It really is time to give it up folks and if the only positive thing to come out of Terminator Dark Fate is that it finally buries the franchise then hasta la vista baby! Contains spoilers.
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6 Movies, only two of which are good, and an entirely forgettable TV series. Surely by now we are all Termied out?
Who even put in the order for this one?
Aside from a few little nuances—messing with timelines and more plot holes than your grandfather’s underwear—Terminator Dark Fate is another case of badass technologically advanced killing machine playing cat and mouse with an ill-equipped protagonist desperately trying to stay one step ahead.
Who is responsible?
Tim Miller (of Deadpool fame) would lead people to believe that with him in the directors chair and James Cameron on board as a writer and producer, the franchise would be restored to its former glory.
James Cameron was very hands on throughout the editing process of this movie and had some strong opinions about how the story should play out. This resulted in a lot of conflict between himself and Miller. In a recent interview Cameron said “the blood is still being scrubbed off the walls from those creative battles”. One could speculate that this may have pushed Miller to be more forceful with placing his stamp on the franchise, in an attempt to leave his mark on Cameron’s IP. Kind of like a dog pissing on a tree, or Rian Johnson making a Star Wars movie.
There is no fate but what Tim Miller and James Cameron make.
The big draw for this one was seeing Linda Hamilton return to the role of Sarah Connor reunite with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition it was later confirmed that Edward Furlong was joining the cast and also that this movie was going to pick up where T2 left off, thus negating all of the other sequels from the past 20 years.
Terminator 2 is a tough act to follow, easily one of the greatest action films of all time, and all anyone involved with this franchise has been doing since that film is attempt to recreate its success.
We cannot properly discuss Terminator Dark Fate and understand everything that is wrong with it without spoilers.
The story is fucked, beyond anything you can imagine.
It starts off with so much promise as the movie opens with a flashback to T2, specifically the scene where Sarah loses her shit in the psych ward when trying to explain Judgement Day. For a minute or two the audience may feel like this is the return to form everyone had hoped for and previously given up on.
It all comes crashing down seconds later when we see Sarah and John hanging out in Mexico in what seems like the day after the events of T2 and a T-800 walks up on John with a shotgun and blows him away. So they’ve killed off John Connor before the opening titles have even rolled. This is all about the director marking their territory. It’s as if he’s saying, “yeah their franchise, my story, my movie.” Granted, John Connor is basically a MacGuffin as far as a character goes but now it’s time for the audience to meet a new MacGuffin.
They succeeded in stopping Skynet in T2 however a new AI called Legion came about in spite of their efforts and the machines took over anyways. This completely pisses over the whole, “The Future is not set. No fate but what me make” bullshit they prattle on about in the first two movies.
So they drop a new character in, she’s the new John. An augmented soldier named Grace shows up to save her from a new killing machine called a REV9 that’s come back from the future to kill her because she’s well… the new John. Along the way Sarah Connor gets involved and they end up recruiting a retired T-800, the same one that killed John Conner at the start of the film in fact. After he completed his mission he decided to settle down and assimilate into humanity by, changing his name to Carl, raising a family, living in a cabin in the woods and starting a business selling drapes.
I fucking wish I was making this up.
This defeats the whole purpose of the big emotional finale in T2 where the T-800 gets lowered into the molten steel, destroying the final chip and all evidence of the existence of Skynet.
Our heroes a plan to save the new John (whose name is Dani but the way, not that it really matters) by using her as bait to lure the REV9 into a kill box and then take him down with an EMP.
Go woke, wind up broke?
In between the action you get some wishy washy statements about immigration, which could be perceived as some anti-Trump sentiment, as they cross the border from Mexico back into Texas and a whole bunch of “the future is female” messaging with the ladies front and centre during the action sequences. Dani’s not going to give birth to the man who leads the resistance, she is the man.
The movie repeatedly pats itself on the back for being ‘woke’ and highlighting these strong female characters. In actual fact, the committee that penned this story was a sausage fest consisting of 8 dudes merely trying to cash in on what they think is trending.
Natalia Reyes plays Dani (the new John Connor) and is pretty much useless for the entire film, Gabriel Luna is reasonably competent as the Rev 9 but is a poor imitation of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 from T2, Mackenzie Davis is actually really good as future soldier Grace but even her performance can’t save audiences from the stupid plot devices her character has to endure. Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a pass because he slips so easily back into the role and manages to handle it with a decent amount of humour, but you can tell he’s only there for the pay check.
Speaking of pay checks. Sadly, one of the worst aspects of the film is Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. It’s not because Hamilton is a terrible actor but she struggles through some absolutely appalling dialogue and the choices they have made for her character are atrocious. She is incredibly annoying. Compared to T2 where her portrayal of the trauma Sarah endured was so intense she’s been relegated to tough guy dialogue and says shit like, “I hunt Terminators and I drink until I black out”. She sounds like a gender bent Clint Eastwood. It’s lazy, annoying and it just plain sucks.
The special effects are over done and pointless. For example, the Rev 9 can split into two Terminators, and seperate the liquid metal version of himself from the endo skeleton making his ability to hunt far more efficient, but they only do it when it looks pretty. The big action pieces where everybody gets rag dolled through crashes and explosions but miraculously survives is reminiscent of a roadrunner cartoon. It does look spectacular at times and there’s no doubt that Tim Miller knows how to deliver an action scene but there’s zero tension in these moments because there’s nothing new in this movie to lead you to believe that it’s not going to play out like any other Terminator film.
There’s so much wrong with this movie it’s hard to find anything right. Mackenzie Davis’ performance is one thing and the flawless de-ageing effects on Hamilton, Schwarzenegger and Furlong in that horrible opening scene is the other.
Terminator Dark Fate is a laughable, steaming turd of a film and frontrunner for the worst movie of 2019.
They should have sent a cyborg back in time to stop whoever the idiot was at Paramount or 20th Century fox that thought this would be a good idea.