REVIEW: Terminator: Dark Fate
Apparently, not even James Cameron can salvage The Terminator franchise. Returning to his 1984 creation with Terminator: Dark Fate, he made the bold (and probably correct) decision to jettison everything that happened after the first sequel. Recognizing that all subsequent stories have failed to recapture the thrills of these two, he decides to wipe the board clean and upend all the audience expectations.
Cleverly, he picks up with clips from Terminator 2: Judgment Day then makes a clean break by having John Connor shot dead, creating a branching timeline that prevented audiences from knowing what came next. However, what we discover is that Skynet may not exist, but Legion, an equally vile AI, has taken control and is sending their version of Terminators — Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) — after the next “savior”, a young woman Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). In the end, its different but startlingly familiar.
Apparently, in Cameron’s mind, mankind is destined to self-destruct, with just bleak prospects for survival. Still, humanity remains an indefatigable force, both today and tomorrow. Much as young Sarah Connor had no clue what was happening, neither does Dani as the Rev-9 blows away her father and targets her at work. After a car chase, it seems ready to eliminate her when up pops the weathered Sarah (Linda Hamilton).
And if we get Sarah back, you can bet we’re getting the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and we do in one of the more interesting interpretations we receive.
The problem, though, is that it’s Sarah, Dani, and T-800 versus the unstoppable Rev-9. We’ve seen all this before and by film’s end, the future hasn’t been altered. In fact, the new characters added here are pretty much disposed of, leaving us with Sarah, lonely, grieving, and angry.
It’s certainly pretty to look at and Director Tim Miller keeps the action moving at a nice clip. There are way too few scenes that let the characters actually breathe and talk to one another, depriving us of the emotional connection to them, notably Dani, whose interactions with Sarah could be a cautionary tale.
The film is out from Paramount Home Video in the usual assortment of packages including the 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and Digital HD combo. Here, the film benefits from being seen in the 2160p Dolby Vision configuration with very sharp images throughout. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is excellent.
The film’s special features, though, are lackluster. These can all be found on the Blu-ray disc and are more perfunctory than fascinating. We start with Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:54) including I Need Your Car, Internet Café, Augmentation Volunteer, The Crossing, Alicia Confronts Sarah, and Let Me Save You. You get some of the necessary backstory to reimagining the franchise in A Legend Reforged (20:11), as Miller and Cameron look at the process. Then there is World Builders (32:46) which explores the special effects process and location shooting in Spain. Dam Busters: The Final Showdown (8:30) looks at the climactic battle. There’s another VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly (2:33) which briefly looks at the future sequences.