You might be thinking ”Oh hey, this came out several months ago”. Well yes, I did skip watching it before since I hadn’t seen any of the three Terminator movies since Terminator 2. Maybe it’s down to the marketing that I didn’t get the memo that this disregards them and is a sequel only to the first two. Now with no new theatrical releases due to coronavirus I found that out so I jumped into Terminator: Dark Fate with same kind of fondness that I had watching the previous ones. Even though we have Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (T-800/Carl) back, the film doesn’t bring back the same entertainment value.
Hamilton is back with resounding fury once again as she really takes over the movie when she makes her cool entrance. The best thing for me with the original films was the fact that they were pure fun and exciting to watch so I was pleasantly surprised how much fun I was having seeing her lead the pack. Dark Fate’s first big sequence takes place on a highway and it is where the director Tim Miller gets unleashed the same way as he was with Deadpool. It feels like a healthy mix of actual stunt driving and inventive VFX, especially with the villain Rev-9 (played by Gabriel Luna) and Grace (Mackenzie Davis). No matter how weird the scene at ”Carl’s” place is, it was a breath of fresh air between all the VFX and killing while also providing some hilarious deadpan comedy that’s reminiscent of previous stuff (can’t get deeper without spoilers).
Even before learning about the constant rewriting the movie went through which explains a lot, the characters are very much the main issue here. The villain Rev-9 is so forgettable it hurts since you won’t remember anything he does or says. He’s (It’s?) also never as unstoppable or terrifying as T-800 used to be. Speaking of T-800, the way that Terminator ended up goes against everything that it was built on so even if it’s funny, it really doesn’t serve anything. The new characters, Grace and Dani (Natalia Reyes), are very thinly written which doesn’t really get you to care for them as much as for Sarah. Dark Fate overall turns into a shapeless blob, the following action scenes after the highway chase become just a loud mess and it’s just not fun to watch after the first hour-or-so.
Smileys: Linda Hamilton, stunt choreography
Frowneys: Characterisation, story
”I’ll be back”. Well, you don’t have to be. You already did two good movies.