‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ // Film Review: But Is it Truly Back?

If you’re a massive fan of the Terminator franchise, then you probably weren’t excited that Terminator: Dark Fate, the sixth installment, was coming out. Nothing can ever compare to the original two films that James Cameron directed, and they’ve been hailed as action/ sci-fi classics. The three sequels that followed (Rise of the Machines, Salvation, Genisys) were less than perfect for a lot of reasons, especially the horrible last one. Yet, if you had no expectations whatsoever, then you aren’t missing out on anything.

What’s the Story: When the machines sent a deadly new Terminator, a Rev- 9 model (Gabriel Luna), to hunt and kill a young woman named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) in Mexico City 2020, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is sent from the future to protect her, only to be helped by Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to stop another apocalyptic future from happening.

Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

So, the trailers weren’t exactly convincing me that this was going to be good. But just because James Cameron is back to produce this, and the fact that it’s going back to the R-rating, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the greatest thing in the world. That also applies to this new movie being a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Though this was directed by Tim Miller, who also directed Deadpool, was the potential or interest still there? While Terminator: Dark Fate didn’t turn out being bad, this should’ve been more enjoyable.

As far asĀ Terminator sequels go, it’s probably the best one that has come out since the second. But that really isn’t saying much. Everything kind of comes down with how the story is being handled, and there wasn’t that came off as surprising, unfortunately. In a movie where you’re supposed to care about characters that are trying to save the future, I wasn’t feeling anything, even with some character development included. The familiar beats from the original two can be easy to notice, which could either mean a good or a bad thing depending on who you are.

Was there a reason for Hamilton to come back? Probably not, but it’s the kind of character that’s the heart and soul of this series. Just hearing the news of Hamilton reprising her role as one of the coolest female heroes in cinema was a slight chance of excitement. Even for 63-years-old, she still crushes this character and continues to show why Sarah Connor was always been awesome. It was a bit similar to how Jamie Lee Curtis return in last year’s Halloween, where she has all the skills and basically the key of their franchise being good. But besides Hamilton, the underrated Davis proved much of her role more than I thought she would be as an action star. Then, of course, there’s Schwarzenegger, and it’s also good to see him back as the T-800 for a good amount of screen time. Reyes’ performance as Dani was fine. She personally didn’t stand out like the rest of the cast, just like Luna as Rev-9.

Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis in Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Just when you watch this, there’s barely anything fresh that we haven’t seen before. the times where it had to be tension-filled was lost and doesn’t make the rest of the story feel all that important when it reaches its uneventful climax. Maybe if the script had better storytelling and had better pacing, it could’ve passed as an alright sixth movie from the start.

But what I found to be the most unmemorable part about this is the action. Nearly all of the action set-pieces were pretty weak. There wasn’t anything that emersed me whenever it was taking place, and it’s sad when it comes from a director like Miller on hand. And it does following a pattern of the group fighting the Rev- 9 and escaping from different locations, rinse and repeat. The best sequence in the entire movie was when the action was taking place in a cargo plane. Also, the visual effects work was just okay, nothing too impressive.

Despite who was involved, I wasn’t expecting much out of Terminator: Dark Fate, and it still ends up being underwhelming. Sure, it’s great to see Hamilton back as Sarah Connor, but it just wasn’t exciting. For me, this wasn’t a return to form for a franchise that needs better ways to improve itself. The times where it was trying to a fun blockbuster doesn’t work when it’s going to be forgettable in about a month. At least it’s not Genisys.

Grade: C

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