Similar to last year’s Halloween reboot, the Terminator franchise tries to erase the sequels it doesn’t want to deal with.
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.
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?”
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.
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].
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.
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.
It’s tough to make any list about Moms in fiction. No matter who you pick for “Best” or “Worst,” there are still gonna be people whining about the results. So, instead, I’m just gonna make up awards for 10 Fictional Mothers. 7 of these were on the list to begin with, the other 3 were picked at random from a list of around 50 names.
THE “MOM WHOSE GLASS IS HALF-FULL (OR ALWAYS FULL)” AWARD
Linda Belcher (John Roberts on Bob’s Burgers)
Linda doesn’t live the high-life. Her family’s restaurant is generally in the red, her husband is perpetually stressed, and her children consistently make everything worse. Despite that, Linda is almost unfailingly positive, being a source of optimism and cheer for her whole family. Sure, she has a few drinks now and then and then and then and then, but she approaches everything with an enthusiasm that usually is contagious even for her very-resistant family. She’s supportive of her children’s unusual pursuits, and even her sister Gayle’s borderline-insane hobbies. She can be pushed to the limit sometimes, but she always bounces back. Also, she’s a naturally theatrical person, coming up with songs constantly, including the “Thanksgiving Song,” the holiday hit the world really needed.
THE “MOST EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE MOM” AWARD
Jessica Walter as Malory Archer/Lucille Bluth (Archer/Arrested Development)
Jessica Walter is a treasure, but her ability to portray a woman able to absolutely destroy the mental health of her own children is so great that they gave her two different shows to do it in. Lucille Bluth, the matriarch of the Bluth family, not only has raised 4 emotionally crippled children, but she makes sure to manipulate them against each other every chance she can just to maintain her status. The fact that she’s revealed to be the mastermind behind everything in the original run of Arrested Development is one of my favorite comic twists.
Malory Archer, while having only one child (that we know of), managed to raise simultaneously the world’s greatest super-spy and the world’s most incompetent human being. She’s had so many affairs that she legitimately doesn’t seem to know her son’s father, gave birth to him on a bar after assassinating a man, left him for five years, and then spent the rest of his life keeping him underneath her. Also, she killed the Prime Minister of Italy after putting him in a gimp suit, and then called her son to help get rid of the body. No amount of context helps this.
THE “MOTHER WHOSE CHILDREN MOST OVERACHIEVE” AWARD
Ramonda (Angela Bassett in Black Panther)
She definitely served her country as a ruler, but you know she wasn’t slacking on her mothering duties. Queen Ramonda of Wakanda has two children. The first is T’Challa, the current king of Wakanda and holder of the title of Black Panther, a superhuman athlete with a mind for both science and battle tactics that is almost unsurpassed in the world, as well as a noble heart. The second is her daughter Shuri, and while T’Challa’s mind is almost unsurpassed, Shuri is actually stated by at least one source to be the single smartest human in the Marvel Universe. And you know the only thing both of them listen to above all else? Their mother. And since it’s Angela Bassett, no one really questions their deference.
THE “NICEST MOTHER YOU SHOULD NEVER CROSS” AWARD
Molly Weasley (Julie Walters in the Harry Potter series)
Molly Weasley has seven children and is portrayed in the first books of the series as being a wonderful, caring, albeit slightly overbearing, woman who loves all of her children deeply and makes sure that they know it. She also basically adopts Harry, an orphan, into her family and treats him with more affection than he’s ever known. She’s a dear, sweet lady.
NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!
And with one line, Molly Weasley moves from “Sweet Lady” to “Unstoppable Force of Wrath.” When Bellatrix Lestrange, who had previously killed one of Molly’s sons, attacks her only daughter, Molly, despite not being the strongest witch in the world, challenges the single most psychotic (and likely the most powerful) female villain in the books to one-on-one combat. And proceeds to remove her from the face of the Earth. Do. Not. F*ck. With Molly Weasley’s kids.
