conflict between man and machine and the idea of fate and whether it can be altered).

The story involving a ruthless killer cyborg laser scopeplayed by Schwarzenegger coming from the future to kill a waitress called Sarah Connor (played very well by Linda Hamilton), the mother of the future human resistance leader John Connor, examines the idea of humanity losing control of the technology it created. All of this is done through the lens of classic ’80s high-powered action and gun battles.  One of the memorable things about The Terminator is how uncompromising it is. The brutal nature of the terminator is on full display as he coldly executes his targets and relentlessly pursues Sarah. This is also explained quite well by her protector Kyle Reese (another excellent performance by Michael Bien), a soldier sent back from the future to protect her. He tells her quite bluntly that the machine will not ever stop until she is dead.

sarah and kyle

Any discussion of The Terminator would not be complete without mentioning the fantastic future war sequences that start the film and are seen in flashbacks throughout. It showed a scary post-apocalyptic landscape of a city destroyed by nuclear fire, and massive hunter-killer machines trying to wipe out any humans that appear as if they were rats. This is all seen through the eyes of Kyle Reese, and when he is shown getting back to a human hideout, the hunter killersense of misery and despair among the surviving humans only heightens the tension. It makes his mission to protect Sarah and ensure that humankind has a fighting chance all the more important and desperate. It also demonstrates the terrifying nature of terminators as one infiltrates the hideout and mercilessly slaughters anyone nearby. This is paralleled by the present-day terminator walking into a police station and killing everyone he sees in an effort to get at Sarah. Speaking of Sarah, the film well presented the theme of a once-timid character who finds her inner resolve and becomes a completely changed person. By the end of the film, Sarah Connor is just as determined and full of fight as the machine that is stalking her.

cameron and arnoldAll of these qualities are why the movie is still admired and seen 30 years after its release. The Terminator stands out among many of its decade’s other action films. It propelled James Cameron and the cast to stardom and led to him directing other favorites like Aliens, The Abyss, Titanic and Avatar. It cemented Schwarzenegger as an international star and created a fascinating universe that was further developed in three sequels, books, comic books and a TV show that expanded on the world of the super computer Skynet bent on humanity’s destruction. This world will be revisited in next year’s Terminator: Genisys.  Hopefully, it will be as action packed and exciting as the classic 1984 original that is still the best of the series and will endure for years to come as a sci-fi masterpiece.

C.S. Link