“Terminator: Dark Fate” Returns To What Made The Franchise Work


For decades, the Terminator franchise has opted to largely make Arnold Schwarzenegger its central aspect/selling point. However, since The Terminator and especially Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the series has had severely diminishing returns. So, changes were needed. Original creator James Cameron is back to help shepherd this latest sequel, which ignores everything after the first two outings, and so is Schwarzenegger. That’s not what makes this new version matter though…not in the least. What sets this one apart is the return of Linda Hamilton. Her re-entry into the series turns out to be the secret sauce. Cameron helps re-focus the mythology, but Hamilton is the heart and soul of Terminator. Opening this week, Terminator: Dark Fate understands this, making it the first fully successful sequel within this IP since T2.

The film is an action blockbuster, picking up after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, where Sarah Connor (Hamilton) was able to prevent the end of the world, stopping Cyberdyne and their future machine war. A prologue sets up where she and her son John have been, before delivering a surprise. Then, it’s off to Mexico City to meet Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) and her brother Diego (Diego Boneta). Factory workers, they live with their father and couldn’t seem to have less to do with the future, until a new breed of Terminator, codenamed the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), travels back in time to eliminate her. Just prior to the Rev-9’s arrive, an enhanced super-solider named Grace (Mackenzie Davis), has made the jump to act as her protector. No match for the high tech new Terminator, Grace tries to take Dani on the run, but it soon seems like the end is near. Then, Sarah returns, helping lead an escape. As the three learn who each of them are and what ties them to each other, a message Sarah has been periodically receiving leads them to a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) Terminator model from Sarah’s past. They have a dark history, but this old robot may ultimately be their last and best hope for survival. Tim Miller directs a script that Cameron himself contributed to, along with the team of Charles H. Eglee, Josh Friedman, David S. Goyer, Billy Ray, and Justin Rhodes (Goyer, Ray, and Rhodes receive the official Screenplay By credits, while the others have Story By ones). Supporting cast members include Tom Hopper, Fraser James, and more. Cinematography is by Ken Seng, while the score is from Junkie XL.

Linda Hamilton’s inclusion makes all the difference. Her return to the series is a huge boon. She gives the movie life, turning in passionate work that makes you wish she’d been here the whole time. Hamilton is fully invest and steps seamlessly into Sarah’s life once again, giving the project new/older stakes and making it all feel more human. No single decision is more impactful here than her return to the franchise.

At the same time, Terminator: Dark Fate is more or less a remake of the first Terminator sequel, just without James Cameron’s technical genius or sure hand behind the camera. Now, Tim Miller is no slouch, but there’s no comparing to Cameron. The action is big, and gets progressively bigger, but there’s a repetitive aspect to it. Notably, the standout here, besides Hamilton’s performance/the inclusion of the Sarah storyline again, is the humor given to Arnold Schwarzenegger this time. No longer having to carry things in the same way, this new spin on his Terminator is clever and thoroughly entertaining. His arrival comes right as fatigue is starting to set in, giving the film a much needed second life.

This Friday, audiences yearning for a good Terminator flick finally have another one with the impending release of Terminator: Dark Fate. Though not great, and unable to hold a candle to Cameron’s first two, this movie is the best in the franchise since then, without question. If you’re a fan of this series, the film is going to immensely please you, that’s for sure. It remains to be seen if Cameron and company are going to continue to make more Terminator sequels, but if they don’t, things have left off at a solid juncture.


Be sure to check out Terminator: Dark Fate, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Follow us

Breaking Hollywood News   


UPDATES BY EMAIL

Comments are closed.