Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Terminator Dark Fate



The Fate And The Furious

Terminator Dark Fate
(aka Terminator 6)

2019 USA Directed by Tim Miller
UK cinema release print.


Warning: This one has some spoilers because I don’t have a great deal to say about it but I can, at least, talk about specific plot points.

Terminator Dark Fate is the latest in a long line of Terminator films, starting off with James Cameron’s break out picture The Terminator back in 1984. I saw that first one a year or two after that via a big box video rental from the Off Licence about five minutes walk away (it’s still an off licence but, alas, doesn’t rent videos anymore). Out of all the Terminator movies, that first one was by far and away the best of the series and it’s the only one so far I’ve watched multiple times. All the others I’ve only seen once on their cinema releases. Out of the rest... 2 and 5 were pretty unwatchable, 3 and 4 were a little more entertaining.

This new sixth one is... somewhere in the middle of that lot in watchability, I reckon.

Now, I’ve got no idea just what is going on with the story anymore. They’re a little more contradictory as they go on and all have tried to reboot the franchise in some way. Frankly, the continuity on these things is just as bad as the 1940s Universal Mummy sequels or the various X-Men movies from 20th Century Fox... pretty non existent and disrespectful to the audiences who have plonked down money to see a sequel which fitted in with the prior films in the series.

Alas, Terminator Dark Fate is absolutely guilty of the same derogatory attitude towards its paying audience and within the first five or so minutes of the movie, it completely disregards the 3rd, 4th and 5th films by wiping out the possibilities of those futures, having a ‘younged up’ John Connor shot dead by a Terminator soon after the events of the second film. We then jump to present day when another Terminator, played by Gabriel Luna (who you may remember played Ghost Rider in Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D) is sent back to our time to kill a young woman called Danni Ramos, played by Natalia Reyes. However, an ‘augmented human’... basically a synthesis of future tech crossed with a human being, so a super powered cyborg, in other words... is sent back to protect her in the form of Grace, played by Mackenzie Davis.

And, to be fair, things get off to a great start with some strong and unrelenting action sequences which really had me believing that this may be one of the better terminator sequels. I was enjoying what I was seeing a lot and that didn’t let up when, in an early ‘deus ex machina’ moment seen in the trailer, Sarah Connor (with Linda Hamilton returning to play the somewhat iconic role) comes to everyone’s rescue and stalls the pursuit of the new Terminator for a little while. She has been getting anonymous messages from someone ‘off the grid’ for years now telling her when and where a Terminator will appear... “For John...” and is the poster girl for America’s Most Wanted as she has been dealing with various Terminators over the years. When Grace hacks her phone they match some coordinates she was sent back with and they go on a road trip to find themselves at the home of... the Terminator who killed John Connor at the start of the film. He has matured into Arnold Schwarzenneger as he looks now and, since he has new orders and is more or less the cybernetic equivalent of a Ronin (a masterless samurai), he has ‘grown a conscience’ and wants to make amends. And the rest of the film is, of course, more action as this group tries to destroy the Terminator, suffering a few losses along the way.

And... it doesn’t quite do what it needed to do for me to really get on its side. Which is a shame because, for the first hour, I was really into it hook, line and sinker. When Schwarzenegger turns up, though, things kind of go downhill a little and it’s not specifically because of him. As usual, Arnold is really cool in this and he does have some good moments in the film... as do all the cast, who make up a great ensemble. And it’s not even that the script is that bad either, despite its disrespect to the three films that preceded it. I just think that, by this point, there’s been a lot of truly spectacular action sequences and, frankly, the action in the second half of the movie, relentless though it is, just doesn’t really top anything you’ve already seen before and the pauses between set pieces aren’t really enough to keep you invested in them for the whole movie. I kinda had action fatigue by around the midway mark, I think. That was my biggest problem with it.

The ending and the not completely surprising revelation about the importance of the girl everyone is protecting is not that satisfying either, it has to be said. And it’s a shame because, like I said, the movie has got a great opening for the first hour. Then it just gets... well kinda dull actually. I no longer needed to see any action by this point and I was just waiting for all the pyrotechnics to finish. Pacing is everything and the second half of the film didn’t really have much contrast in it, truth be told.

Tom Holkenborg’s score to this however, is pretty cool. It’s quite respectful of Brad Fiedel’s original and it works and lifts the action in the occasional scenes when you can actually hear it without getting caught in the crossfire, so to speak. I believe La La Land are planning on issuing a CD of this one towards the end of the month and I may well pick this one up at some point.

Other than that... not much else to say. Good chemistry between the actors, some nice action scenes at the start and, thankfully, some good editing in those action scenes too... you’d probably not get too confused by what’s going on in this one, so that’s good news. Other than that though... not much else to weigh in with Terminator Dark Fate I think. Fans of the franchise will probably be happy enough with it (although I hear that the box office take on this is not what the studios would have wanted). Newcomers to the franchise could also probably pick up what’s going on fairly early in the film too so if you want to see a lot of explosions and bullets and flying bodies, then this is probably the film for you. I’m not sure however, at least in terms of the Terminator movies, that Arnold Schwarzenneger will ‘be back’ for another.

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