Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

I will just say it straight and clearly – the Terminator film franchise is truly unnecessary today and, having seen its debut in the year 1984 (written and directed by a very young James Cameron), I should say that the saga really ended with 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron’s masterpiece).

Out of curiosity, instead of anticipation, I got to watch Terminator: Dark Fate at the local cinema. Having been disappointed with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation (a bad movie notorious for Christian Bale’s loss of self-control) and Terminator: Genisys (the most insulting and most screwed up film of the franchise), I had low expectations for Dark Fate.

Ultimately, I left the cinema disappointed yet again although the experience was not as bad as that of 2015 (with Genisys).

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Clearly, the filmmakers took inspiration from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and mix the more established film franchise stars (in supporting roles) with the younger actors.

To put it short, Terminator: Dark Fate took creative inspiration from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This means it was made with recycled concepts, told the story through its new characters (played by actors who are much younger and who are supposed to appeal to younger viewers) and back them up with the old, more iconic actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton) limited to supporting roles. When it comes to presentation, this new movie felt more like a roller coaster ride than an actual story laced with spectacle stage-by-stage.

That is pretty much how Terminator: Dark Fate turned out. It does not matter that this was directed by Tim Miller, the guy behind 2016’s Deadpool. It does not matter that the great James Cameron got involved with producing and story credit (he shared with a few other names). It does not matter that this movie was made with a large budget of $185 million and relied heavily on computers to generate the visuals (which look fake most of the time). Whatever the preparations made, they did not matter at all because Terminator: Dark Fate is a rushed and creative disappointment that does not deserve your time nor your money.

The movie opened with archived footage of Sarah Connor expressing the darkness of the future coming. This was immediately followed by a scene set in 1998 showing Sarah and her son John living in an age in which Judgment Day did NOT occur on August 29, 1997. Suddenly another Terminator T-800 Model 101 (another Schwarzenegger-type Terminator) appears and actually kills John Connor leaving Sarah in turmoil.

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This is the protector sent through time by the human resistance.

John Connor, who has been a central story element in the 1984 and 1991 (memorably played by Edward Furlong) movies as he was destined to be the human resistance leader in the war with Skynet, was eliminated so quickly in the opening of this new movie very similar to how the character of Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn in the James Cameron-directed Aliens) got killed in a very dismissive way in the beginning of Alien 3. This move was nothing less than cynical, ill-conceived and even a daring disservice to Terminator fans.

From this point on, Terminator: Dark Fate turns into a “what if John Connor was dead and a new future war followed?” type of story.

Even though Judgment Day got prevented in relation to what Sarah and John achieved in Terminator 2, a new war between man and machines in the far future still occurs only this time Skynet is no more and the new enemy artificial intelligence (AI) this time is called Legion. This new story concept, by the way, is pretty insulting to any fan who loved the first two films directed by James Cameron as those flicks told a complete saga.

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This is the new, future leader of the human resistance.

And then the plot of The Terminator got recycled. A human fighter is sent back through time to protect a person who is destined to become the leader of the human resistance. Also sent back through time is a Terminator designed to look human and infiltrate society with a mission to kill the future human resistance leader. This is essentially what Terminator: Dark Fate truly is and even though Sarah Connor returned (plus another Terminator T-800 played by Schwarzenegger), there really is nothing new, nothing fresh and nothing worth enjoying.

When it comes to quality, this movie does not have much standing for it. The new characters are not engaging at all and their respective performers really had nowhere to go to engage moviegoers. Mackenzie Davis playing the new combat-ready protector only served to beef the film with action and there is nothing compelling about her act, nor did the script provide anything to make her androgynous character memorable. The new human resistance leader played by Natalia Reyes is forgettable and unbelievable even though she tried hard being dramatic. Compared with Sarah Connor in 1984’s The Terminator, the chosen one Dani Ramos in the film was transformed from a struggling, working-class person into a brave fighter in a very rushed and unconvincing manner. Also, if you take a close look at Natalia Reyes, she is too short to be a figure of authority, too small to use weapons and her act is clearly sub-par in terms of quality making her big misfire in terms of casting. The performance, script and directing really had no depth when it comes to developing the characters.

The new Terminator (Rev-9) played by Gabriel Luna was nothing more than an uninspired attempt to outdo the T-1000 of Terminator 2. Luna was decent with playing cold and emotionless but when he acts human to infiltrate human society, he’s just generic at best.

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This is the new cinematic villain that won’t stop to kill the future leader of the human resistance. Oh, the computer-generated visuals are often fake to look at.

As for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton returning, it is sad for me to say that these two iconic performers of the film franchise got wasted. Sarah Connor in this movie was poorly written and this modern version ruins the legacy the character had since 1991. Schwarzenegger meanwhile played another T-800 Terminator whose adjustment into human society turned out to be unconvincing, even outlandish. A Terminator adjusting into domestic human life? Totally unbelievable!

