‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Review

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray

Cast: Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Synopsis: Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Set in 2020, and ignoring everything after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator: Date Fate sees a world where Sarah Connor (the returning Linda Hamilton) saved humanity. However, unbeknownst to Sarah, something more sinister has come from a different future, and has set its sights on a young Mexican woman, Dani (Natalia Reyes). Thankfully for Dani, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) has come from the future as well, to protect her from the nearly indestructible Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), who will stop at nothing to get his target.

Dani and Grace then meet up with Sarah, who has been killing Terminators since we last saw her, and three head out of Mexico, with the Rev-9 hot on their trail. Eventually, the two get help from Sarah’s old nemesis, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who agrees to help fight the Rev-9 and keep Dani alive. What follows is an epic conclusion with a massive fight for survival against all odds.

Look, the Terminator franchise has gone through A LOT since Judgment Day. When Dark Fate was announced with creator James Cameron and Linda Hamilton herself was coming back to play Sarah Connor, I put this on top of my must-watch list – being the movie optimist that I am anyway. Now, were here, and thankfully Dark Fate wasn’t that bad. I’ll take the stance that Dark Fate is the best Terminator movie to have come out since Judgment Day, but that’s honestly not saying much considering the sequel and reboots we’ve gotten – although, I’m in the small camp of people that probably enjoyed Terminator Salvation.

The movie itself isn’t anything too new as it takes bits from the previous films and updates them for a modern take. Davis’ Grace isn’t a Terminator herself, but a human with enhancement to give them a fighting chance against the deadly Rev-9s. Sarah has matured since the last time we saw her, and her arc was a rather surprising one if I’m being honest, but makes some sense. Reyes’ Dani is basically the new Sarah Connor, although, she not completely a new Sarah which is great, because you can’t replicate too much of the same thing.

Sticking to the cast, Mackenzie Davis does a pretty great job as Grace. Her determination to protecting Dani never feels forced, and she plays the kick-ass action star very well. Natalia Reyes as Dani has her moments, but she feels like the weak link in the cast. Gabriel Luna’s Rev-9 has a lot of charisma, which makes his Terminator a little more scarier than previous versions. The Rev-9 has the T-1000 liquid metal exoskeleton covering the machine skeleton underneath, but when it comes to trying to find Dani, he’s able to put on a smile and talk normally with anyone that can get him to her, right before he kills them. Luna has a great balance of being “friendly” and determined to get to his target.

Hamilton and Schwarzenegger already have a handle on their characters, again, Hamilton’s Sarah is a little different from the last time we saw her, but for good reason. Schwarzenegger’s T-800 also has an interesting story here, but thankfully, he’s not in the movie too much. He appears right before the third act of the movie, and that’s enough since the movie really doesn’t need him too much. The movie really is more about our three women in Dani, Grace and Sarah.

Of course, being a Terminator movie we need to talk about some of the action here. Personally, I think the action isn’t really that bad. The first real big set-piece is Grace saving Dani and her brother Diego (Diego Boneta) from the Rev-9, which leads to a highway chase. The action in-between is fine, and it picks up at the end with the showdown between all parties. The CGI also isn’t that bad, although there are moments when the Rev-9 jumps to high spots where he’s clearly a little too rubbery.

All in all, Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthwhile sequel to the franchise with some great moments scattered throughout, and some nice homage’s to the previous movies. The movie isn’t without its faults, with some spotty CG and a few weird story choices, but overall, it is the best Terminator movie since Judgment Day, which again, isn’t saying too much considering what we’ve gotten since then.

Terminator: Dark Fate

3.5 out of 5

New Podcast – Deadpool 2 & Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailers, Steven Spielberg Eyes DC Movie & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is up!

It’s a little later than usual. Okay, a lot later than usual, but these last few days have been pretty tough, so I apologize that that. BUT, there was a lot great movie news items this week.

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New Podcast – IT: Chapter 2 & Mulan Casting, Incredibles 2 and The Meg Trailers & More

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New Podcast – Linda Hamilton Returns to the Terminator Franchise, Taika Waititi Eyed for Akira & More

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New Podcast: Oscar Nominations, The Flash Rewrite, Star Wars’ New Title, & More

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‘Terminator Genisys’ Review

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Dir: Alan Taylor

Writer(s): Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyl, Byung-hun Lee and Matt Smith

Synopsis: John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a brief mid-credits scene*

 

 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of my favorite movies of all time, and dare I say one of the best actions movies ever. Of course I’m not the only person to share that feeling and it’s because of that reason that the Terminator series holds a special place in many people’s hearts. However, after Terminator 2 the series took a bit of stumble with the lackluster Rise of the Machines, and the not reaching its full potential with Salvation, so when it was announced that another installment was coming fans were right to be weary. However, when news that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be returning, some of those fans become a little less weary and curious to what they were going to do.

 

Fast forward – or time travel? – to earlier this year and one of the biggest twist that could have probably happened in the series was ruined in all the marketing. So what happens when you know the big twist to a highly popular series and once-was anticipated movie? You go in and try your best to enjoy it. So, was Terminator Genisys good? Terrible like the majority of film reviewers are putting it? Or something else? Well, bit of everything actually.

