Title: Terminator: Dark Fate
Release Date: November 1st, 2019
Studio: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures
Director: Tim Miller
Release Format: Theatrical
Terminator: Dark Fate brings back many things that fans love about the series. A mix of old and new faces and good ol’ robots getting blown up action.
The film revolves around Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and a hybrid named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) protecting the future’s savior Dani from possibly the most dangerous Terminator yet.
Dark Fate has a shocking opening that keeps the high energy going until the credits hit. Mix in some genuinely funny lines and great performances to make for a Terminator film fans have waited for.
Terminator: Dark Fate’s biggest flaw, for all of its entertaining action sequences, is the”been there, done that” feeling. I was moments away from quitting this journalism thing and opening my own psychic shop, the way so many plot points were predictable.
This experience has everything that comes to mind when you think of a blockbuster. I came out very satisfied and yet there was this nagging feeling of deja vu.
Solid Steel Leads
The strong leads keep this experience going even when it spins its wheels at times. Sarah Connor is still the toughest chick in cinema and Hamilton nails it. Connor is that senior who has been hunting these killer robots for too long as she guides the freshman, showing why her body count is higher than all their ages combined.
Grace is an awesome new addition as her cybernetic enhancements and the drama surrounding it adds cool twists. She has some of the best action sequences in the movie that could make Arnold blush.
There are a lot of great action sequences that got my blood pumping on top of fan service moments that had me giddy. Well, that is until Dani opens her mouth.
Speaking of the other new protagonist, Dani is underdeveloped and unlikeable. You’ll sit there hoping there Terminator gets her so the future can have a chance at a more interesting savior.
If you got this far, you read my synopsis of the movie earlier and it definitely felt like you could apply that to any other entry in the series.
As mentioned above, the real problem here is that there has been so much Terminator media since T2 where other possible storytelling avenues have already been told. Anytime a twist happened here, it just made me go “oh that’s like when…” and that’s not Dark Fate’s fault.
The writing here is pretty good, (at points) funny, and even subtly emotional. Transitions from action to comedy to drama are pretty seamless. Arnold plays another great take on the T-800 and will elicit various different emotions from you while on-screen.
While the writing here is mostly good, it also assumes its audiences are two-year-olds. Dark Fate, in many instances, stops the film to spell out what’s happening. I half-expected Dora the Explorer to come out and help narrate what’s going on.
Whose Man’s Is This?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room and ask “whose man’s is this?” as I can’t tell from all the bad CGI. Terminator 2 came out almost 30 years ago and has better effects than Dark Fate. I really had to question if these effects were outsourced to college students using Microsoft Paint.
This is my biggest annoyance with the film as cool practical effects done in past entries have been reduced to high school production CG visuals. Honestly, it’s distracting and had me wondering stuff like “Really? You couldn’t find a real apple?”
The Terminator this time around is played by Gabriel Luna and he doesn’t have much screen presence. You wonder how the heroes will survive him, mainly because outside of blowing up the planet (DBZ style), he’s unkillable. That’s also the extent of his personality, unkillable. How does he like his toast? Unkillable. He is so devoid of anything, there are no adjectives to describe him outside of– you guessed it, unkillable.
Compare Luna to Arnold, who brings such heart and charm to every scene he is in. Here, he’s like the tough and cool grandpa you wish you had. I don’t want to spoil what he does, but you’ll love every second of it.
As much as I enjoyed the interactions between all the protagonists, there was still the issue of the plot seemingly aimless after a certain point. This movie nails that feeling of T2 before seemingly winging it until the credits.
With All That Said…
Verdict: Terminator: Dark Fate gives you your money’s worth with over the top action and fun dialogue between the characters. I was kept engaged the whole time and that’s a rare feat that even Oscar-winning features can’t always do.
There are a few things that bring down the experience like cringy CGI or a recycled plot that feels aimless later on. Yet, I still found myself entertained and a happy camper leaving the theatre. It doesn’t do anything new but I’m interested in seeing where the series goes from here.
What’s your favorite Terminator film? What’s the sci-fi action film of all time? Can these films even be made without Arnold at all? Leave your comments!
- Fun action
- Great character interactions
- Engaging leads
- The CGI
- Copy & paste Terminator story beats
- The script is clunky at points
- Forgettable villain