Horrorible Review: “Terminator: Dark Fate”

Terminator: Dark Fate movie poster

Terminator: Dark Fate

Over the last few decades the Terminator movies have been messing with our heads. First, with a simple time travel story of a hero coming backward through time to save a woman he loved without ever meeting her, manipulated by that woman’s son, who isn’t even conceived when he gets there. If they survive the awesome futuristic power of the Terminator, so does the world. Easy peasy. Then came the sequels. The second one made an effort to stick with the basic premise, saving John Connor so he could save the world, and a hero coming back to battle the evil Terminator. Both have iconic moments, tag lines and huge messages about redemption and heroism from unexpected quarters.

After that, all bets were off as the remaining sequels struggled to tell the story of John Connor and the end of the world, often by ignoring what had happened before or twisting the timeline out of shape. Connor is a hero. No he’s not. The Terminator is a redeemed hero. He’s a queer baiting caricature. Sarah Connor became a footnote. The end of the world became some kind of apocalyptic fashion statement, with each incarnation straying further from the original story.

I really shouldn’t say much about the reboots of the reboots and the twisty turns of whatever plot du jour each film had, as I only saw T3 and T4 once and quit the franchise, because the films seemed desperate and off kilter.  Now we have a new Terminator movie that bears a strong resemblance to the first two, with a humongous twist right up front that hampers a reviewer’s attempt to discuss it so my head spins like it did for T1 and T2.

I can say that the opening sequence is both taken literally from an intense scene from T2, and a gorgeously rendered homage to the first intro of Our Future from T1. It’s a perfect metaphor for the rest of the film, which uses all of the iconic moments from the first two films to shape a story that really is a worthy sequel. All the moments, including a quick and quiet sunglasses gag that had me and guy behind us chuckling loudly.

The new plot is a complete callback to the first film, which I can’t go into (argh!) without spoiling. Linda Hamilton reprises her role of Sarah Connor and is now a weathered, bitter Terminator killer. We’ve had a great couple of years of old broads coming back and kicking butt, between Carrie Fisher, Jamie Lee Curtis and Hamilton. Arnold is back and as stone-faced as ever. The new faces are Natalia Reyes and Mercedes Davis, who are actually…dangit I can’t say without spoiling. I loved the chemistry between all the players, but I felt the weakest was the new Terminator. Each new sequel has some kind of update on Terminator technology, the risk always being how to make it dangerous without making him or her impossible to defeat. This one should be undefeatable. And the necessary pulled punches lessened the effect. Plus the actor just didn’t meet the Evil Eyes test.

The film is a slam bang action like T2, with many recognizable callbacks and gorgeously rendered CGI. I was enthralled at the nostalgic feel coupled with modern technology woven seamlessly into a solid sequel storyline.

Of course, as with any twisty time tale, you’ll get plot holes. Like, how did Grace (Mackenzie Davis) end up wearing a bra? One scene was completely wrong and a terrible idea when the group staged a talking intervention with the new Terminator and he actually ASKED them to stand aside so he could make the kill. So wrong.

See this movie if you liked the first two even a little. There’s lots of action and a renewed message of redemption and the power of love. The effects are great, and the battle scenes even go on way too long like T2. This is nostalgia of the highest order, reminding us that action films can have a tender heart and be full of plot holes and still be lovable.

Following is a list of Easter eggs I suppose you would call them, where the movie included something from the first two films. It made the nostalgic feelings stronger with this viewer, and gave it such strong ties to the first two that it will be a lot easier to go forward into the next two Terminator films and easily forget the other sequels.

LINKS:

Terminator: Dark Fate – Official Teaser Trailer (2019) – Paramount Pictures

 

Spoilery List:

Factory fight scene, Terminator squishing in the factory, pickup truck bed action, truck crunched Terminator, Terminator pushing out the window of a truck during the big chase sequence, Terminator walking through a metal obstruction, interesting introductions of the Terminators including clothing gags and quips, sunglasses joke, fence scene from T2, Terminator Zen, a pastoral quiet interlude, Terminator updates, standing motionless watch overnight, someone saying “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves”, someone saying, “I’ll be back”.

My pen ran out of ink so there were more I don’t remember.

END Spoilery List:

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