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The newest addition to the Terminator universe, Terminator: Dark Fate is a direct sequel to T2: Judgment Day tossing all the middling post-1991 sequels to an alternate timeline and yet is just as mediocre, despite the hard work of the cast.
There is something very DeLorean about watching a movie that is meant to be a sequel to movies born before you. The original Terminator and T2 movies were, in my opinion, works of action art, words generally never used to describe Arnold Schwarzenegger’s work. Not only did they have cutting-edge CGI and adrenaline-pumping action scenes, they also had a healthy dose of emotion.
Even with half the movie being about an emotionless killing robot (a role built for Arnold) there was an undercurrent of raw human emotion that captivated every scene.
This movie starts off with a heavily computer-generated scene rendering the entire John-being-saved-to-save-humanity timeline moot. Now, this is great in what it accomplishes, but none of the cast enjoyed shooting it and I can see why.
Not only is the CGI so forced that the emotion feels staged, the “Noooo” moment could have been achieved and the emotion better shown with narration and some montage storytelling. But CGI is what James Cameron excels at.
Remember James Cameron? The guy who directed that Pocahontas cosplay (or is it re-imagination now) called Avatar for nearly quarter of a billion dollars and started the trend of charging double for “3D” is back, producing this movie and bringing some excellent mixed-CGI fights to the Terminator franchise.
After the initial subversion, the movie reverts to regular Terminator clichés. A liquid metal Rev9 (Gabriel Luna) appears in Mexico City, giving the movie an excuse to add a dash of diversity. The new target is Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) and to keep her safe as well as give the robots the human touch is cyborg Grace (Mackenzie Davis).
The usual antics ensue, involving endless pursuit, lots of explosions and cool gunfights with an undying and continually regenerating enemy. This time, since the humans have their own half-robot, the Terminator team also has a half-robot add-on pack installed.
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Carl/T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are welcome additions, whose hard work in both the action sequences and the lull-in-the-explosions moments is evident. In the making of the movie, Linda, who reprised her 1991 role was so fastidious when it came to her stunt doubles mirroring her own gait and movement that she ended up doing a lot of her own stunts. Yup, that’s how bad*** she is. And she dyed her hair gray because she wanted to be the grandma still kicking bot butt.
Another fun fact, there is a scene where Carl is just having a random conversation about drapes/curtains. At first, it seems like an unnecessary detail to keep in the movie. But then I learned that Arnold actually loves drapes and interiors, so I think they just kept the film rolling as the Terminator went off on a tangent about tints and tufts.
All in all, the movie has fun moments but largely feels like a rehash of previous plot points, but redone by a fan with an unnecessary passion for politically correctness. And for the largely unimaginative nature of its plot and the over-reliance on CGI and adrenaline-fuelled pursuits, I am compelled to give it a two out of five. And for the love of bots, Terminator, please don’t be back.