Terminator: Dark Fate – Untangling the Web of Sequels (Spoiler-Free)

Similar to last year’s Halloween reboot, the Terminator franchise tries to erase the sequels it doesn’t want to deal with.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s 2019 and a Terminator (Gabriel Luna) and a protector named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) are both sent back in the future, each targeting the same woman: Daniella “Dani” Ramos (Natalia Reyes). It turns out that Dani is the key to defeating the machines in the future, because that’s just what happens in these movies. However, in addition to Grace, Dani receives help from expert Terminator-hunter Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and retired T-800 “Carl” (Arnold Schwarzenegger). They have to stop the extremely advanced killing machine and ensure that Dani lives up to her destiny.

TerminatorDF - 1Sarah.png
Linda Hamilton could kill you. Sarah Connor can wipe your bloodline from the Earth.

END SUMMARY

So, last year I mentioned that I really liked the new Halloween film. In fact, in it, I mention that Jamie Lee Curtis’s character reminded me of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, going from victim to badass in order to deal with the responsibility of protecting her offspring against an almost impossibly strong monster. Well, in this movie, we see what happens after that, because Sarah Connor now she just seeks vengeance upon all of the Terminators that come through time hunting John Connor. Rather than being single-minded, she’s almost nihilistic, with her only purpose being killing Terminators. It’s almost like they watched that film and said “okay, but then what?”

TerminatorDF - 2SarahDani
Then she drinks a lot and kills more robots, I guess.

What I also liked about the Halloween film was that, rather than trying to rectify the problems of the sequels that had come and gone over the past few decades, the movie just said “nah, screw that” and set itself as being a sequel only to the films it wanted to. This movie picks that mindset and benefits greatly from it. This film ignores the disappointment of Terminator 3, the relative lack of Arnold that was Terminator Salvation, and the confusing multiple-timeline mess that was Terminator: Genisys. Moreover, it doesn’t undermine Terminator 2 by saying that yes, Sarah and John Connor DID actually avert Judgment Day, but that all of the terminators sent from the future that is now aborted still made it to the past. Basically, there are multiple timelines, but all lines going back converge onto the current one. Admittedly, this does majorly undermine The Terminator, but since T2 already did that, I think the damage is done. 

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I mean, can we admit that Matt Smith as a living AI that travels sideways in time was dumb?

It seems like something of a cop-out that, while the Connors prevented Skynet from taking over, another identical AI ends up becoming a threat anyway, but it actually seems like a fair point that, without movies like The Terminator telling us that it’s a bad idea, humanity will eventually and inevitably create its own destruction. It’s kind of a subtle commentary that the only thing that might convince us not to build the world-ending AI is the fact that pop-culture has so thoroughly permeated with the theme that building an AI is a bad idea that people MIGHT ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION. If only we could do that with [insert apocalyptic scenario that still seems likely here].

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Same old story, slightly different Terminators.

As to the other characters in the movie, I admit that Arnold’s current T-800, while interesting, still seems kind of random and plot convenient. Both Mackenzie Davis’s Grace and Natalia Reyes’s Dani are pretty badass, which is kind of the only way to justify them being able to survive even a few minutes with the hybrid T-800/T-1000 dubbed the “Rev-9” played by Gabriel Luna. Unlike most of the previous Terminator upgrades since the T-1000, this actually seems like a better terminator. The T-X from Terminator 3 was killed because Skynet somehow thought that having a flamethrower was an upgrade to BEING ABLE TO TURN INTO ANYTHING. Literally, the T-800 only kills her in that film because it can grab her, something he couldn’t do to the T-1000. In Terminator Salvation, Skynet tries cyborgs who can rebel pretty easily, apparently. In Terminator Genisys, which is just a clusterf*ck to begin with, we have the T-3000, who feels pain and can be beaten by magnets. Just a reminder, the T-1000 in Terminator 2 had to be dropped into what was essentially a metal volcano, like a Sci-Fi One Ring. The Rev-9 is essentially a T-1000 that can also dissolve matter that wears a T-800. When it needs to, it can separate and fight as 2 entities. Additionally, its shapeshifting is so fast and advance that it basically kills a mob of people by just creating spike tentacles at will. This makes it feel like the hyper-advanced learning intelligence is actually capable of some level of learning.

