Hasta La Vista, Baby
I’ve always considered myself a fan of the Terminator franchise despite only liking two of the movies.
I think it’s because for the longest time that was the entirety of it, 1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
I saw both at way too young of an age looking back at it now. I first saw T2 when it hit home video so probably around 1993 when I was six years old and was then shown the first film a little while after.
To this day I think T2 is about as perfect an action blockbuster as you can get. I adore that film and have purchased it at least four different times. I have a lot of affection for the original film too which is way more of a sci-fi horror than any that followed it.
I remember in early/mid two thousands when the third instalment was coming out both my brother and I was cautiously excited. We watched a pirated copy of it in his flat one Saturday afternoon before the UK release and, well, we never went to see it when it opened up. Rise of the Machines does have a couple of decent set pieces and a few interesting ideas. As a story that follows on after the events of T2 go, it’s fine at best but really not that good and highly forgettable.
I was working at the comic book shop when the fourth film was released, this one set wholly in the post-Judgement Day future and still following on after the previous films. I had forgotten that until just now, but there is a character in the third film that is also back for the fourth. This is the film most well known for being where Christian Bale freaked out on set at the lighting guy.
The fact that is all I could remember about it tells you all you need to know. This movie is hot garbage.
The last time I saw either of those two movies was in a hotel room in Dallas and they both happened to be on different channels at the same time so I flicked back and fourth between them. It didn’t make either any better.
There actually was a sequel to T2 I really enjoyed; the two season then cancelled Sarah Connor Chronicles tv show staring Lena Heady in the titular role and picking up after the events of the second film. It had a lot of interesting stuff going on, a new protector, a new hunter, a brother of Kyle Reese, the Dyson family... it was steeped in Terminator lore from those first movies. But it never found it’s audience and didn’t last long or get to wrap up in a satisfying way.
By this point my faith in there ever being a good new Terminator movie were completely shot. I had written them off completely.
The last one, pretty much a reboot using all sorts of convoluted time travel to replace Linda Hamilton with Emila Clarke was a movie I watched at home for free long after it’s release out of morbid curiosity than anything else. I was curious to see if they could get any worse and if bringing Arnold back into the fray was what was missing. Nope, it was I think the worst yet. I say I think because the movie was so atrocious it couldn’t keep my attention for long.
When the trailers for the latest instalment, Terminator: Dark Fate, hit I groaned and rolled my eyes and checked out. I was done. I wasn’t going to get sucked in despite the return of Linda Hamilton and the promise that it was ignoring everything except the first two movies.
Then yesterday evening I found myself looking for something to watch, something easy, kind of dumb, a bit exciting and that I hadn’t seen before... and there it was.
So I watched it...
And I enjoyed it!
Dark Fate is not a very good movie, it’s T2 on crack, where Cameron’s 1991 classic balanced the high octane sceptical with quiet moments on introspection and contemplation, Dark Fate puts its foot on the gas pedal right from the start and doesn’t let off with one exception when it needs to pull over and refuel.
The new cast are good, I’m a big fan of Mackenzie Davis, I think she’s pretty great and will be doing lots of interesting stuff for a long time, but it really is the return of both Linda Hamilton and Arnold that make this one. The interplay between them is fascinating and Hamilton in particular slips right back into a role she hasn’t played in over twenty years. It’s amazing really that in the three films she’s been in she is a very different person in each but it always feels like the same Sarah Connor.
I don’t agree with all the choices made, I do think the film tries too hard to top itself again and again to the point of ridiculousness as it goes along, but it’s a thrill ride I enjoyed taking in the moment.
I won’t revisit this the way I regularly do the first and second films, but I also won’t decry it like I would the trash that came between. This is the best third movie in a franchise that absolutely does not need a third movie.
I can’t remember how well it did or if there are more planned with this storyline as canon but, as every soft reboot has to these days, it does leave the door open enough for them to tell another story that will probably suck if they choose to.
I’m happy that the latest Terminator taste in my mouth isn’t a nasty one, but I don’t need another bite thanks.
Hasta la vista.