March 2024


time travel

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

DIRECTOR: Tim Miller

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


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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Looper (2012)

looperDIRECTOR: Rian Johnson

CAST: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Noah Segan, Garret Dillahunt, Summer Qing, Pierce Gagnon


Time travel is commonplace in sci-fi stories, sometimes used effectively, sometimes as a flimsy plot device.  With Looper, writer-director Rian Johnson finds a way to embrace the inherent paradoxes and incorporate them into a hard-hitting sci-fi thriller in ways that are intelligent and unpredictable.  Looper is not just a generic action flick with time travel as a plot device; it’s a smart movie that works on different levels as an action thriller, a sci-fi story, and even a morality play, and stimulates the adrenaline, the brain, and the heart.  It’s not a perfect film, but its narrative is engaging, involving, and thoughtful, and doesn’t shy away from a tragic vein. Continue reading

The Terminator (1984)

DIRECTOR: James Cameron


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


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.

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