Movie Review-Terminator: Dark Fate
Terminator 2: Judgment Day was not only a brilliant sci-fi/action movie but also one of the very few movies to break the jinx of the sequel by being way much better than the original movie.
Sadly, it seemed to have set the bar too high as the sequels that followed did not quite achieve its cinematic brilliance. Perhaps, recognizing how thoroughly disappointing the last three sequels were (albeit Terminator: Genisys fared better than Rise of the Machines and Salvation), the storyline of the franchise’s current iteration, Dark Fate, was billed as continuing after the events of Judgment Day.
Dark Fate opened with a throwback to one of Judgment Day’s most iconic scenes: Sarah Connor’s haunting psychiatric ward warning of the impending apocalypse. This pretty much set the tone for Dark fate’s rip off of several iconic scenes from Judgment Day throughout its run time.
As with previous sequels, a terminator and a saviour are sent from the future; one to terminate and the other to protect the human threat to a future of AI fascist domination.
Complying with Hollywood’s diversity/inclusiveness mantra, Dark Fate’s terminator, the Rev- 9 model is played by Hispanic actor, Gabriel Luna. The saviour-augment (Mackenzie Davis) and Mankind’s would-be saviour (Natalie Reyes) are both played by women one of whom is Hispanic.
Given the involvement of James Cameron in this instalment as a producer/story contributor and directing duties being helmed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller, one had expected a movie more impressive that the disappointing previous instalments in the franchise.
Granted the whole time travel yada yada of the Terminator franchise where androids from the future keep getting sent to the present to terminate some human threat to the future makes no sense but in Dark Fate, the time travel story made about as much sense as the fact that the Rev-9 Terminator’s clothes somehow took on its regenerative capability post the many fights that should have left him buck naked.
Obviously intent on milking nostalgic memories of Judgment Day’s many brilliant action sequences and smart quips, Dark Fate shamelessly piled on almost frame-by-frame and word-for-word re-enactments of action sequences and speeches from Judgment Day.
But where the action sequences should have impressed, they came on as too overly wrought that they seemed like trying too hard to please and excuse a pointless sequel.
Given the years that have passed since Judgment Day and the tremendous improvements on special effects, Dark Fate’s Rev-9’s tar-black effects seemed underwhelming compared to Judgment Day’s T-1000’s mercury morphing effects.
The attempts at jokes and smart quips felt more lame than funny. The only time anything resembling funny was truly achieved would be from Schwarzenegger’s geriatric T-800 former terminator-turned adoptive family man with a thing for drapery.
Arguably, the most galling disappointment from Dark Fate was its treatment of the Sarah Connor character. There is no denying the fact that the Sarah Connor character (specifically in Judgment Day) remains one of the most enduring legacies of the Terminator franchise.
In Dark Fate, now-aged and sporting an unmistakable head of grey hair, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who, in Judgment Day, was the human equivalent of the T-1000 in sheer unrelentingness, was reduced to an emotional wreck hung up on grieving over the death of John Connor. Her attempt at smart quips and don’t-give-a-damn badass fell as flat as her utterance of the franchise’s most famous line “I’ll be back”.
The only thing truly redeeming about Dark Fate was Schwarzenegger’s T-800/Carl. It was the Terminator franchise that finally found some use and purpose for Schwarzenegger’s stiff and one-dimensional acting style. With it, he elevated the portrayal of an unfeeling and unrelenting android killing machine to an art form all his own.
Even in the disappointing Rise of the Machines and (to a lesser extent) Genisys, you could hardly fault Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the T-800. He always, and seemingly effortlessly, played the android killing machine with enough restraint and understated but highly effective stiffness and deadpan humour.
In Dark Fate, he impressed even more with his patented schtick portraying this time, a geriatric former killing machine who had learnt to feel and care like a human being and adopted one to boot.
In Judgment Day, Sarah Connor, had uttered the famous line “There’s no fate but what we make”. Six instalments into the franchise, it is clear that the phenomenal brilliance of Terminator 2: Judgment Day can never be replicated or topped no matter how many robots are sent from the future.
In the franchise’s storyline, Judgment Day has always been stated as August 29, 1997. With the disappointment of Dark Fate, it is clear that Judgment Day was July 1, 1991, when Terminator 2: Judgment Day premiered in Los Angeles. It is time to pull the plug on Skynet and Legion and terminate this franchise for good.4.5/10