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  Terminator: Dark Fate He Won't Be Back
Year: 2019
Director: Tim Miller
Stars: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, Ferran Fernández, Tristán Ulloa, Tomás Álvarez, Tom Hopper, Alicia Borrachero, Enrique Arce, Manuel Pacific, Fraser James, Pedro Rudolphi
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Twenty-two years ago, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) stopped the future happening by sheer force of will, or rather, she stopped one future happening, where super-advanced computer system Skynet would start a robot revolution to wipe out humanity. She did this by preventing Skynet being started, but it had one last note of revenge up its virtual sleeve, as one of the surviving Terminators, cyborgs designed to pass for human, murdered her son who would have grown up to be the leader of a counter-revolution that now would never happen. Now, in the present, at least that nightmare never came to pass - but there is a pattern to be followed by time, and the rise of the machines...

Despite the last couple of Terminator films flopping at the box office, Hollywood was so desperate for franchises with name recognition that they returned to the T-800 well for a sixth time, no matter that any sense would have told them audiences' interest in the scenario had fallen by the wayside significantly. But the studios involved thought the return of James Cameron to the storyline he created, along with previous series stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, would generate excitement among the fans of the first two as they promised a plot that took up from the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, leaving the other sequels as thwarted timelines in the continuity.

Yet the trouble with that was, that each time they reiterated the idea of going back to the past to change the future, it cheapened that self-same idea, so killing of John Connor completely was not going to cheer up the diehards one jot, prompting them to wonder what they had been invested in all this time. And the new audiences who were not around in 1991 when the first sequel was one of the biggest movies of all time just were not sufficiently engaged to turn out and watch: Hamilton would mean very little to them, and Schwarzenegger had not been a blockbuster draw for decades, his political endeavours having made audiences lose interest. In addition, there was something they would have seen.

That was Rick and Morty, a sardonic cartoon that took swipes at movie and TV clichés with a withering intelligence, and around the time of Terminator: Dark Fate aired a certain episode featuring a planet of snakes that had discovered time travel only to become locked in a hell of endlessly returning to the past to fix the future, violence ensuing, and nothing ever being resolved, its pointlessness a joke in itself. This sounded a lot like the Terminator franchise's tendency to get tied up in knots of shifting continuity and summed up why those latter entries were just not going to find the fans anymore. However, there were those who said this one was the best since T2 - was this the nostalgia talking, the grudgingly impressed tones of those who saw Cameron's name in the credits and tried to find worth here?

Possibly, but if you gave it a chance, scene by scene may not have been saying anything new, yet for what it was it was by no means the disgrace the most vocal opponents who bizarrely didn't like seeing women handle the action duties despite Cameron being one of the eighties exponents of strong female characters in these items would have you believe. Although the abundance of CGI removed a lot of the peril the first two movies had in spades with their crunchy effects work, the cast were game, with additions Mackenzie Davis as an augmented fighter and Natalia Reyes as basically the new John at least bringing more personality to what could have been hackneyed (and maybe was anyway), though new Terminator Gabriel Luna was hamstrung by being mostly graphics. Arnie was given the humour and a curious humanity for the T-800, as if he had grown a heart like the Tin Man from Oz, and he and Hamilton delivered the theme about synthetic life never being a substitute for the real thing. The standout setpiece was the battle on the aeroplane, but it was all competent at a base level, its main flaw being it didn't really need to exist. Music by Junkie XL.

[20th Century Fox's Blu-ray has deleted scenes and a bunch of featurettes as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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