 

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Terminator Genisys isn’t just another installment to the series; it acts as a prequel, sequel and reboot. So in case you’re brand new to the series, don’t worry you’ll be thrown into the world that many have enjoyed for years. The movie starts with letting us know the events that led to our downfall: The day Skynet became aware and the day Judgment Day happened. We hear the story of one man that lead a resistance against the machines, and that man was John Connor (Jason Clarke). We see him leading the resistance with his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Courtney) to take down a harvesting farm, which is a cover for a weapon that John knows is there: The time machine.

 

Fans know the story: John sends Kyle back in time to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), who is targeted by Skynet as they send back a Terminator model T-800 to kill her before she can give birth to John. However, something happens when Kyle is sent back and it changes the timeline in a dramatic way. When Kyle ends up in 1984, Sarah isn’t a fragile and scared woman instead she is a strong fighter that knows about Terminators and the future. She also has someone that has protected her, a model T-800 Terminator that she happily calls Pops (or named Guardian in the credits). Kyle is of course confused about this and Sarah tells him that everything has changed and that they have been preparing for him. Another problem they have is a new T-1000 (Lee) is there and is hunting them down.

 

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However – again ruined in the marketing – Kyle and Sarah eventually come face-to-face with John himself. The reunion is cut short when Pops shoot John to reveal that John is in fact some sort of new Terminator. Kyle and Sarah make it their mission to not only save the future, but also try figure out what happened to John.

 

Like I mentioned before, the twist of John being a Terminator is a pretty big and nice twist to the series, and it would have been awesome to see it play out on screen for the time first. Instead marketing – and not director Alan Taylor – made the decision to give away the big twist to the movie killing any sort of tension to not only the scene, but for the rest of the movie. Yes, it is commonplace for studios to show off or reveal a few of their key sequences to make sure you go buy a ticket, and some studios have even tricked the audience into going to watch the movie by showing a really cool moment, that just so happens to be the end of the movie. But giving away the “John is some sort of new awesome Terminator” twist really hurt the movie going in.

 

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Also, we’re dealing with time travel. Just know going in that you’re going to deal with three different timelines that thankfully don’t get too murky. At one point, it’s explained by Pops that the timelines have changed and thankfully it doesn’t stop the movie dead. The alternate timeline does change a few things up and it should be interesting to see where they go with things from this point forward. Although at this point I’m not sure how many fans want to stick around after the new “twist.” Yes, there is another twist to the movie that only starts off in the third act and is obviously set up for future sequels. I’m not going to get too into it because it does go into spoiler territory.

 

So let’s go in the cast. Arnold steps right back into the role without fault. Yes, he is older and the movie goes into why that is, but there is a lot more to his character this time around. Like I’ve mentioned, Sarah calls him Pops and his official character name in the credits is Guardian, by that you know a lot of things have changed. On the other side of the coin, Jason Clarke as John Connor/new Terminator – no official name, just his quote that he’s “something more” – has to pull double duty as the John Connor legend, who gives a pretty impressive speech at the start of the movie and has a great relationship with Kyle before he sends him back, and the Terminator, who is like he says “can’t be bargained with.”

 

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Again, the twist would have been really cool to see for the first time while watching the movie, not only because it’s a massive spoiler, but also because it changes the dynamic of the character that we’ve known is the face of resistance against the machines and the mythos of the series. John Connor is no longer the good guy, the man that we root for. Instead he is our primary villain out to kill our heroes and has fallen into become a machine!

 

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As for John’s parents, Jai Courtney – who I’m not a real fan of to be honest – does okay as Kyle Reese. He doesn’t really go beyond anything we’d suspect from his character. Sure he has a standout moment when talking to Sarah early in the movie, but other than that nothing stands out. As for Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor, I’ve seen some reviewers say she’s been miscast or doesn’t do anything special for the role, and I don’t think that’s the case to be honest. Clarke is stepping into big shoes yes, but at the same time, this is a different Sarah Connor from the original The Terminator. Instead we get the Terminator 2 Sarah Connor, the one that is ready to fight anything that stands in her way and Clarke holds her own for the most part. She does work better off Arnold than Courtney for the most part and but overall she’s does fine playing the part of badass warrior.

 

J.K. Simmons as a small supporting role that doesn’t really add much to the overall movie, but you can clearly tell his character will have some sort of role in the potential sequels. Sadly, Byung-hun Lee’s T-1000 character doesn’t get a ton of screen time and is underused. Luckily, his part is rather enjoyable but you feel his missing presence throughout the movie.

 

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The action in the movie is actually pretty enjoyable, and there is quite lot more than I suspected. The other thing the movie had that surprised me was humor. It’s not like the movie is cracking jokes every minute, but humor is sprinkled throughout the movie and it makes sense. Of course, the movie has many more references and subtle additions from the previous movies – and yes, even the TV show – that fans can appreciate.

 

One thing that will bother people – even me to some extent – is the movie has a lot of questions that it asks, but never really answers. If they do, they don’t give you the full answer. The movie suffers a bit from setting things up for sequels instead of making the movie stand on its own. Some things make sense, but for the most part, the studio makes sure that they want the audience back for another go-around.

 

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All in all, Terminator Genisys isn’t as terrible as many people out there want you to believe. There are some enjoyable moments scattered throughout and the action is pretty great to watch. The cast work well together for the most part, with Jason Clarke and Arnold being the standout. The movie may act as a prequel, sequel, and reboot, but make no mistake that it is another addition to the series. Let’s hope that fans will want to keep coming back.

 

Terminator Genisys

3 out of 5