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What Went Wrong With… Terminator: Dark Fate?

A review of Terminator: Dark Fate

A sequel that spoils the original film doesn’t really deserve a spoiler warning and that’s exactly what Terminator: Dark Fate does. Imagine if there was a Back To The Future sequel where Marty is dead and a very old Doc and Jennifer piss around travelling through time with a random girl you’ve never seen before and couldn’t care less about. This is exactly what the latest Terminator movie is like; it opens with an extremely offensive scene whereby everything that occurred in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day is made pointless. Opening in 1998 in Guatemala, Sarah Connor and her son John Connor sit in an idyllic beach-side bar and then suddenly, out of nowhere, a T-800 Terminator shows up and assassinates John. The fact that the August 4th, 1997 “Judgment Day” was thwarted by the events in T2, you wonder what the point of this was (both for the Terminator in the scene and the film-makers responsible for this perversion). With such destruction of the Terminator legend, anything that follows is completely dispiriting making the 120 minute run-time an extremely disheartening viewing.

Never have I seen a sequel shit on its predecessor in such a way. Franchises such as Halloween may have changed some of the character’s relationships but at no point did they make a sequel where Michael Myers was retroactively killed off and some random person called Dave took over the storyline. If you’re a fan of the first two Terminators (and if you’re watching this film at the cinema in all likelihood you are) you’re essentially paying to watch something that undoes all the enjoyment of the past. This movie takes your beloved memories and drags them through the post-apocalyptic, alternative-future mud.

There’s badly realised CGI (particularly in the de-aged opening which looks like a crap deepfake), a complete lack of star quality, very poor action, and generally shitty direction and editing; basically Terminator: Dark Fate is a horrendous film in every way. Similar to Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, there’s also a few jokes at the expense of the T-800, in this case his nickname “Carl” and his drapery business (WTF?). Shockingly, in the end credits it states that the story was co-written by James Cameron and although he’s said in numerous interviews that this film has nothing to do with him creatively, one of the worst ideas (an ageing Terminator with a job, a wife, and a child) is down to him! What Cameron should have done is read the first few pages of the script, seen how this shitfest begins and shredded the fucking thing. But alas, as he continues in his quest to make five unwanted Avatars, he’s seemingly abandoning two classic films that put him where he is. It’s strange how he’s so aloof to his literal dream being raped; in a decade or so I hope some hack takes Avatar and makes a sixth film that pisses all over Avatar 1 to 5 (without the courtesy of calling it rain). Hey, the way James Cameron has acted of late, he might even produce the fucking thing.

Instead of John Connor, in Dark Fate we have Dani Ramos (played by Natalia Reyes) the new female, Latino saviour of the human race. A female, augmented, hybrid-cyborg-human protector named Grace (played by Mackenzie Davis) is sent back to save her and she’s helped by Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) and a T-800 (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) as a liquid metal, T-X-esque Latino Terminator known as Rev-9 (played by Gabriel Luna) tries to kill them all.

With so much of the first act set south of the border, complete with all the characters speaking Spanish, it’s like watching Telemundo. With a group of white men responsible for writing and directing this turd, I assume they thought it was a good idea to add women and Latinos in some kind of attempt at being inclusive. The irony is that women and Latinos aren’t involved in the creation of this shite and most of that demographic would have preferred The Terminator franchise to be left the fuck alone. As a minority myself, the one thing that really pisses me off is a white man who is so obviously a fake liberal trying to look likes he’s relevant and reformist. All we wanted was for less whitewashing and more original roles for women and ethnic minorities in Hollywood, not for us to be crow-barred into trash reboots and sequels so a bunch of peckerwoods can feel good about themselves. Watching a film like this feels like someone is patting you on your back and saying “look, we’re not discriminatory or bigoted” even though they quite clearly are.

Aside from the forced-diversity, the plot is also nonsensical. There’s an “enhanced” human who is apparently sent back from 2032 to save Dani but with her short bursts of energy and a reliance on medications and injections (that aren’t readily available in 2019 without a prescription) it’s like sending a diabetic nut allergy sufferer back in time to save Jesus from the crucifixion. And speaking of the Bible, for some unknown reason, Skynet has been replaced with something called Legion which is unbelievable and sounds utterly daft. And why is it preferable to have a liquid metal Terminator with an internal metal skeleton over a completely liquid metal Terminator such as the T-1000? As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely no benefit to this (apart from alluding to the T-X in the third film and to have two Gabriel Lunas pratting about in one scene). This reminds me of the Child’s Play reboot; why take something straightforward and needlessly complicate it until the concept itself becomes less believable and less logical?

