Review: 'Terminator: Dark Fate' Is Yet Another Disappointment In A Dying Franchise

Peter Lorme ‘21/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Terminator: Dark Fate is the newest installment in the Terminator franchise. While being the sixth Terminator film to date, the film acts as a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. With new director Tim Miller taking over, the story follows a mixture of old and new characters.
Starting off in Mexico City, a young factory worker named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is the target of a newly modified Terminator: the REV-9. Sent back in time to protect her, a modified human named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) finds help in returning Terminator franchise legends Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) and the classic T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Together, they try to save Dani and save the future of the human race.
The film comes only four years after the last Terminator film, Terminator: Genisys, which marked a new low for the franchise. Taking it back to the story roots, the film tries to keep in touch with the origins of the original two films. This makes it so that every other Terminator film besides the original two are null and void. Does this make the newest sequel superior?

Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalia Reyes, and Mackenzie Davis in Terminator: Dark Fate. Photo credit: Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures.
Dark Fate is the best Terminator film since James Cameron left the directing chair, which really isn’t saying much. The biggest problem with the film is inconsistency with thematic elements. At some points, it wishes to be an action-comedy, at other parts, it wants to be a gritty action thriller, but mainly it just yearns to be like the original Cameron Terminator films. While Miller does his best with the material he has, there is nothing that stands out as radically unique.
There are great set pieces at points but towards the end, they progressively get worse. The same goes for the action sequences. Starting with a fantastic opening and continuing with tense scenes immediately following, this slowly fades away and, by the third act of the film, everything on screen begins to melt in an ugly volcanic eruption of confusion. What started low scale and realistic slowly demonizes itself into sloshy action pieces. Practical effects and stunts turn into shaky-camera CGI infused splatter.
The returning stars shine in their roles. The comedic connection between Sarah and the T-800 clicks immediately and is the absolute highlight of the film. The character of Grace is another stellar addition. However, the lead character Dani is severely underwritten. With her supposed to be the new franchise hero, they do not spend nearly as much time developing her character as they should. Throughout the film, significantly traumatizing events happen to her character and instead of delving into progression, it is taken as a more passive action to help “progress” the story. Despite this, the movie still stands at an overbearing 2 hours, 14 minutes. The time is absolutely felt, especially during the third act.
Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes in Terminator: Dark Fate. Photo credit: Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures.
While the starting action sequences were phenomenal, the following scenes disappointingly falter. Like most of the Terminator sequels, an interesting premise is wasted by a shoddy third act. Even returning the franchise’s biggest characters could not save Dark Fate from mediocrity. The franchise should have ended with the T-800’s thumbs up in Terminator 2. Now the franchise ends with a painfully worn out thumbs down.
Overall Grade: C
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