Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

 

Terminator - Dark Fate Review

Director: Tim Miller
Screenwriters: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray
Stars: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes

I have to admit my hopes were not high for this sequel-come-reboot. Though I quite liked T3, I thought Genisys was a mess and Salvation was irredeemably awful. I obviously wasn’t the only one with this opinion. Dark Fate serves as a direct sequel to T2, presumably in the hope the others will be wiped from the timeline.

The film starts off by introducing us to Dani (Natalia Reyes) and her normal, humdrum life. This is the Latino girl we saw in the trailer and assumed was a kid. She’s actually not a kid, she’s just a very short woman. Anyway, as per usual, a terminator and a protector arrive in a big whirly ball of electricity and we soon realise this ordinary girl isn’t going to be so ordinary in the future.

A lot of people are comparing this to The Force Awakens; saying it’s just a new spin on the old formula, and this is true, but it’s also what made the first two (and arguably the third) Terminator movies work. The CG mess that was Salvation attempted to do something new in the wake of Judgement Day, and Genysis just tied everyone’s head in knots with too many time travel paradoxes, so I’m not against them going back to the original template.

Series creator James Cameron gets a story credit but not a screenplay credit, so it seems he was involved in the early stages and then left the directing to Deadpool’s Tim Miller while he went back to work on his 20 Avatar sequels. It would’ve been great to have Cameron back in the director’s chair, but Miller is as good a stand-in as we could’ve hoped for. He handles the action like a seasoned pro and though the film is light on humour, the few moments of levity we get are well judged and funny.

Unfortunately, the film isn’t perfect; there are a couple of things about it that did niggle me. The opening flashback scene with Linda Hamilton de-aged does not look good and I don’t understand why. Doesn’t everyone use the same de-ageing software? Why do Marvel’s de-aged characters look so good and yet Sarah Connor looks like a PS4 character? The other niggle concerns the military assistance they receive at the beginning of the third act. Sarah says at one point that she is wanted in all 50 states and had a whole episode of America’s Most Wanted dedicated to her, and yet when she calls an old army buddy he not only gives her Top Secret tech weapons, but also access to an army base and lets her take a very large plane! This is never explained and seems like a plot contrivance just to get them into a plane. It’s a shame because one very minor tweak could’ve made it a lot more believable. The army guy who helps them is an African-American with the name-patch HUNT on his fatigues. What if that patch had read DYSON instead? Little Danny Dyson all grown up? Just sayin’.

As someone who went in fully expecting to hate it, I’m glad those two points are really all I have to complain about. I enjoyed this film a lot. Mackenzie Davis delivers the sort of fast, well-choreographed action and violence we expect and hope for from this franchise. Granted, some of it still is CG, but we can’t have everything. Arnie arrives quite late, but he’s a welcome addition to the group when he does and his strained relationship with Sarah keeps things tense.

It’s unfortunate that Dani doesn’t get the story-arc Sarah had in the first film. Where Sarah was an apologetic waitress who wouldn’t confront a guy who cancels minutes before their date, but ends up fighting and destroying a T-800, Dani spends most of the time being protected and letting others do the fighting for her. She does fire a few shots and have a bit of a shout near the end, but it’s not the gradual transformation that would make her believable. It feels a bit like they’re saving that stuff up for the sequel which is always a mistake.

Gabriel Luna as the Rev-9 plays it completely emotionless, except when he’s mimicking someone, and while we can all understand why the actor would make this choice, it does give him all the personality of a toaster. The T-1000 didn’t say much either but he had an intense stare that told us what lay beneath the poly-mimetic alloy was something you should be scared of.

The storyline is basically a reset, so depending on how this one does at the box-office, we may be getting more films with Dani being chased by increasingly upgraded terminators. Unlike Arnie, I don’t think the producers will be asking Gabriel Luna to reprise his role if there are future sequels. He does what the script asks of him but it’s not the sort of iconic performance that would make fans salivate for his return.

Dark Fate has all the ingredients you’d expect from a Termintor movie, and thankfully the action and violence don’t hold back just so the movie can reach a lower age demographic. While it may not be on a par with T1 and T2, I think it’s at least as good as T3 – and remember I liked T3 – and much better than Salvation or Genysis.

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Total Recall (1990) Movie Retro Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Total Recall

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writers: Philip K. Dick, Ronald Shusett (screen story)
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox, Rachel Ticotin

Paul Verhoeven only gone and done it again. After the massive success of Robocop (1987) the Dutch Director turned his attention to a short story written by Philip K. Dick named “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” and from that spawned the 1990 Schwarzenegger classic “Total Recall”. This movie was part of a long run of successful films for Arnie in this period in his career and a period I consider his best and arguably at his peak a year later in Terminator 2.

