Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)


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An advanced liquid terminator is hunting a young woman called Dani and her only hope to survive is Sarah Connor along with the help of an augmented human that came from the future.

Plot

*Be aware of spoilers*

In 1998 after Sarah and John Connor averted the threat of Skynet they both enjoy their time together on a beach in Guatemala when a T-800 appears and murders John before disappearing. Twenty-two years later an advanced terminator called Rev-9 appears in Mexico city with it’s mission being to kill a young girl called Dani. It infiltrates the plant that Dani works as her father but is saved the last minute by Grace, an augmented human that was send back in time to protect her, with her escaping with both Dani and Diego. After a highway chase Grace and Dani are cornered by the Rev-9 only to be saved by Sarah that disables it with explosives.

With the three of them hiding in a motel in order for Grace to recover Sarah reveals that she was getting anonymous messages of Terminator arrivals with each ending with the phrase “For John”. Grace explains to them that neither John or Skynet exists in her timeline, instead an AI called Legion took over control of servers worldwide and humans in a desperate attempt to disable it used nuclear weapons resulting in nuclear holocaust. She then manages to trace Sarah messages to Laredo, Texas. After barely escaping the authorities and Rev-9 they find that the T-800 that killed John, now by the name Carl, was responsible for the messages as having a new purpose after fulfilling it’s mission. It then decides to help them ambush and defeat the Rev-9.

To achieve that they gain an EMP weapon but the Rev-9 finds them and the EMP is destroyed resulting in them stealing a C-5 Galaxy to escape. During flight Grace reveals that Dani will become the new resistance leader and Sarah and Carl realize that it was fate that brought them all together. The Rev-9 then manages to catch them with a KC-10 Extender and after crashing the airplanes they end up on a hydro-power plant where they decide to make their final stand. Carl and Grace fight the Rev-9 but both are being overpowered so Dani uses Grace’s power source while Carl drags itself and the Rev-9 over the ledge just before the power source explodes. Later Dani and Sarah watch over a ten year old Grace playing and they set to protect her.

Directed by

Tim Miller

Produced by

James Cameron
David Ellison

Screenplay by

David Goyer
Justin Rhodes
Billy Ray

Story by

James Cameron
Charles H. Eglee
Josh Friedman
David Goyer
Justin Rhodes

Based on Characters by

James Cameron
Gale Anne Hurd

Production Company

Paramount Pictures
Skydance Media
20th Century Fox
Tencent Pictures
Lightstorm Entertainment
TSG Entertainment

Distributed by

Paramount Pictures (North America)
20th Century Fox (International)

Starring

Linda Hamilton
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Mackenzie Davis
Natalia Reyes
Gabriel Luna
Diego Boneta

Running time

128 minutes

Author’s review

If there is one franchise that deserves a better fate than what we got the last few years is definitely the Terminator. An original creation by no other than James Cameron himself, the first film was a revelation for it’s time, putting the franchise into the Hollywood map and cementing Schwarzenegger’s rise to fame after he became known to the world with the first two Conan films.

But it was not until the sequel came out that the Terminator skyrocketed into blockbuster status and Schwarzenegger name was selling like hot bread. But after Judgement Day it seemed like Cameron told the story he wanted and moved onto other things leaving studios executives scratching their heads on what to do with this multi-million dollar franchise.

Almost three decades later and we already got three sequels with mediocre success for each one as filmmakers were struggling to find a clear path that would allow the Terminator to return to success. It seemed as if the ghost of Cameron was sitting ominously above anything related with the name Terminator, holding it back from reaching critical success. And so we reached 2019 and with the franchise already having changed hands a few times it felt like the time was right for the big man himself to return to this iconic figure that he created. But with Cameron being deep into the Avatar sequels it seemed like someone else would have to take the directing duties.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

And that man would be Tim Miller of Deadpool fame.With Cameron acting as a producer and setting out the basic story of the new film and Miller as director many people became optimistic that finally we would see the sequel that all fans expected and dreamed of. Along with the return of Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger there was no chance that the film wouldn’t be a success, right? Well things turned out very different and not for the best.

The film failed completely in the box office and as a result it will cost production studios a sum that can go above the $100 million. Having such a huge IP failure when the film was so closely connected with a big name like James Cameron means a lot of things. We don’t remember having seen such a huge bomb from such a huge franchise when just the name Cameron ensures a certain level of success. 

