DIRECTOR: Tim Miller
A lot has been said about this film and indeed, the franchise’s return as a whole.
Following on from the soft, in more ways than one, reboot that was Terminator: Genisys back in 2015, this is one of those sequels which are really starting to piss me off!
Not a reboot, not a direct sequel to last film but a selective sequel ad it were, picking and choosing where it wants to pick up from.
In this case it’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), which I have to admit, is a good choice but this approach often fails. Think back to Superman Returns (2006) which ignored 3 & 4.
This tactic of rewriting the franchises history by simply removing the last three films from canon is fundamentally flawed.
Granted, with Terminator 3’s generic action movie approach, which also killed off Sarah Connor, Salvation’s attempt to move the series forward by simply fighting the future war by conventional means, and Genisys’ move to use time travel in a similar way to Star Trek (2009) in order to change the history of the franchise from within the narrative, the franchise had little legitimate leg room.
Dark Fate finally takes us back to the franchise that we know, with Linda Hamilton returning and Arnold Schwarzenegger developing the T2 version of the Terminator into a new character, Carl the Draper.
Right, so about that. Arnold played the T2 terminator in T3 and he essentially plays the same kind of evold T-101 in Genisys. The only difference is that in the earlier films, he was reprogrammed and in this, he has evold naturally.
The end result is a terminator, as with Genisys, which can be played by the now geriatric Schwarzenegger.
Then there is the much heralded return of Hamilton herself. She began life in the series as a meek waitress, became a warrior and now shes a nut case granny!
Now it might sound like I have a problem with these two and their return. The answer to that is a resounding NO.
Granted, I think it is fair to say that I do not feel the need, but the characters which they have evolved into are pretty good. They make sense, though the plot holes and contrivances to get them here are a bit much but this is when we suspend our disbelief and move on.
We are also introduced to three new characters and this has prompted the #MeToo jibes from many fans and observers.
The first, is a male terminator who is a half T-101 style robot and T-1000 type liquid metal, allowing him to split in two and become a double threat. All’s I can say it is Cool!
Gabriel Luna plays the part well with some menace but the old school fan in me still thinks that Schwarzenegger and Robert Patrick did it better, but maybe the REV-9, as this new one is called, is the Terminator of our time.
Then there is Grace (Mackenzie Davis). The Kyle Reese of this film. An augmented human woman, who some YouTube hacks have unfairly referred to as “androgynous female” whilst proclaiming that they are not being sexist, is sent to protect Dani (Natalia Reyes).
Dami is being hunted in traditional Terminator fashion because of her role in the future, but the feisty young woman will quickly find her mojo, too quickly in all reality but still, it advanced the plot and she will become who she needs to be by the end.
Both Grace (Davis) and Dani (Reyes) have both been somewhat dismissed as 21st century female action characters, being shoehorned into “our beloved franchises” by a Hollywood, trying to come to terms with its horrendously sexist history. And I am not even talking about the issues raised by the #MeToo movement. Ultimately, this attitude also really pisses me off!
If they had cast a male hero to fight off a terminator sent to kill him, there would have been outrage and understandably so, since this franchise was build on the strength of Sarah Conner… a woman!
And I do not remember all this fuss over the female terminator in T3…
But you cast another young woman in the role and it is shoehorning #MeToo into Terminator. Obviously it is not.
An what does it matter that we end up with three strong women on the screen in the same shot, kicking ass and holding there own against two killing machines!
So, and now all that is out of way, how about the movie?
Considering that when you need to scrap three films made over the past 16 years, in order to return to a sequel release 28 years ago, from an original low budget neo noir thriller made back in 1984, there is an inherent messiness about this project from the outset.
A project which is literally begging the audience to turn up. Digging up, and I’m sorry Linda and Arnie, but the franchise’s own fossils to draw out the nostalgia like poison from a wound.
The plot, which is safe Terminator fare, with the same plotholes as Terminator 2, namely that The Terminator (1984) stated that the reason that one T-101 and one human where sent back in time kill and save Sarah Connor respectivly, was because Skynet had already lost the war and the time machine was its last ditch attempt to save itself.
But the machine was destroyed and there was no help for either side, coming through.
Terminator 2 tries to skirt round and basically ignore this point. But if time travel is so readily available, they why not just sent loads of terminators, and keep at it until the Connors were dead?
And that’s just for starters.
So every film which has followed has had this inherent issue. Why is it the same format every time?
Ironically, Terminator: Salvation tried to move away from this and due to McG being a terrible choice for director and it being a pretty drab film, at least it tried.
And Genisys actually addresses a lot of these plot holes and yet both are derided by fans.
The truth is, this franchise works best as an ’80 slasher and a ’90 action movie. They are both a the peak of their games in eras gone by.
Everything that has followed has fit the time in which it were made and those times are not natural settings for these types of films.
Confession time. I like ALL the Terminator movies. Yes, the first two are not only sci fi classics but all time classic genre defining movies. And the three sequels where just popcorn fodder, but enjoyable in their own ways not the less.
But that’s a bit unfair. They do try to live to the first two and the fundamental writing is good but their is something special about the originals that is almost impossible to replicate.
And after Avatar, I am not even sure that James Cameron could do it either. Why do you think that he will not risk directing them himself.
He endorsed Genisys but after its failure “admitted” that he only said this “because his good friend Arnie was in it”. Sorry Jim, don’t believe you. I think he did like it, and why not. It heavily referenced his own work and his ego is legendary.
And here he is again, calling up his ex-wife, who has been out of the limelight for decades, puts pen to paper and calls his old mate Arnie, who whilst working, never gets the attention as much as he does when appearing as a terminator these days. Then hires Deadpool’s Tim Miller to take the fall for the negative fan reaction to a franchise that nobody will let rest.
Well… I liked it.
It was good. The action was great, especially the plane sequence. Much of the film was a rehash of ALL five previous films, ironically, but this one gelled better.
The character dynamics felt more natural and somewhat earned. The plot was far fetched at times and situations did not quite make sense, such as the first time the Grace “crashes” due to her increased metabolism and needs to rob a drug store.
How they got away with this was just farcical but this is what we have come to expect from movies these days.
Overall, this is a good time, well paced, reasonably well written and an decent sequel to T2. But the now infamous opening scene which is comparable to the opening if Alien 3, is a mixed bag.
Whilst many would argue that this was shitting all over T2, casually destroying the stakes and success of the previous two movies, I think that it was necessary in order to move this on in to the 21st century.
Still don’t think that this should continue but that is another argument.
The film does what it needs to in order to refresh the narrative and the style is as close as we can get to T2 without making a retro piece.
Enjoy this film for what it is, the next best thing to two of Sci Fi’s greatest films. Definitely the third best of the franchise… to date???