Cinematic Releases: Cybernetic Retcon - Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) - Reviewed

After two decades, James Cameron returns home to assist in the production of a direct sequel to his masterful '90s action epic Terminator 2: Judgment Day. While the last three movies have some decent qualities, none have lived up to the Cameron namesake. At long last, Dark Fate is here to retcon what we know and move forward with a new 'official' timeline that will undoubtedly spawn a fresh trilogy if this is somewhat financially successful. 

Stepping aside and handing directorial duties to Deadpool's Tim Miller, we're finally given a somewhat worthy continuation that still asks us to leave our disbelief at the door. Rehashing the continued themes of this entire series, Dark Fate isn't anything new but relishes in the fact that audiences are going to be more than happy to see Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger back on screen together, doing battle against a new, much more advanced robotic presence that's played dutifully by series newcomer Gabriel Luna. He's no Robert Patrick but he serves his role with diligence and has the physical presence and mannerisms needed to carry the latest Terminator sequel as its main metal baddie. 

Rise of the Machines tried to kill me.
But guess what! I'm back
and I have a grenade launcher.
Can't keep a good granny down. 

Taking place in present day, a new threat is revealed that requires the skill set of one mean and lean Sarah Connor, a female hybrid, and a new character that lives south of the border. Mixing current topics about illegal border crossing, detention centers, and the demeaning nature of that life, many will find that the film does have something to say, yet it never strings us along too far. There's no political grandstanding. So, ignore what you've read. Instead, seventy five percent of this movie does what we love most. Dark Fate is about the science fiction/horror hybrid that we were introduced to back in 1984. Will our future be ruled by the cybernetic Terminators or can we define a new fate with the help of a heroic, time traveling human soldier played impeccably by the dynamically charged Mackenzie Davis?

Dark Fate moves at a frenetic pace only taking small breaks to let us come up for air. The action scenarios are on point with total callbacks to the original two films and the fight sequences feel like they actually might be consequential. In this realm, this is the truest sequel we've had yet. However, sometimes the nods feel a bit forced or contrived. But to offer balance, the final moments of this Terminator movie have that specific James Cameron cinematic luster that feels one hundred percent directly connected to Judgment Day. If you didn't know any different, you'd imagine that Cameron specifically handled the third act. And unlike Genisys, there's that wondrous look of actual film grain that has texture and the beautiful steel color palette of The Abyss, Aliens, or T2. Piling on to the positives, the CGI work here retrofits the classics and looks pretty damn amazing.

Hey Stallone. My new action movie is
better than your new action movie. Fight me. 

Terminator: Dark Fate is in no way a perfect film. More questions about time travel will definitely be sparked by the plot of the movie. It's one of those devices that always sparks debate. But, if you want to spend a couple hours watching the band get back together to have an explosive ruckus on screen, this will treat you right. Sometimes, it's better to go in with your expectations set at a level that you know could possibly be exceeded. After the mess they've made with this franchise over the years, it's good to know that they really tried to make something for the fans of the originals. Dark Fate is a return trip to a better time in movies where maybe we didn't have to be so cynical at every waking second. The partnership of Tim Miller and James Cameron works perfectly. 

If they make another one, it would be a prime option to have Cameron take over as director again. That's my only real gripe for Dark Fate. There's so much Cameron here, it should have been his motion picture. You can't win them all. But you can have an action packed sequel to a 1991 movie about robots and have a blast with it. This fan is once again looking forward to where they go with the the future. 

-Chris George