Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis
David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray
An augmented human and Sarah Connor must stop an advanced liquid Terminator from hunting down a young girl whose fate is critical to the human race.
$29,033,832 on 4086 Screens.
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Audio Description
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Runtime: 128 min.
Release Date: 1/28/2020
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• “A Legend Reforged” Featurette
• “World Builders” Featurette
• “Dam Busters” Featurette
• “VFX Breakdown” Featurette
• Blu-ray Copy
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer
Terminator: Dark Fate [4K UHD] (2019)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 13, 2020)
35 years after the franchise debuted, a sixth film in the series arrives via 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate. However, Fate comes with a twist, as it pretends none of the sequels after 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day existed.
In T2, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) helped stop “Judgment Day”, an event that would’ve wiped out much of humanity in August 1997. However, in 1998, a rogue Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) finds Sarah and her son John (Edward Furlong) and he kills the boy.
22 years later, a shape-shifting “Rev-9” model of Terminator (Gabriel Luna) arrives in Mexico to assassinate auto worker Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). However, an augmented human named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) comes to this setting as well, and she works to protect Dani.
Dani’s survival acts as a key to the future of mankind. Although Sarah and company averted one machine-controlled holocaust, as a cyberentity called “Legion” eventually executes its own form of Judgment Day.
As Grace and Dani work to deal with the Rev-9, Sarah finds them and lends her own crusty, cynical form of assistance. All of them band together to find a way to stop the Rev-9.
After 35 years, Dark Fate may bring the end of the Terminator franchise. Actually, that seems unlikely, as the series persists despite multiple box office disappointments, but the movie-going crowd’s relative lack of interest in Dark Fate must sting more than others.
Dark Fate brings back both Hamilton and series creator James Cameron for the first time since T2. Despite that, the movie failed to find the desired audience, as it mustered disappointing results at the box office.
At this point, I think it’s fair to classify the iffy financial returns of 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, 2009’s Salvation, 2015’s Genisys and Dark Fate as the franchise’s rule. The 1984 movie didn’t make much money, but its legacy made it a classic.
After that, T2 became a true blockbuster, and I think its ticket sales led studios to believe audiences loved the Terminator franchise. Everything since 1991 tells us that mass crowds enjoyed T2 but didn’t really attach to the franchise as a whole.
If we get a seventh Terminator movie, it should come with a decreased budget and lower box office expectations. Make a leaner flick for less money and maybe a studio will find the profits they failed to muster with the super-expensive 21st flicks.
Creatively, Dark Fate doesn’t make me think the series keeps a lot in the tank, though. Essentially a mix of the first and second movies, this one keeps us with it but it lacks the impact of its early predecessors.
The choice to discard the third through sixth movies – as well as TV’s Sarah Connor Chronicles - neither bothers nor excites me. On one hand, it seems like a bit of a cop-out, but on the other, the franchise’s mythology turned into such a mish-mash across the post-T2 enterprises, so I can’t blame the filmmakers for their desire to start semi-fresh.
With or without the choice to invalidate the third through fifth movies and the TV series, Dark Fate would falter simply because it really doesn’t find much new to say. With the return of Hamilton and Cameron, the reunion aspect gives the film a spark, but otherwise, it seems like the filmmakers can’t think of a new story to tell.
That stems from the inherent nature of the Terminator franchise – at least one in which the characters still act to avert global catastrophe. While not a terribly good movie, I admire Salvation’s decision to get past the “stop Judgment Day” plot of the first three films and move into the future.
Rise came with its own twists – mainly because it argued that Judgment Day couldn’t be stopped no matter what – whereas Genisys offered a form of reboot. Had the latter done better, I suspect I’d be reviewing a sequel to it right now, not a flick that goes back to the semi-drawing board.
Though only semi, for as I alluded earlier, Dark Fate feels more like a rehash than anything new. Like I mentioned, some of this relates to the nature of the franchise, as it becomes tough to come up with fresh stories in the battle between human and killing machine.
With Dark Fate, though, the filmmakers don’t really try. Dani acts as a rehash of Sarah from the first movie, and Grace and Sarah share the Kyle Reese role – without the sweet, sweet lovin’, of course.
That acts as the movie’s biggest twist, I guess: the choice to focus heavily on female protagonists. Most of the movie concentrates on the three women as they battle the Rev-9, and that gives the film even more of a feminist angle than in the past.
Nonetheless, the story fails to muster a plot that feels particularly different from the first two movies, and in particular, T2 becomes a heavy influence. Probably due to budgetary limitations, the original Terminator offered more of a suspense thriller than a true action flick, but with a huge wad of cash at his disposal, Cameron made T2 the elaborate action showcase he wanted.
Dark Fate clearly follows that path, and in the hands of Deadpool director Tim Miller, we do find some solid action scenes. Though awfully derivative of T2’s T-1000, the Rev-9 becomes a scary villain, and the stunts and battles bring pretty good thrills.
Even so, try as they might, the movie can’t bring the floor-rocking impact of T2. That film truly raised the bar on what to expect from action films – from its crazed stunts to its ground-breaking effects, it threw down that particular gauntlet.
