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Terminator: Dark Fate

The sixth entry in the enduring ‘Terminator’ series, ‘Dark Fate’ highlights the quote ‘the law of diminishing returns’. The producers appear determined to squeeze every last dollar from the franchise as it regurgitates previously told plotlines. This makes ‘Dark Fate’ feel very familiar with originality taking a back seat. Only ‘Terminator’ die-hards may get a kick out of a film from an increasingly desperate series.

When a new terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent from the future, all hell breaks loose. Its target is Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) who holds the key to mankind’s survival. Only Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and an older terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) can protect her. With so much at stake, the fight for the future becomes an intense battle to the death.

Tim Miller directs this frequently tired-looking ‘Terminator’ instalment. The performances, script and visuals all exhibit a drab, grey hue preventing any genuine colour. ‘Terminator 2’ remains the best entry, as it had all the elements needed for an epic adventure. ‘Dark Fate’ has none of that as it takes itself far too seriously with tiresome earnestness.

Even the acting doesn’t provide much solace. Whilst a ‘Terminator’ movie isn’t known for its thespian marvels, the actors at least conveyed genuine emotion amongst the action. Only Schwarzenegger has any life to his welcome appearance with the rest phoning things in. Action-wise it’s hit and miss as the story rehashes plot points done far better previously.

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ proves why the ‘Terminator’ concept shouldn’t have become an ongoing series. It only had a limited idea that by its sixth film is stretched to breaking point. Only the occasional action scenes enlivens a rather dour and boring affair with the only bright moment is when it finally ends.

Rating out of 10: 5

Gemini Man

Technology is a huge bonus for science fiction films. Every year sees a movie grabbing any new technological advance in order to aid its story. ‘Gemini Man’ has made boasts about its use of de-ageing wizardry. Featuring the lead actor as younger/older versions of himself which mostly works. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of a plot as derivative as more poorly made productions.

Government assassin Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is looking to end his long career. His retirement plans are thwarted when a mysterious person attempts to kill him. Discovering his assailant is a younger cloned version of himself, Brogan seeks answers. He thinks he may find it with Clayton Varris (Clive Owen). The sinister head of a deadly organization, Varris holds the fate of Brogan’s life in his hands.

Ang Lee directs ‘Gemini Man’ with a leaden hand. It’s strange why he should as works such as ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ found him soaring with his imagination. ‘Gemini Man’ is the opposite. Cliched, uninspired with unmemorable action scenes, we’ve seen it all before. The gimmick of ‘Will Smith doubles’ generally works although the meagre plot drags any gains down.

Not even the performances can lift ‘Gemini Man’ from the doldrums. Smith and his co-stars are fine even if they convey little passion. Whilst Ang Lee is a gifted director, he has trouble eliciting forceful performances. Everyone is going through the motions with stunts occasionally enlivening a pedestrian screenplay.

Whilst technology has pushed sci-fi films and TV into other realms, it sometimes adds little. ‘Gemini Man’ offers an enfeebled plod through a catalogue of science fiction tropes. Story is always the key as it unlocks a world of wonder that ‘Gemini Man’ sadly lacks.

Rating out of 10: 5