Verhoeven once again is a fantastic world builder and creates a look and feel into a used future. Just like “Delta City” in Robocop, this time it’s a seedy and gritty world we live in. Relying on technology a little too much (Hologram Tennis and Johnny Cabs spring to mind.) Dreams of living on Mars and going to a little memory implant service called “Recall” that create and embed in your mind wonderful memories. It’s fair to say Verhoeven created a living breathing and believable bleak future for the human race to look forward to.

Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid. A construction worker who yearns for a better life with his wife Lori (Sharon Stone). Quaid dreams of one day going to Mars and fulfill his destiny. Lori on the other hand appears to want the simpler things in life and doesn’t really have any ambition other than to live an ordinary life. Without consulting Lori and previously being advised to stay away from “Recall” by Lori and his work buddy Harry. Doug decides to have a memory implant designed so that he can become a secret agent on Mars as a little memory present for himself.

Things go wrong when Doug breaks into a full psychotic episode ranting and raving about being double crossed and claiming to already have been to Mars. Trouble is the implant wasn’t even installed into Doug’s brain at this point. In a panic, Recall knock him out and dump him in a cab. It’s fair to say that Doug isn’t having the best of days. In fact as the story progresses he realises that his friends aren’t his friends, his wife isn’t really his wife and his life as Douglas Quaid was never real but in fact a memory implant to hide the secrets of Mars and its atmosphere. The man behind it all is Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox) who dominates control over Mars selling oxygen to the contained environments within the colonies on the red planet.

I saw this movie perhaps a year after its release as I was just about 1 year too young to see this in the cinema as the BBFC gave this movie a 15 certificate. Not to worry though as when I did see it I loved it from the beginning. The characters were larger than life. Almost comic book. The sets although mostly interior, for its day was pretty impressive and gave the audience a good look and idea of this world and worlds that the Director gave us. The storyline as well was surprisingly well thought out and prolonged justifying for its duration. A few twists along the way kept it fresh and the humour was of the same tone as Robocop.

I’m deliberately avoiding any comparisons with the remake from a few years back starring Colin Farrell. So no more talk of that. I’ll keep that for another day. Schwarzenegger and Stone work well together from the kick off. You’ll be convinced they are a happily married couple and within the hour you will be convinced that they are bitter enemies is the talents and abilities of these too fine actors. The chemistry good or bad works for Doug and Lori, “Consider that a divorce”. Michael Ironside as Richter is the man Cohaagen wants to track down Doug and bring him in to have his mind erased again. Ironside is a great villain here. Almost dastardly with a hint of humour who in the end has a grizzly end, “See you at the party, Richter”

Overall Total Recall is quite a layered film that can be enjoyed time and time again. How much of Philip K. Dick short story is utilised I’m unsure of and he deserves the credit for Total Recall being made in the first place but Paul Verhoeven brings the story to life with great pacing, excellent sets, character development throughout the cast and a plot that will have you mesmerised. This is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest films of the time, which is sandwiched in between Twins, Kindergarten Cop and as I previously mentioned Terminator 2. He definitely was on fire at this time and it’s interesting to find Verhoeven originally wanted Schwarzenegger in the role of Robocop initially but with Arnies massive frame hampering him wearing the metal suit that role would go to the leaner Peter Weller. Verhoeven was clearly a fan of Arnold and must have had him in mind very early on for the role of Quaid. If you haven’t seen this movie yet I urge you to give it a try, you might be surprised how well it hold up to today’s standards. Recommended.

Terminator 2 (1991) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

TERMINATOR 2

Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron, William Wisher
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

One of the greatest sequels ever made and rightfully up there with the likes of Godfather Part Two and The Empire Strikes Back. Terminator 2 takes place almost a decade after the events of the first film “The Terminator”. In reality, it was a long 7 year wait for the next instalment of the franchise and certainly one that was worth waiting on. The Terminator, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) must now protect her ten year old son, John Connor (Edward Furlong) from a more advanced Terminator, The T-1000.

Not so much as one of the greatest twists in cinematic history but certainly a brilliant and different approach for the sequel was making Arnold’s Terminator the protector in this one instead of the villain. I always thought it was a masterstroke by James Cameron to portray the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) as a Police Officer misleading the audience in thinking this was the good guy. When you think about it, the way the storyline goes up to the corridor in the galleria (Shopping Mall) until The Terminator shouts “Get Down” you are to assume Schwarzenegger’s role is the big bad guy.

