Leading up to the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, I made it a point to watch some of the older Terminator films. Instead of watching the two Terminator films everyone loves, I made it a point to take a look at the weaker sequels. My thoughts on those films didn’t change much as they’re all still not very good, but each film does seem to have their strong points.
T3 has that amazing crane chase, Salvation has some better than expected action sequences and special effects, and Genisys deserves some credit for taking the franchise in a different direction.
Dark Fate pushes the reset button on everything that has occurred since the events of Terminator 2, but the real question is if it will connect with audiences this time around.
Without getting too spoilery, Sarah Connor helped stop Judgment Day in 1997 but its ultimate goal still came to fruition in 1998.
In Mexico City, over 20 years later, Dani Ramos is attempting to keep her family afloat when a new terminator known as the Rev-9 appears from the future with Dani as its prime target.
Meanwhile, Grace is sent from the same future with the sole mission of protecting Dani. While Grace is part cyborg, she is also an augmented human.
As Grace struggles to keep up with the Rev-9, a vindictive and weathered Sarah Connor steps in to offer her unwanted-but-very-much-needed skillset. While Dani’s safety continues to be put in jeopardy, the trio of butt-kicking ladies has to rely on an unknown ally in order to stop the Rev-9 for good.
My main issues with those other Terminator films are that you typically can’t stand the human characters in any of them. Claire Danes did nothing but cry about everything in T3 while Nick Stahl always seemed to be out of breath even though he always seemed to be sitting or lying down.
You didn’t relate to anyone in Salvation because nobody knew how to act properly in between doing nothing but whisper or shout at one another. Eddie Redmayne gets a lot of flack for his acting in Jupiter Ascending, but Terminator Salvation has an entire cast that is guilty of it.
Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke portrayed versions of Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor in Genisys that were too stubborn and illogical for their own good. The backbone of a memorable Terminator film is a strong female presence and these three sequels could never fully establish that.
Terminator: Dark Fate brings Linda Hamilton back to remind you of what she brought to the table in those first two Terminator films. She is this hardened Terminator-hunting veteran that modern audiences have probably either forgotten about or never knew about to begin with. Both Hamilton and Schwarzenegger are around to pass the torch to a new generation.
Natalia Reyes is rough around the edges as the new symbol of hope for the Terminator universe, but what Dark Fate is trying to get across is that Reyes has undeniable determination and potential. She has a strong on-screen presence as Dani and with a little finesse or after she has a few Terminator skull-stomps under her belt, she will hopefully be ready to carry the franchise.
Schwarzenegger is an incredibly different T-800 this time around. Dark Fate toys with a Terminator being able to adapt to human emotion and constant interaction in its own way. It’s a concept that was introduced in Terminator 2, but expanded on in Dark Fate since this T-800 had over 20 years to adapt to it.
This T-800 has a conflicted connection to Sarah Connor and it seems to know that it’s on borrowed time. It has an understanding of dry humor and comedic timing and is quite possibly the most emotionally invested Terminator to date.
Schwarzenegger turned 72 this year, but he looks great for his age here. IMDb states that he typically tries to get down to the same weight that he was for Terminator 2 whenever a new Terminator film comes along and if that’s the case then it certainly shows.
The Rev-9 is a beast of a Terminator villain. It looks to reimagine the liquid effects of the T-1000 combined with the symbiotic effects of the Venom symbiote and the duality of Noob Saibot from Mortal Kombat.
The Rev-9 is part of an A.I. built for cyber warfare in the future and is part of this terrifyingly-dominant hive mind known as Legion, which takes over where Skynet left off.
The creativity that goes into the effects for the Rev-9 isn’t quite as innovative as seeing the T-1000 for the first time, but it is the most inventive the franchise has been in a good long while.
Those other Terminator films made the mistake of having this formula that seemed to incorporate these painful throwbacks to the previous films. How many times can you say, “I’ll be back,” without it feeling like a redundant cash grab? Dark Fate puts its own spin on that and it’s really up to you if the sequel is more efficient at it or not, but personally it felt much more subtle and less overbearing this time around.
Dark Fate seems to incorporate camera placements and perspectives found in Terminator 2 during its most climactic and spoiler-filled scenes. The sequel makes it a point to feature many elements that you loved about Terminator 2 and tries to put a fresh spin on them. As a few examples, the lengthy car chase returns, windshields are shot at and then punched out, Schwarzenegger teases wearing the sunglasses, and there’s a hidden arsenal of weapons.
The homage wasn’t fueled with the overwhelming desire to facepalm yourself until your brain went numb and Dark Fate makes those throwbacks feel fun and entertaining again.
Maybe it’s because I purposely went out of my way to remind myself what the Terminator franchise did wrong before seeing the newest film, but I borderline loved Dark Fate. I feel like it’s in the same vein as Genisys and is essentially what The Last Jedi is for Star Wars or what David Gordon Green’s Halloween is for Michael Myers.
Dark Fate is a refreshing take on familiar characters taking a well-known franchise into a new direction. The special effects are fantastic, the action puts you on the edge of your seat, and you’re left wanting to know where these characters will go next once the credits roll. Dark Fate finally gives Terminator the facelift it’s so desperately needed the past 28 years.
- It finally feels like Terminator is going into new territory.
- The special effects are insanely good.
- Hamilton and Schwarzenegger seem to be having a blast.
- Natalia Reyes’ performance is stiff at times.
- The Grace character is kind of lame overall.
- Will Edward Furlong ever have a substantial role again?