Terminator: Dark Fate – 4 out of 5
The Terminator franchise is a bit of a mixed bag of quality. The initial film is, in my opinion, okay and does a great job of establishing the whole series but it’s honestly not one of my favorite films. Terminator 2: Judgment Day, on the other hand, is awesome-sauce to the max! Killer film from beginning to end with exciting action, a fantastic antagonist, and endless memorable moments. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is not great. It has its moments but it is definitely a weak follow-up (but maybe I should do a “It’s Not All Bad…” to that one). Terminator: Salvation was pretty much unwatchable and Genisys is serviceable. Terminator: Dark Fate is here to fix those issues by retconning Salvation, Genisys and the television show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This film is a direct sequel to Judgment Day and it is the best Terminator film to come out in the last twenty years!
|Red eyes again?!? Get out of your comfort zone, Killer Robots, and try something new!|
It was thought Judgment Day was stopped by the future was only changed and machines still wipe out mankind. In an effort to protect a very important young woman named Dani (Natalia Reyes), the human resistance sends back a cybernetically enhanced soldier named Grace (Mackenzie Davies) to protect her. However, the machines have sent back their own killing machine, the dangerous Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) to kill Dani. The fight seems hopeless until they are met with a tough-as-nails woman who is no stranger to the Terminators; Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), and a rogue T-800 model that found itself lost in the present after Skynet ceased to exist (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Now, together, they will destroy the Rev-9 and make sure that the future is once again safe for humanity.
|If action movies have taught me anything it's that rebar is only used for impaling enemies|
and is not used at all for construction.
After a lot of disappointments with the Terminator franchise, I was a touch hesitant about Dark Fate. After watching the trailer, I was cautiously optimistic about the film (and I heard some great reviews about it too) but I couldn’t bring myself to pay to see it in the theater. It was too big of a risk (also, with James Cameron’s involvement I didn’t want to support his work because the dude is a bit of an egomaniac and a shade-throwing asshole and I have little respect for him). I decided I would check this one out when it hit the Home Media market and, to be honest, I should have gambled on this one and saw it in the theater because it was a pretty damn good flick!
|"Do I really have to save all of humanity? I mean, there are some shittier aspects|
of it I'd love to let the machines kill. Like Nazis, for one. Can we let the machines
just kill them and then take out the machines?"
This film is hitting all the right elements for a great Terminator film. It has an antagonist that is relentless and seemingly unstoppable, you have heroes that are tough-as-nails, exciting action and even some decent humor thrown into the mix. Director Tim Miller is really capturing the spirit and what made Judgment Day such a memorable and amazing feature. Finally, the film’s story is branching out in a new direction and isn’t relying on the same notes that we saw before. Skynet is gone, Cyberdyne Systems is no more, and the film opens with a very shocking and completely gutsy move that shakes up the whole franchise. These changes allowed the story to take a new direction but still have the familiarity that is synonymous with the franchise. The future is still in trouble from robots wanting to kill humans but those that are responsible for fighting back are new, completely fresh faces. While it could be argued that the franchise is still doing the same thing all over again, the new paintjob and slight adjustments to the mechanisms were enough to get me invested and make this a very memorable movie.
|"Do you get my *ERROR 404: VILLAIN QUIP NOT FOUND*"|
Dark Fate does a great job of balancing the old and the new as we have new heroes mixing with the old and a new villain. Gabriel Luna has that same intensity that Robert Patrick had with the T-1000. It’s completely unstoppable and won’t let anything stand in its way in order to complete its mission and Luna sells this terrifically. I also really enjoyed what a badass Mackenzie Davies is as Grace. She brings her own intensity to the role where, like the Rev-9, she will stop at nothing to complete her mission but her mission is protection. Davies does a great job of making Grace a pure badass who will sacrifice herself in order to protect Dani but there’s also the human side to her that is doing this for reasons other than orders from her commanding officer. The returning players of Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger are continuing the excellence they brought prior. Hamilton is super badass and has an utterly epic intro into this story. Hamilton is fantastic to watch as she once again balances the emotion her character is going through (and this one she has some real shit she is going through) with the all-around kickass composition of her character. Finally, Arnold is once again a great machine who knows how to bring the destruction and mayhem and can highlight it with some dry wit.
|I have nothing to say here. Just enjoy how epic she looks!|
One aspect I really enjoyed was Arnold’s character. There’s a key element to the story that I’ve been carefully trying to avoid speaking about but his character is a leftover Terminator from this element. The character is essentially lost in time since Judgment Day was ended and, in that time, it evolved and learned what it is to be a human. It even started a family (well, married into one), started a successful curtain business and renamed itself “Carl.” It’s an amusing new direction to take the T-800 that we’ve seen so often but it was a cool new wrinkle to the story as the character is from a future that no longer exists. This ends up playing an important role as this new version of the character allowed for an interesting (but, at the same time, familiar) antagonistic dynamic with the character of Sarah Connor and for a unique way for him to still be connected to the other Terminator. It was a refreshing way to bring back Arnold without feeling like another T-800 was sent back and befriended by the good guys.
|Just like T2, Arnold nails the mixture of being fun, funny, and tough.|
One major downside this film has is Dani isn’t developed very well. One great aspect to Judgment Day was the time given to developing John Connor—especially concerning his relationship with the T-800. There is a connection between Grace and Dani and the story does a serviceable job of exploring it but it didn’t feel as deep as it could have gone. Dani’s introduction and who she ultimately is and why she is important isn’t done poorly, it just isn’t done extensively. There’s very few quiet moments in the film that allow her character to show her depths. The few times the film does slowdown is for Sarah Connor and Carl the T-800. When these two get to show off who they are and what they are going through it is great. It’s just a bummer than Dani didn’t get the same amount of attention.
|On the surface, you understand Dani's importance but, on a deeper level, I would have like|
to have felt how she important she was.
Terminator: Dark Fate proved to be a pleasant surprise for me. The cast is great, I liked the new characters, the story feels like the perfect continuation of Judgment Day and the action is exciting and plentiful. It definitely has me excited to see new potential stories as the humans fight this new threat from the future.