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.

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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?”

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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.

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.

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Reader Request – Shocking Dark (1989)

So, I have a particular affinity for this particular kind of exploitation film, which used Italy’s less-than-rigid laws concerning copyright and trademark to create unofficial “sequels” to films. Basically, you couldn’t make an actual sequel, but you could market a movie as part of a series even if it wasn’t. Fun fact: There are FIVE unofficial Italian sequels to Evil Dead, all of which have been released in English, the worst of which shares a writer with this film, Claudio Fragasso. Oh, and this is also the guy who wrote Troll 2, a movie so bad its documentary is called Best Worst Movie. For the record, this is something that this director, Bruno Mattei, and writer have done multiple times. Another of their previous collaborations was an unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead that is, like the Jem film, truly, truly bad.

This movie was marketed as being a sequel to The Terminator in 1989, a full two years before Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out. Its original title was even Terminator II. However, after it became obvious that the movie has very little to do with The Terminator, as you’ll see, they instead decided to market it as a sequel to Aliens. In Japan, they even split the difference and marketed it as Aliennators. For legal reasons, this movie was never released in the US until this year, when apparently Severin Films (distributor of Birdemic: Shock and Terror) decided to just assume no one cared anymore. I’d have agreed, except they put out the greatest promo trailer of all time, making fun of the Robert Patrick promo for the Terminator 2 VHS release, which should have made everyone want to see this film.


This ad is far better than the movie. I should have asked the Grouch to do this one. Okay, let’s do this.

SUMMARY

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Who doesn’t love stock footage?

The movie begins in the style of many low-budget rip-offs: With narration over stock footage. In this particular case, the stock footage is of Venice, Italy, apparently “before the year 2000.” Venice is apparently being threatened by the “High Tide” because the water around Venice is now toxic and eating away at the foundation of the city. A day later, a toxic cloud has now settled over the city, requiring it to be evacuated, explaining why there are no extras. It spends a solid 2 minutes showing the empty city with the guards blocking people from entering.

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Note: The sign is not in Italian. Apparently, America owns Italy.

We then see a group of men in a command post. They receive an emergency broadcast from Venice and see three men (whose names I can never figure out so I can’t credit them) running through underground steam tunnels. The men approach the camera and start screaming “help” and “they’re coming,” in some absolutely spectacularly bad acting, before the feed cuts out. The command post now isn’t getting footage and, for some reason, can’t transmit. Inside the tunnels, the men are still trying to contact the base for help as they run from something at a pace best described as “light jog.” One of the three men goes in a different direction. The other two see by a monster with a hard exoskeleton and a slimy carapace. The third finds Drake (Clive Riche), another tunnel worker, who seems traumatized. Drake then strangles the guy to death while laughing like a madman.

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The middle guy seems to be confused as to whether they’re still rolling. 

Back in the command post, we see a broadcast from Professor Raphelson (Al McFarland) which explains that several of the people working in the tunnels have been going mad and dying, but also communicating with “strange creatures.” The broadcast then cuts out. Conveniently, all cameras throughout the tunnels and Venice are now offline. The people watching the broadcast, Colonel Pearson (Bruce “I clearly can’t remember all my lines” McFarland), Captain Dalton Bond (Mark Steinborn) and Definitely-Not-Ellen-Ripley Dr. Sara Drumbull (Haven Tyler) are joined by odd-accented Marine Samuel Fuller (Christopher Ahrens) from the “Tubular Corporation” who wants to recover the diary of Professor Raphelson so the company doesn’t lose his research into “purifying the waters of Venice.” Bond and Drumbull don’t want Fuller coming, but the Colonel overrules them. They set off on “Operation Delta Venice.”

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Operation Gamma Venice produced the Italian Hulk, Hulkalino.

We’re then introduced to the Megaforce (yes, really), a group of definitely-not-space-marines consisting of generic tough-girl Koster (Geretta “I’m the best part of this film” Giancarlo), stereotypical hot-blooded Latino Franzini (Fausto “My name is so awesome” Lombardi), stereotypical SoCal idiot Caine (Cortland Reilly), generic smart-mouthed soldier Kowalski (and yes, Kowalski is already a generic soldier name) (Paul Norman Allen), and generic idiot Price (Richard Ross). They’re introduced swearing at each other, using a bunch of jokes about each other’s stereotypes, and threatening to kill each others just so we’re clear that they are all tough soldier guys. Oh, and their dialogue is so god-awful it’s hilarious, especially Koster’s opener “Alright ya bunch of pussies, I’m back and I’m kicking ass!”

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The random nunchuckery goes on for 5 minutes, and yes, he’s always faced away.

