Reviews of “Terminator: Dark Fate” and “Parasite”

Daniella Ramos (Natalia Reyes), her friends call her Dani, works at a car assembly plant in Mexico City. She struggles to keep her job, support her YouTube-singing-sensation-in-training brother Diego (Diego Boneta) and make sure her father gets to his doctor’s appointment on time. She doesn’t know her importance to a post-apocalyptic future will make her the target of two time travelers. Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is an augmented human soldier sent to protect her from a Rev-9 terminator (Gabriel Luna), sent to kill her. Grace’s augmentations only allow for short burst combat. If she can’t kill the terminator quickly, she will likely die. The Rev-9 has a liquid metal exterior and a metallic internal skeleton that can separate, allowing for a two-pronged attack. When the Rev-9 is about to kill Dani and Grace, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) shows up with high-caliber guns and a rocket launcher, giving Grace and Dani a chance to escape. While hiding out in a hotel, Sarah explains how she and her son John changed the future, saving billions of lives, and Grace explains how an A.I. called Legion, designed for global warfare, tried to wipe out humanity and unleased terminators to finish the job. Dani asks Sarah how she knew to be on that part of the highway at that time to save them. Sarah tells her how she receives text messages with coordinates, date and time. She shows up and kills what ever arrives. Grace traces the messages to Laredo, Texas, where they find a T-800 model that calls itself Carl (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Carl has learned to mimic humanity, developing his version of a conscience, and agrees to help protect Dani and try to kill the Rev-9.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” is the sixth film in the “Terminator” franchise. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in all six in either a primary role or via digital manipulation. Linda Hamilton has appeared in three. All the other surrounding characters have been different or played by different actors. From James Cameron to “Deadpool” director Tim Miller, there have been some impressive people behind the camera, producing and writing all these films. And yet, they can only think to rewrite the same story over and over again. While this film has put much of the old band back together, “Terminator: Dark Fate” shows how his franchise is just a rehashing of a one-hit wonder.

The thing that bothers me the most about the film is the utter lack of logic. I know you must throw common sense out the window when you’re talking about a film whose central tenets are time-travel and sentient killer robots, but there are a few things that should be central to your storytelling. For instance, they only send one evil Terminator to kill the target. Why not send two or 10 or 100? You have the technology, why not make sure the job gets done? Same goes for the good guys that learned sending a human back in time to fight a Terminator isn’t the best idea after getting lucky the first time. And the evil A.I. should understand that if the timeline doesn’t change the instant your cybernetic killer disappears, it failed, and send another. Also, I know the time-travel gimmick requires the characters to show up naked, but shouldn’t they at least have a plan to acquire the weapons they need to defeat their enemies? Guns, grenades and other standard weapons only slow Terminators down, so find what you need to kill them quickly. Of course, this means the movie will only be about 30 minutes long, but you could do other things, in the dystopian future for example, to lengthen the film. I know I’m wasting characters with these thoughts, but this is the kind of thing that takes me out of a film like this.

Otherwise, “Terminator: Dark Fate” is a decent action/sci-fi film. It’s nice to see Hamilton and Schwarzenegger together again. Arnold is in fine form playing against type as Carl discusses the fine art of interior design with Dani. Sarah and Grace dislike each other on sight and that makes for some entertaining threats of bodily harm. While her transformation from scared waif to badass warrior occurs a bit too quickly, Natalia Reyes gives Dani a nice grounding in reality. She’s a hard-working young woman, dedicated to her family and thrown into an impossible situation. Reyes gives the role some much needed authenticity. Having Mackenzie Davis’ Grace saddled with a clear weakness is a departure for the series. Of course, it shows up at the worst time but doesn’t it always. Gabriel Luna’s Rev-9 is more advanced and more dangerous than the other Terminators as he’s a better mimic of human emotion. Playing a Terminator may be a great job on your resume, but it probably isn’t one for the actor’s highlight reel as it doesn’t call for a great deal of emotional range. Luna is very good in a role that doesn’t ask much of his talent.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. There are a great many deaths in the film from shootings to stabbings to car crashes. There is blood and some gore, but it isn’t over the top. Most of the fights occur between the two time travelers, with Luna’s Rev-9 having his liquid metal exterior peeled off in various violent ways. The nudity is when both visitors from the future arrive naked. We see mostly backsides and no frontal. Foul language is scattered.

