Terminator has always been an odd duck, having two classic films followed by absolute garbage. When the bad far outweighs the good most would agree it’s time to hang things up. But then you wouldn’t be Hollyweird, land of beating a dead horse to a pulp. I think it took so many half assed efforts at continuing what James Cameron left us with, Terminator 1&2, that he simply couldn’t ignore the franchise anymore and had to return, if for no other reason than to pull his name from the muck that is every Terminator movie after T2. It’s hard to believe that it took twenty-eight years to get to this sentence but here it is: Terminator: Dark Fate is actually a good movie, worthy enough to be called a true sequel. I know, it sounds insane, no one is more surprised than I am.
I had zero, zilch, cero hope for this latest embarrassment to be. Genisys is too recent, and Salvation far too existent to be hopeful for this franchise any longer. And perhaps that is exactly why I enjoyed Dark Fate as much as I did, I went in expecting the worst as usual and left with something mostly competent. Never thought I’d see the day. I also don’t say this simply because I hated the previous films, the trailer for this very film left me laughing in embarrassment for those involved. It looked atrocious, absolutely irredeemable garbage. Tim Miller, director of Deadpool was not a selling point and neither was Cameron’s involvement. I believe it was Cameron himself that said Genisys was to be the game changer for the franchise, hyping it up for the greatest downfall as if it was anything but a complete failure. (Genisys legitimately tries to erase the existence of T2 from the timeline. It tries to get rid of the best film in the franchise. Can you say stupid?)
Yeah, Dark Fate isn’t terrible, I can’t believe it either. It is the same exact formula of T2 and honestly, it’s perfectly fine being nothing more than a glossier photocopy of its predecessor. A Terminator travels back in time to kill a future resistance leader only to have said mission repeatedly thwarted by an enhanced soldier tasked with protecting mankind’s only hope for survival, also known as Terminator 2: Judgement Day or Terminator: Dark Fate. It’s in the execution and preservation of what was that makes Dark Fate a viable continuation of the timeline rather than another cringe fest of mediocrity.
The action is actually a positive here as it begins and rarely lets up making for a fast paced sci-fi action film that honors what came before it while making its own path. Each scene ratchets up the stakes beginning with an absolutely enthralling first encounter between killer Terminator and future resistance leader leading into an equally earth shattering vehicle pursuit complete with bone crushing violence and life altering implications for its characters. The basic premise isn’t all that interesting but it manages through fantastic action sequences to keep things fresh and interesting. It’s a rinse and repeat kind of formula with Terminator attacking, missing its shot, reacquiring its target’s location and attacking yet again. This goes on for two hours.
It took twenty-eight years for someone to realize the wheel didn’t need reinventing, just a bit of fresh air pumped into its deflating rubber. You win half the battle these days by simply cashing in on nostalgia, a big draw these days. Who wouldn’t want to see Schwarzenegger and Hamilton team up again? And the appearance of the original John Connor actor, Edward Furlong, it practically sells itself. Add in some stellar action scenes and you are most of the way there with really only one thing remaining, the villain.
Salvation was mostly forgettable for me so the villain isn’t one I recall. Genisys was again an attempt at taking away the best of what made this franchise worthwhile in more ways than one. One of its greatest mistakes was trying to turn hero into villain by way of John Connor. It just didn’t work, any of it. This time around, Dark Fate presents a stoic and formidable foe not interested in talking so much as killing everything caught between it and its target, in this case a young girl destined for things she has yet to comprehend the severity of. Much like the T-1000, the Rev-9 is a highly focused killing machine capable of unimaginable abilities all lending to the overall goal of killing a singular target. Gabriel Luna plays this metallic maelstrom and carries the spirit of the T-1000 within every glare and death stare.
This isn’t a perfect movie by any means, it’s just far better than it really had any right to be. I expected the worst and got something passable, good even. Maybe this is the secret to enjoying this film, go in expecting something awful and leave with a rather decent movie going experience. I’m just glad that for the first time since my birth that a Terminator movie came along and didn’t completely leave me disgruntled. Terminator: Dark Fate is a mostly competent sequel with fantastic action sequences and memorable character appearances, however brief. Give this one a chance, it might surprise you like it did me.
Rated R For: violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Runtime: 128 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna
Directed By: Tim Miller
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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