TERMINATOR: DARK FATE Review - An Exciting Return To Form For A Franchise That Badly Needed A Win

The review embargo has now lifted for Terminator: Dark Fate, and we are very pleased to report that those early reactions were not exaggerating... at least, not by much! Get our thoughts after the jump.

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It was difficult for anyone to muster much excitement for a new Terminator movie after the disaster that was Genisys, and although the trailers for Dark Fate weren't terrible by any means, they didn't really do enough to assuage jaded fans' concerns that this latest effort would fail to return the flailing franchise to its former glory.

Well, the Terminator faithful might just be in for a very pleasant surprise. Although Deadpool director Tim Miller's film definitely has its share of problems and doesn't come close to matching the quality of James Cameron's originals (honestly, was it ever going to?), it is a worthy follow-up.

Dark Fate works as a direct sequel to T2, but it also resets the switch somewhat and serves as a soft reboot/do-over. To explain how it achieves this would take us too close to spoiler-ville, so let's just say after three movies of convoluted time-displacement plots and hamfisted attempts to build on what came before, this entry actually succeeds by going back to basics and telling a (relatively) straightforward story. This may not sit well with those hoping for a new spin on the well-worn tale of (wo)man vs. machine, but what Dark Fate lacks in originality it more than makes up for in many other areas.

First and foremost, the decision to bring Sarah Connor back pays off big time. Linda Hamilton hasn't missed a beat as the world-weary warrior, and gets back to smashing metal mother[frick]ers to smithereens with aplomb. Likewise fellow franchise vet Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has a smaller role here, but absolutely makes the most of his screentime.

The new recruits are all on top form, too. Mackenzie Davis kills it as enhanced super-solider Grace, bringing warmth and incredible physicality to her character. She does get landed with most of the exposition-heavy dialogue (more on that later), however. As Dani Ramos, the young woman Grace is assigned to protect, newcomer Natalia Reyes is also very impressive, doing plenty of heavy lifting in some of the more emotional scenes and giving us a likable new hero to rally behind.

As our new and improved Terminator, the Rev-9, AOS actor Gabriel Luna is a formidable screen presence, and he injects a bit more personality into his cyborg assassin than his predecessors did.

If you're here for the action, you will not be disappointed. There are some set pieces in this movie that are undoubtedly among the best of the year, and they manage to crank the tension up to maximum levels. Miller proved that he's a dab hand at conducting this type of visceral mayhem on Deadpool, but he has definitely honed his craft. There are a couple of spots of dodgy CGI here and there and things do get a little OTT by the end, but it manages to stay just the right side of ridiculous.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for some of the dialogue. The script is solid enough for the most part, but from time to time a character will drop an absolute howler - usually in an attempt to get a laugh. The humor works, on occasion, but a lot of the gags are signposted and poorly delivered.

Dark Fate is an exciting return to form for a franchise that badly needed a win, and - you're going to hear this a lot, but it's true - is easily the best Terminator movie since T2. A great cast and some truly jaw-dropping action sequences make this a must see.

There are some elements that could have been improved upon, but this is still much better than any of us will have been expecting, and a damn good time at the cinema.

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