I suspect there are a lot of us that thought, “Hey, why do they keep wanting to make Terminator movies? The franchise has gotten out of control and less and less worth our time in the theater.” So, really, why another one?
Well, James Cameron came back to take some control of the ship, which potentially could be a franchise-saving move. And as it turns out, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. But whether it’s enough to save the franchise is another story.
In the new installment, Terminator: Dark Fate, they have completely erased all of the sequels and rebooted things so that only the first and second, T2, films exist. Dark Fate is a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. That’s already a GREAT idea.
In Terminator: Dark Fate, Sarah Connor helps a hybrid cyborg human protect a girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.
Sounds familiar, right? Sure, same basic premise, but with some new twists, really great CG effects, some pretty great action set pieces, and even some humor, make Dark Fate pretty fun viewing.
The elements are all here: Mackenzie Davis plays Grace, an augmented human from the future sent to protect Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), who is now the target of the terminator sent to kill her. That terminator is a Rev-9, played by Gabriel Luna. They eventually run into Sarah Connor, played by a very badass Linda Hamilton.
The action starts in what feels like 5 to 7 minutes and the opening chase sequence is pretty awesome. The structure here is much like the first two Terminator films, which is a good thing. There is a lot to remind us here why we loved the first two film so much. There are also the occasional reasons why you have to suspend your disbelief. With science fiction and time-travel, sometimes you just have to accept some wonkiness. But at least here, any problems are small and don’t clutter up the plot or the ability to just enjoy the ride.
In the trailer for this film, we see an older looking Arnold Schwarzenegger returning as the T-800 terminator. Why is grey-haired? How is he aging? How is he even alive at all? They explain that. And it’s all quite believable, too. They manage to keep the logic sound in that particular case. And Arnold’s got some good moments of humor – most of the humor, in fact, is derived from his presence in the film.
All in all, Terminator: Dark Fate is pretty fun. Definitely the best terminator film since T2. The question, of course, is whether we need to keep this franchise alive at all. It’s like the Jurassic Park franchise. I’m getting burned out. If they don’t start doing some really out of the box writing, I’m not sure I can – or want to – take much more. If all they’re going to do is just keep sending terminators to the past and chase someone down, then it just becomes an exercise in special effects action scenes strung together by pointless dialogue.
But with the changes made in the narrative time-line (every action can change the future history), maybe there is a chance to stretch beyond the Terminator formula and create some interesting changes in potential upcoming installments in this franchise. It’s safe to say that James Cameron should stick around in some creative capacity because he clearly had a strong influence on Dark Fate.
Tim Miller does a fine job directing – he understands this kind of material – but Cameron was a writer on this, and he was in the editing room a LOT. Apparently he and Miller clashed on that process; Cameron saying he felt there were too many tangents. If he had an influence there, and surely he did, the result was positive because Dark Fate is pretty fast-paced for a film that’s about 2 hours long.
So, Terminator: Dark Fate is good. Check it out if you like the first two Terminator films. there are some fun surprises, and cool effects, etc. Everything you’d expect from a Terminator movie with James Cameron involved.
Three and a half kittenhands at least. But should the franchise continue? Whatever they write next will have to be stellar if they want people to keep coming back.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, thinking this may be a good way to go out for the Terminator series.