Quick Reviews: 'Terminator: Dark Fate', 'Midway' | Action Sequel, Linda Hamilton, Roland Emmerich
TERMINATOR: DARK FATE
You might be thinking ”Oh hey, this came out several months ago”. Well yes, I did skip watching it before since I hadn’t seen any of the three Terminator movies since 'Terminator 2'. Maybe it’s down to the marketing that I didn’t get the memo that this disregards them and is a sequel only to the first two. Now with no new theatrical releases due to coronavirus I found that out so I jumped into Terminator: Dark Fate, with the same kind of fondness that I had watching the previous ones. Even though we have Linda Hamilton (as Sarah Connor) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (T-800/''Carl'') back, the film doesn’t bring back the same entertainment value.
Hamilton is back with resounding fury once again as she really takes over the movie when she makes her cool entrance. The best thing for me with the original films was the fact that they were pure fun and exciting to watch so I was pleasantly surprised how much fun I was having seeing her lead the pack. Dark Fate’s first big sequence takes place on a highway and it is where the director Tim Miller gets unleashed the same way as he was with Deadpool. It feels like a healthy mix of actual stunt driving and inventive VFX, especially with the villain Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) and Grace (Mackenzie Davis). No matter how weird the scene at ”Carl’s” place is, it was a breath of fresh air between all the VFX and killing while also providing some hilarious deadpan comedy that’s reminiscent of previous stuff (can’t get deeper without spoilers).
Even before learning about the constant rewriting the movie went through which explains a lot, the characters are very much the main issue here. The villain Rev-9 is so forgettable it hurts since you won’t remember anything he does or says. He’s (It’s?) also never as unstoppable or terrifying as T-800 used to be. Speaking of T-800, the way that Terminator ended up goes against everything that it was built on so even if it’s funny, it really doesn’t serve anything. The new characters, Grace and Dani (Natalia Reyes), are very thinly written which doesn’t really get you to care for them as much as for Sarah. Dark Fate overall turns into a shapeless blob, the following action scenes after the highway chase become just a loud mess and it’s just not fun to watch after the first hour-or-so.
Smileys: Linda Hamilton, stunt choreography
Frowneys: Characterisation, story, tone
”I’ll be back”. Well, you don’t have to be. You already did two good movies.
It’s been a while since the last true ”dad movie” I saw. There are bunch that I could’ve called that lately but I was waiting for something like director Roland Emmerich's Midway, the dad-est of them all. Even by describing it as a film about a battle during World War II between the US and the Japanese, you can picture in your head the kind of guys we’re following. What you imagine is exactly who they are. That’s how the whole film comes off like, a very surface-level war film where the outcome is extremely scattered all over.
One of the two main men we follow is Edwin Layton who’s played by Patrick Wilson. Wilson is really the only standing out from the cast as he really tries to make the viewer feel the pressure. Scenes with Layton actually tell us something about him and his character traits and they’re done mostly with straightforward dialogue which turns out to be very rare during the 138 minute runtime. More of that was needed. The other main character is Dick Best (Ed Skrein) and that’s as much as you can say about him. His whole portrayal is all quips and zero heart, you most likely won’t give a second thought to him or Skrein’s acting after the credits. Some of the aerial battling is pretty fun to watch and though CGI-heavy, Midway soars during those moments and they never get tiresome.
Editing and scene order is pure nightmare fuel as the movie jumps around with no rhyme or reason from one place to the next and a lot of it should be on the cutting room floor. Why is Dennis Quaid (as William Halsey) in this other than telling us about his rash? Why are we following Aaron Eckhart's Jimmy Doolittle since all of that has no impact? At least there’s a fair portion of screen time with the Japanese side, thing that most American movies miss completely as they only focus on one side.
Dialogue is seriously undercooked for the whole time, especially in the scenes involving the wives in which they are given nothing worthwhile to say. Visual effects are clunky and overused, there are some crashes and accidents that would’ve looked better even done with miniatures in front of a green screen. Overly relying on VFX also hurts the cinematography as most of Midway looks like a sitcom with flattest lighting possible.
Smileys: Patrick Wilson
Frowneys: Editing, cinematography, dialogue, VFX
Carrier named Midway gets hit with too many torpedos and sinks.