It took me awhile to see this (I loved the trailer so much I was almost afraid to watch!), but I was pretty happy with it. It wasn't perfect, and as always with these kinds of movies nowadays, the final third of the film was just one big bloated (if extremely cool) combat setpiece after another (see also WONDER WOMAN -- SOO MANY CARS TOSSED IN SLOW MOTION! AGHGHGH!).
But I thought it was a great, fun candybar movie, and a worthy entry in the TERMINATOR series. And compared to the abysmal GENISYS, this was practically Shakespeare. (RANT WARNING: Look, I'm a TERMINATOR franchise fan, and am pretty forgiving. I liked T3. I even liked T4 with Bale. But, to this day, GENESYS is one of the worst, most insulting movies I've ever seen -- it badly rewrites TERMINATOR to be all about Reese, not Sarah, and laughably turns Sarah into a disempowered damsel. The worst offense for me was that they even changed the iconic picture of Sarah to now be looking RIGHT AT US versus off into a forbidding future because God forbid the movie have an iota of subtlety. I haaaaaated it. So. Damn. Much. And oh, God, the acting! I thought it was comically bad.)
But I thought DARK FATE was terrific, if slightly silly fun. The opening genuinely shocked the hell out of me, but I appreciated the chutzpah of the move. I loved all three lead women, who were all interesting, strong, and fascinating (and beautifully acted), and most of all, I loved the softer energy of it, and every single time the movie slowed down to allow for conversations between such genuinely interesting characters.
I was so impressed with the lead female trio. Linda Hamilton was such a badass, but also funny, complex, and vulnerable. Mackenzie Davis was a freaking goddess as Grace, and I loved the slow reveal of her backstory, sacrifice, and determination. And Natalia Reyes was a wonderful addition -- believably innocent, but also brave, kind, and swift to evolve. I've always loved Davis and expected her to become a star, ever since the first episode of "Halt and Catch FIre" (one of the smartest, best shows in TV history), but seeing her so strong and kickass here was incredible. She must have worked incredibly hard to prepare for the film, and the payoff was that her physical transformation was almost as big as Hamilton's back for T2.
Like I said, my complaints are minor -- I just get tired of all of these things devolving into big giant fight scenes when I find the dialogue scenes so much more interesting. I'm not saying I don't like action, I'm just saying, does it always have to be 15-20 minutes at a time? Followed, almost always, by 15-20 minutes almost immediately after of ANOTHER big setpiece? Aghghg. It's so boring. But they did it well here, and I admit that the in-flight battle, the fall, and then the bridge battles were all pretty jaw-dropping, as was the final "kill box" battle (the only one I was emotionally invested in).
But some of those quiet scenes were just so beautifully written and acted. Every scene between Grace and Dani (and yeah, I was totally shipping those two -- it seemed fairly obvious to me that there was a romantic undercurrent to them). And the gorgeous hotel conversations between Sarah and Grace (and eventually Dani). I even loved Schwarzenegger as Carl -- he actually ACTED! I mean, he really did. He was subtle and quiet, empathetic and truly interesting in that role. (I mean, look, I love Arnie, but he's not exactly an actor's actor. Seeing his ability actually evolve into some fine work here was really wonderful to see.)
She was 63 when she made this, and I think she looked amazing. And I loved her performance.
I don't even know what to say here. "Positively ancient?" Just looking at her "puts you off?" Have you never seen a naturally aging 63 year-old woman before? There are all kinds of ways to be in your mid-60s right now. Depending on your DNA, health and financial circumstance, sure, you can be fit and supple, capable of firing a rifle. Or you may be living with aches and pains and spending most of your time golfing or gardening.
Personally, I think Hamilton looked amazing here -- believably older after decades on adrenaline and alcohol, but still strong and kickass. As an actress, she has also been funny, charming and vocal about why she chose not to use botox or plastic surgery, and I think she is beautiful. Yes, her face has lines and wrinkles, but she is still the beautiful woman she always was.
Hamilton did a fantastic interview with The New York Times before this came out, and that's where she talked about her age, work, marriages, sex life and lack thereof. I just loved her so much from the interview. She was so funny and open, and so humble. My favorite revelation she shared was that James Cameron basically fell in love with her as Sarah Connor, so she tried really hard to stay in that character, to be Sarah Connor for him, and of course eventually failed, because that isn't who she is. The fact that she still has a lot of affection for him was really so lovely (especially since he famously ended their marriage by cheating on her with Suzy Amis on TITANIC).
Of course Linda knows she looks old. What I find refreshing is that she embraces it and refuses to feel bad about it. Hamilton is 64. Arnold is 73. What do you expect or demand that they look like in order to be acceptable for viewing? How is her not apologizing for looking old "saving face?" Maybe she just accepts that time marches on for all of us eventually.
I'm happy the movie dared to cast these unsavory older people. I'm just sorry that you had to be subjected to looking at them.
100% this, Simone. Well said.
Aside from Sigourney Weaver (who is wonderful at any age, of course)... does this mean that only attractive, fit, able-bodied young people are worthy of attention on film? And only in very specific traditional roles?
For me, not only is this POV genuinely upsetting -- but how boring would that be? Isn't the whole point of film (and fantasy/sci-fi film) the presentation of diverse settings and characters?
I heart everything you said in your post. That is all.
I wanted so badly to like GENISYS, but honestly, even after three tries, I have never, ever been able to finish the final 20 minutes. It's one of the worst movies I've ever seen (and I will never forgive the way it retcons Sarah's story and insultingly turns it into Reese's). I thought this was worlds better, flaws and all.
And I loved the way the ending here was full circle and evocative of the original TERMINATOR epilogue -- Sarah darkly looking ahead, yet once again having someone to care for, someone to train for the dark future ahead. And Dani having a protector again, a soldier just as loyal as Grace (and a new mission, to give Grace the happy life she deserves this time around).