Terminator: Dark Fate

The latest “Terminator” film, 6th in the franchise, is as irrelevant and insignificant as previous iterations. James Cameron, creator of the original from 1984, can ignore or disregard all the versions he wasn’t associated with (films 3-5), but that doesn’t alter the fact those films and their stories are still in our minds. Despite having so many Sarah Connors, competing timelines and alternate realities, “Dark Fate” opens with flashbacks to the original film, a second opening sequence where Hamilton is de-aged, and then a third sequence introducing the new characters we follow in this script. With one action scene after another, the “Terminator” franchise would be more sustainable as a video game. There are simply not enough jokes in the script about Hamilton (63) and Schwarzenegger (72) pertaining to their ages, still clinging to the roles that defined their careers.

Sarah Conner (Hamilton) might have stopped Skynet from ruining the future for humans, but she hasn’t prevented similar companies from doing the same thing. Grace (Davis) drops out of the sky, from the year 2042, much like the T-series of future killing machines, only she is human. Her purpose is to protect Dani Ramos (Reyes) at all costs. With the unstoppable model Rev-9 (Luna) killing machine after them, Grace is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in her path to ensure Dani lives, the future of mankind depends on it. Conner has spent the winter of her life hunting down Terminators (they took her son from her), and with the help of a secret source she shows up every time a new Terminator drops to earth. Three women from three different time periods must work together as one to ensure the future of womankind.

With one action scene after another, the Terminator franchise would be more sustainable as a video game.

The first big fight sequence, in a car manufacturing plant in Mexico, not only sets the tone for the two-hour action film, but also serves as a preview of the movie’s reliance on visual effects even for the hand to hand stuff. The action is mundane, which allows the viewer to hear the uncreative original score by Junkie XL thumping in the background. The “Terminator” films have always been a slave to whatever technology will allow and while they have progressed a lot since the ’80s, their storytelling skills remain largely underdeveloped. Some of the dialogue these characters say is baffling when you consider screenwriter Billy Ray is an Oscar-nominated writer and David S. Goyer worked with Christopher Nolan on “The Dark Knight” trilogy. Which points the finger at the third writer Justin Rhodes who has no mainstream writing experience.

Hamilton provides the nostalgia and comic relief, using iconic lines “I’ll Be Back.” “Deadpool “director Tim Miller was rumored to have instructed Hamilton to stop smiling every time she fired guns because her enjoyment wasn’t on-brand with the character. For fans of the franchise, seeing two members of the original cast together again after 28 years might be worth the price of admission, but for the rest of us it’s just a bad science fiction flick that serves no purpose when placed on the cinematic timeline. Who really wants or needs this film? Natalia Reyes (“Birds of Passage) is the weakest link in the cast, her transformation arc of moving from helpless damsel in distress to badass literally revolves around a Corona with lime. Davis’ agility and amazing physique will be eye-popping for some, and killing machine Gabriel Luna (Transpecos) will be eye-candy for the rest. Reyes and Luna’s talents are wasted in this franchise, both more valuable to the independent film community.

Final Thought

The Terminator franchise is a product of the 80’s that should have lived and died there. No amount of technology can improve their scripts.


3 thoughts on “Terminator: Dark Fate”

  1. It’s odd that you claim Terminator is a “franchise of the ’80s that should have lived and died there.” The Oscar-winning, critically-beloved second film came out in 1991, was the highest-grossing film of that year, and for many years was the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. There are plenty of things wrong with the subsequent sequels (I haven’t seen this newest one yet), but to claim it’s a franchise that never should have existed beyond the ’80s is just a factually incorrect assertion.

    1. The original came out in 1984. If those movies would have ended with the first or second one, we could have all focused our time viewing something more important than sequels trying to recapture whatever people liked about the first two in the first place. My point was, which you clearly understand but just want to argue because your feelings are somehow hurt by a review for a film that you haven’t seen, and a franchise that you like (which is fine), that like many franchises that have been rebooted for “a new generation” these films have no business in today’s world. I don’t know how many modern flops it’s going to take for the studio to realize that.

      1. No need to get defensive or make snide remarks about “hurting my feelings,” which is just a patronizing remark. I’m hardly a fanboy. I was simply pointing out that your dismissive “it should have lived and died in the ’80s” comment was a very odd thing to say (much less highlight as an excerpt), considering the most popular entry — which broke box office records, had groundbreaking visual effects, and pioneered CGI as it’s still used in blockbusters today — came out in the 1990s and is emblematic of that decade, often included on lists of the best movies of the ’90s (and even of all time!). I agree that the series didn’t need to continue after that, but to say it should have died in the ’80s was what I took issue with. Furthermore, none of the other sequels were “modern flops” — T3 and Genisys made almost half a billion dollars. (Salvation, without Arnold’s involvement, even made almost $400 mil.) The issue with the sequels is their ridiculously high budgets and dwindling returns in terms of quality, which is why Dark Fate may end up being the worst-performing despite better reviews. They should have scaled this thing way back to $80 – $100 mil after looking at the performance of the last few films.

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