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Terminator: Dark Fate - Impressions

Terminator Dark FateThe first two Terminator movies came out when I was young and I really liked them at the time. They seemed different from other science fiction movies that had been on the big screen, grittier than Star Wars, darker than Star Trek and filled with lots of action. The three movies that followed lost me. I saw them, but wasn’t really into the storylines. Maybe that was because I had aged, or maybe they weren’t that good.

When the new movie came out and the critical reviews weren’t horrible (71% on Rotten Tomatoes) and I learned it had Linda Hamilton in a lead role, I decided to see it. I’m not a big fan of hers, in particular (I like her work), but the original movies were her story as much as anyone’s. I wanted to see where they went with the story after all this time in between movies, and what they would do with her now.

The first Terminator was the movie that made Schwarzenegger. I know he was in Conan The Barbarian, and that the movie was successful at the box office—especially worldwide—but Terminator made everyone aware of him, not just us geeks. Part of what worked in those movies, and the current one, though to a lesser degree, was the humor. First, it came from an odd place, Schwarzenegger’s over-the-top robotic assassin character, and second, it wasn’t the norm when the original film came out. Schwarzenegger was a badass robotic bad guy who was always saying things that made you and the rest of the theater snicker or laugh out loud. It made him one of the villains in film who are hard not to like.

Another reason I wanted to see the movie was Mackenzie Davis (Grace). She always plays unique characters and she does it well. Remember the scientist in charge of the satellites in the Martian? It was a far cry from her role in T:DF. When I was writing Agents Of Hope and Agents Of Change I imagined her in the role of Bird. She had the look and I knew she could adopt Bird’s personality, but I wasn’t certain of the action parts. Having seen T:DF I’m certain she could have handled them. Of course, most of her action scenes could have been CGI, which is probably more the norm these days. Either way, it worked for me.

So, what about the movie? Well, it’s all action—and I mean all action. There is barely a break. Which means I found myself constantly grasping at the arms of the chair I was sitting in, but it didn’t give much in the way of character development. There was a little character building around Grace and Conner (I’m not going to spoil anyone’s experience) but only enough to explain how they are tied together. Which brings me to a real problem with all of the movies—the timelines! For me it’s the fatal flaw in the series. The timelines are convoluted, twisted and not worth contemplating. I dismissed any thoughts concerning them and just enjoyed the adventure.

And I did enjoy it. The movie was fun to watch. I liked seeing Hamilton as Connor—aged and still angry and bitter. At first I thought her perspective was too dark and heavy-handed. As the movie went on and I thought more about it I realized that’s probably exactly what I would be like. By the end of the movie I could identify with her more and clearly she had developed some assets and allies over the years.

Even though there wasn’t anything new that developed for the series (I hope this was the last movie in it) and the ride was much the same as the first two movies, it was still worth watching. But that's all it was, a roller coaster ride on film. The next in a long line of indestructible Terminators chases someone across the country until they finally figure out a way to destroy it. Lather Rinse Repeat. But it worked and it worked way better for me than another movie about a Death Star/Planet blowing up planets to create “order.”

(Image is the official movie poster.)

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