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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

DIRECTOR: Tim Miller

CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna

REVIEW:

And now in the latest of far too many examples of Hollywood’s dearth of original ideas, the long-running—and long-suffering—Terminator franchise once again proves itself even harder to kill than its titular killer cyborgs, despite the fact that it passed its sell-by date quite a while ago (for my money, all the way back in 1991). While Dark Fate‘s promotion made much ta-do out of the “return” of James Cameron (who gets a producer and co-writer credit but did not retake the director’s chair, which is occupied by Deadpool‘s Tim Miller, leaving it questionable how much direct involvement Cameron really had) and Linda Hamilton (who hasn’t taken part in the franchise since 1991’s Judgment Day, turned down a chance to reprise her role in 2003’s Rise of the Machines, and should have turned this one down too), neither Cameron nor his ex-wife’s names in the credits signals a return to the quality of the first two installments, which slipped after Cameron moved on and has never been regained. Dark Fate ignores the existence of every entry since T2 and acts as a direct sequel to the first two and the first two alone—which many fans would likely have been okay with—but alas it doesn’t replace them with anything superior. It’s probably better than its immediate predecessor Genisys (no great accomplishment), but finds its own new ways of dumping on the series mythos.

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Terminator: Genisys (2015)

genisysDIRECTOR: Alan Taylor

CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith, Byung-hun Lee

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL “SPOILERS” OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Much like several other once-mighty film franchises from the 1980s and 1990s, including the Alien and Predator series, the Terminator just doesn’t know when to quit.  1984’s The Terminator was a solid launching pad, and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, like its predecessor helmed by James Cameron, stands to this day as one of the best sci-fi action thrillers ever made, and represented the franchise at its peak.  Unfortunately, like Alien, everything was downhill after #2.  Cameron’s two installments told a self-contained story with a beginning and end.  Cameron moved on and Hollywood should have too, but as is so often the case, a property is never left well enough alone when studios smell profits to be made from an iconic brand name.  2003’s Rise of the Machines was serviceable diverting action entertainment but a marked step down, and 2009’s Terminator: Salvation was a superfluous side tangent to nowhere, and now in 2015, just when most people probably thought they’d heard the last of Terminators, the intrepid Connor clan, Judgment Day, and Skynet, Genisys has come along and attempted to bring things full circle by hearkening back to the glory days of the first two episodes.  Unfortunately, despite all its playing on nostalgia and callbacks, Genisys does not represent a return to form.  In fact, it’s a muddled and convoluted episode, marred by bad casting and questionable narrative choices, and comes across like mediocre fanfiction.  “Ah-nuld” may once again utter the words “I’ll be back”, but neither he nor the film makes that an exciting prospect.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Mostow

CAST:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews

REVIEW:

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was probably the best summer action movie of 2003. As action flicks go, it’s above average. But it’s not up to the level of either the original Terminator or Terminator 2: Judgment Day . Terminator 3 lacks the vision and depth of its predecessors, and coming next in line after Terminator 2, one of the best sci-fi/action films ever made, it’s a clear step down. This does not mean it is a bad movie. In fact, it is a thoroughly entertaining, sometimes spectacular action movie, a skillful and immensely enjoyable piece of summertime entertainment. But the first two installments were more than that. Continue reading

The Sixth Day (2000)

6th day 2DIRECTOR: Roger Spottiswoode

CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Michael Rooker, Michael Rapaport, Wendy Crewson, Sarah Wynter, Terry Crews, Rodney Rowland

REVIEW:

The Sixth Day is a prime example of how an intriguing sci-fi premise can be squandered in the service of a generic action flick.  There is fertile ground for all kinds of ethical dilemmas and fascinating scenarios here, but the team assembled is not up to the task of bringing them to the screen.  And even for Arnold Schwarzenegger fans who only care about seeing the big guy kick some ass and take some names, The Sixth Day is lackluster.  Schwarzenegger has previously starred in a couple great sci-fi action thrillers–1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2–but he doesn’t continue that success here. Continue reading

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

DIRECTOR: James Cameron

CAST:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton, Earl Boen

REVIEW:

With 1984’s The Terminator , then fledgling filmmaker James Cameron displayed narrative prowess, a deft hand with action sequences, and economical use of a limited budget. Continue reading

The Terminator (1984)

DIRECTOR: James Cameron

CAST:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Bess Motta, Rick Rossovich, Earl Boen

REVIEW:

The stars were aligned for the cast and crew that came together to make the original Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Mr. Universe, had made his break into the movie business with 1982’s Conan the Barbarian. Together with this and 1986’s Aliens and 1989’s The Abyss (both also directed by James Cameron), Michael Biehn seemed set to become a major star, but never again reached his nearly A-list heights after the 1980s. Linda Hamilton was a relative newcomer (and future, now ex Mrs. James Cameron), and like Biehn, Terminator and its sequel would be the high point of her career. And bringing it all together was a then-unknown filmmaker named James Cameron, who was previously art director for zero-budget B-movie legend Roger Corman, and his previous directorial effort had been the inauspicious Piranha 2: The Spawning. Inspired by two television episodes written by Harlan Ellison (who sued for and later received official credit), the Outer Limits episode “Soldier” (about two time-traveling soldiers who travel back in time to 1964, where they fight to the death), and the Twilight Zone episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” (about a time-traveling robot that looks human), and his own nightmare about a killer robot sent from the future to murder him, Cameron wrote the original story for what became The Terminator while sick and bedridden in Rome. Working alongside him to bring it to fruition was producer (and another ex-wife-to-be) and fellow Corman alum, Gale Anne Hurd. In the hands of this cast and crew, The Terminator exploded from the cult film it was expected to be into a sci-fi/action classic that revolutionized the genre. Continue reading

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