In our opinion there are many factors that were responsible for all this and it’s not only a fault of Terminator: Dark Fate. But first of all let’s talk about the story itself. Because there are certain spoilers from now on if you haven’t watched the film yet you better stop reading here. Terminator: Dark Fate completely ignores the previous three sequels and tried to continue from where Judgement Day finished. Sarah Connor had stopped the machines from taking over and Dark Fate continues from that moment forward. Although we do get why they tried to do this, it is our belief that this also turned against the film. With three sequels spanning many years, completely ignoring them would confuse many that were not in the loop and were not fans to know what to expect.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

With Terminator: Genisys finishing with a moderate cliffhanger we can imagine that a casual viewer would start looking at Dark Fate and wonder if he had missed another film in between. And although a reboot also happened with Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys at least in their case they didn’t ignore each other but in a way they continued from where Salvation stopped so it provided some sort of continuity that is important when you want to make a sequel.

With Dark Fate they threw everything out of the window and this certainly would confuse a huge chunk of the audience. Also the film felt like a Frankenstein of parts from previous films. We got the bad versus good terminator that has been done to death, we got an augmented human that was an obvious copy from Terminator: Salvation, the Rev-9 which was an improvement between T-X and T-1000 while Dani, the young girl they protected was obviously the new John Connor.

And then you have Sarah Connor and the T-800 that had similar roles they had before. So where is the originality? There was no new element in the film that would make it feel fresh. And here is another mistake the filmmakers made. The Terminator franchise is such a rich universe spanning across multiple timelines and different settings and the best story they could come up was to give us another endless fight between two, or three in this given film, rival machines?

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Terminator: Salvation did try to go away from that but we got the sense that they felt like this was not were the franchise is meant to be. And this is wrong as if you look at the big picture we are talking about a war between Skynet, or Legion in Dark Fate, and the human kind and not between two rival terminators. There are so many stories they could create with the war as the big canvas that it’s a shame to be stuck in an endless brawl that only limits the overall scope of this world.

In a way this has to do with one person specifically. Arnold Schwarzenegger. We believe that the man that helped to bring the name Terminator to such heights is the one that drags it down to failure right now. Let’s be honest here, Arnold is past his prime time and showing and old Terminator is only putting salt to the injury. And if we could accept the age, one thing that completely destroys the mood is in their try to humanize the T-800. There are so many things we could accept, after all this is Hollywood we are talking about, but because Arnold cannot act anymore and cannot make us feel like he is this ruthless killing machine that he was in the first two films there is no excuse for trying to create a softer model of him just to incorporate him in Dark Fate.

The first two films worked in so many levels and one of their founding pillars was it’s serious mood. You could see it in Arnold’s face, the cold look, the calculated movements. He was really a machine. Having Arnold, a T-800 terminator that was designed to infiltrate and kill it’s targets, settle down and make a family is beyond the limits of stupidity and even more so when you think that Cameron really approved this.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

As you can understand from the above the film failed in so many levels and with people already having a mediocre opinion from the previous average installments it led to the complete failure of Dark Fate. Cameron haven’t used us in such failures and with his name connected so closely to the Dark Fate’s complete box office bombing we have a slight idea that he will either want to distance himself from any future the Terminator name has or put it in the ice indefinitely.

But not everything is doom and gloom with Dark Fate. It certainly has it’s moments and in all this mess you can see some small bright moments that show how good a storyteller Cameron can be. Obviously there are moments of brilliant action and even though it’s nothing new to be excited about the battles between Grace and the Rev-9 are true popcorn material and can keep the fans entertained. As for the Rev-9, the bad guy of the film, well we were expecting a bit more. Obviously they tried to do something different but we saw similar tries with the T-X in Rise of the Machines and the T-3000 in Genisys so while it comes with a cool name and some cool abilities the Rev-9 model didn’t bring anything different to the mix.

