November 6, 2019

Get Ready for Xmas Flicks, Blockbusters and Awards Bait

Movie Dope

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE: Dad, I don't care what you say. We're in love.

With Halloween out of the way, prepare for the Thanksgiving/Christmas deluge of holiday flicks, family blockbusters and prestige pics. This week has all three—sort of. Doctor Sleep, an adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, has star power—Ewan McGregor plays a grown-up Danny Torrance—and a capable horror filmmaker, Mike Flanagan, still searching for his first big hit. King famously dislikes Kubrick’s revered classic. I wonder how he feels about this sequel? 

The week’s big-screen Hallmark holiday flick, Last Christmas, stars Emilia Clarke, Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding and the music of George Michael. Paul Feig directs, while Emma Thompson co-wrote the screenplay. Roland Emmerich brings the battle of Midway to the big screen with a cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore and Dennis Quaid. In Playing With Fire, an elite firefighting team led by John Cena gets stuck babysitting some cute kids. If the trailer is any indication, Cena and Keegan-Michael Key could save the day comically.

Ciné currently has two of the year’s hottest arthouse offerings, The Lighthouse, from The Witch’s Robert Eggers, and Parasite, from Snowpiercer’s Bong Joon-ho. The reviews for both films are some of the year’s strongest. Pedro Almodovar’s newest offering, Pain and Glory, is scheduled to start on Nov. 8. Flicker’s 31 Days of Darkness may be over, but Showdown at the Equator is back to present Pray for Death on Nov. 11. The ACC Library serves up Born to Kill under the Film Noir Confidential brand on Nov. 6. The Oglethorpe branch seeks to entertain seniors on Nov. 11 with Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor. Also on Nov. 11, the Grady College commemorates Veterans Day with a screening of Golden Isles at War, which is followed by a discussion with cinematographer and 1979 UGA grad Kevin Maggiore. Tate gives you a second chance to see a couple of summer flicks you may have missed with Men in Black: International and Aladdin on Nov. 8 and 10. 

Beechwood has several one-night-only offerings. On Nov. 6, catch the documentary The Divine Plan, about how Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II joined forces to end the Cold War after both survived assassination attempts in spring 1981. Music lovers who missed the real show can catch up with Lynyrd Skynyrd: Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour Lyve! on Nov. 7 and John Fogerty—50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks on Nov. 11. I always intend to catch one of The Met: Live in HD broadcasts—maybe it will be Madama Butterfly on Nov. 9. Flashback Cinema continues with Thanksgiving mainstay Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Nov. 6 and the best Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard, on Nov. 10. 

So, is the sixth Terminator the one to recapture the T2 spark? 

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE (R) James Cameron, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reunite for the first time since 1991’s sci-fi/action pinnacle Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Three sequels of decreasing quality have since expanded on the Terminator mythology without Cameron as a guiding force. Cameron may only be a story contributor and executive producer, but it was enough to make the best Terminator sequel since T2. Dark Fate picks up where that masterpiece left off. Skynet is no more as Sarah Connor, her son, John, and Ah-nuld’s T-800 averted Judgment Day. Enter two new Terminators, Mackenzie Davis’s augmented human and the new model Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), to protect and hunt a new savior, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), respectively. Good thing another of Ah-nuld’s original T-800s—call him Carl—has been hanging around for 20-plus years waiting for a new mission.

One assumes Cameron is responsible for a movie that feels the most like a classic Terminator since Schwarzenegger’s melted thumbs up, but credit the return of Hamilton’s steely Sarah Connor to pump shotguns once more with the most profound impact outside of Cameron. Hamilton plays Connor like the bitter conspiracy nut she is. One step away from lifelong imprisonment, sci-fi’s toughest mom subsists on potato chips and terminating Terminators. 

Sure, Twitter’s trolls will hungrily lament the franchise’s SJW takeover by three strong female protagonists, who leave Ah-nuld with nothing to do but tell drapery stories that provide the movie’s best throwaway line. The real problem is T2, which has left the franchise with little room for improvement. The Rev-9’s only real upgrade is a removable endoskeleton that seems more like a way to extend an action figure line than an advanced Terminator model, and those nearly 30-year-old liquid metal FX remain far more revolutionary. Nonetheless, even with 10 too many minutes of final battle setup, franchise fans should enjoy this first addition to the Terminator canon since Judgment Day.