Whatever Time’s the Charm?? (Terminator Dark Fate, 2019)

Terminator_Dark_Fate_PosterTerminator Genisys was intended to kick off an all new trilogy following the exploits of Sarah Conner, Kyle Reese and Pops trying to stop the new version of Skynet. Of course, Terminator Salvation was supposed to kick off a new trilogy following the war against the machines leading to Kyle Reese going back to save Sarah Conner.  Which was a sort of continuation of Rise of the Machines.

Sort of.  Each sequel starting with T2 tried a twist, though the twist became the trope.  Arnold was moved from the “bad Terminator” to the “friendly Terminator”. This has never bothered my all that much, the way it was handled in each film usually worked okay.

And honestly, Pops was the thing I enjoyed most about Genisys. The failure of Genisys to revitalize the franchise left the series kind of lost. People got excited when there was talk of Cameron returning. And then they took the now popular strategy of making a sequel that ignores all but one or two of the earliest films. This time, they are picking up after T2: Judgement Day.

Sarah Conner tells us how she saved the world from Skynet, then the film reveals a shocking twist. We then are introduced to Grace who appears in Mexico, followed by the new Terminator, a Rev-9. He is in pursuit of Dani and Grace is there to protect her. They meet up with Sarah Conner and try to escape, ultimately reaching out to Carl, a Terminator who is displaced after the erasure of Skynet.

Carl is kind of an interesting character and honestly have no problem with it, as the second film established them capable of learning and adapting. I also, for the most part, like tough and bitter Sarah Conner, much like Jamie Lee Curtis’ updated Laurie Strode in 2018’s Halloween.  I also liked McKenzie Davis as Grace and Natalia Reyes as Dani.

The Rev-9 feels a lot like a slightly advanced T-X from Rise of the Machines.  A liquid metal coating over an exo-skeleton, except the two can work independently of each other.

The visual effects are solid and the action scenes are great. And yet, this is a Terminator film that kind of fundamentally betrays itself in a way the franchise really has not before. The big twist at the beginning has a major impact on the power of T2’s narrative. In a not good way.  It undermines this film and raises some big questions that the film never clearly establishes.  As an action film, this is a fun watch. As a Terminator film? It is not the fix that people were hoping for.

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