After so many disappointing sequels, I had given up hope that there would ever be another good Terminator film. So I skipped Terminator: Dark Fate in theatres last year, figuring that there were far “better” movies that I would want to drag Jay to in the coming months, rather than another convoluted time travel story of undoing a life-changing apocalypse. Judging from the paltry box office numbers for Dark Fate, I was not the only one who stayed away.
Since then, of course, a life-changing event of a different sort has occurred. With theatres being shuttered for four months and counting due to the pandemic, Jay and I have seen most of what’s available, especially lately when new digital releases have slowed to a trickle. Even as we were running out of movies and Dark Fate kept begging us to rent it for 99 cents, I passed repeatedly. But when it popped up for free on Amazon Prime this week, I figured I’d give it a shot, and Jay was on board.
Jay remained on board for less than five minutes. I hadn’t even gotten to the end of my Terminator 2 recap when gave up on the movie and the franchise. I pressed on alone, hoping for the movie to not suck. And if the bar is not sucking, Dark Fate can be considered a success. But shouldn’t the bar be a lot higher?
Dark Fate is likely to be the last of the series (though I thought that before) because it has shown that Terminator has nothing new to offer. It may be that the series feels stuck in the past because the original Judgment Day came and went almost 23 years ago without incident. But the real problem is that the series hasn’t evolved at all in response. The new apocalyptic futures provided by the franchise’s ever-changing timeline have just been copies of the original Terminator’s bone-filled landscape, and neither the villains nor the action have come close to any part of the consistently brilliant T2.
Dark Fate was wise to ignore all the other entries since T2 but despite its best efforts it ends up sharing their fate. Dark Fate is not a bad movie but since it doesn’t offer anything new, this franchise still is stuck in the past. In the end, Dark Fate made me wish I had asked Jay to watch T2 last night instead. I bet she would have lasted longer than five minutes with that one.
When I was a kid, I loved Back to the Future and Home Alone and, when I first heard about sequels, I couldn’t believe my luck that there would be more of exactly the same. Home Alone 2, Back to the Future II, and Back to the Future III were predictable in the best way possible with virutally every scene from the first being pretty much recreated in some way in the sequels. As much as I loved the familiairity of sequels in those days, i’ve come to expect a little more. Here are three that aim a little higher than giving us more of the same. Please visit Wandering Through the Shelves to see what sequels some of our favourite bloggers love.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)– Director james Cameron seemed to realize that Arnold Schwartzenegger, who had starred in several hits in the seven years between Terminator movies, was a tough guy to root against. As imposing a villian he was in Terminator, Arnold is just more fun as a hero in Terminator 2. With those sunglasses, that bike, that jacket and those one-liners, he brings a lot of charisma to the role of a robot. Other improvements include a tougher Sarah Connor (who Linda Hamilton is more than up to the challenge of playing), imaginative effects, and an altogether more epic approach to the story.
Before Sunset (2004)– 1995’s Before Sunrise seems like an unlikely beginning to a franchise. It was low-budget and SO talky. I actually hated it when I first saw it. I found it to be boring and a little pretentious and it started in me a hate-on for Ethan Hawke that has lasted to this day. Nine years later, when Celine and Jesse reunite in Paris, they have matured just as the actors have and are much easier to root for. Their conversations, which seemed so trite to me in the first, are loaded with subtext in the second. They’ve spent nine year wondering what they would say to each other if they saw each other again and the weight of this moment is felt through every minute of this beautiful film.
The Raid 2 (2014)– The Raid: Redemption, although awesome, was little more than a brilliantly executed bloodbath. Director Gareth Evans raises the stakes for The Raid 2 with even more carnage and well-choreographed fights but we get so much more. While the first was set almost entirely in a crackhouse with dialogue only when absolutely necessary, the second weaves a much more complex crime story with our hero going undercover in an organized crime syndicate in the middle of a turf war. Some of the best action filmmaking I’ve ever seen.