Dante’s Peak (1997)

A vulcanologist arrives at a countryside town recently named the second most desirable place to live in America, and discovers that the long dormant volcano, Dante’s Peak, may wake up at any moment. (IMDb)
Flaws include bad CGI, a generic romance, and having both a Terry and a Harry character (that one crater scene where they keep yelling at each other while a guy on the walkie-talkie is yelling at both of them is comically chaotic). It’s good otherwise: the pre-explosion tension builds nicely, the disaster action afterwards is gritty and great (ashy drives, acidic boat rides, and claustrophobic underground treks all have real weighty suspense), and the practical effects hold up really well.
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)