Is there any life left in Terminator? After such a big loss and considering the creative differences between Cameron and Miller during production it would be safe to say that studios are going to leave the franchise rest for a considerable amount of time before anyone will ever make another try. The Terminator name is just too big to be left dormant for far too long and we have a feeling that at some point we are going to see another one. But we believe that whatever comes next will have no connection with either Cameron, Schwarzenegger or Hamilton.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Even if Cameron was planning a trilogy it is pretty clear that this is not going to happen and instead we are sure that he will completely focus on his Avatar sequels for now. And maybe this is for the better. Maybe fresh ideas will come out of the ashes in the future with new characters and new stories to tell.

In a way Terminator: Dark Fate signals the end of an era for the franchise even if not such a good one. Maybe this was needed in order to put an end to this tired story and let it reborn at some point when the mediocre tries of the past will have faded into memory. And who knows, maybe a new “Schwarzenegger” will rise out of it. For the rest of us Terminator fans we will like the movie for what it is. A good entertaining 2 hours watching these machines destroying everything in their path.

Dark Fate may be far from perfect but it can provide some solid entertainment for either fans of the franchise or those that simply want a good destruction film.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Terminator: Dark Fate blasts into the 4K UHD format with this fine 2160p resolution, HEVC / H.265 release from Paramount Pictures. Featuring a 2.39:1 aspect ratio along with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos this is the best version you can view the film in a home media release.

One of the most visible characteristics of this version is the amount of clarity and sharpness that is evident across the whole running time. As a result this helps a lot of details to become more visible with surface details becoming more pronounced and more easily distinguishable. Skin imperfections, clothes textures and surfaces composition all get a visible boost even if not a big one compared to the Blu-ray version. This may not be the sharpest release we have seen in UHD but it definitely holds it’s own and is one of the better ones.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Accordingly the color palette feels more wide with colors exhibiting more vividness throughout the whole running time. Certain scenes benefit the most like the fight in the factory between Grace and Rev-9 or the scenes during daylight. Even the many scenes that are filmed in dark show variations of grey and dark colors that have more volume and feel more natural.

Accordingly the included Dolby Atmos track offers a very nice overall experience. Obviously the track gives everything it has during it’s action scenes by offering good balance between the channels, precise channels shifting and good surround and overhead activity. The Atmos effects complement an already very immersive soundstage and although they are not as much evident as in some other movies they provide the necessary height extension especially in specific scenes like during the airplane fight. Bass was solid and provided the necessary shaking during explosions that add the necessary weight and volume.

Overall the Atmos track proved to be a very impressive one that had the necessary quality, strength and dynamics that such a blockbuster production needed. Dialogue was clear and distinct and never overlapped with the rest of the sound effects even when in heavy action scenes.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

If you are fan of the franchise then the 4K UHD is the best version you can see this in your home. Featuring a nice boost in clarity, colors and details definition compared to the Blu-ray disc and coming with a very solid and immersive Dolby Atmos track this is a very enjoyable edition even if it doesn’t achieve reference material status. Paramount did a great job and we got another excellent quality 4K UHD disc.

Movie Rating :

4K UHD Rating :


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6 thoughts on “Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)”

  1. Its a really a shame !  I was a big fan of the Terminator Franchise being a boomer and having saw it through a couple of decades.  The shame is that I have just not been able to steel myself to watch this offering because of the scathing professional and word of mouth reviews it has received.

    Is it a symptom of the movie industry not knowing when to leave well alone and just being determined to wring out the very last ounce of commercial potential from a greyhound that has done its dash!

    Thanks for your review which incidentally has not encouraged me to brave a viewing of the film 🙂

    Hamish

    Reply
    • When Hollywood sees money they never leave a franchise until it becomes bone dry. And I think after the Dark Fate debacle they finally realized that it needs a break…and a long one I might say.

      Reply
  2. Hello there,thanks for this very interesting and informative article…I heard about this movie but lost track of it,but I must say that over the years terminator has really made a mark in the film world….i can’t wait to watch it thanks alot for this awesome article it was an interesting read.

    Reply
  3. Without room for doubt, one of the greatest franchise of all time. As a kid, I loved terminator movies. But I have to say, I don’t believe I enjoyed any of the later parts like I did judgement day. You’re absolutely right about the franchise deserving better. Perhaps, James Cameron should have continued the series himself. At least, all the confusion accompanied by Dark fate.

    Great review Stratos

    Reply
    • I think after Dark Fate it is almost certain that it will be put to rest for a long time. And maybe is for the best Leo.

      Reply

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