Terminator: Dark Fate
"This was time to break the Terminator mold, we needed the biggest shake-up, but my god, its now officially confirmed we can never, ever, get out of Terminator 2. That's the template. We can't change the template."— CorderyFX
Terminator: Dark Fate is a 2019 American-Chinese science fiction action film directed by Tim Miller. It is the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise and the direct sequel to The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, while disregarding the events of T2-3D: Battle Across Time, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, Terminator Genisys, and the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as occurring in alternate timelines. It was produced by Skydance Media, Tencent Pictures, TSG Entertainment and Lightstorm Entertainment. The film was released in the UK on October 23, 2019, and was released on November 1, 2019, by Paramount Pictures in North America and 20th Century Fox internationally.
The film is notable for being the first installment in the Terminator series since Judgment Day to have James Cameron involved.
Terminator: Dark Fate takes place for twenty-five years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In Mexico City, a newly modified liquid Terminator -- the Rev-9 model -- arrives from the future to kill a young factory worker named Dani Ramos. Also sent back in time is Grace, a hybrid cyborg human who must protect Ramos from the seemingly indestructible robotic assassin. But the two women soon find some much-needed help from a pair of unexpected allies -- seasoned warrior Sarah Connor and the T-800 Terminator
- Although Rise of the Machines isn't as good of a follow up to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, this film isn't exactly any better than the previous three films, as the story is a complete mess and plot holes are common. Not helping matters is that the Terminator franchise is suffering from executive producer Gale Ann Hurd's decision to leave after Rise of the Machines didn't get quite as much praise.
- Perhaps the biggest main flaw of the story is the fact that John Connor is killed almost immediately at the beginning, which undermines the entirety of Judgment Day.
- Considering how important of a character he was, the way he gets killed by the T-800 Terminator is not only incredibly silly and anti-climactic, but also happens way too early in the film. What's more, Salvation previously had its ending re-shot after that film's producers realized that fans would never accept John being killed, meaning that the writers of this movie should have known that this plot twist wouldn't go down well.
- Director Tim Miller claims that the reason John Connor was killed off is that he doesn't believe in stories about the "Chosen One" and felt that it would make the story stronger, except the "Chosen One" is exactly what Dani is. As a result, this really seems like John was killed off for the sole reason of putting in a female lead.
- Similarly, producer James Cameron claimed that the idea was to explore the unintended consequences of the events of Judgment Day, by revealing that preventing the Skynet timeline meant that John was no longer as important for the future and could now be killed without dooming humanity. And while that actually is an interesting concept, it fails in execution because it happens too quickly for the movie to properly set up the twist.
- Bottom line is, the decision to kill off John Connor comes across as a huge disappointment to the franchise and the fans who liked John Connor's character and the idea of him becoming the savior of the future. It practically renders the first two movies pointless and is the equivalent of Jurassic Park III killing off the T-rex so the Spinosaurus could get the spotlight, but even that's being generous.
- The time-traveling plot device returns, but is handled so poorly that it makes the story confusing.
- Carl, the T-800 that helps the protagonists, displays sentience even though Terminators are described in the first film as not feeling pity, remorse, or fear. It is also never explained how Carl gained sentience or why he had a change of heart.
- He's also turned into a comic relief, which feels very out-of-character for a powerful machine designed for killing.
- If Terminators could change their behavior by themselves, then this makes Model 101's sacrifice in Terminator 2: Judgment Day pointless.
- It's revealed that Sarah has been hunting and destroying Terminators by herself, even though destroying one, even with multiple people, has proven extremely difficult.
- How did Sarah know exactly where Dani, Grace, and Rev-9 were when they were fighting on the highway?
- Sarah has connections to a military base that supplies her with weapons to destroy Terminators. It's never explained how Sarah knows those people or why they give her their military weapons.
- Rev-9 has the ability to impersonate anyone, but almost never uses the ability against the protagonists.
- The USBP is shown using a 2000 Chevrolet SUV in 2020; the car would be 20 years old by that point so would have likely been long-since retired.
- Perhaps the biggest main flaw of the story is the fact that John Connor is killed almost immediately at the beginning, which undermines the entirety of Judgment Day.
- Just like Genisys, much of the plot points are rehashed from previous Terminator films, especially the second film, while Dark Fate was intended to focus mainly on the new characters and move on from the old characters. As a result, the film feels like nostalgia-pandering.
- On that topic, many shots are nearly identical to shots from previous films, which makes the film feel even less original.