1991 was another brilliant year for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Coming off the back of his successful run of the late 1980’s releases, the early 1990’s continued this good fortune in the release of Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop (1990) although in 1993 his Last Action Hero was received with mixed reviews his reunion with James Cameron in True Lies reconnected and affirmed Schwarzenegger was still in the big league. Schwarzenegger again with limited dialogue (but a lot more than the original) has some killer lines that are quotable 27 years later. I regard his physical condition in this movie was at his lifetime peak and at the age of 44 at the time was just as remarkable. His portrayal in Terminator 2 after playing the cold killing Terminator in the first movie breathed new life into the franchise and watching this machine playing a surrogate father to John Connor is tragic in many ways.

Although Arnold Schwarzenegger had many challenges in convincing the audience of his role reversal. More can be said about Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. Having suffered physically and mentally to the vicious killing machine of the first movie we now see Connor is institutionalised under heavy security. Having tried to eradicate all links to prevent the War against the Machines from ever happening. We now see Sarah locked up and unable to protect John from any incoming threat. I always loved Linda Hamilton’s transformation from a sweet young lady with a naive and positive outlook on life to a cold and focused almost like soldier and not only her mental transformation but physically she was up for the task. The Actress trained with a former Israeli soldier and a personal trainer for three hours a day, six days a week for thirteen weeks before filming began. Under both trainers, she intensely worked with weights and learned judo and heavy military training techniques. Her commitment to this role was clearly something she understood in creating such an iconic and memorable character and this is why this is one of my favourite roles in cinematic history.

Much of an unknown at this point was Robert Patrick who trained in a rigorous regime, particularly running in order to be able to appear to run at high speeds without showing fatigue on film. The actor also mimicked the head movements of the American bald eagle for his role as T-1000. As an actor now, I think the guy is fantastic. Back then he was that henchman in Die Hard 2: Die Harder. In fact, one of my most favourite roles I have witnessed him portray was in Television’s The X-Files as Special Agent John Doggett. His persona and delivery in this role and many others is always with a hint of arrogance and self assurance. He has that here in a different and more quieter way as the shaping shifting mimetic polyalloy machine. His screen time and dialogue is surprisingly selected for such an iconic character, but the same can be said for Darth Vader’s screen time in the Original Star Wars. In fact, the second third of the movie the T-1000 is missing for a good 30 minutes as we delve more into the characters of Sarah, John and The Terminator.

The pacing in this movie is amazing. One of my favourite chase scenes at the beginning involving a Harley Davison, a Dirt Bike and a truck is enthralling and frantic. There is a similar chase scene at the movies climatic end also that leads to some of the most amazing special effects in film history. That second third I was talking about is mostly set in the desert and it allows the audience to breathe and examine the main three characters. It is here we notice an obvious physical difference in Edward Furlong’s appearance as the young John Connor and I regard the best representation of the character to date. Furlong is noticeably younger in these scenes that were shot first and out of sequence. Interestingly his voice is also dubbed deeper as his voice broke during the production and the over dub was for continuity reasons. I like Furlong’s portrayal of the adolescent and troubled youth struggling to survive without his mother, who he didn’t believe and was institutionalised for reasons he couldn’t understand or didn’t want to understand. The child actor didn’t play the character in a typical child actor like way that a lot of them fall into the trap of trying to act beyond their years. Here we see a naive and a young boy yearning for a father figure.

Terminator 2 will always be one of my favourite movies for investment in character development but the visuals and special effects even to this day are phenomenal. I was totally blown away with what Stan Winston and his team achieved. Everything from the morphing liquid metal to the convincing and startling nuclear fall out dream sequence which to this day has never been topped. I still remember being haunted by those convincing sequences and troubling images of a burning Sarah Connor almost skeleton screaming whilst rattling the playground fence as if it was yesterday. Winston was such a genius in his field and is sadly missed by special effects fans the world over.

The movie would also not be what it was without that iconic and organic soundtrack by Brad Fiedel. That metallic clank of metal hitting metal and those dramatic beats are part of The Terminator franchise and part of the make up. Similar to John Carpenter’s haunting piano sound on The Halloween soundtrack, Fiedler creates the atmosphere of this world and blended with those unsettling images of a chrome endoskeleton almost grinning right at you before you are Terminated is both terrifying and disturbing thanks to the sound.

