TERMINATOR: DARK FATE | FILM REVIEW

RELEASED: October 23rd 2019
DISTRIBUTED BY: 20th Century Fox
DIRECTED BY: Tim Miller
WRITTEN BY: James Cameron, Charles Eglee, Josh Friedman, David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes & Billy Ray
PRODUCED BY: James Cameron & David Ellison
MUSIC BY:  Tom Holkenborg
STARRING:  Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna & Diego Boneta

I actually saw this movie five days ago, on the 22nd, and I’m only just getting round to the review now; in part out of business and in part out of indifference. That in itself should tell you what you need to know about this film.

But if you still want a full review (you’re here after all, why not stick around?) let’s crack on.

Dark Fate changes up the Terminator timeline yet again. After successfully stopping Judgement Day in Terminator: Judgement Day, Sarah Connor is pulled back into the war with the Terminators once again as she encounters an augmented resistance fighter from the future, who has been sent back in time to protect the Terminator’s new target, a young woman named Dani Ramos, proving that while Sarah may have changed the future, she might not be able to stop humanity’s ‘Dark Fate’ from coming about.

I’m just going to be honest here, bar a few differing details, this is the same film as all the other Terminator films. Someone from the future comes back to stop a robot from the future from killing someone from the present who will have a big impact on the future.

It’s pretty derrivative of what’s come before, just like all the preceeding Terminator films. And while it may be better (made) than Rise of the Machines, Salvation (which I never actually finished – I turned it off after I noticed Terry Crews dead on the ground and found out his scenes had all been cut) and Genysis, it’s probably not as interesting.

The film just does nothing to make itself truly stand out. The story is mostly just continuous action beats, which are cool at first, but eventually become rather tedious, as the new Terminator introduced here, the Rev-9, proves to be pretty easy for our heroes to actually beat in a fight, until it reforms itself, gets beaten, reforms, gets beaten, reforms… Yadda yadda yadda, you get the picture. It struggles to be all that menacing, considering the heroes tear it to pieces multiple times throughout the movie.

Plus, in terms of looks, Gabriel Luna just doesn’t seem as intimidating as the classic T-800 Terminator (Arnie), although that’s not his fault. I’ll give him this; he’s easily the most charismatic Terminator, and I did quite enjoy him interacting with secondary characters when his focus is more on infiltration rather than assassination.

Fellow newcomer to the franchise, Mackenzie Davis, was, in my opinion, the standout of the film. As Grace, Davis is able to double up with genuine emotional scenes and show off her prowess as a kickass action hero. The best action sequences generally came about whenever she was able to get involved, and her inclusion presents one of the most original ideas to the franchise from this film (although just barely)*.

However, her status as THE action star seemed to conflict with the role the creators seemingly wanted Linda Hamilton to play. Returning to the franchise after twenty-eight years, Hamilton takes on a similar role to your Sylvester Stallones and your Liam Neesons; the aged action hero back to prove they can still kick ass better than their younger counterparts.

Except… she can’t. Throughout the film, Hamilton’s Sarah Connor will give some hardcore speech/one-liner and tot some big guns, only to be repeatedly shown up by Davis’ Grace. I don’t know whether that was an intentional decision or not, but if it was, it makes Connor look very out of her element, and if it wasn’t, then clearly they’ve just struggled to find a balance between their two heroes. It’s baffling.

Similarly, the other non-Arnie lead, Natalia Reyes, is forced to play a character with very little actual character. Which I think speaks to this franchise as a whole. Obviously, with the original Terminator films, Hollywood struck gold. But it’s clear now that they don’t have all that much that’s new or engaging to say with the franchise. No new characters to capture our hearts, no new stories to thrill us, or concepts to scare us. They tried a couple of times, don’t get me wrong, but what they’ve settled on is just…

It’s fine.

It’s a serviceable action movie. It has its moments. Davis and Luna are welcome additions to the series, and bar a few CGI missteps it’s mostly competently made. But to be honest with you, I would rather re-watch Rise of the Machines or Genysis. Sure, they’re not all that great, but they’re failings are more interesting than this.

All-in-all, I give Dark Fate:

Also, I’m pretty sure I said this would happen two years ago.

But anyway, what do you think? Have you seen Dark Fate? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

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