If there is anything to admire in this ill-conceived movie, it is Schwarzenegger’s delivery of his lines as the Terminator. He was over 70-years-old at the time of filming and he no longer has the super fit, muscular build he was famous for but he still proved to be excellent in being robotic with the dialogue. Sadly, this good stuff from the ex-governor of California was not enough to save this movie from its dark fate.

The film has a lot of action and there is a notable variety of it here. Even though action-packed and the action quality is an improvement over Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys, Terminator: Dark Fate is ultimately a ride that can only provide temporary relief from the pain of the weak script. Oh, the use of fake-looking CGI hurts the action and stunts

Conclusion

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Let this be the LAST Terminator movie and let it fade away. How? By NOT spending your precious time and money on it.

Although it is better than Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys respectively, Terminator: Dark Fate still failed to be a solid film and definitely it is NOT worthy of being the official follow-up (the “real Terminator 3” to the first two films written and directed by James Cameron. Cameron’s involvement with this movie did not really improve the situation of the deteriorating Terminator film franchise and even worse, this big disappointment taints his record of excellence as a producer. Director Tim Miller, in my opinion, should go back to superhero movie making or try directing a brand new project of science fiction that does not involve an established intellectual property. How he will recover from Terminator: Dark Fate remains to be seen.

Bottom line – Terminator: Dark Fate is not recommended. You are better off skipping this movie but if you intend to watch it at all, do it out of curiosity. Don’t spend your money on this movie (the cinema, future release on streaming services, Blu-ray, DVD, etc.).

If you want to experience the cinematic greatness of the Terminator film franchise, go back to watching The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day instead.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At The Terminator #1 (1990)

Way back in 1984, a low-budget movie titled The Terminator became a hit with moviegoers which greatly helped the careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and writer-director James Cameron. Terminator 2: Judgment Day became a massive hit worldwide in 1991 establishing the Terminator franchise as an important one leading to more movies (released in 2003, 2009 and 2015), video games and even a TV series. Oh yes, the upcoming film Terminator: Dark Fate will be released very soon and it now involves James Cameron.

Way back in 1990, a follow-up to the 1984 classic was released that did NOT involve Schwarzenegger, Cameron and Hamilton at all. The follow-up was a 4-issue mini-series titled The Terminator and was published by Dark Horse Comics which back then was licensed to do comic books of the Terminator franchise.

This is my review of The Terminator #1, written by John Arcudi and drawn by Chris Warner with ink work by Paul Guinan.

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Early story

The comic book opens in the year 2029. In the ruins of Los Angeles, a band armed humans struggle against the machines of Skynet during the night. They infiltrate a facility to find one of Skynet’s time displacement chambers which they learned previously from their leader John Connor. Thanks to Connor’s intervention, Skynet’s attempt to change history failed but the big catch is that only a prototype of the time displacement chamber was discovered. The final model of the chamber remains.

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As the armed guys make their way through, a Terminator watches them secretly….

Quality

When it comes to the writing, I can clearly see that John Arcudi (best known for The Mask) exerted effort to make this comic book relevant to the 1984 movie using key details such as the humans operating on the field only at night time (because Skynet will easily detect them during the day). Arcudi, however, expanded a bit on the franchise’s cinematic elements by emphasizing the use specific machines (steel-and-chrome wombs or tissue-generating chambers) to cover Terminator units with flesh and blood, and most notably, the use electronic communication between Terminator units which resemble telepathy among humans.

Cyberdyne, the fictional corporation heavily emphasized in Terminator 2, made an appearance in this comic book. With regards to Skynet, Arcudi emphasized that the living network was a lot more resourceful than what the movies suggested. The comic book has a nice build-up and along the way, the use of expository dialogue was pretty efficient and they are quite helpful for readers to grasp the story and key details.

With regards to the art work, Warner’s art style has that somewhat cartoony aesthetic on not just the humans but even on the machines. There were several Terminator units displayed without the flesh and from the way they were drawn, I could not even tell if those units were the T-800 type. Warner’s drawings on the physical environments carry a good amount of detail.

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Terminator stealthy approach captured nicely.

While Warner’s drawing has a cartoony aesthetic, the illustrated action is pretty violent and has quite an impact in some shots. There are some bloody images and implied nude shots as well.

Conclusion

What can I say? I bought The Terminator #1 at the Hobby Con this past weekend out of pure curiosity. After reading it thrice, I should say that I found this comic book proving to be better than what I expected. It is a surprisingly good read and the fact that this was published roughly a year BEFORE the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, I found this to be a worthy follow-up to the 1984 movie. In fact, it’s so good a follow-up I’d rather read it than waste my time watching Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation and the very awful Terminator: Genisys.

