For some reason — which I quickly came to regret — I forced myself to stay awake to finally watch the latest offering in the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led dystopian franchise which began 36 years ago. Keep in mind that the first five films, to one degree or another, centered around keeping John Connor alive. That’s because he’s to eventually lead the human resistance against the now-self-aware machines.
Dark Fate wipes this premise out in its very first moments. It seems Skynet kept sending Terminators back to kill John, and one eventually succeeded. In other words, right off the bat, all the emotion we felt with The Terminator and Judgment Day goes right out the window.
Not to mention, to hell with Rise of the Machines, Salvation, and even Genisys. According to Wikipedia, this is precisely what Dark Fate was supposed to do.
As I noted previously, the Terminator franchise can’t decide whether to utilize a closed-loop time geometry (as in the first two films), or a multiverse approach, which arose in the third film. With the former, the killing of either Sarah or John Connor would alter, and possibly end, the human resistance in the future — in the same timeline.
Rise of the Machines sort of begins the multiverse aspect as, despite the efforts of Sarah, John, and the (good) Terminator in Judgment Day, a different (good) Terminator informs a ten-years-older John that Skynet’s nuclear attack was only delayed. One perhaps can still buy into the closed-loop time theory given that the Terminator from T2 didn’t give Sarah and John the whole story.
With Genisys, the franchise completely discards the premise of the first four films, fully embracing the multiverse theory. As basically a reboot, Genisys works fairly well as you’re constantly guessing what direction the story will follow.
But … after five films and exhausted premises, why follow up on Genisys?
Of course, the answer is “money!!” But even naked money grabs have to have some semblance of giving a shit. Dark Fate doesn’t, and hence was a disaster.
As noted here at BF, aside from star Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film managed to get Linda Hamilton to reprise Sarah Connor. The problem is that Hamilton is just plain God-awful. Honestly, she’s not that great an actress anyway, but she’s gotten progressively worse since The Terminator. In Dark Fate, all she utters are what the writers must’ve considered to be “cute” or “edgy” quips, all in a scratchy, guttural manner.
Mackenzie Davis’s Grace isn’t much better with her lines.
But overall, the problem is that there is nothing new. Maybe the film’s creators figured they could pull a Star Wars: The Force Awakens and essentially do a “redo” of the franchise’s basic premise for a new generation. But we know how those SW flicks turned out.
The most intriguing part of Dark Fate is Schwarzenegger’s T-800. After he kills John in the film’s first minutes, he pops up (years) later and informs Sarah that, once his objective was resolved, he had to find a new “purpose.” So… he studied humans and became part of a family (see above photo). Ridiculous or not, it is — by far — the most intellectually stimulating part of the story.