Review | It’s Judgement Day for ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’

As I sit down to write this review, it has been a little over 12 hours since I left the theater where I watched Terminator: Dark Fate. I’ve been able to really reflect on my thoughts and how I feel about this movie.

So get ready for a no-holds-barred, spoiler-free review. Let’s do this.

Nostalgia is Everything

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Courtesy: Carolco Pictures/Pacific Western/Lightstorm Entertainment

…Or is it?

With the Terminator series being my favorite film series of all time, it’s hard–but not impossible–for me to say anything negative about the newest installment.

The biggest ‘win’ Dark Fate had in my eyes was that it felt like a Terminator movie.

Action, check. Insane CGI, double check. Arnold Schwarzenegger, mega check. But, what this movie had in nostalgia throw backs, it severely lacked for in originality.

The safest way to explain what I mean, without spoiling the plot, is to say that if you’re looking for an action-packed movie with practically unbeatable special effects, you’re in for a treat…because they nailed it. If you’re looking to reminisce about the good ol’ days of the original trilogy, it definitely takes you back in time. (See what I did there?) 

But, if you’re looking for Dark Fate to do what Salvation and Genisys tried to do (and failed) …then maybe just go watch Judgment Day again.

Terminating the Story

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Courtesy: Kerry Brown via Skydance Productions/Paramount Pictures

Sitting in the theater with my sky-high expectations, I had every notion to love this film as the next step in a great story. Little did I know that two hours and eight minutes later I would be shaking my head and thinking to myself “What the…Why would they….Seriously?”

Not only did Dark Fate manage to reboot the storyline and end it all at the same time, but it also accomplished that feat in the least original and satisfying way possible.

How could a series known for the ‘predestination paradox’ actually render that paradox null-and-void by acknowledging its existence in the first place?

I know that sounds like a mouthful, but that’s the one thought I had running in my head. Over and over again. Like a broken record…or you know, like a predestination paradox.

This film took everything original about the original Terminator concept and said “Nope, it’s not original. In fact, here it is again but uh…we changed that detail, so it’s new again.” Now I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t the whole point of a ‘predestination paradox’ that it in fact does happen over and over again?”

On that, I agree. When you consider this specific paradox where Sarah Connor is the lynchpin and Skynet is the ‘big baddie,’ then you understand that those factors are key in the story being original and ultimately successful to the audience.

Dark Fate takes that originality and throws it out the window along with any good storytelling that might have been left.

A Light in the Darkness

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Courtesy of: Skydance Productions/Paramount Pictures

Amidst the shock and awful aspects of this film, one star truly emerged. Mackenzie Davis was the addition to this franchise that I didn’t know I wanted.

Her portrayal of the ‘augmented’ Grace was truly superb. Though the script was bland and, at times soap opera-esque, Davis took off as the leading lady (move over Linda Hamilton). She was perfectly original and was the grounding force for the entire cast.

End of the Road?

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Courtesy of: TriStar Pictures

When the Terminator series launched in 1984, the world was introduced to one of the most exciting stories of all time. Arnold Schwarzenegger captured audiences with his monotone “I’ll be back,” vibrato, and physique. Linda Hamilton shined as the bad ass chick who didn’t need a hero, because she was the heroine.

Through six movies, a time paradox was introduced, battled, won, reintroduced, changed, and remade completely. Though not every movie performed as well at the box office, or was admired by critics and audiences alike, they still brought a smile to my face…most of the time (I’m looking at you Dark Fate). Each movie provided its own successes and its own failures.

With the disappointing opening weekend numbers, it seems that though James Cameron had his sights set on another trilogy, there could be some hesitancy in how they move forward, or if they move forward at all.

For this humble movie blogger, it seems that, as the credits roll and droves of people leave the theater, it’s finally time (and maybe a little too late) to say “Hasta la vista, baby.”

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