TERMINATOR: DARK FATE Spoiler-Free Review; "A Bold Step Forward For The Franchise"

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE <font color=red>Spoiler-Free</font> Review; "A Bold Step Forward For The Franchise"

The past three Terminator movies left fans wanting to pull the plug on the franchise, so is Terminator: Dark Fate a step in the right direction? Find our spoiler-free review of the film after the jump...

The last three Terminator movies have...not been great. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a terrible early 2000s action movie that tried to replicate the success the genre found in previous decades, and while Terminator: Salvation had its moments, the execution was flawed. The less said about the oddly named Terminator Genisys, the better. Despite all of that, the franchise continues with Terminator: Dark Fate, a back to basics effort which might be a tad too basic, but still the best Terminator movie of the 2000s and a step in the right direction for the previously tired property.

The sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day is admittedly a mostly by the numbers affair, sticking to what fans loved about the first two instalments rather than presenting much in the way of bold or exciting new ideas. Is that really such a bad thing? Yes and no, but when there are a lot of very good reasons why those first two efforts are considered classics, it's easy to see why Tim Miller decided to deliver a familiar cat and mouse tale. The story really isn't the strongest (no great surprise when five people are credited for the that and a further three for the screenplay), but it is a highly enjoyable and action-packed romp which you'll soon lose yourself in over the two hours. In fact, by the time the credits roll, you'll be so invested in this new iteration of the franchise that you'll definitely be left wanting more.

Ultimately, Terminator: Dark Fate would have benefited from presenting a stronger story rather than finding ways to repeat the past (Skynet has been replaced by the equally villainous Legion), but when it's this much fun, that's easy to forgive and it's entertaining enough in its own right to feel like more than a totally unnecessary retread. 

Miller puts his VFX past to good use here and he clearly wasn't just a flash in the pan with Deadpool. While there are a few too many instances of it being quite obvious that a real human is being replaced by a CGI model, the choreography is superb and Terminator: Dark Fate boasts some of the best actions scenes of any 2019 movie. There are thrilling set pieces aplenty, and given how threatening the new Rev-9 Terminator feels, you'll definitely be left on the edge of your seat throughout. 

It's clear that the future of the franchise is female, and that's no bad thing thanks to a great performance from the returning Linda Hamilton and an extremely likeable new lead in Natalia Reyes (who definitely has the potential to be both a huge star and the woman who a new series of Terminator movies revolve around). Sarah Connor remains one of the most iconic and beloved female action movie leads to this day, and given how fantastic Hamilton is here, it's shocking that it took this long to bring her back. Mackenzie Davis does a fine job as Grace, a human/machine hybrid tasked with protecting Reyes' Dani. While her past is touched on, it would have been nice if the character had a few more complexities, particularly in regards to exploring what she's become. Gabriel Luna's Rev-9 is a ferocious badass, and while whoever plays a Terminator is never going to get the chance to display a wide range of emotions, he brings a surprising amount to the role and is every bit as frightening as Robert Patrick's T-1000. 

Now, we have to talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is indeed back, and, for the most part, comedic relief. The movie features quite a few one-liners that fall flat, but Arnie is the exception and an extremely entertaining and endearing addition to proceedings, even if, like the premise itself, his inclusion feels somewhat forced. Still, fans of the original movies will walk away very happy.

Hitting Ctrl-Alt-Delete on the past three movies was the right move, and despite a familiar premise and story, the female-focused Terminator: Dark Fate is a bold step forward for the franchise and one of 2019's best action movies. 

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