James Cameron has gone on to create countless masterpieces since 1991 in films such as Titanic and more recently the Avatar franchise. His contributions in the look and writing of both Terminator movies cannot be disregarded or ignored. It is evident that his magic touch and hand in was sadly missed in Terminator 3: Rise Against The Machines, Terminator: Salvation and Terminator Genisys. All of these sequences never came close to reaching the same heights as the first two films and its interesting to see that there is talk of a Cameron / Schwarzenegger / Hamilton reunion on the cards in a few years regarding a new trilogy and one can only speculate on how that will work. Overall Terminator 2 is one of the greatest movies ever made in the history of film from it’s invested character development, it’s pacing and direction to its groundbreaking visual effects. There hasn’t been another film like it since and I doubt any future films will ever top it. For me this is a must see for every generation to witness and enjoy. Highly Recommended.

Aftermath (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

AFTERMATH

Director: Elliott Lester
Writer: Javier Gullón
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie Grace, Scoot McNairy

Aftermath is a story about two individuals whose lives are bound together after a devastating plane crash changes their lives forever.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Roman Melnyk and soon to be proud grandfather. After finishing his shift at the construction site, Roman heads for the airport excited to see his wife and his daughter who is pregnant. When instructed to report to the information desk he soon learns the terrible tragedy that has just unfolded about his family’s airplane colliding in the midair with another airplane.

I have to admit being used to and brought up on Arnold’s previous work and his all action hero genre, I kept expecting the character of Roman to go all guns blazing and knock out a corny line or six as he took out the bad guys. Fortunately here, this is Arnold Schwarzenegger the dramatic actor.

Arnold’s portrayal of Roman is sad, sympathetic and emotional finding his way through life after the terrible events of his entire family and world, gone in a flash. Schwarzenegger in Aftermath is superb and really shows his acting ability (a late bloomer) here under the most terrible circumstances. The character of Roman goes through several stages of shock and disbelief to eventual anger and looking for an answer or in his case an apology from someone.

We are then introduced to Jacob (Jake) who is an ordinary family man who works nights as an air traffic controller. Scoot McNairy plays Jake as a normal down to earth guy who lives his wife and young son and takes his job very seriously. Unfortunately for Jake his life is about to change forever. We are then dragged back to the events prior to Roman’s bad news and what is about to happen can only be described as a series of unfortunate and tragic events. Having just arrived at his shift in the control tower, Jake’s colleague decides to have a quick break which Jake has no problem with as it appears he has everything under control.

Things begin to unravel in the tower as maintenance suddenly appear to repair a faulty telephone line, meaning telephones are all out at this moment for the foreseeable time. Adding to this Jake is directing several flights and instructing them to take their positions. It’s at this point in the scene Jake explains to one of the pilots that he will have to contact another airport directly due to the telephone situation. Whilst this happens one of the planes appears to seek advice from Jake on dropping his altitude, which Jake misses in the midst of trying to juggle the workload alone. Jake  witnesses two planes heading across each other at the same altitude colliding and disappearing off the radar.

Director Elliott Lester had the difficult role of handling both perspectives from the “aftermath” of a terrible disaster. Roman Melnyk being the victim of the tragedy losing his wife and daughter whom was pregnant in the plane crash and this is the premise that most audience members will naturally feel for and understand. With the other perspective a little more complex on how you are supposed to feel about Jake, an air traffic controller working the air flight control center alone accidentally missing an update from one of the airplanes resulted in two planes colliding mid-air which led to claiming over 200 deaths, including Roman’s family. Lester manages to keep both storylines running parallel with each other and keep the movie running along at a consistent pace from both perspectives. The writer  Javier Gullón should be commended for never villainizing Jake at any point and allows the audience to make their own minds up on how they feel about both characters.

Aftermath slots Arnold Schwarzenegger into a real life situation of the most horrifying type and it has to be said that this is one of his best performance of his long film career. He is so convincing as the grieving  husband, father and tragically almost a grandfather. One thing I did notice was Arnold’s limited script. He has always been famous for his word count in most of his movies and here is no different. But the difference here is his actions or should that be reactions. His face is angst ridden and his body movement is of a beaten man. Arnold plays the role with conviction and emotion and he deserves enormous credit for his portrayal of Roman.

On the flip side we witness Scoot McNairy as Jacob turn from happy family man to an emotional wreck full of turmoil and isolation from his family and friends. McNairy does a fine job playing basically two characters of the same person and watching his decline is almost as tragic as the incident that sent him on a downward spiral.

To summarise “Aftermath” is an intriguing film that touches a subject that isn’t explored enough in the business. The turmoil and tribulations are explored in great depth within our main characters that are fully developed within the duration of the movie. If you are a fan of Arnie and interested in seeing him in a more dramatic role than normal, I can’t recommend this movie enough. Thoroughly enjoyable.