As such, I declare that The Terminator #1 is recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Transformers at Toycon 2019

During the recent Toycon at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, I took time out to take a look at the displays of the Transformers.

To be clear, the Transformers I got oriented with as a youth was way back in the 1980s when the animated series (specifically Generation One) was released which also saw the rise of the popularity of the accompanying toy line. I also have fond memories of the 1986 film The Transformers: The Movie.

Frankly speaking, I’m not too fond of the modern Transformers that appeared in the movies directed by Michael Bay. As such, I took pics of the Transformers at the exhibits of Toycon with nostalgia in mind.

To enlarge, just click the pictures.

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Generation One Transformers mixed with characters from The Transformers: The Movie.
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Devastator (Constructicons), Dinobots, Insecticons plus some Autobots and Decepticons on display.

And then I found more Transformers on display for sale (along with other figures) at one of the vendors at the main exhibition hall during Toycon.

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At the table of one of the vendors.

Going back to the exhibit, there were two sets of the Transformers that really caught my attention as they expressed strong messages.

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I really admire this showcase.
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Yes to God!

In ending this, I’d like to read a verse from the Holy Bible for all of you readers.

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16: 31)

To the guys who prepared the Transformers carrying messages opposing drugs and expressing God’s love during the exhibit at Toycon this year, you did the right thing! Praise the Lord always! Believe in Him! Never let your faith in the Lord weaken!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

My Observations: Terminator: Dark Fate Official Teaser Trailer

Have you guys seen the first official trailer of the upcoming movie Terminator: Dark Fate yet? If you have not, it’s been embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

You must be wondering what I think of it. Here’s my answer: the trailer is satisfactory and it does not excite me very much. I just find it interesting but I should say that Linda Hamilton‘s return as Sarah Connor (James Cameron‘s symbol of the strong, fighting woman) is intriguing.

In fairness, I like the confirmation that the story of this new movie takes place decades after the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and completely ignores Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (which did not involve James Cameron), the disappointing Terminator Salvation and the laughable Terminator: Genisys. Cameron returns to the franchise as producer and directing it is Tim Miller (Deadpool). This film is Miller’s 2nd full-length movie as director!

Who are the two young ladies in the trailer? They are Dani (played by Natalia Ramos) and Grace (Mackenzie Davis). According to available information about the movie, the two are being hunted by a new Terminator (Gabriel Luna) that resembles somewhat the T-800 terminator but has some abilities similar to that of the T-1000. Sarah Connor comes in to protect them both which parallels the events of 1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

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The hunted.
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An older Sarah Connor.

What this movie showed is that it has a new concept to keep things fresh. One of the hunted came from the future and was shown to have superhuman abilities, daring to fight the new Terminator that’s been going after them.

While it is a fact that the Terminator film franchise has always been closely linked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous star appeared for only a few seconds in the trailer. I guess the marketing people are saving their Schwarzenegger footage for later.

Schwarzenegger’s listed in the film as The Terminator but still there are questions about his role. Is Schwarzenegger playing another T-800 terminator living in secret as an old man or could it be he is also playing a man who eventually becomes the flesh template Model 101 for the T-800 terminators?

What I find intriguing is that Schwarzenegger’s body double in Terminator Genisys, Brett Azar, was rehired for a still undisclosed role in this new movie. In Genisys, he played the young T-800 terminator (with a digital copy of Schwarzenegger’s face pasted over his) and it is likely that he will be playing a very similar role here. This uncertainty keeps me interested in Terminator: Dark Fate.

As for the computer-generated imagery (CGI) used for the new, evil Terminator played by Gabriel Luna, they sure look fake! Definitely not photo-realistic! Could someone please push the CGI people to improve their work?!

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CGI so fake looking, this one took me out of the trailer’s concept.

Soon enough we will see what the filmmakers have to offer in the next trailer. Here is hoping that with James Cameron involved, Terminator: Dark Fate will truly reinvent the Terminator concept and deliver something fun and memorable.

Terminator: Dark Fate will be released in cinemas worldwide this October.

A Look Back at Macross: Do You Remember Love?

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Do I remember love? Absolutely and love comes in many different forms which I experienced in life. There is love from God and His Son Jesus as referred to in 1 John 4: 9-10 in the Holy Bible (New King James Version or NKJV).

There is also love of the family. Love with friends. Love of doing things or enjoying personal interests. Love on spreading the Good News to others.

And among those personal interests is anime and the main reason I love anime is because of my love for the Super Dimension Fortress Macross TV series of the early 1980s. Called Macross for short, that anime TV series engaged me a lot not only as a geek but also as a person. I also learned about the challenges that come with dealing with war, dealing with an enemy because they’re only different and survival.

