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Non-Review Review: Terminator – Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate is perhaps the second-best of the four attempts to make a third Terminator movie.

To be fair, the previous three efforts have all been exercises in figuring out how close or how far to hew to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. There has been a sense of watching various chefs trying awkwardly to replicate a signature dish. Does a Terminator sequel need Sarah Connor? Does Sarah Connor have to be played by Linda Hamilton? Is Arnold Schwarzenegger essential, and to what degree? James Cameron isn’t going to direct because he has his own projects, but what level of involvement is “just right”? Is it enough for him to do some press, to be a producer, or does he need a story credit?

Fight and flight.

The results have been as interesting as they have been frustrating. Few film franchises has branched quite as dramatically as the Terminator franchise, perhaps reflecting the series’ own preoccupation with time travel. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys have all tried to figure out a way to make a sequel to Judgment Day, and have only really managed to agree that each of the others adopted the wrong approach. Dark Fate at least seems like the right Terminator sequel for its own time and place, tapping into a wave of nineties anxiety and franchise dominance.

Dark Fate is only moderately successful as a film in its own right, and as a follow on to one of the most beloved blockbusters of all-time. It says much more about the larger Terminator franchise than about Dark Fate that it counts as one of the best sequels to Judgment Day.

Hes back.

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Non-Review Review: Teminator 3 – Rise of the Machines

Network 2 reaired the whole Terminator trilogy to celebrate Salvation‘s release on Friday. My luck being my luck, I caught the tail end of the franchise, the weak link if you will. As I write this, I face the question that I face when I review any given sequel or part of a franchise: should I judge it independently or alongside its predecessors (and – if I’m a latecomer to the party – its successors)? If I adopt the former approach, is Terminator 3 a reasonably solid sci-fi/action movie? If I look at it as the third installment in the franchise, is it fit to be considered alongside two of the greatest action movies ever made?

Spot the one non-classically trained actor in this shot...

Spot the one non-classically trained actor in this shot...

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Is the Terminator Franchise Terminated?

In the knowledge that Terminator: Salvation has ‘only’ taken in $71m at the US Box Office, having cost over $200m to make and market, prognosticators are rushing to pronounce the Terminator franchise as dead. The facts don’t look good – so far it has earned less than the previous franchise killer (the disappointing-in-so-many-ways Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), it is reviewing badly, and it got its ass handed to it by a Ben Stiller family comedy. This is surely bad news for Warner Brothers, the studio that produced the other $200m ‘dud’ of the year, Watchmen – but does it really signal the end for everyone’s favourite time-traveling robotic assassin?

No bones (or metallic endoskeleton) about it...

No bones (or metallic endoskeleton) about it...

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This is no time to argue about time, we don’t have the time…

The early reviews for Terminator: Salvation seem to be in – and they are not as bad as I thought they would be. Apparently if you leave your brain at reception, you might enjoy it. Still, it’s got me thinking. The original Terminator was one of the few Hollywood movies to deal with time travel relatively well. How come Hollywood seems to have such difficulty wrestling with such a common science fiction trope?

Warning: thinking about time travel might make your brain melt

Warning: thinking about time travel might make your brain melt

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