Terminated

(Spoilers)

So Dark Fate has bombed pretty hard they say. Super low opening weekend, low international haul, bad china box office, etc. The trilogy they planned from this flick is probably not gonna happen.

There is a lot of blame going around and people are dividing into a few distinct camps. Much like Last Jedi; it’s been real split.

Some people are forging forward with the “go woke, go broke” mentality. 3 women leads?! THAT’S LIKE… 1… 2… 3 TOO MANY! And conversely some people complain the movie is disrespectful of latinx culture because the savior living in Mexico, having an uncle who is a coyote and then having a scene in a border crossing detention camp are all too “culturally insensitive”… I think all of these political motivators are bullshit personally. Movies don’t need politics thrust upon them. Plot points can be just that. But everything is highly politicized now. Oh well. Such as it is. I even saw one review which was from a “modern feminist” that having three female leads was a “clever attempt at appearing progressive – but the male director, male writer, male creator and much male crew proves the film is just a faker.”… I keep forgetting men are not allowed to write women anymore, because they just don’t get it.

Others main complaint is the intro – which sees a loose T-800 murder John Conner. Sending Sarah into depression town with all her bags packed. Over the next 20 years that same terminator starts giving her coordinates on where to find other loose terminators which were sent back at various times in the original judgement day timeline before Sarah and John wiped that out in T2. They complain that this eradicates the story for them because they were always watching for John to become the savior against Skynet. (Bare in mind: if Skynet no longer exists due to the events of T2 – there is no need for John, secondly, if Skynet no longer exists, judgement day never happens and John doesn’t send Kyle Reese back in time – he ceases to exist – therefore time is not a loop, its a series of forward threads from the point of change onward – multiverse style)

And I’ve also heard that Kyle’s speech in the original film means the Terminator who killed John couldn’t “grow to accept being human” like this one does because “It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with, it doesn’t know fear or pain or pity, it will not stop, ever until its mission is complete”(Not an exact quote, I know) – Yeah, but it DID complete it’s mission. So in the time that it waits for Judgement day to come – and it doesn’t – and it’s just chilling around waiting and unable to self terminate, why not explore and fill its time and learn from what happened. They are learning machines and it had plenty of time on its hands.

But I’m not saying those people are wrong, just fighting opinion with opinion, but excuse logic and just go with “I liked John, now I’m sad.” That’s fair. I don’t think it invalidates T2 anymore than Alien 3 invalidated Aliens because Hicks is killed in the intro (aw Hicks. I miss ya dog!) Because that’s a different movie. Just because something is a continuation doesn’t mean it can’t be different. And being so many years passed between movies, it was smart to try and wipe the slate a little cleaner with a shocking moment to catch people off guard – it also opens the continuity up with a new savior, and gives Sarah more emotional baggage. Story wise those are good moves for the film.

And the third camp liked it. I fall into the third camp. But…

In my opinion: The movie was far from perfect.

  • Some of the effects and CGI were very ropey.
  • There is too many slow motion shots.
  • Junkie XL has again given us a super generic boring score.
  • The “go bigger” mentality of sequels works against the movie as the 3rd act’s set pieces are just too big. Everyone survives by luck rather than skill in these kinds of scenes – it does coalesce back into a smaller showdown – but the preceding two set pieces are just needlessly big and pointless and full of bad effects. 
  • Dani never proves to me should has anything in her to become the savior of the future (Except that she meets Sarah – but that implies loops)
  • Grace was a dull character and it was pretty obvious early on she’d die for Dani in the film.
  • Way too many flash forwards to the future. Talk about show and don’t tell.
  • The Rev-9 was too absent in the second act.
  • World building for the new LEGION was pretty dull.

Despite all these negatives, I loved it.

I liked the shock opening – it motivates the movie forward, I liked a lot of the action scenes, it was a fun experience, all the more tedious sections move pretty quick, Carl was adorable and dripped with “this is my last time here, might as well enjoy it” charm. I loved the Rev-9, it had more personality to infiltrate which I thought really fit the social media age version of a terminator well. It has a good enough final showdown and ties it together with soppy FOR JOHN moments. And ends on a simple open note, but not that one leaves you feeling the story is unfinished.

But the main reason is that we live in a time where there are no good action movies now. There are good spectacle movies – pg-13 throw downs on greenscreen. And in a world of Jurassic Kingdoms and Hobbs and Shaw – its nice to see a big budget movie that embraces blood and cursing and subtle nudity and explosions again. One that has moments of levity – but isn’t just a comedy pretending to be an action movie.

We had a run of classics in the 80s and 90s spearheaded by strong characters going through impossible odds, facing enemies and obstacles brutally face on. And for me those are such a dying breed and such a rare sighting that I’ll take a sub par one over none at all personally. Flaws and all, it still did more for me than Captain Marvel, Black Panther, The last 4 fast and the furious flicks, Aquaman, Justice League and just about all the other high profile, safe for kids, comedies with hints of action, green screen, safe space movies.

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