Dark Fate can’t find anything fresh to do, really, so it just seems like one of the crowd. While the action scenes offer reasonable excitement, they don’t dazzle like T2’s moments did, so they feel somewhat been-there, done-that.
I do like the return of Hamilton, even though she overacts through most of the film. Maybe this makes sense, as a version of Sarah who’s been underground and at war for 22 years would be mentally unstable, but Hamilton still overplays the part.
Nonetheless, it’s simply a kick to see her as Sarah for the first time in 28 years, and she adds much-needed personality to the film. Luna manages some spark as the Rev-9, but the movie gives him little to do beyond attack, attack, attack, so he can’t elevate the part a whole lot.
As our other female leads, both Davis and Reyes seem wholly, perfectly adequate. Neither does poorly but neither manages to bring much personality to their parts either.
I can’t call Dark Fate a bad movie, as it brings reasonable action entertainment. It seems unnecessary, though, as its lack of story-related creativity means it fails to offer a bracing new branch on the Terminator tree.
The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus C+
Terminator: Dark Fate appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. As expected, this became a fine presentation.
At all times, sharpness appeared positive. As such, I thought the image seemed accurate and well-defined. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and the movie lacked any print flaws.
The hues followed predictable stylistic paths, so we got a whole lot of teal and orange here. Trite as those choices might be, the Blu-ray executed them in a positive manner, and the disc’s HDR gave them a little extra oomph.
Blacks were always deep and tight, and I saw good contrast as well. Shadows seemed clear and appropriately opaque. The 4K UHD became a strong reproduction of the film.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos track of Fate lived up to expectations, as the mix used all the channels in a lively, involving manner. Vehicles, weapons, and other action elements popped up from all around the room and delivered a smooth, engrossing soundscape.
This meant nearly constant material from the surrounds. The back speakers delivered a high level of information and created a great sense of place in that domain. All of this melded together in a vivid, satisfying manner.
Audio quality was also strong. Music seemed full and bold, while speech was consistently natural and crisp.
Effects became the most prominent component, of course, and packed a solid punch, with positive clarity and range. As a soundscape, Dark Fate delivered the goods.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both offered the same Atmos track.
As for visuals, the Dolby Vision presentation brought stronger colors, contrast and sharpness, but not quite as big an improvement as I might have expected. This meant I preferred the 4K but it didn’t offer a major jump in picture quality.
All of the disc’s extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy, and we locate four featurettes. A Legend Reforged runs 20 minutes, 11 seconds and presents comments from director Tim Miller, producer James Cameron, writers David Goyer, Billy Ray and Justin Rhodes, stunt coordinator Freddy Bouciegues, trainer Josefine Holmberg, and actors Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Mackenzie Davis.
“Legend” looks at story/characters and connections to earlier films, Miller’s approach to the material, the return of Hamilton and Cameron to the franchise, cast and performances. Some useful content emerges, but most of the material focuses on happy talk, so don’t expect much.
World Builders fills 32 minutes, 46 seconds and includes info from Luna, Cameron, Hamilton, Miller, Schwarzenegger, Reyes, Davis, Goyer, Bouciegues, ILM visual effects supervisor Jeff White, visual effects editor Jon W. Carr, visual effects supervisor Eric Barba, executive producer John J. Kelly, production designer Sonja Klaus, supervising location manager Nick Oliver, set decorator Mike Britton, makeup designer Bill Corso, editor Justin Clarke, action vehicles supervisor Graham Kelly, stunt coordinators Debbie Evans, Mike Massa, Jason Dumenigo and Michael Ryan, 2nd unit director Philip J. Silvera, special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, visual effects producer Lisa Beroud, and actor Diego Boneta, Steven Cree, Pedro Rudolphi, Diego Marinez and Lorna Brown.
During “World”, we learn about various effects, sets and locations, stunts and action. Though it comes with some of the first featurette’s breathless tone, it brings enough worthwhile details to merit a look.
Next comes Dam Busters, an eight-minute, 30-second reel with Miller, Klaus, Silvera, Schwarzenegger, Reyes, Hamilton, Barba, Davis, Luna, Bouciegues, White, Rhodes, and stunt coordinators Micah Karns and Roel Failma.
In this reel, we get details related to the movie’s climactic action sequence. Like “World”, we continue to find too much fluff, but we get some insights as well.
Finally, we locate a VFX Breakdown for “The Dragonfly”. It takes up two minutes, 23 seconds to show us various stages of effects for one sequence. It becomes a good before/after exploration.
Six Deleted/Extended Scenes span a total of eight minutes, 54 seconds. Most tend toward minor bits and don’t add much, though a scene with “Carl’s” wife seems useful.
Despite the return of Linda Hamilton and James Cameron, Terminator: Dark Fate delivers a mixed bag. While it comes with some good action beats, the story and characters feel rehashed. The 4K UHD offers excellent picture and audio as well as a mix of bonus materials. Dark Fate offers occasional thrills but it doesn’t turn into a great Terminator flick.
To rate this film, visit the original review of TERMINATOR: DARK FATE