THE “BEST MOM YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF” AWARD
Bell-mère (One Piece, episodes 34-36)
Bell-mère was a female marine who was wounded in a particularly vicious battle and, as she was dying, saw two girls alone in the wreckage of the battlefield. Realizing that if she died, so would the children, she found the strength to move, bandaged herself up, and took the two kids back to her home village. She adopted and raised the two, and, while she wasn’t a perfect mother, she definitely tried her best and loved them both deeply.
Unfortunately, the town was targeted by a group of quite literally inhuman pirates, who decided to take it over as a base of operations. While Bell-mère was able to actually attack and pin the pirate Captain, Arlong, she was quickly overpowered. The pirates put a decree on the town: Everyone had to pay a tax for themselves and their children, but it was being checked by the town birth register. Her daughters, Nami and Nojiko, not having been born there, weren’t on it. Since they couldn’t afford to pay for Bell-mère and her daughters, the town conspired to make it seem like Bell-mère lived alone and smuggle the two out when they could. Unfortunately, this was confounded immediately… by Bell-mère herself, who used the money for her own life to instead pay for the girls. When asked why she would do this, it’s because she would have had to live without them, and, as she tearfully explained to them, she’d rather die than deny having been their mother. Her last words were “I love you” as she was publicly executed.
This was just a short flashback in the series, but it’s still one of the most intense moments in a show that’s now been running for 20 years. It’s a mom dying not just to save her children, but because she couldn’t live if she couldn’t live with them. That’s why I was happy when this was one of the random ones I pulled.
THE “LONGEST RUNNING MOM” AWARD
Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner on The Simpsons)
What? It’s true. Marge Simpson has been the mother to three pre-teens for so long that people born during her debut now mostly have children of their own.
Despite being married to a legendarily stupid man and having an oldest son who has slowly gone from “problem child” to “sociopathic monster,” Marge somehow manages to keep her family together and out of jail. She’s usually a housewife, but she’s also been a successful baker, entrepreneur, novelist, real estate agent, and police woman. In fact, several episodes have implied that the only reason why the Simpsons aren’t homeless is because Marge’s little side-gigs are so profitable that she ends up paying off their debts. She’s a talented artist, a sexual dynamo (hey, a mom’s got needs), and has the ability to keep hair standing four-feet tall. And, to be fair, while Bart may be a Hellion, Lisa is a polymath and Maggie is portrayed as unnaturally intelligent (though, she has shot 17 people as a baby). As Meatloaf tells us, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
THE “MOM WHOSE PAIN YOU MOST RELISH” AWARD
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey on Game of Thrones)
Cersei Lannister is the worst. Actually, no, she’s not. Cersei Lannister’s eldest son Joffrey Baratheon was the worst. Joffrey was sadistic, malicious, amoral, egotistical… pretty much every bad label you can put on a person, Joffrey earned it, and, above all else, he was completely incompetent. He wasn’t a good fighter, a good leader, a good planner, a good speaker, or even a good son. Despite that, his mother loved him unfailingly, never realizing that she was constantly making him worse by not correcting him. And Cersei herself is so bad that, when Joffrey is finally killed (thank the Seven), it’s almost impossible to feel bad for her, even with Lena Headey’s great performance as a mother losing her beloved son. Same when she loses her daughter, Myrcella, who she basically condemned to death through her own stupidity. But, when Cersei’s bombing of the Great Sept of Baelor leads her last surviving son, Tommen, to kill himself, making her the Queen of the Iron Throne, we’ve truly hit the “Kill her, kill her painfully” point. She’s still alive as of this writing (update: She dead), but if there is any form of justice within Westeros, she will die screaming, alone, and be pulled into the Seven Hells by the spirit of Joffrey, the worst sin she ever committed. Man, that got dark.