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We solved the “only send back one thing at a time” problem.

This isn’t a perfect movie and it’s kind of generic in a lot of ways, but it’s still fun to watch and has some great action sequences. I also love the interplay between Linda Hamilton and everyone else, since she basically has no f*cks to give. This isn’t Terminator 2, but it’s the best one since then, I think. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Amazon Prime Review/Reader Request : Gravy – James Roday’s Dark, Dark Comedy (Spoiler-free)

James Roday of Psych fame brings us an unbelievably dark and gory horror-comedy and it mostly works.

SUMMARY

It’s Halloween and the workers at Chuy’s Mexican Bar and Cantina are getting ready to close. They consist of the bartender Kerry (Sutton Foster), a waitress nicknamed Cricket (Molly Ephraim), Yannick (Lothaire Bluteau) the French cook, Chuy (Paul Rodriguez) the manager, Hector (Gabriel Luna) the busboy and aspiring MMA fighter, and security guard Winketta (Gabourey Sidibe). The only customers are the recently dumped Bert (Ethan Sandler), the exceedingly affectionate couple Stef (Jimmi Simpson) and Mimi (Lily Cole), and Stef’s clown-costumed brother Anson (Michael Weston). However, it’s soon revealed that all the doors have been welded shut, all the phones are down, and that Stef, Mimi, and Anson are taking over the restaurant and making a few changes to the menu… namely, who’s on it.

Gravy - 1Bunny
Also, Sarah Silverman has a bunny suit at some point.

END SUMMARY

James Roday, best known as Shawn Spencer on Psych, wrote and directed this film and, I’ll be honest, it’s a pretty impressive effort for a first-time feature film. This is a dark comedy, which is something that’s usually pretty hard to pull off to begin with, that decides to go to some insanely dark places, but it still mostly works.

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Yes, they’re trying to eat an Oscar Nominee.

A lot of it comes from the talent in the cast. Michael Weston, an actor who is one of the ultimate “that guy in that thing” answers, manages to balance playing a complete sociopath with a genuinely somewhat sympathetic character. Jimmi Simpson, a talented actor who hadn’t yet broken out for his Westworld performance, plays his even more insane but also somewhat likable brother. Everyone else is similarly amazing, all managing to get laughs out of how horrifying the situation their stuck in really is. 

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Seriously, the cannibal family is somewhat charming. That’s disturbing.

As this is a B-Grade Horror Movie, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that some people die, and holy heck do they have some fun kills. They’re so absurd that you almost find yourself laughing at it even though they are VERY graphically depicted. Part of it is that all of the characters don’t really show a ton of emotional damage at the other deaths, which makes it easy for the audience to detach from what the reality of the situation would be. One of the best recurring bits is the interactions between Stef and Yannick, who reveals that he is a world-class chef capable of cooking anything, including people, to perfection. Their banter is pretty much always funny, even though it’s literally about cannibalism. Comedy is frequently just horror from a distance, as I have now gotten in the habit of repeating, and this movie needs a lot of distance. 

Gravy - 5Chef
So. Much. Distance. 

 

That’s actually part of the downside to the movie: It’s definitely going to be too dark and too gory for most audiences. Hell, even I felt uneasy at some parts of the movie, though usually someone would quickly say something funny enough to bring me back. Also, without spoiling it, the movie does subvert a lot of tropes, including never really making you feel like any of the victims deserve anything that happen to them. Even in regular horror movies, we usually like our characters to earn their fates, even if only slightly, whereas these characters often die during moments of nobility. Still, it mostly works.

If you have a dark sense of humor, this is a great film to watch. It’s on Amazon Prime right now if you’ve got it. Really, I have to give James Roday credit for putting this together. I hope he tries to make another movie in the future.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.