Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateAll things considered, I’d say Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthy successor to the 1991 Terminator 2. After 28 years, 3 other Terminator movies — plus a TV show — it’s hard to think of Dark Fate as the 3rd movie in a trilogy, but that’s where it belongs.

Dark Fate had the potential to be an A, even A+ movie. The bones are there, but the flesh has a few too many blemishes. However, I think it earned a good B+ grade.

The action scenes won’t disappoint; they come early and often, and really pack a punch. If anything, there was too much action early, because by the end it feels a little anticlimactic.

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Hands down, the best thing about this movie is Mackenzie Davis as Grace. She steals every scene she’s in — which is most of the movie. Her action scenes are creative, and she has the physique to make her character believable.

Kudos to the writers for giving Sarah Connor’s character a great return. Her character arc from the end of T2 to now works, and Linda Hamilton rocks the gritty, sarcastic attitude of her aged character.

My single biggest complaint is that the new character of Dani Ramos has some problems. After seeing the movie with my wife and mother, we all agreed she was the weak link. Upon further consideration, I don’t think it’s the actress’s (Natalia Reyes) fault. The writing for her character was caught in a conflict that just wasn’t going to work well. I’ll get to that in more depth below in the spoilers section.

Spoilers For Terminator Dark Fate Below
I’m including this in the spoilers section because I’m not 100% sure everyone knows Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this movie. First, I want to point out that I love the direction the writers took Arnold’s Terminator character. I was expecting something fresh and got it. Arnold’s scenes with Sarah were pure gold. It’s really cool to see them come full circle.

Here’s the conundrum the writers created for the character Dani: as the story develops, the audience is lead to believe, mainly due to dialog by Sarah Connor, that Dani is the “new Sarah” and that she’ll give birth to the leader of the resistance. However, as we later discover, Dani is the leader of the resistance herself.

In a perfect world, when the twist is revealed, the writers want the audience to think: Gee, I didn’t see that coming, but now that you think about it, the clues were right there.

That’s a tricky plot twist to pull off, and quite a challenge for the writers to undertake. I think they at least deserve kudos for trying. And I’m not saying they failed miserably. They just didn’t do a great job.

The problem: if they make Dani’s character appear strong and competent,  it will be obvious she’s the resistance leader. Therefore, they have to hide those attributes. At the same time, if they don’t make Dani appear strong and confident, then when the twist is revealed, it feels unrealistic.

Early in the movie we see Dani as the leader of her household, inspiring her brother, giving her father chores to do. It’s simple, but it shows she knows how to manage. When she and her brother arrive at the factory where they work and discover that her brother’s job has been replaced by a robot, she tells her brother to do her job…while she goes and complains to the manager. She ignores her superiors along the way, who advise her it’s not her place to question management. That’s another subtle nod to her confidence and “take charge” style.

After that point, she does nothing but cry over the loved ones she lost, and continually puts herself at needless risk as she questions (and sometimes ignores) Grace’s  guidance.

But it could have gone another way. The writers could have chosen to skip the twist at the end, in favor of jumping all over it from the very start. Make it obvious that Dani is a natural leader right from the beginning and never let up.

When Sarah Connor shows up and assumes — because Dani is a woman and the resistance sent her a protector back in time — that Dani is the womb of the future, then Dani can turn the tables on Sarah, and point out that times have changed, and women don’t need to just be vessels anymore.

I get it; writers like to be subtle — especially good writers — but it’s not always the best choice. I think on this occasion, setting up a conflict between Dani and Sarah as the same (but different) would have worked better.

One twist I did like about this story is that Judgement Day isn’t caused by Skynet.  It’s a completely different AI — created for the same basic objective — that becomes the downfall of civilization.

Essentially…saying that one way or another, an AI apocalypse is inevitable. 

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This movie is really packed with action, but I made sure none of the Peetimes contained action scenes. Of the 3 Peetimes, I would recommend the 2nd one. It’s near the middle of the movie and nothing important happens. The 3rd Peetime isn’t bad, but it’s definitely the worst of the bunch. There are a few good one-liners that you’ll miss.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Terminator: Dark Fate. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Read Rob Williams’ Terminator review: Grade A.

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