Arts & Entertainment

‘Terminator: Dark Fate,’ a Thumbs Up While Submerged in Lava

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The “Terminator” franchise has been plagued by installments continually declining in quality. “Terminator: Dark Fate,” released Nov. 1, flips this trend. It may not be as fantastic as the first two films in the series, but it proves to be an entertaining movie that fits well in the “Terminator” universe.

The plot follows Dani (Natalia Reyes), aided by Grace (Mackenzie Davis), Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Carl (Arnold Schwarzenegger), as she’s hunted down by a new type of Terminator. The heroes must run from place to place to escape the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) as it attempts to stop Dani from creating a resistance movement against the future AI apocalypse. Directed by Tim Miller (“Deadpool,” “Sonic the Hedgehog”), this film has no shortage of fun, over-the-top action the series always delivers.

Sam: Skynet Enthusiast

“Terminator: Dark Fate” takes plenty of notes after the multiple bombs released in the past, going back to its roots and retconning everything beyond “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” It gets rid of the over-complicated plots and storylines from the later films, focusing solely on the basic story from the original two films. It goes back to the original’s simplistic roots — a terminator trying to kill the one person who can stop their evil reign in the future and the protagonist’s goal to protect the target.

By not making the plot too intricate or complicated, the writers — David S. Goyer (“Batman Begins,” “Blade”) and Billy Ray (“Overlord,” “Captain Phillips”) — make room to focus on a more linear and faithful story while adding an interesting new canon to the Terminator universe. The writing is both fun and inventful, giving the audience a long-awaited experience since the last good Terminator film nearly three decades ago. The writing shines with faithful portrayals of old characters and impactful new characters.

The film knows exactly what its original characters should be like, never trying to overestimate or underestimate their skills or emotions. Sarah returns as the rugged and tough main character from the original films, hunting down any terminators that show up in the world.

There’s plenty of heart in this film, with each actor bringing as much to the table as they can. The action is creative and fast-paced, with each sequence making the audience heavily invested in the scenes and the characters’ fates — their dark fates. Laugh please. But overall, “Terminator: Dark Fate” is a worthy and faithful installment in the Terminator series, giving original fans and new viewers an entertaining, action-packed sequel.                                   

Ben: Andrew Yang Supporter

Being the best “Terminator” film since the second installment may make this film watchable but it doesn’t make it good. While possessing many laudable qualities, this film falls short in many departments. The acting is solid, but most of the characters aren’t given anything to work with, from the mediocre script to spotty direction.

The simplicity of the script gives the plot a laser focus that works as a double-edged sword, helping the plot but hurting the characters and dialogue. The characters, with the exception of Sarah and Carl, feel hollow and one-dimensional. Grace especially feels like she was written entirely by committee, with a comically predictable backstory and a “too cool for school” personality type. Thankfully, Reyes’ performance compensates for the subpar character writing, making Dani a more interesting character.

Boring cinematography clings to this film like white on rice. Almost every dialogue scene uses shot reverse shot technique and every action scene uses wide shots and fast cuts, making the film feel repetitive and neutering any sense of progress. Slow panning shots mark the height of the cinematography of “Terminator: Dark Fate” and even these slightly uninspired shots are few and far between.

The movie lacks the fundamentals of a great film — cinematography and writing. And frankly, that’s all that holds this movie back from being a classic like “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” These aspects feel like they were created in a boardroom and left the film feeling more like a product than an artistic expression.

“Terminator: Dark Fate,” rated R, is showing in theaters nationwide.

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