Having left after the events of Judgement Day, James Cameron rolls backs into town and finds his Terminator franchise in a convoluted mess. Can he do a Sam Beckett and right what once went wrong or do we end up with a film just as bad as Genysis?
Five John Conner’s, Three Sarah Conners, one dead, one having never given birth, but yet her son is somehow still alive in the future, while the other Sarah in TV wilderness.
A Skynet that won, then didn’t, a sequel that had the odd title Genysis and also more oddly had two different actors play classic characters and had them relive the same scenes from the original, that was not only bizarre, but only served to remind us just how good the original was.
Its no wonder James Cameron returns to the very franchise he started and gets Michael Myers to press the reset button as much like the Halloween sequel, totally ignores every sequel since Arnie done that thumbs up in Judgement Day.
For the majority of running time, the idea works fine. Its perhaps one of the best looking Terminator films, it has some great action set-pieces and a cast given it all, but some of the decisions on offer, actually left me cold.
The jaw dropping opening left me speechless and while for shock value, its up there with the best, it also left me shaken and already on a downbeat mood that had me not really invested in the rest of the film.
Why? Well much like Halloween Resurrection ruins all the goodness of H20’s ending, Dark Fate actually ruins the action masterpiece of its very first 1992 sequel. How can we ever watch that now, without knowing what’s coming?
Its a creative decision that left a bitter aftertaste for me personally and despite what this new timeline desperately tried to offer up, I found myself struggling with it all.
Its a shame as like I said, Dark Fate tries something different, even though it also tries to honour its past, with the welcome sight of Linda Hamilton reprising her iconic role as Sarah Conner.
While the opening set-piece can be frowned upon by many of fans, it gives Sarah an even more hardened edge, a woman of experience and anger of what life has offered up to her. Which comes in handy when two more vistors from the future land in the present day, naked and emerging from a crackling of electricity that all fans will be familiar with.
Both are welcome additions to the franchise, Mackenzie Davis shines as Grace, human/cyborg hybrid who is this generations Kyle Reese without the messy love story and unplanned pregnancy. Her nemesis? A new Termintor called Rev – 9 in which actor Gabriel Luna carries the same sort of menace that Robert Patrick so memorably did in 1992.
Its right here that fans will hope for something different, but much like the rest of the sequels, the story is bogged down by familiar beats that the original two films established and so basically what we end up with is a Terminator film that is more or less a 21st Century remake of T2.
Having stopped the war at the end of that film and rewriting history, the Conners are now forgotten for their heroic deed and its poor Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) who is now the new John Conner and needs a bit of help, especially with an unstoppable killer on his way.
Familarity breeds throughout as to how Dani and Grace meet and by the time Sarah joins the mix, that sequence itself was spoilt by the film’s very first trailer release. so any excitement is long gone.
Its girl power all the way as the trio fight from one set-piece to another, each action blast trying to outdo the last in terms of spectacular and dazzlement. They alongside a Terminator that can do things like the T-1000 but also spilt in half, its robotic Skeleton fighting alongside its human form makes the watch worthwhile.
Arnie himself returns in a more downbeat role we have seen before, He can still kick ass when required, but his remorseful Terminator and the surprise that we now call him “Carl” is a different approach which may raise eyebrows, even though the quite obvious foreshadowing of where is character ends up does end the surprises.
The trouble is, Dark Fate suffers from The Force Awakens storytelling in which they have added a new bunch of characters to the already established duo of Hamilton and Arnie. Its basically a re-boot that is trying to offer something for a new generation, while appeasing the old fans.
It may have its criticism and rightly so, but for all its credit, Terminator 3 offered up a breath-taking, glum dark ending that gave the franchise a much needed shot in the arm, even though it was never followed up like it so richly deserved.
Dark Fate never offers any originality like that, instead going from one chase scene to the next, telling us a story that was already told masterfully in the first two films.
And that is the major problem for not just this sequel but for all the others that followed. The original Terminator film and T2 were so ground-breaking and classics that nothing else will ever match them. Yes its brilliant to see Hamilton back for what is probably the final time, but nostalgia can only get you so far.
The franchise is synonymous with the words “I’ll be back”, but maybe its time to reply “No please don’t, just go!”, because there is nothing left of this story to tell.
But if anything this franchise has told us is that the future can be re-written, so judging by the box office takings, lets countdown to the next inevitable re-boot in three years time!
2.5 Hatchets Out Of 5