The Megaforce, led by Dalton, go into the tunnels along with Drumbull and Fuller. Shortly into the tunnels they’re ambushed by enemy fire, revealed to be Drake. Two of the soldiers ambush him, with the line “Let’s get out the KY so we can shaft him real good,” which made me laugh for like 15 straight minutes, because damn, that’s awful. Reminder: Same writer as Troll 2. Drake fails to kill anyone, because instead of shooting, he delivers the epically bad line:

Now I can see you. Now I can kill you easy. I only have to take one step towards you.

After he’s captured, Drake (who is the second-best part of this film because this guy clearly believed he was a naturally gifted actor and was very wrong) tells them they’re going to die. Drake utters an inhuman scream that incapacitates all of the Megaforce and runs away, dragging Price. They track Price down by his radio tag but find a room of bodies cocooned against the walls, with strange spider-like things “hugging” their “faces.”  They find Price in one of the cocoons and he begs them to kill them, in what is a clear rip-off of the same scene in Aliens. A monster then “bursts” out of the “chest” of Price and yes, we’ve just started to hit blatant thievery. At least the monster is clearly a guy’s hand in a glove that chokes Koster, not an actual prop from Aliens.

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As Franzini and another one of the generics make their way through the tunnels, Franzini is grabbed by a monster and pulled away quickly. We then see the face of the you know f*ck it I can’t pretend this isn’t terrible and I have an hour left give me a second f*ckyouJesseH.

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The water is my tears.

Okay, I’m back. Finally, we see the face of the full budget of an Italian B-Grade knockoff film and H.R. Giger’s corpse is vomiting just from me publishing this.

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That’s some good Papier-mâché. You can almost read the lawsuit from James Cameron.

Franzini breaks free as the other guy shoots the monster and they run. They come back with the group and detect movement. We then see POV shots of something running through the tunnels as Drumbull somehow sees things coming from her device beeping really fast. They report the findings to Command and are told to continue. They get inside the lab they were searching for and find a life reading. They follow it and uncover a small girl are you f*cking kidding me? Yes, they find definitely-not-Newt Samantha Raphelson (Dominica Coulson) who has been surviving in rags in a facility filled with monsters. And while Carrie Henn’s portrayal of Newt in Aliens is one of my favorite child performances, the young Ms. Coulson’s is decidedly not, occasionally switching accents for entire lines. Granted, she’s still better than many of the adults in this film.

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Nothing about this seems familiar.

Inside the lab, they find evidence that the scientists were studying genetic mutation, not how to clean water. You’d think that someone would have noticed. Koster and Kowalski search the facility and Koster gets attacked by the monster’s prehensile mouth-tentacle, which is apparently long enough for it to move around and kill Kowalski before grabbing her from behind and cocooning her. Newt-mantha wakes up screaming, because that happened in Aliens. Meanwhile Fuller accesses the Tubular mainframe and delivers the single most dispassionate monologue of weird pseudoscience in history to explain that the scientists created an enzyme that through some applied phlebotinum can find any host and turn it into a monster. So, it’s not actually aliens and therefore not a rip-off.

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They were better when they were in Call Girl of Cthulhu.

The monsters cut the lights, so the group makes their way out. We are then treated to a re-make of the scene in Aliens where they detect movement and life signs approaching but can’t see anything. Except in this, they don’t show the monsters going through the vents, so I guess they teleport or phase or plot hole. The monsters attack, killing Caine, using the same two sound effects every time, one for “I’m attacking,” and one for “I’m dying.” This scene goes on forever and it gets really repetitive. Fuller and Dalton are injured, with Fuller being revealed to be A ROBOT. What a twist for a movie called Terminator II.

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They reach a safe place and NewtMantha and Drumbull bond, including Drumbull saying “I cross my heart” in another blatant rip-off. The two later wake up and believe they’re in trouble as a monster is in the room. Sadly, they aren’t seen on the camera by anyone but Fuller, who pulls a Paul Reiser and turns them off. Yes, I know his character was named Burke, but I assume Paul Reiser sabotages rescue attempts regularly. Drumbull pulls the fire alarm, alerting the others, who save them. As they make their way through another level of the facility, they find the control center. It’s revealed that Tubular Corporation caused the original toxic infection in order to make money on real estate they acquired after the city was abandoned, after they clean the city and re-sell it. Due to the writer being the level of understanding it takes to write Troll 2, the reveal actually says that they’ll be re-selling the land for 70% of its purchased value… which would be LOSING money. It’s also revealed that this was over 10 years ago, so the plan clearly failed.

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I’m pretty sure they broke in to film here.