- Some of the characters in this film (despite their actors giving good performances as mentioned below) are far too similar to ones from previous installments, particularly:
- Dani Ramos is essentially too similar to John Connor, as both characters are pursued by a Terminator and they also play an important role in stopping the machines. Thus, killing John Connor off and replacing him feels very forced and pointless as they could've just had him and the story would be the same.
- Legion is basically another Skynet that has no characteristics to distinguish the two. The same issue occurred in Genisys.
- Grace is essentially a female version of Model 101 and the T-800, with the only difference between the two is that Grace is a cyborg rather than a full-on machine. Her personality is ripped off from Kyle Reese & her concept is stolen directly from Marcus Wright.
- Aside from the ability to become two different beings, Rev-9 has no other stand-out qualities from the previous Terminator antagonists, other than being a lame version of T-1000.
- In addition to being too similar to previous characters, the newer characters are bland and forgettable, as we never really get to know who they are.
- This problem is most visible with Dani Ramos, as her personality is like that of a stereotypical teenage factory worker girl.
- Several action scenes heavily rely on computer-generated imagery and other special effects, and as a result, they feel slightly fake when compared to action scenes in the first two films, which used much less special effects.
- The pacing around the middle of the film is slow, which is out of place with the rest of the film's fast pace.
- While it is nice to see Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor return and Arnold Schwarzenegger as another Terminator return, it feels like they were only there to make older fans happy, as they don't really do anything important during the film, despite both of them giving great performances as mentioned below.
- Speaking of Sarah Connor, she seems unrealistically overpowered. You should also know that she is also in her sixties and yet that doesn't seem to slow her down at all.
- Laughable dialogue, particularly Dani's announcement that she is willing to stand up and fight Rev-9.
- The film itself is yet another feminist propaganda film, as it makes all female characters act like males with no reason to justify why they act like that. This is also a reason why Dani replaced John Connor, just to promote an ideology and nothing more.
- There's a huge difference between writing compelling female characters and writing female characters as over-powered expresion-less lesbian stereotypes.
- Even if the film wasn’t intended to resemble feminist propaganda, the productions reaction to criticism comes across as such. When you take a risk as big as killing off major characters or changing/destroying timelines for the sake of pandering, controversial reactions are inevitable. But the cast and crews (especially Tim Miller’s) reaction to the backlash, particularly saying all of it (whether related to the female leads or not) is rooted in misogyny, is not only insulting to the fan base, but it’s a cheap way to salvage your films reception. Similar to the infamous 2016 Ghostbusters remake (though not to the same extreme).
- As revealed in an interview with Cameron, he revealed that he did indeed replace John Connor with Dani for the sake of making a "feminist film".
- The film sadly ends on a shameless sequel baiting with Sarah and Dani being ready for their next mission, which is never resolved due to poor box office performance and the fact that the sequels have been officially cancelled.
- But still, due to poor box office performance, it caused any plans for any future Terminator films to be cancelled, most likely terminating the Terminator franchise until it was announced that Netflix was developing an anime series with Skydance Media (the film's production company).
- T-800 exhibits same action as the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz feels unnecessary references for pop-culture.
- Weak direction by Tim Miller, who also directed Deadpool.
- Despite making the action scenes feel fake, the visual effects are pretty good, especially the de-aging effects for Sarah, John Connor, and "Carl".
- The action scenes can still be fun to watch despite feeling fake as mentioned above.
- The film ignores the events of the third, fourth and fifth films. While the former had a decent reception, it had almost no connection to its prequel, while the latter two were met with mostly negative reception.
- Good acting, and it's well improved from the previous three Terminator movies, especially from Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Mackenzie Davis.
- Sarah Connor is still a badass, and very likable character as always, as well as Carl even if his behavior causes some plot holes and unrealistically overpowered (as mentioned in one of the Bad Qualities).
- In addition, Carl is a fairly funny character who does a good job at providing comic relief despite feeling out of place as mentioned above.
- It's great to see Linda Hamilton return as Sarah Connor after a long time.
- The soundtrack composed by Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) is well done.
- Like the other Terminator films, the famous quote "I'll be back" is used once again.
- The first and third acts of the film are well-paced.
- The cinematography is decent.
- Despite being similar to the T-1000 and T-X, the Rev-9 manages to be incredibly dangerous and scary, particularly during the scene at the border patrol facility.
- It's great that James Cameron came back to the Terminator franchise after a long time.
