Terminator: Dark Fate (dir. Tim Miller, 2019) – A newly modified Terminator hunts down Dani Ramos, whose survival may just depend on a cyborg from the future and a familiar saviour.
Should Genisys have been the final nail in the coffin, fans would have revelled. But that would only be gravely underestimating the resilience of the T-800, who has over and again promised us otherwise. And so The Terminator is back once more in Dark Fate, which wisely ignores the subpar Rise of the Machines, mildly entertaining Salvation, and the unwatchable Genisys.
For a while, the supposed threequel looks promising. James Cameron’s best works will finally get their due proper end… Or so we were led to believe. Instead, T1 and T2 proved to be for naught as the Terminator succeeds in killing off John Connor, right in the very first act. Easily. Without so much as a scuffle. Just like that, the arduous journey of Sarah and Kyle Reese comes to mean nothing in this new, altered timeline.
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In the Shadow of the Moon (dir. Jim Mickle, 2019) – Officer Thomas Lockhart spends decades tracking down a mysterious serial killer, who resurfaces every nine years.
In 1988, several strangers die gruesome deaths across the country at the same time, and the police are no closer to a motive. That is until one victim’s dying words points to an unidentified suspect – a young black woman in a hoodie (Cleopatra Coleman).
Officers Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) and Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) manage to track down the alleged serial killer at the train station, only to witness her fatal accident. Not before she calls Lockhart by name and predicts the birth of his daughter.
The incident, followed by the shock of his personal tragedy, sends him spiralling down a dark rabbit hole as he goes on an obsessive hunt for elusive answers. A glimmer of hope comes in the return of the killer nine years later, alive and unaged.
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Ad Astra (dir. James Gray, 2019) – Astronaut Roy McBride goes on a deep space expedition to uncover the truth about his missing father, whose mission now threatens the Earth.
A meditative and thoughtful space odyssey, Ad Astra is beauty to behold on the surface and within.
Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) steps out of his spacecraft, and perches on a towering antenna on a regular maintenance mission. All appears to go well. Then, a power surge strikes with sudden force. He floats to a neighbouring rig, attempting to shut off the voltage, but the damage is done. His pulse remains steady. He looks down at the majesty of the Earth beneath.
It is a heart-stopping opening that does well to introduce the man of the hour in Ad Astra. His stoicism wavers not even in face of death, revealing a hardened heart of a difficult past.
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Durante la tormenta / Mirage (dir. Oriol Paulo, 2019) – Two storms connect a woman’s murder and a child’s vanishing, 25 years apart.
Director Oriol Paulo has produced yet another compelling genre film that delivers in suspense and heart, despite predictable turns.
25 years ago, young Nico (Julio Bohigas-Couto) was killed in a car accident after he witnessed a murder during a storm. Another storm in the preesent day sees Vera (Adriana Ugarte) find a way to reach Nico before his death. She prevents his accident with a warning, only to be swept up in the butterfly effect of the altered events.
Something a small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can cause a typhoon halfway around the world, or so claims the Chaos Theory. It rings true for Vera. Her perfect life falls apart when she learns that her child Gloria was never born and that she is no longer who she believed herself to be.
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Alita: Battle Angel (dir. Robert Rodriguez, 2019) – With no memory of her past but a stunning set of combative skills, Alita sets out to unravel the mystery of who she truly is.
Slick visuals and fantastic world-building drive Alita towards her becoming, making the dreary bits worth trudging through.
Neither genres nor audiences can bound Robert Rodriguez. To date, the Desperado director and Splat Pack member has delivered well-loved entertainment in almost every realm of cinema, from the gore galore of Planet Terror, to the family-friendly franchise of Spy Kids.
Alita: Battle Angel thus seems a neat fit for his directorial versatility. Set in a futuristic albeit dystopian future, the manga adaptation aptly treads a delicate line between crowd-pleasing action and almost alienating grimness.
For one, Alita knows nothing her combative skills, made ready for an action-adventure of mass appeal. But her big, shining eyes can be deceptive. Darkness lurks in her history, as well as the post-apocalypse society of the future that has no place for the innocent.
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