TERMINATOR: Dark Fate (2019)

Yeah, it’s fine.

Much more promising at the start with good characters old and new, some absolutely belting fight sequences and a legitimately great evolution of the Terminators into the new REV-9 model.

Gabriel Luna is pitch perfect as a faster, meaner twin machine, and the physicality of the role makes for some awesome battles with Mackenzie Davis’ augmented protector that feel right out of a kids’ imaginary action figure showdown.

Honestly, the main problem is that it goes so big so fast and then doesn’t really have anywhere to go — the stakes have been so protracted and epic action fatigue sets in. There was at least two points where I thought we were at the end only to keep on rolling on again into something more huge and bombastic but the stakes hadn’t upped to reflect it.

For example: Did we really need the whole crashing plane bit? It really desensitised me to the ACTUAL peak of the film some 30min later. Like, I get that everyone played UNCHARTED 3 and that part of the game was fantastic, but I think we’ve done all we can with planes falling out of the sky as a dramatic setpiece now.

Overall, chop out at least one action sequence or condense their more creative parts into one of the other scenes, remove flashbacks so you’re 25+ min shorter and you’d have a much more satisfying ride.

Still, FX are great, it’s an interesting parallel (alternate?) timeline and it’s better than about half of the other TERMINATOR films.

Worth a watch, even if it does drag a bit in the back half.

PROSPECT (2018)

A post-goldrush story on a micro budget that makes use of every dollar — the spacesuits and tech are charmingly analogue and cumbersome, medical treatment is harsh, the people are cruel and brutal and happy to kill for the possibility of a fortune.

Held aloft by the boundless charisma of a morally ambiguous Pedro Pascal and finding a resourceful lead in Sophie Thatcher, this is a frontier tale with a minimalist scifi angle.

Enjoyed it, worth a watch.

THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10

One of the things I struggled with most when compiling my top film picks for 2010-2019 was that the decade saw such a dramatic shift to a gilded era of television, much of which matched and even surpassed their cinematic bretheren.

There’s so much that is now possible in the episodic format that was unthinkable even a decade ago, and truly these last ten years represent a new high water mark.

As such, I’ve given my favourites their own list, in no particular order, here:

Continue reading “THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10”

KNIVES OUT (2019)

An old-school whodunnit with modern sensibilities and an A-Grade cast.

Twin lead performances from Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig are equal parts charming, hilarious and empathetic, anchoring a great ride, makes you wonder why this sort of film seems to have fallen out of vogue for the last… what? 20 years? Whenever THE USUAL SUSPECTS came out.

<a google visit later> (It was 1995).

Clearly, any major discussion is spoilerific, but just know that it’s a smart, well executed mystery full of solid performances, plenty of humour and deftly handled class culture undertones.

I was expecting two or three extra twists come the end, but I’m not going to hold that against it.

Recommended!

SIDE NOTE: I’m going to try and add an illustration to each review to spruce things up around here going forward, the complexity and style of which will probably be utterly random. Enjoy!

CRAWL (2019)

Exactly what it says on the box: alligators in your basement in a hurricane and the water level keeps on rising.

Minimalist in concept, capable in its execution, all around a pretty tight little horror film with decent effects and good performances.

Alligators/crocodiles are legitimately terrifying creatures and this does well to dress them up as little as possible — that groundedness really helps sell the dread.

Worth a watch.

THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019)

One half a slow, darkly funny buddy-sailor drama about isolation, one half a hallucinogenic, intense psychological nightmare.

Brilliantly disturbing performances from both Dafoe and Pattinson draped in gorgeous cinematography, stark imagery of tempestuous dread and unnerving sound design.

That it’s filmed in a square aspect ratio only further serves to make it feel like the horrifying relic of some dark, forgotten avenue of filmmaking.

Not for everyone, but those who can appreciate it will find a lot to chew on here.

Recommended for a stormy night.

DOCTOR SLEEP (2019)

A pitch perfect follow up to THE SHINING that makes the world of people gifted with the Shine much larger and much more dangerous.

Compelling characters, fantastic visuals and stylish direction from King champion Mike Flanagan.

A little slow at the start to build the world and populate it, but once it gets going it’s a great take on a classic.

Absolutely worth your time.

MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003)

A solid serial murder mystery decorated with some of the most infuriatingly incompetent police operating under the military dictatorship of Korea in the 1980s.

It’s good, but maybe a bit overshadowed in retrospect by the great things Director Bong Joon-Ho (PARASITE, THE HOST) would go on to make.

Still, worth your time, especially if true crime is your jam.

IN THE TALL GRASS (2019)

Another one for the Golden Age of Stephen King adaptations.

Two siblings hear a voice calling for help from within the long grass by the side of a road, but stepping in they suddenly find they can’t get back out.

Really minimalist and strange, as to be expected from director Vincenzo Natali (CUBE). Some of the CG is wonky and I feel like they could have gone even more minimal and not lost anything of value.

Was kind of expecting a bit more of a twist to the end to really drive home some cruel irony inherent to the story, but even lacking that it was an entertaining, trippy 100min.

It’s on Netflix now.