Terminator: Dark Fate posterFrom the D-list actors, the B-movie effects, the sham-inclusive plot, to the poster which has the aesthetics of a Bollywood movie, Dark Fate is yet another terrible Terminator film that isn’t in any way a worthy successor to the first two movies. Because of the lack of star quality and the fact that Tim “hack” Miller can’t coax a decent performance out of any of the actors, you have zero emotional attachment to the characters and therefore their plight and outcome doesn’t concern you one bit. The plot also includes the saviour of the human race sending her best-friend-slash-adopted-child back in time to die (so that she can live) which makes the central “hero” a bit of a cowardly, self-centred twat. Basically, the entire storyline is lacklustre and wearisome. After watching this garbage, you wish you could wipe your memory banks clean, go back to the early nineties and watch the first two movies.

There’s endless references to the original films in Terminator: Dark Fate but they are oddly followed by a corny self-aware joke: “There’s no fate but what we make”… “Fuck fate!”… “I’ll be back”… “I won’t be back”… please just fuck off! Driving away in a Jeep during the final scene, the song “Guitars, Cadillacs” by Dwight Yoakam playing during a BBQ, a T-800 sacrificing himself by falling to his death, almost everything harks back to the original films but given the appallingly insulting opening, you wonder why the writers bothered since they obviously don’t care about the near-flawless movies that came before. Someone needs to send a Terminator back in time to stop these sequels from being made because a bunch of pricks (Tim Miller, David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray) have well and truly fucked the legacy of two classic sc-fi movies.

I’ll Never Be Back.

Writing: 0/10

Directing: 1/10

Acting: 1/10

Overall: 1/10

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13 replies »

  1. Completely agree!! This is an awful film. As a fan of t1 and t2 the killing of John really bothered me. 0 stars for me.

    The script was terrible: Grace said she’s doing ‘future shit’ when she hacked the smart phone and she said to Sarah ‘you’re not an augmented supersoldier from the future’. Being so conscious of the time and place she’s from (even though the future was a barren waste land) made no sense.

    When there’s a cyborg called Carl chit chatting about plain colour or polka dot curtains and blinds,, alarm bells should be ringing!!!!! As soon as Arnie read that he should have refused to take part in the film!! Grrr!

  2. As soon as I heard that corny song playing in the trailer (RIAYA feat. John Mark McMillan – Hunter) I knew I’d hate this film.

    Terminator: Dark Fate is an insult to Terminator fans. I never liked Rise Of The Machines, Salvation or Genisys but Dark Fate is the worst because of that disrespectful opener.

    The 1 out of 10 is deserved.

    • The writing was almost non-existent; every other line was a reference and new lines were cliches or embarrassingly contrived (I agree with what Jane said above). The story line was basically a rip-off of the movies that came before. It looked like the writers weren’t fans but they watched the first two (or three) films and copied & pasted all the plot points to create a sequel. They jigged-around a few things but this was basically Terminator 1 to 3 with some piss-poor dialogue.

      And I forgot to mention, when I speak about forced-inclusivity, the film-makers all of a sudden want to put Linda Hamilton in a Terminator movie. They’ve been ignoring her for years (probably because Hollywood doesn’t hire older women despite a man unconvincingly playing the same character for four decades). Now all of a sudden as they fill the film with ethnic minorities and females, they add a 60-ish year old female too. Oh thank you Hollywood, you’re so woke… not.

  3. I think the Terminator films became an anachronism around 1996 because of video games, superhero movies & internet usage.
    eg
    The first two Terminator films had innovative & exclusive special effects which enhanced & elevated the movie.There was no on screen comparison in the 80s or early 90s & the internet & multimedia was not widely accessible or developed. Special effects are now common & oversaturated in art , movies & many cultures have embraced technology & video gaming.But Hollywood still insists on scripting & recycling non terminating terminators & liquified antagonists like it’s 1991.

    Linda Hamilton looks even older in the movie. (She declined a role in Terminator 3 & there’s many interviews of her criticising the sequels) links in details.

    • Completely agree with your second paragraph. CGI is over-saturated and most of the time it’s no more impressive than films made 2 or 3 decades ago.

