We have a thread for horror movies…what about all the others?
I saw Terminator: Dark Fate recently, and wonder: when a movie gets more of its narrative juice from commenting off and remixing elements of its forebears than from its own story, is it still a movie? Or is it a remix? Is it a celebration, however murder-filled?
We’re in Mexico, to start, and two new terminators appear. One is a coked-up black goo version of Robert Patrick’s T-1000, and the other is a human, but upgraded. This lets her fight the new evil terminator (the “Rev 9”) fist-to-fist (or fist-to-blade, most often) instead of being turned into cold cuts in the first reel. This also lets her be a hybrid of good ol’ Arnie and Michael Biehn’s pop-eyed time traveler from the original Terminator. Everything in here is like that; a combination, remix, and amped-up version of something you’ve seen before…in the first two Terminator films.
If there’s one thing this new film does well, it’s selling the relentlessness of the Rev 9, and its annoying unwillingness to just fucking die already. There’s a pleasing escalation in every fight as every gambit our heroes attempt is brushed aside, sometimes almost contemptuously. (Another good thing is Mackenzie Davis as the augmented human. She’s lean, super tough, and just gets to be a complete badass. You don’t get to see that much, and it’s cool.)
But those good things come with a lot of bullshit. Some of the bullshit is plot related; our heroine suffers some devastating losses that aren’t mentioned, at all, later in the film. Other bullshit is Linda Hamilton related; they brought her back to snarl and pout, giving her horrible dialogue that fails to justify her role here (note to screenwriters: if the actor can’t handle it, and you can’t write it, we won’t like your characters). There’s a hilarious moment with Arnold (oh yeah, he’s back too) where he says about his human wife “our relationship is not physical”, leaving us to wonder if the poor woman is willfully ignoring a bunch of other stuff, too, like the fact that her husband doesn’t eat.
But chief among the crimes is a cardinal sin in a film that’s structured around its action: the visual noise, weightlessness, and pointlessness of sequences that are essentially pure vfx. James Cameron exec-produced, and his visual coherence shows in a few moments, but there are whole action sequences that are so loud, turbulent, and cluttered that you sit back in your seat, bludgeoned, waiting for it to end. Worst among them is a fight in the cargo hold of a crashing cargo jet that goes on and on and on. The thing is, there’s solid dramatic escalation in many moments–this fucking terminator Will. Not. Die.–which makes it all the more disappointing when they descend into a bunch of turbulent punching.
Should you watch it? If you’re really into Terminator, and the first two films in particular, yeah. This was like, made for you. If you like action movies and keep your expectations in check, this is worth your time, but feel free to tune out at times. If you’ve been spoiled on the Fury Roads and Rogue Nations of the world, though, and demand style, story, and coherence, you can sit this one out.
lf l’m not mistaken, the horror movie thread is for recent small, obscure movies that don’t have their own thread. Terminator: Dark Fate already has its dedicated thread.
I guess I’m trying to see if there’s any interest in a catch-all movie thread where we can discuss things that don’t warrant or need their own dedicated threads.
So far, the answer is no. :-)
(I also started with a bad example, which does have its own discussion)
I find catch all threads like this handy for learning about movies I may not otherwise have heard about, and probably wouldn’t have clicked on an individual thread for.
We watched Wildlife (2018) by Paul Dano, and thought it was really good. Some great performances.
Oh and @DoomMunky I’m quite curious about Dark Fate. Salvation was dump but I had fun with Rise of the Machines, at the time at least.
I watched “News of the World” and its a pretty good solid movie for an evening in. It would have been easy to let the girl character be a lot more melodramatic and wild. That combined with the understated performance by Hanks gives it a dignified strength.
@geggis That looks really good! Thanks for linking to Rotten Tomatoes and making it easy to check out (god I sound lazy). That kind of mid-budget adult drama about interesting people doing worthwhile but small things is pretty rare-seeming these days. This one looks like a good one to choose when it’s my turn for Surprise Movie Night with my wife. Thanks!
Watched Sunshine (2007) the other night for the first time. I am not sure how I missed it when it came out, since I like Sci-Fi and it seems somewhat big-budget.
For fans of slow paced and methodical Sci-Fi in general the movie is a fine watch, it starts out fairly slow but picks up at around halfway through. Good performances include Cilian Murphy, Rose Byrne and a refreshingly unsympathetic Chris Evans :-)
That’s one way to describe it