Terminator 2 Judgement Day, a movie that redefined cinema when it was released. In fact to this very day is one of the most highly regarded science fiction movies ever captured on film. Not only did it spawn its own subculture but movies have been paying homage to it forever. There have been three attempts at a sequel to it, each with various degrees of success or failure, depending on your point of view. But of course without Cameron at the helm, it just never had the soul of its predecessors. But dear old James is back…
Terminator Dark Fate brings back Linda Hamilton as the heroin Sarah Connor, one of Hollywood’s most badass women. And this was before it was a pre-requisite. Of course, joining her is the face of the franchise Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a role he was born to play. Once again he is playing an aged version of the T800 terminator. The Nokia 3310 of terminators. Seriously why would Skynet keep on making him when they have far superior models at their disposal? But I digress…
The movie drops in moments after the epic conclusion of T2. And that is where it all changes. Fast forward two decades and we once again treated to the mandatory two, time travel spheres. One sent to kill and the other a willing soldier from the future sent back to protect. It all seems very familiar, and on the surface, I guess it is. But pull the curtain back a little and you will see a very different movie. One that addresses some of the questions raised in the first two. Just the first two. As we already know by now the movie is a direct sequel to the first two movies. It simply treats the other two as alternate realities.
The movie is a genuine return to form for the franchise. It doesn’t just rehash the first two. It takes all that was loved, embraces it and gently coaxes it into a new direction. Tim Miller ( Deadpool) seems a perfect fit, as he finds a way to take these fan-favorite characters and push them to new horizons without losing their essence. Another great aspect is that the new terminator isn’t overpowered. When we got the T1000 it was glorious. So original and scary. Then came the others, all so-called upgrades that just kept on bolting on extra firepower. It made us wonder why John was so stupid to keep sending T800 models back as protectors. This time the upgrades are more plausible and while it is more powerful it isn’t by much. It genuinely feels like the T1000 natural evolution.
No Terminator movie is complete without set pieces and glimpses into the future. And Dark Fate delivers on this throughout its 2 hours run time. But it doesn’t just Michael Bay its way through its runtime. This is still Cameron and there are those precious moments where we get to know these characters. To learn how far they have come.
The movie is far from perfect though, and while I enjoyed the movie I didn’t fully embrace its new direction. This is for me both its biggest strength and weakness simultaneously. Only its sequel can tip the balance. I know that will sound strange with any elaboration, but elaboration means spoilers. And dear reader, this movie has a few surprises that are best watched not read.
The movie did lack a lot of suspense. The original two played of like thriller sci-fi that had a sprinkle of horror. That added a lot of substance to them. This lacks that and it kind of reduces the stakes.
The Terminator franchise has finally gotten the update it needed to its software and is functioning at full capacity once more. It has reeled it two of its core leads. The future may not be set but it is looking brighter. Hopefully, we get to see this trilogy completed.