Review by Camden Ferrell
28 years after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, James Cameron has returned to produce the newest film in the franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate. This sequel gives the franchise a fresh start with exciting action and new characters even if it can seem all too familiar.
This newest movie retcons all of the movies after T2 and effectively makes them null and void. Since they were not received very well, and somewhat tarnished the first two films, this is a choice that works in the movie’s favor. It wastes no time in reemerging the audience into this Terminator timeline that hasn’t been seen since the early 90’s, and it’s a much welcome surprise.
It very successfully captures the spirit of the first films in a way that feels nostalgic but refreshing at the same time. This movie follows a young woman who must be protected from a fearful new Terminator by Sarah Connor and an enhanced human soldier. Even if it lacks the heart of its predecessor, it still is a simplistically fun story featuring lots of familiar faces.
This film is led by a solid cast, featuring Natalia Reyes (Birds of Passage), Mackenzie Davis (The Martian), and a triumphant return for Linda Hamilton. These actresses add more diversity to the franchise and prove themselves to be highly skilled and empowering women that know how to kick butt. They aren’t given highly original material, but they all take on their roles with enthusiasm, and it’s what gives this film its voice.
This sequel also gives us a formidable opponent in the form of the shapeshifting Rev-9 Terminator. It is more daunting than anything their series has created so far, and it gives our protagonists truly ambitious goals and real stakes. While he is understandably bland and underdeveloped as a character, the peril he provides takes the franchise to new levels.
The special effects of this film are generally well-done. They mostly blend seamlessly with the movie’s fast-paced action sequences and fights, but there are a handful of moments where the special effects look inexplicably abnormal. Regardless, this movie does a great job with creating exciting moments of action and thrilling scenes that will definitely please fans of the franchise.
Unfortunately, no matter how visually riveting the film can be, it doesn’t hide the fact that the film feels very derivative. It’s a rehashing of the same story that the franchise has told numerous times. Even if the new characters can make the film feel somewhat fresh, it still lacks the heart and charm of the original film. This, along with some odd pacing throughout and an average script, bog down this sequel.
Terminator: Dark Fate is a return to basics for the franchise that passes the torch to a new generation. It has great action and plenty of callbacks and references for fans. However, it fails to live up to the glory of its predecessors and may leave the audience feeling underwhelmed.
Terminator: Dark Fate is in theaters now.