There are several big action scenes and fights. A couple of military planes are destroyed, multiple cars crashed, a turbine at a hydroelectric dam is blown up and more. The fights between Rev-9 and Grace are mostly CGI and merely time fillers. We know both are going to be there at the end as that is how every version of the “Terminator” franchise has gone. Racking up worldwide ticket sales approaching $2 billion (unadjusted for inflation) means these films will keep coming. However, with an opening domestic weekend gross of an estimated $29 million (one of the lowest of the franchise) and a production budget north of $185 million, perhaps “Terminator” fatigue is setting in. Producer James Cameron is working on his 50 sequels to “Avatar” so he may not have had the time to fully devote to this project. Whatever the reason, perhaps this is a sign to let this franchise meet its dark fate.

“Terminator: Dark Fate” gets two stars out of five.

A family of grifters lives in their small, semi-underground apartment in a South Korean city. The oldest son, Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), hears of a job teaching English to the teenage daughter of a wealthy family. He gets his sister Kim Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) to create documents on a computer to make it look like he’s in college and qualified to teach. Ki-woo is hired by Mrs. Park (Cho Yeo-jeong) under the name Kevin to teach her daughter Da-hye (Jung Ji-so). Mrs. Park brags about the artistic ability of her young son Da-song (Jung Hyun-joon) and Kevin says he knows of a brilliant teacher named Jessica who is actually his sister Ki-jeong. Mrs. Park is impressed by Jessica’s stoic and disciplined teaching style and hires her immediately. Soon, the Kim’s get both Mr. Park’s (Lee Sun-kyun) chauffer and their housekeeper, Gook Moon-gwang (Lee Jung-eun) fired, replacing them with Mr. and Mrs. Kim, both with fake names. The Park’s go on a camping trip celebrating Da-song’s birthday, and the Kim’s stay in the Park’s huge modern home, eating their food and drinking their alcohol. They party is interrupted by the arrival of the former housekeeper who says she needs to pick up something she left in the basement. That’s when everything changes.

“Parasite” is directed by Bong Joon-ho, the director of “Snowpiercer,” “The Host” and the Netflix film “Okja” among others. He’s a film maker that’s highly respected for his style and the ability to quickly and believably shift the tone of his films from common, everyday life to the absurd. “Parasite” is no different in this regard. While the family that’s the focus of the movie is shifty and looking to make a quick buck, they are nonetheless a regular family. It’s when a secret is exposed, and plans begin to unravel that the film takes a dark turn. “Parasite” might be the best film I’ve seen in a very long time.

You will be unable to determine the path of “Parasite” by watching the trailer. It looks like a slow-burn horror film, but it isn’t. It’s a domestic comedy focusing on class differences and the vapid nature of those wrapped up on their wealth, until it isn’t. Then it becomes a tense thriller, until it isn’t. “Parasite” is a film that must be seen to be believed, and even then, you might not believe it.

The entire cast is amazing. Choi So-dam plays the English teacher and is also the semi-leader of the family. Many of the grifts and cons the family attempt are his ideas and he prepares the family for their roles. Park So-dam plays the sister and she may be the most dangerous member of the family. She is cold, calculating, and has a level of anger just below the surface. While her brother is the brains of the operation, she is smarter and more conniving. The focus of the film is on these two characters and how their actions drive the story forward until it is all upended by a revelation two-thirds of the way through the movie.

There isn’t much I can tell you about “Parasite” as I don’t want to spoil it for you. There are twists and turns that must be enjoyed from ignorance. It is best to see the film with as little knowledge as possible so it can spring on you like a wild animal and change what you believe you know. It’s the kind of film that sticks with you and makes you think about it long after you leave the theater. I cannot recommend the experience highly enough.

“Parasite” is rated R for language, some violence and sexual content. The violence is minimal but is jarring as it is unexpected. There is some blood. There is a scene of a couple engaging in foreplay on a couch. There is no nudity, but there is some graphic feeling up and language. Foul language is scattered.

“Parasite” won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier in 2019. It has also won various awards for acting, writing and directing at other film festivals. However, the best reward it can get is at the box office where, worldwide, “Parasite” has earned over $106 million as of this writing. You should hunt it down in your community, ask management of a theater to show it if it isn’t in your town, or add it to a wish list on a streaming service. The film is in Korean, so you will have to read subtitles, but don’t let that get in the way of a rare and unique moviegoing experience.

While this review is short, it is not an indication of my feelings for “Parasite” as it is one of the best films I’ve seen all year and possibly ever. Move Heaven and Earth to see it. You won’t regret it.

“Parasite” gets five stars.

Four new films open this week and I’ll see at least one of the following:

Doctor Sleep—

Last Christmas—

Midway—

Playing with Fire—

Listen to “Comedy Tragedy Marriage,” a podcast I do with my wife about life, love and entertainment. You can find it anywhere you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.