NewtMantha reveals that Fuller is a robot, resulting in the remaining Megaforce trying to kill him and failing, seemingly dying in the process. However, he does bleed liquid metal, despite this being BEFORE Terminator 2. Hey, maybe James Cameron figured ripping off a movie ripping him off was fair. So, the movie, which has been ripping off Aliens now decides to rip-off The Terminator as promised from the original title. Fuller, for no reason, gives them a head-start and starts to menacingly walk slowly after them in the facility as they have to make it to the exit within 30 minutes or the facility blows up. Fuller somehow gets ahead of them and, in a delivery clearly ripping off Ripley’s catchphrase, Drumbull shouts “You bastard!” before shooting a series of high-capacity wires above him, electrocuting the robot.

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No, electricity, my only minor inconvenience!

NewtMantha is then dragged away by the monsters, because we needed to rip-off Aliens some more, and Drumbull has to find her. Meanwhile, Command is trying to rescue them by sending another party. Dalton is revealed to be alive and tells them that the place is going to blow. They end up being useless as the monsters easily kill them. As the monsters attack NewtMantha, FullerNator attacks Drumbull and she throws him off of the third story. Drumbull finds NewtMantha and rescues her from a cocoon. Dalton rescues them from monsters and is killed. The timer hits 0, but… nothing f*cking happens. The facility starts to slowly overload, I guess, cuz some red lighting hits and there’s electricity effects. They then say there’s 1 minute to leave the building, so I guess the countdown was just the last time they could stop the explosion. NewtMantha and Drumbull wait to die, but they stumble into, I SWEAR TO GOD I’M NOT F*CKING KIDDING, a time machine.

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Even they seem to be thinking “what the f*ck?”

The pair go back in time while we see stock footage of a thriving Venice. So, they are apparently far enough back to be before the toxic poisoning. However, somehow, FullerNator is there too, having taken the other time pod. Drumbull rips part of his face, revealing a robot eye because of f*cking course. He continues to follow them as they run through Venice. She then throws the time-machine controls at him, which I guess sends him somewhere through time even though they’re not in the pod? Whatever, almost over. They look out over the water and say they’ve got a lot of work to do.

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Not on the same side as the poster. 

END SUMMARY

What. The. Hell. Did I just watch?

Okay, cards on the table, I’ve seen other stuff these guys have done, and it’s usually been really bad exploitation, but it was at least exploitation where we’re rewarded with over-the-top gore or nudity or something super cheesy that’s hilariously bad. This was still exploitation, but it’s exploitation of BETTER MOVIES. And that’s actually what kills the film.

As I say many times, a “So bad it’s good” movie requires that people don’t know that they’re making a terrible film. It requires basically everything to go wrong, like with Troll 2 or The Room. But this movie ripped off two actual GOOD movies, sometimes stealing entire scenes and lines of dialogue, and that keeps it from being really bad enough to be hilarious. Other elements are also too good to be a truly enjoyable trash film. The costumes aren’t good, but they aren’t completely incompetently made. The lighting and sound are mostly good, if cheap.

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See? Mostly in focus.

Now, if everything in the movie was the kind of dialogue that we get from Drake and the Megaforce (cool band name), we’d be set, because my God is it bad. Then we get to Fuller’s dialogue. See, everyone in this movie is terrible, but at least with Fuller, since he’s a Terminator rip-off, delivering lines in a monotone with a weird accent should be how the character works. The problem is that most of his dialogue is filled with extremely expressive language, which seems… ultra-dumb.

The ending is insane, but kind of funny. Random time machine? Why not?

Ultimately, I’m just not a fan of this movie. If you’re a fan of terrible films, I’d skip it and watch other, better, terrible Italian rip-offs, like Zombi 3, the crew’s unofficial Night of the Living Dead sequel.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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.

THE GROUCH ON THE COUCH PRESENTS: THE MOTHER’S DAY COUCH AWARDS

By: The Grouch on the Couch

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)

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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)

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She can drink.

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.

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A “Bonding” Experience

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)

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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.

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Oh, and they’re damned good looking.

THE “NICEST MOTHER YOU SHOULD NEVER CROSS” AWARD

Molly Weasley (Julie Walters in the Harry Potter series)

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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.

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THE “BEST MOM YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF” AWARD

Bell-mère (One Piece, episodes 34-36)

MothersDayBellMereBell-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.

MothersDayBellMere2.pngUnfortunately, 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)

MothersDayMarge.pngWhat? 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.

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THE “MOM WHOSE PAIN YOU MOST RELISH” AWARD

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey on Game of Thrones)

MothersDayCersei

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, 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.

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Not. Nearly. Enough.

THE “MOST BAD-ASS MOTHER ON FILM” AWARD (ADOPTED CATEGORY)

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in the Alien series)

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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.

MothersDayRipley2

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.

MothersDayPowerLoader

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.

MothersDaySarahConnor1.pngSarah 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 alive.

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THE “BEST FICTIONAL MOM” AWARD

Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston in The Addams Family)

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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?

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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.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews. If you want more from the Grouch on the Couch, wait a week for something… bigger.

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