THE “MOST BAD-ASS MOTHER ON FILM” AWARD (ADOPTED CATEGORY)
Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in the Alien series)
To those of you pointing out that Ellen Ripley actually does have a biological daughter, I’m aware. In fact, it’s sad that the movie Aliens cut out the scene where Ripley is told that her daughter has died while she was lost in space, because it’s a great performance that genuinely makes her actions later in the film much more emotionally compelling and understandable. But, in the category title, I’m referring, of course to her “adopted” daughter, Newt. Ellen finds the only survivor of the Xenomorph attack on LV-426, a young girl much the same age as her daughter would have been had she made it back on time, and a bond is struck quickly.
After the team she is with is devastated by the aliens, she makes it to safety, but Newt is captured. With no one else left to go back into the nest of the very creatures that just annihilated a crew of Marines armed to the teeth, Ripley instead duck-tapes together a flame thrower and a pulse rifle, goes into a hive of some of the deadliest monsters on film, and brings Newt back, killing dozens of the bastards on the way. And that would be impressive enough, but unfortunately, Newt and Ripley get attacked by the Queen Alien. As Ripley gets away, Newt is cornered by the beast, until Ripley, in what is a strong contender for the single most bad-ass scene in movie history, comes back operating a power loader and calls out a 20-foot tall, super-strong, acid-blooded, nigh-indestructible monster with the line:
GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH.
The fact that Molly Weasley had to steal her line from this one tells you everything you need to know about exactly how little you ever want to mess with Ellen Ripley.
THE “MOST BAD-ASS MOTHER ON FILM” AWARD (BIOLOGICAL CATEGORY)
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
To be clear, I don’t actually think there should be a demarcation between biological and adopted children, I just couldn’t put one of these women on the list without the other and I wanted some flimsy justification.
Sarah Connor was a normal woman, until a robot in the shape of a giant Austrian bodybuilder decided to show up at the nightclub she was at and try to kill her. She was rescued by a man from the future, who told her that her son would one day save humanity. Sarah managed to destroy the robot and realized that she would have to get ready for a dark future.
When we catch up with her 11 years later (yes, that’s when T2 happens relative to Terminator, check the movies), we find a very, very different Sarah Connor. She spent the entire interval turning herself into a living weapon. She’s in peak physical condition, can make a weapon out of anything, can pick locks, hack ATMs at will, and is both willing and able to wield lethal ordinance. The only thing that really scares her in the movie is the T800, which… well, is completely reasonable. She’s so determined that being stabbed repeatedly doesn’t weaken her resolve. And she did all of this in the name of keeping her son (and the human race) alive.
THE “BEST FICTIONAL MOM” AWARD
Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston in The Addams Family films)
Look into your heart, you know it to be true. Morticia Addams may be weird as all get-out, but she’s the best overall mother on this list. She’s supportive of her children but can also be a disciplinarian when she needs to be. For example, when she sees Wednesday about to attack her brother with a cleaver, Morticia stops her, takes the cleaver, and then gives her a scythe, which is going to be much more appropriate for the environment that he’s located in. She’s going to want the reach, after all. Morticia puts family first, and always wants harmony among them, but unlike most families, hers actually is pretty much perfectly harmonious. She keeps a lavish garden, including a one-of-a-kind African Creeper named Cleopatra, helps out with school functions and charities, and has a close relationship with both of her children (and later her third). “But she lets her kids attack each other all the time,” I hear you saying, “at one point she even watches her daughter electrocute her son while playing the game ‘Is there a God.” Yeah, she gives her kids their independence, what’s wrong with that? The only reason why this bothers you is because your wimpy kids would die from a large bowl of arsenic or a shotgun to the chest, but she’s clearly a better mother than you. She makes sure her kids are prepared for the real world by ensuring that they’re prepared to deal with hardships like “decapitation.” Plus, she can still instantly arouse her husband with a word in French, even after 3 kids. Can you name another mother that can do all that?
This article is dedicated to my own mother, who deserves better than she gets, gives more than she needs to, and loves her children and grandchildren more than anyone I know.