Titanic (1997)

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101-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story of her life aboard the Titanic, 84 years later. (Letterboxd)
SPOILERS AHEAD
A treasure-hunting team recruits an old woman to help them find a necklace in the ocean. They fly her over and she proceeds to move her entire life’s possessions on board before telling them a very long story that does not help them at all. Then we find out she had the necklace the whole time but she doesn’t tell them this and instead drops it in the ocean. Hilariously baffling narrative framework aside, the titular story in the middle is a good one: grandly romantic, exciting, and well-filmed.
7/10 (Good)

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

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An augmented human and Sarah Connor must stop an advanced liquid Terminator from hunting down a young girl, whose fate is critical to the human race. (IMDb)
Get Mackenzie Davis in more action movies STAT and fuck all the sexist “The Last Jedi killed my beloved franchise”-esque hate for this movie. Yeah, the plane reveal takes a step onto the nose and the main plot’s a rehash but the lead trio is so refreshing to watch (see Dani’s tear-jerking use of Spanish at the end) and Carl and Sarah’s history adds some seasoning to the story skillet. As for its meat, the set pieces are phenomenal (see the dam sequence leading to the thrilling final team-up).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

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A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg. (IMDb)
It’s a great action movie–the set pieces are thrilling, the slippery villain excellent, the SFX hold up well, and stoic Terminator and badass Sarah make a great one-two punch of heroes (Furlong’s turn is mediocre)–but its mix of searing dystopian sci-fi and raw human emotion (see Sarah’s fantastic narrations: “Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years…this machine was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice”) make it a great movie, period.
8/10 (Great)

 

The Terminator (1984)

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A seemingly indestructible robot is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a young waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against sentient machines, while a human soldier from the same war is sent to protect her at all costs. (IMDb)
A time travel twist, a garish synth soundtrack, and a (literally) robotic Arnold with one-liners galore (see his choice from the “possible responses” to the cleaner) add just the right amount of retro-futuristic flair to an easily engaging chase-thriller. The special effects are pretty dated (see the stop motion robot; fake horizon at the end) but that doesn’t mean the climactic fight isn’t great or the open-ended epilogue isn’t supremely satisfying (“…there’s a storm coming in” “I know”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Aliens (1986)

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The moon from Alien (1979) has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? (IMDb)
More people, aliens, and guns make this sequel more of an action-thriller than its slow-horror predecessor, replacing the latter’s subtle suspense and relatability with more straight-forward shoot-em-up fodder, but that’s not to say it’s always a bad thing (more aliens makes for a stronger sense of hopelessness; Ripley and the alien Mom’s unexpected final showdown is awesome) or that it doesn’t still have good character work (sniveling Burke is the perfect complement to strong-willed Ripley).
7.5/10 (Really Good)