So yes, I do remember love!

More on Macross, I am here to share to you all my revisit of what is my all-time favorite anime movie ever – Macross: Do You Remember Love? 

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Macross: Do You Remember Love? (full title – Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?) was released in Japan on July 1984 where it was greeted by very long lines of fans. The movie was made with the fans in mind and many of the same creators and talents behind the famous Macross TV series (1982-1983) returned to bring back to life all the characters, all the robots and mechs, all music and many other elements that made the series lovable in the first place.

Running less than two hours, Macross: DYRL is a big budget retelling of the first twenty-seven episodes of the TV series albeit with some new concepts and adjustments made to add depth to the movie. As it is impossible to condense everything from the said 27 episodes into a single movie, the film took key story elements from the series and came up with a plot that not only featured fresh ideas but also honored the series in creative ways. The good news about this approach is that it worked nicely.

The story begins in space where the Macross SDF-1 was already moving with tens of thousands of people living in a city inside its metallic structure. During a big attack by the Zentradi (giant alien humanoids), some Zentradi soldiers infiltrated the city inside SDF-1 and among people affected is the star singer Lynn Minmay. Coming from nowhere, pilot Hikaru Ichijyo used his Valkyrie to rescue Minmay from a Zentradi soldier as well as from certain death of the free fall that followed. Because he saved Minmay’s life, Hikaru was spared from military punishment for disobeying Lieutenant Misa Hayase during battle.

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Because a relationship between Hikaru and Minmay developed, the two dated and even managed to sneak out of the space fortress with a training aircraft to explore the ring of planet Saturn. The two got caught by Lieutenant Hayase (accompanied by Minmay’s relative and manager Lynn Kaifun) but before they could return to the Macross, they got attacked by Zentradi forces nearby. The plot deepens further as soon as they got captured.

As it involved Shoji Kawamori (whom I met during the 2017 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila), Haruhiko Mikimoto, Narumi Kakinouchi, Kentaro Haneda, Sukehiro Tomita, Arihirio Hase, Mika Doi ad Mari Iijima, Macross: DYRL carries so many elements from the TV series that strongly resonated with fans.

Mari Iijima is fantastic in her dramatic portrayal of Minmay and she also proved excellent in her singing of classic Macross songs Sunset Beach, Zero-G Love and Shao Bai Lon. The standout song of all, however, is Do You Remember Love composed by Kazuhiko Kato and Iijima’s performance of it was also excellent.

When it comes to spectacle, Macross: DYRL is a stunner even by today’s standards. The visuals are great to look at. The triple-transformation of fighter planes into robots (Valkyrie, Gerwalk and Battroid) are always delightful to watch. The action is plentiful and at the same time very fast-paced for the eyes to enjoy. Heck, even the character redesigns of the Zentradi alone made this movie have an edgy and somewhat dark feel.

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The beauty of it all is the fact that the all the animation is hand-drawn the old-fashioned way! No computer-generated polygons shaded with cels here. Every frame of animation was labored by the animators and the colors used remain lively to look at.

With regards to storytelling, the movie has a solid narrative even though it lacked some background explanations. Of course, there were questions raised like why are the Zentradi and Meltrandi gender-isolated and each have an army? (note: in the TV series the Zentradi is composed of males and females). Why is the origin of the Macross SDF-1 in the movie different from what was portrayed in the anime series? Why is the Supervision Army non-existent?

The good thing about the narrative is the shorter yet engaging portrayal of the Hikaru-Minmay-Misa love triangle. As this is a movie, the triangle’s conflict is minimal and free of the excess baggage of what was portrayed in the TV series. Without spoiling too much, I can say that the development of relationships between Hikaru with Minmay and with Misa is believable. There is no way any viewer can complain that Hikaru is boyish (his trait in the TV series) when deciding whom to love.

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As it was made for the fans, newcomers will unsurprisingly have some trouble understanding Macross: DYRL, its concepts and characters. They can enjoy the visuals and spectacle if those are what they are looking for. Still Macross: Do You Remember Love? can serve as an inspiration for newcomers to start digging the past of Macross by watching the 1980s anime TV series (especially the first 27 episodes).

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Macross: Do You Remember Love? remains a truly great anime movie to watch and it is truly a classic in every sense of the word. Being a big budget retelling of the first 27 episodes of the Macross TV series, this movie serves as the fans’ bridge to the past and yet it also moves the entire franchise forward in terms of artistry, expression and quality. There is so much to love in this movie – the characters, the robots, the transformations, the action, the sci-fi concepts and more.

With its undeniable greatness, Macross: Do You Remember Love? is ultimately why I remember my love for anime.

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Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to your fellow Macross and anime fans.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com