While Terminator: Dark Fate received mixed reviews from critics, with many deeming it a return to form for the series and praised the cast and action scenes, although they were polarized by its narrative choices, feminist themes and lesbian innuendos as well as film's rehashed plot points from previous entries, namely Terminator 2, it was heavily criticized by fans of the franchise, with the most criticized aspect being John Connor's poorly-handled death, which many suggested that his death and replacement with Daniella Ramos and Grace was merely a response to feminism and the #MeToo movement as opposed to actual character and plot development. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 70% based on 344 reviews, with an average rating of 6.23/10, while the verified audience approval rating was an 82% based on over 10,000 ratings, with an average rating of 4.13/5. The website's critics consensus reads, "Terminator: Dark Fate represents a significant upgrade over its immediate predecessors, even if it lacks the thrilling firepower of the franchise's best installments.". On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 54 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." The film earned a user score of 3.9/10, indicating "generally unfavourable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as its three immediate predecessors, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 78%, with 51% saying they would definitely recommend it. On IMDb and Letterboxd, the film has an average score of 6.2/10 and 2.8/5 respectively.
Chris Stuckmann gave the film a C, stating the film is decent as an action movie, but awful as a Terminator film. Angry Joe had similar feelings, as he gave the film an 8/10 by itself, but a 3/10 when compared to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. CorderyFX (who reviewed The Nun, The Curse of La Llorona and Annabelle Comes Home) says this was time to break the Terminator mold. He also says that one of the worst things to come out this movie is just how done Schwarzenegger is as this character. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized the film, calling it derivative and a "boring retread", although he welcomed the return of Linda Hamilton, praises an "impressively effective" Mackenzie Davis, and the "winning screen presence" of Natalia Reyes." Also, Roeper himself argued that killing John Connor ruined what the previous two films established: "Even though Dark Fate tosses aside the third, fourth and fifth entries in the series like a Terminator disposing of a hapless cop, it also undercuts the impact of the first film and the follow-up (which is one of the two or three greatest sequels of all time). First, they get rid of the John Connor character in almost casual fashion." Edward Furlong, who portrayed John Connor in Judgment Day, was especially furious over how the death of his character in the movie was portrayed. Furlong also expressed his displeasure, and hoped to reprise the role in full in a future film. Linda Hamilton also said: "This is going to upset a lot of people and a lot of the fan base who just thinks that it has to remain true to the first two stories. The whole concept of Terminator, that John Connor is the hope for the future of mankind and then to have him cut down like that. I think it's going to upset a lot of people," and also voiced her opinion that body doubles Brett Azar and Maddy Curley did not portray the scene realistically enough. Nick Stahl, who portrayed John in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, also expressed interest in reprising the role in a possible seventh film. Director Tim Miller said the film was never meant to be better than Terminator 2. As to the mixed reception, Miller believed that some audiences were predisposed to dislike the film after being disappointed by the last three films. He also believed that some audiences "hate it because it's the sixth movie, and Hollywood should be making original movies and not repeating franchises".
Terminator: Dark Fate was considered a box-office bomb on its opening weekend, and eventually grossed $62.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $198.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $261.1 million. With a production budget of between $185–196 million, and an additional $80–100 million spent on marketing, it needed to gross $450–480 million worldwide to break even; it was estimated that the film ended up losing Paramount and Skydance $100–130 million. As it did in the U.S., the film under-performed in China, where it opened to just $28.2 million, far below the $40–50 million estimates.
- In a January 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Linda Hamilton stated that she would be happy to not return for another Terminator film.
- This was 20th Century Fox and Tencent Pictures' first film to produced and distributed by Skydance Media.
- In fact, it is actually the first Skydance Media film from Disney, since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox the same year this film came out. Not to mention, this movie is officially on Disney+ in worldwide (aside of United States and Canada, which is distributed by Paramount Pictures).
- The film's premiere event in the U.S. was to be held on October 28, 2019, at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, but it was cancelled because of nearby wildfires.
- According to Cameron in February 2019, the film's working title was Terminator: Dark Fate. This was confirmed as the film's official title the following month.
- In an interview, Tim Miller basically admitted to Dani being a feminist-esque character, saying "If you're at all enlightened, she'll play like gangbusters. If you're a closet misogynist, she'll scare the fuck out of you, because she's tough and strong but very feminine. We did not trade certain gender traits for others; she's just very strong, and that frightens some dudes... I don't give a fuck. We did not trade certain gender traits for others; she’s just very strong, and that frightens some dudes. You can see online the responses to some of the early shit that’s out there, trolls on the internet. I don’t give a fuck.”
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