REVIEW: “Terminator: Dark Fate”

Termposter

You might say the Terminator series is the definition of a tired franchise. I know it still has its fans and I’ve certainly squeezed out my share of enjoyment from the series. But there’s no denying that the name Terminator doesn’t stir up nearly the same excitement as it has in the past. I know I wasn’t exactly rushing to see yet another installment.

Here’s another reason I wasn’t chomping at the bit for a new Terminator – the last movie, 2015’s “Terminator: Genisys”. It wasn’t good and (for me) it easily sits as the weakest of the franchise. In an attempt to get things back on track as well as usher in the return of producer James Cameron, the new film “Terminator: Dark Fate” tosses out everything since the much beloved “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”. In other words, T3, Salvation, Genisys – none of it happened according to this new movie. It’s a lazy tactic I’ve never really liked and it was stuck in my head throughout the new film. Thankfully the movie is surprisingly good on its own merits which helps overlook at least some of the convolution.

Term1

Photo: Paramount Pictures

“Dark Fate” begins with a flashback meant to serve one lone purpose – to sever ties with everything after T2. Set three years after “Judgement Day”, younger Sarah Connor and her son John (both CGI rendered) have thwarted the machine-led apocalypse and now live on the beach in Guatemala. They are suddenly attacked by a T-800 Terminator who kills John before disappearing. Just like that “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and everything that followed was gone.

Jump ahead twenty-two years later. A clothing impaired augmented human appears in present day Mexico City. She goes by Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and has been sent from the future to protect an auto factory worker named Dani (Natalia Reyes). From what/who you ask? A new advanced shape-shifting Terminator called Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna). Ruthless and relentless, the Rev-9 has been sent to kill Dani by any means necessary. Grace intercepts and the chase begins.

Tim Miller of “Deadpool” fame directs from a screenplay written by the team of David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray. It’s filled with all of the big action flourishes you would expect glued together by scenes intended to humanize the whole crazy concept. There’s also a healthy dose of nostalgia mainly in the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a domesticated T-800. Hamilton’s Sarah is in hardened ‘been-there-done-that’ mode, snarling verbal jabs and packing an assortment of high-powered weaponry. Arnie brings levity and (of course) a handful of crowd-pleasing action moments that are sure to tickle fans.

Term2

Photo: Paramount Pictures

The new female driven story does a surprisingly good job mixing the old with the new. Miller goes big with several action scenes, none better than a chase sequence in the first 30 minutes. After that the action gets more digitally enhanced and less engaging. It’s not bad, just noticeably CGI heavy. And the story, while starting off strong, basically becomes you standard Terminator tale with slightly different dressing.

But “Dark Fate” still packs enough to make this enjoyable especially for franchise fans. The characters are the biggest treat, the fresh faces and the series vets. And despite the ever lingering scent of familiarity, Tim Miller and company breathe a little life into a franchise that was on its last leg. Does this film warrant yet another sequel? I don’t really know. But one thing is for sure, Terminator movies are as persistent as the futuristic killer machines themselves so I wouldn’t rule one out.

VERDICT – 3.5 STARS

3-5-stars

13 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Terminator: Dark Fate”

  1. You liked this way more than me. I stopped watching it a little over half way . From making John Conner struggle irrelevant to the whole ” wokeness” of this reboot or whatever you want to call this, I truly disliked this thing. I got zero more words and for me, this franchise ends with T3. The rest of these movies I have time for. My score for what I watched is 1 out of 10. The one is for just seeing the credits start. That’s it. Harsh I know but I hope with how bad this flopped, it’s been terminated.

    • Ouch. Yes it seems I definitely had more fun with it than you did. LOL. Again I’m never one to say I’ve been fully invested in this series. I really like some of the movies, but they don’t really hold a place close to my heart. But I did have fun with it. Don’t really care if there is another though.

  2. I might see this one as I admit to not enjoy T3 nor Salvation while I only saw a tiny bit of the last one and I was like…. “no”. The fact that it’s got Linda Hamilton and Arnold kicking ass again might be the reason I would see it though I hope it’s the end of the franchise unless James Cameron gets involved to direct the film.

    • I don’t really have a good answer for you. It doesn’t do much to justify its existence. Well, other than a nostalgic road trip movie. 🤷🏻‍♂️

  3. I liked this one for the most part! Felt like it dragged at times but it’s enjoyable. I also wonder if people would have enjoyed it more had it been released before Salvation… or the very least released before whatever Genysis was.

    • That’s a good question. Speaking of Salvation, I think I’m in the minority. I actually had a lot of fun with it. I k IW a lot of people who didn’t though.

      • I liked Anton Yelchin in it. Honestly can’t remember it that well, think the first time I watched it was when it came to DVD and I know I fell asleep during it haha! Think I watched it again a couple years ago and just found it boring personally.

  4. I was not happy about happened to a teenaged John, but I was so happy to have Linda back, as she MADE the Terminator franchise. Arnold was in a few more, but it is only the first two and this recent movie that to me define the series, all due to Linda!

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