Let’s be honest. “The Terminator,” and particularly “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” are some of the greatest science fiction and action films ever made. I am one of those people who has both T2 and T1 on my top 20 films list, and I have watched both of them more times than I can count. However, any sequel past 2, (Terminator 3, Salvation, and especially Genisys) is generally considered a bad movie. While I can safely say Genisys is definitely that, with its only redeemable quality being Arnold Schwarzenegger (otherwise being a trash fire), I still have fond memories of 3 and Salvation. As a child I really enjoyed them, but I haven’t seen them since. Now that James Cameron, who created the first two movies, has the rights back, the films after the original two have been canonically erased, and he has come back with an “official” Terminator 3, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” But what is the point of doing that if the film makes the same mistakes others made, and then some?
Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) with James Cameron’s involvement, the all-too-familiar story goes like this: a new Terminator model called the Rev-9 (portrayed by Gabriel Luna) is sent back in time to kill Dani (Natalia Reyes). The film sees Dani trying to escape from the seemingly unstoppable Rev-9, aided by Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the woman originally marked as a target in the first film. Any film fan will know that this sounds unoriginal, especially to Judgement Day. Also starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, this film boasts a great cast. Being familiar with everyone except Reyes, just seeing the cast list made me giddy for what the film was going to end up being.
The first problem I have with this film is the bizarre decisions it makes when it comes to the storyline, and this isn’t about some time travel loop. No, it makes decisions to the overarching story that are straight up offensive and anticlimactic to a childhood fan such as myself. It is extremely hard to get into this without spoiling the entire film, so take it how you want.
Another complaint is the lack of Schwarzenegger, at least until the last 45 minutes of the film. Linda Hamilton and Schwarzenegger make the films what they are, and I spent half my time in the theater just waiting for Schwarzenegger to show up, and he does not disappoint when he finally does. Overall, to me at least, “Dark Fate” was just okay. It is incredibly hard to really show the problems I have with it without spoiling key plot points. While boasting a great cast and pretty good action scenes, those cannot save it from failing to subvert any of my expectations. All in all, I don’t know what happened. Studio meddling, a bad script, anything. It has some great moments, especially with Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis. As a film by itself it’s fine, and a fun time, but as a sequel to “Terminator 2,” it is nothing, and I still hold in my head that the series ended after “Judgement Day.”
At this point, if “The Terminator” was meant to spawn a franchise, it just didn’t land in the right hands. In the end, no matter how many sequels there are, it remains a classic sci-fi thriller film, and a classic action film that shouldn’t ever be meddled with again.
Edited by Jessica Galvin, Adam White, Jason Morrison