      Just read the link, it looked like Hamilton turned down the role for the right reasons (her character wasn’t part of the central premise and James Cameron wasn’t on board to direct). There were probably numerous rewrites in any case because the finished Terminator 3 had her character dead and cremated. Interesting that back then Empire thought Edward Furlong was going to be in it. By casting Nick Stahl they ruined the continuity for me.

      On the topic of special effects, the opening of Dark Fate is set in 1998 which is the year Furlong was in American History X. The effects team seem to have captured his face from T2 and they failed to add 7 years to John Connor’s looks. Furlong looked completely different by ’98. Another reason as to why I wasn’t impressed with the effects.

  4. Damn they really fucked over Ed Furlong! They could have offered him rehab and a nutritionist and put him in any of the sequels from T3 onward. IMDb listed his name in the cast of Dark Fate and I was looking forward to seeing him again. At a panel for Terminator 6 at San Diego Comic-Con James Cameron said that Furlong would be returning to reprise his role of John Connor. Instead they use CGI and kill his character. Why do they hate him so much?

    • I agree that they’ve been shunning Furlong. He’s had substance abuse problems and he’s a wife beater (he went to domestic violence counseling) so much of the problems are his own doing. It’s not like Hollywood usually gives a fuck though: people like Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, and Terrence Howard are still working.

      My opinion/stance is about the character of John Connor not necessarily the actor who plays him. Why take the central character who the entire franchise hangs on and murder him, making the best films in the series redundant? Such a slap in the face for fans.

      And I have to reiterate that the facial motion capture was fucking awful! Along with that light-looking, computer game-style body movements when the Rev-9 was jumping around (not to mention the black goo that passed for liquid metal) the effects were really bad in this film.

  5. Disgusted by the crap plot of this film you can’t just say Oh a T-800 slipped through the grid before Skynet was erased or some shit like that and killed John – the whole point of Skynet trying to Kill John was as a measure of last resort in that it was defeated in the future and in order to survive it thought the only way to win was to defeat the leader before he was born – YET this stupid plotline FAIL says that Skynet actually destroys itself by succeeding in Killing John, just who the hell thinks up this garbage! No one has actually thought about what happens in this scenario cause it is assumed it never can happen – in the same way Judgement day is always going to happen. As much as i love T2 as a film it left a lot of plot holes the main one being if Skynet was defeated how do they find time to develop and send the T-1000 to 1994 or whatever and not send it to 1985? Sadly JC never really showed anything from the future that showed how Skynet chose when to send the Terminators back and why they didn’t just send a T-1000 to 1985 in the first place it was never shown how the failure of the T-800 in 1985 affected the timeline because we assumed it never changed anything Skynet would always get to the same stage everytime T-800 (that is how advanced they were at the point they were defeated) – AS FOR T3 that was embarrassing but at least it was partially rescued by a great ending when it showed the bombs but like this film i didn’t like the fact that they changed the detail like Cyberdyne to Cyber Research Systems yet still somehow they produced exactly the same tech like the T-850 or whatever – Arnie was so bad it T3 he should have donated his disgusting wages to charity. Salvation wasn’t really a Terminator Film in the traditional sense as it moved to the fight against the machines and didn’t involve complex time travel but sadly they reduced John Connor to a nothing and the film suffered as a result of the Hollywood Diva Chistina C*** Bale who has the audacity to think he is bigger than the franchise! As for Genysis and Pops! enough ‘kin said on that one even more ludicrous plot involving sending Terminators further back in time and building a time machine in the present DREADFUL but somehow they manage to create a total cluster where all sorts of terminators arrive from different timelines that somehow still exist. This was a mind fuck! A t-1000 in 1985 yeah where the hell did that fit in! What happened to the T-800 and T-1000 from 1992 are they both still running about trying to find John Connor!!! – Anyway back to W**K FATE The opening plot line of this crap film single handly has killled the franchise for good – you can’t just keep going round recycling Arnie thinking up even more ludicrous plots to keep him in the timeline!! They should keep it simple and address the time travel aspects and put some thought into it! by telling a believable plot that everyone can relate to that was the strongest selling point of the first film – the future Kyle Reese came from there were no T-1000’s it is assumed as Skynet was defeated but managed to send the t-800 back in time to try and win but how did it know it failed? It’s assumed in that Timeline that JC knew Kyle was his father? Did they really destroy the time displacement equipment were there more? what actually happens to the present time if the past is changed for the first time? Does it fork of and create a new timeline who knows they never bother their arse to explain the important stuff!

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