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Terminator: Dark Fate - DVD Review

Terminator: Dark Fate

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE latest entry in the Terminator franchise may have suffered its own ‘dark fate’ in cinemas, effectively killing any chance of future films, but Tim Miller’s entry, which was co-produced by James Cameron and David Ellison, is actually the first Terminator film in a long time to deliver the kind of thrills that the first two landmark films created.

An official follow-up to T2: Judgement Day, which still rates among the best sequels of all-time, this asks audiences to forget that the likes of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or Terminator Salvation ever existed.

Hence, it returns Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor to the story, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800, while ushering in another potential victim and a new protector heroine.

That protector is enhanced human fighter Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who is sent back from the future to protect auto worker Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) and her family from an advanced Terminator (Gabriel Luna), a ‘Rev-9’ model that boasts the iconic metal skeleton of the original and the oozing liquid menace of the T-1000.

Providing added protection is Connor and, somewhat belatedly, Arnie’s T-800, now dubbed Carl, who both have their own reasons for wanting to keep the future machine-free.

For sure, Miller’s film trades on the familiar and struggles to escape the feeling that it is merely re-treading old territory by virtue of a storyline that can’t, in itself, avoid being stuck in repeat.

But it does so with considerable panache, courtesy of cutting edge special effects, bone-crunching and spectacular action set pieces and a nice mix between the drama and some Deadpool-esque subversive humour (no doubt thanks to the presence of Miller).

Terminator fans will doubtless enjoy seeing Hamilton back in the frame and she has lost none of her grit or steely resolve – especially in light of the events that unfold during the film’s shocking opening sequence (which did prove divisive to first-look audiences).

Arnie, too, seems to be enjoying himself more in this one than he has in any other of the attempted revivals, tapping into a nice line in self-deprecating humour, while building on the emotional groundwork he laid for the ‘character’ towards the end of Judgement Day. When he claims to be funny, he backs that up with some spot-on humour. But you may well find yourself shedding a tear for him too.

Newcomers Davis and Reyes also contribute solid work in their roles, adding female empowerment, yet equally juggling the required toughness with some nice moments of vulnerability and femininity. And Luna’s new Terminator is suitably eye-catching in design, while also providing a more ‘human’ presence that even has him apologising to passers-by for some of the carnage he creates.

The plotting also feels well mapped out, rather than desperate (a la Genisys), paying equal parts attention to the characters and consequence as it does the need for maintaining the spectacle and – possibly – paving the way for future instalments.

While there are even one or two moments that neatly subvert expectations and bring surprises – something that, again, most of the sequels beyond Judgement Day tried and failed to achieve.

The overall enjoyment of Dark Fate is therefore surprisingly high, which makes the film’s poor box office performance all the more disappointing. It is a Terminator film that can proudly stand alongside the first two movies and which, inadvertently, completes a genuinely thrilling trilogy.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 10mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: March 2, 2020