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Terminator: Dark Fate - Movie Review

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Terminator: Dark Fate

There are few directors out there that have the distinction of making sequels to hit films that not only reach the quality of the original, but surpass it. James Cameron is one of them. He is an auteur that never rested on his laurels, always coming at things with a fresh take for a follow up and never settling for more of the same. It’s what makes him who he is. And while Terminator was bested emphatically with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, one must begin this review by stating that although Cameron had a say in this new installment: Dark Fate, this is not a James Cameron movie--at all.

"It’s all been done before. It is derivative as all get out, and more than that, it’s been done better before"

Deadpool director Tim Miller took the reins of this fourth attempt to follow on from Cameron’s original works. Again, the hope of the studios responsible is that it spawns a new series. Again, they have unequivocally failed to capture the magic of Cameron’s world. Here is why…

Terminator: Dark Fate proposes that Skynet was successfully taken down at the end of T2, but, without giving things away, all is not happily ever after for Sarah Conner and her son, John. The film then jumps a couple of decades to now, and two time travelling and opposing forces orb into Mexico to find a new hope for humanity. It turns out our reliance on technology is cyclically self-destructive. Instead of Skynet, the very biblical sounding Legion rises and starts the whole apocalyptic shebang again.

The new bad guy is a derivation on the T-1000 and the TX and (oh, you get the bloody idea) called the REV-9 (Diego Luna), and the protector of the young woman (Natalie Reyes) destined to unite us against the machines is an enhanced human (Mackenzie Davis.) I won’t waste too much time setting up what happens because you’ve bloody seen it six times before! Tacked on to ‘honor’ the franchise and I’m sure commercially understandable factors, Arnie returns as does Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong.

Now, this is sounding like a very hostile review, and I’ll get to why I was unimpressed in a moment. But I want to temper my summation with the admission that many factors of this production are first rate. All the original actors and the new cast are top drawer performers and fill their respective characters competently. The action set pieces are big and bold and impressive (if sometimes inconsistent) in their scale and carnage. The direction of such a mammoth canvas from Miller is equally competent.

It isn’t a terribly written script either, but it’s wholly unoriginal and Miller’s renowned potty mouth might serve to add a few more fucks to the proceedings for an R rating, but it adds nothing to the story. In fact, none of the subplots, added for alleged surprise or complexity, find their mark. It shows no identity of its own from writers David Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray. It’s just a lazy Xerox of previous entries.Terminator: Dark Fate

So what’s my main problem? It’s all been done before. It is derivative as all get out, and more than that, it’s been done better before. Miller fails on every level to bring anything remotely new to this entry. Changing the colour of the terminator, the sex of the future’s savior, and the types of vehicles destroyed from scene to scene does not justify another round in this universe. And after so many of the previous entries befell the same weakness, it is inexcusable.

The reason Cameron’s follow up worked was because he, as he always does, offered something completely new, technically, narratively, in every way you can think of. His two entries are completely different films, not paint by numbers guff like this and the other sequels. Cameron has never admitted it fully, but one gets the sense that the story, as he conceived it, is long done. And that is what these movies keep making this reviewer feel. I have absolutely no interest in seeing what the dull carbon copy tendril left at the end of this film promises. We’ve already seen where it leads: more of the same.

2/5 stars

Terminator: Dark Fate


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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

MPAA Rating: R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.
128 mins
: Tim Miller
David S. Goyer; Justin Rhodes; Billy Ray
Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis
: Action | Adventure | Sci-fi
There's no place left to hide.
Memorable Movie Quote: "My name is Sarah Connor. I've never seen one like you before. Almost human."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 1, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

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