There’s one major element that compells an audience to dislike a movie: Bad acting.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” is a good idea with terrible actors, and a storyline that could have been better if there was an actual villain. Add in some awkward looking cgi with obvious cuts, camera editing and poor special effects, and you have a barely made-for-tv movie that would have been great if it were released in 1995.
Let’s start with the good stuff.
Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t disappoint. His storyline is unique and it respects his character as the classic Terminator, while adding an element of humanity not observed in prior films. No longer is The Terminator a fearless robot, learning phrases he doesn’t understand or being disconnected from emotions. This time, he’s gone full blown human, while retaining all of the abilities of a T-800, and it works.
What also works is Linda Hamilton’s reprisal of her role as an older Sarah Connor. It’s as if she’s channeled the “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” version of Sarah Connor and brought her back to life, flawlessly. Her scenes with Arnold are memorable, funny, electric and infused with 35 years of understanding each others roles. Together, no matter what they say or do, they light up the screen and make it an enjoyable moment.
Now let’s talk about why this movie is a complete failure: The unnecessary addition of three characters, who form a plot which is somewhat easy to follow and even easier to forget.
First, we have Dora the Explorer – aka Dani – who is the replacement for John Connor, the main character in Terminator 2. This time, instead of a 14 year old white kid being the target of the evil terminator, he’s been replaced with some politically motivated “wokeness”. The new character is Dani Ramos, and she’s a young latina with a heavy accent who can kick your ass and lead an army. But, for some strange reason, needs to be protected by a half-human robot in order to save the earth from its destructive future. Confusing? It shouldn’t be. It’s a regurgitation of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day“, a movie where a robot was sent back in time to protect John Connor from being terminated by an evil Terminator.
Next, we have Grace, the protagonist of the story, tasked with protecting Dani from the bad Terminator. Grace is a cyborg who is seemingly invincible, endlessly pissed off, and is the result of what would happen if Ellen Degeneres had a kid with the male version of herself. Grace is very angry – at everyone – and she curses a lot. Nothing makes her happy at all. Which makes you wonder why we’re supposed to care if she gets hurt or killed while protecting a defenseless teenager from her future-terminator-stalker. Sound familiar? It should be: that’s the exact plotline to “Terminator 2: Judgement Day“. Having deja vu yet?
So far, Terminator: Dark Fate offers nothing original as the main plotline of the movie.
And our final character is – you guessed it – the evil Terminator. He’s the one who wants to kill Dani at all costs. The problem is, he’s treated like a punching bag throughout the entire film, and keeps coming back to get punched some more. He manages to kill a few humans, of course – he’s not a complete loser. But Gracie the Protective Cyborg beats him up, Sarah Connor beats him up, Dani uses her strategic unexplained self-defense expertise to keep him at a safe distance (which begs the question: Why does she need protection if she can handle herself?) and of course, ARRRRRNNOLLLLLLDDDDDD shoots evil Terminator in the face, throws him around like a kettle bell and strangles him to near death.
To summarize our new characters: We have a young latina who is being protected by a very angry lesbian cyborg from the future, who is being chased by another robot who has no ability to fight anyone with equal skills.
So, if we have our story outlined above, why do we need to see Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton appear in this movie? Because no one would pay to see it otherwise.
In fact, not many people did pay to see this movie. Opening weekend was a failure, and according to recent updated box office numbers, the film is severely underperforming by $80 million. That is, it cost $185 million to make and only raked in about $102 million as of today.
The majority of that budget seemed to focus solely on making sure The Terminator himself and his glowing eyes looked perfect. Unfortunately, the other fighting scenes seemed to receive little to no attention to detail or accuracy. You’ll be asking yourself how much alcohol the producers must have been drinking when they signed off on these sequences.
The “critics” are making excuses, rather than evaluating the reason, for the disappointing turnout. They blame “Joker” for stealing audiences from watching Terminator. They also suggest that “The Terminator” just doesn’t attract viewers anymore. They even blame Arnold himself, saying he’s no longer viable. Of course, none of this is true. “Joker” and its success has nothing to do with Terminator. Does one think Terminator would have fared better against IT 2, Halloween or Shazam? Also, “The Terminator” and Arnold are alive and well, appearing in a brand new 2019 video game called “Mortal Kombat 11“, which has seen an amazing boost in sales since releasing the character early last month.
The truth is, “Terminator: Dark Fate” is just a bad movie.
But, it does have one thing going for it: Older audiences who watched Terminator 1 and 2’s original theatrical release will enjoy seeing Arnold on screen again. There’s a type of nostalgic taste-bud satisfying feeling one gets when you hear, “I’ll be back” or watch Sarah Connor shrivel in fear as she escapes the clutches of the T-800. Unfortunately, not even Arnold’s 21 inch biceps, 60 inch chest or 220 pound ripped physique can save this franchise.
Terminator: Dark Fate suffers from a poor script, sub-par acting, and CGI sequences that are completely rushed and unrealistic. Nonetheless, praise has to be given to Schwarzenegger and Hamilton for thier efforts, and the story itself may have flourished with an alternate cast and a few script tweaks.
Save your money and wait for the digital download. After watching it once and asking yourself if you should watch it a second time, you’ll hear yourself saying, “I Won’t Be Back“.