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‘Terminator’, no triumphant comeback

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’. (AP)

Redford to receive career tribute at Marrakech Film Fest

Who will save the “Terminator”
franchise from itself? Not “Deadpool” director Tim Miller, producer James
Cameron or even Linda Hamilton, it turns out.

Yes, despite an A-list roster of talent, including people
behind the scenes who theoretically should know how to resurrect this brand and
move it forward, “Terminator: Dark Fate” is just another bad “Terminator” movie
in a string of bad “Terminator” movies (although better than “Genisys”). And
yet like the cyborg invention behind all of this, they keep coming and are
really hard to kill.

This time it really seemed promising with Cameron back on
board for the first time in almost 30 years. This film was going to erase all
the confusing timelines set by all the sequels that followed and just pick up
where “T2” left off. It was also to be centered on a group of women, including
Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis as an augmented soldier named Grace and Natalia Reyes
as Dani, the innocent being hunted.

Simple, right? Not when there are three screenwriters and
five people with “story by” credits involved.

Like many of the semi-sequel, semi-reboot films populating
the multiplexes, “Terminator: Dark Fate” is at least partially a rehash of the
original, with a Terminator (Gabriel Luna) emerging from thin air (and the
future of course) to kill an unsuspecting young woman. This time said young
woman is Dani Ramos, a nice-seeming but dreadfully underwritten auto factory
worker who lives in Mexico with her dad and brother and takes quite some time
to grasp the life-and-death situation she’s in.

Thankfully she’s got a protector in Grace, an augmented super
soldier, also from the future, who is part human, part Terminator and has been
sent to make sure Dani stays alive for reasons we won’t learn until much later.

“The Terminator’s” original damsel-turned-warrior Sarah
Connor joins their ranks too and it gives me no pleasure to report that it’s
not an enjoyable comeback. Poor Hamilton – who looks as fierce as ever and was
rightfully excited to get a chance to bring Sarah Connor back not as an ingenue
but a woman in her 60s who has lived a life – has been reduced to a lousy
one-note caricature imagined by a group of men. She simply growls her awful
one-liners like “I hunt Terminators and I drink till I black out. Enough of a
resume for you?”

Is this team of all-male screenwriters to blame? Perhaps.
This film is a perfect representation of something that thinks it is being
feminist simply because the camera is pointed at three women most of the time.

But really, Dani is not much more than a plot device and
Sarah is a reductive stereotype of an embittered woman. Even Grace, who thanks to
Davis rises above the rotten script unscathed, has coded “female” limitations –
she’s powerful, sure, but she has emotional and physical weaknesses too.

Comedy

Arnold Schwarzenegger adds a dash of life and much-needed
comedy when he makes his late-movie entrance. Without giving too much away, the
original Terminator has been leading a surprisingly normal life for the past
few decades and it’s a rare delight in “Dark Fate”.

I wish I could say the action made up for the story
deficiencies, but a lot of it is so jumpy and confusing that it’s hard to even
track on what is happening. There are some inspired moments, like an extended
sequence at the Hoover Dam and the high-octane freeway chase that essentially
opens the film. Still, the money and talent involved should have produced
something significantly better. And of course the end sets us up for more
potential “Terminator” films.

After “Dark Fate” the question is no longer who can save
“Terminator”, but who will be bold enough to just let it die?

“Terminator: Dark Fate”, a Paramount Pictures release, is
rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for violence
throughout, language and brief nudity.” Running time: 128 minutes. Two stars
out of four.

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Robert
Redford
will receive
a career tribute during the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film
Festival.

The Marrakech festival will take place Nov 29 to Dec 7. As
previously announced, Tilda Swinton is to preside over the jury.

Redford, one of the leading figures of contemporary cinema,
said it was “a great honor to be invited to Marrakech, to meet creators and artists who
will share with each other their unique voices and points of view.”

“I extend my thanks to the Marrakech International Film
Festival for this generous invitation,” said Redford in a statement.

The tribute will pay homage to Redford’s career as a
director, producer, actor, activist and founder of the Sundance Institute and
the Sundance Festival, which is the world’s first festival to be entirely dedicated
to independent cinema.

Redford initially rose to fame as an actor. He landed his
first Broadway starring role in “Sunday in New
York
”, and broke
through with his performance in “Barefoot in the Park” which earned him praise
from critics and the public alike. In 1969, Robert Redford and Paul Newman teamed to star in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” which became an
instant classic and established Redford as one of Hollywood industry’s top
leading men.

Some of Redford’s best known films also include “The Sting”
which won seven Oscars and earned him a Best Actor nomination. Robert Redford
went on to work with Sydney Pollack (on seven films), Arthur Penn, Alan J. Pakula, Richard Attenborough, Barry Levinson, among others. (Agencies)

By Lindsey Bahr

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