After waiting almost three decades for it to come to fruition, it seems like we finally have the third Terminator instalment that all of us fans wanted!
28 years after Terminator 2: Judgment Day left its indelible mark on pop culture, and changed the landscape of blockbuster cinema forever with its landmark computer-generated effects, Terminator: Dark Fate arrives on the wave of both fan expectations and pessimism.
That somewhat downbeat enthusiasm comes from the disappointments of the three films that have been released in the interim since T2 – Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys – and how, despite all having a few merits, they weren’t able to recapture the magic.
Now, after all those false starts original creator James Cameron is back in the producing chair alongside Deadpool helmer Tim Miller, who now resides in the director’s chair.
Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger also stars, marking his fifth appearance in the franchise (not counting his CGI appearance in Salvation).
With Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049), Gabriel Luna (Ghost Rider in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Natalia Reyes (Birds of Passage) forming the new additions, does Terminator: Dark Fate really put the series back on course? We’ve seen it and, without spoiling anything, it certainly feels like it.
The teaser poster ‘welcomes’ us to ‘the day after Judgement Day’, and Dark Fate sees us introduced – as is customary – to the two new figures from the future: Grace (Davis), an enhanced, augmented human who has been sent back to protect Dani Ramos (Reyes), a Mexican woman who works for an engineering factory.
She has been targeted for termination by the new REV-9 (Luna), a faster, more advanced and formidable Terminator that can separate its human and cyborg elements.
But the how and who of its existence we won’t divulge just yet, suffice it to say it definitely doesn’t stop…
And, of course, we have the return of one of the most iconic characters ever in Sarah Connor, and she is just as resilient and bad-ass as she was back in 1991 (well, 1997 if you follow the timeline dates).
It’s hard to say too much about her arc in Dark Fate, though we do know from the trailers that she meets Grace and Dani and helps them to survive the onslaught that comes from being hunted by a Terminator, something that Sarah has become efficient at over the years.
Then there’s Arnie, back as the T-800 which, for you hardcore fans, will pose quite the conundrum but suffice it to say that he ‘is back’ and helps the trio of women against the REV-9 – but the less you know outside of that, the better.
Right from the off, this feels like a proper Terminator film, the DNA of the previous two films coursing through its veins through its energetic chase sequences, action set-pieces and the characters themselves.
All the new additions feel organic and relevant to the story and the legacy that they have been added too.
Some of the standout sequences involve the expansive chase sequence through Mexico that is glimpsed at in the trailers, as well as the explosive plane sequence that is as big and beautifully realised as anything seen in franchise so far, but it’s in the quieter, more human moments that reflect on history, humanity, family and friendship that really keep the film engaging and thoughtful amongst the mayhem.
With Miller’s unique sensibilities and his adeptness of bringing CGI effects to life in new and exciting ways, mixed with Cameron’s fingerprints all through the film – through the narrative details, the history and his world-building – this really is a marriage made in heaven.
Fans have waited patiently, hopeful that this will finally be a step in the right direction, but such is the power and legacy of the series that, rightly or wrongly, many will still take some convincing, as they have been burned before.
For what it’s worth, this is as close to the original two movies are you can get in 2019, and one that pays tribute to those before it as well as taking the story into a more modern setting that feels like a natural continuation.