This time, we take a look at and review Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest entry into The Terminator franchise. We’ll be looking at the Terminator: Dark Fate synopsis, movie cast, the somewhat controversial John Connor death, give our own movie rating, consider exactly how many intimidating women can one film have, and is this Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last Terminator film? Let’s dive in! (And if you haven’t already, check out our reviews of the first two films in the franchise, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day!)
**WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN TERMINATOR: DARK FATE YET**
(In addition, apologies we have been behind on releasing our podcast episodes and web posts … as Chris would say … we’ve been too busy ‘adulting’ … enjoy!)
Terminator: Dark Fate – John Connor Death (Controversial?)
Quite simply, it is quite a shock. The scene shows John Connor being found by a different T-800 and being shot several times resulting in the character’s death. His mother Sarah reveals instant heartache as she was helpless to save her son.
The majority of audiences probably felt that heartache too (we know we did). However, it seems some people out there aren’t happy with this decision … like, they refuse to accept it.
Dani Di Placido with Forbes says that the scene “completely disregard(s) the only sequel that fans love – Terminator 2 … he was our main connection to the original films, and his death renders both of those movies pointless” (read more of his article here).
We acknowledge that some people are upset because you might say “Well what the heck was the point of the first two films!?” We get it. The first two films were all about the need for John Connor to survive. However, remember that the future with Skynet was averted at the end of Terminator 2.
Okay, okay … the one small gripe we may have is the very quick and thrown-in fix of ‘oh, well there was more than one terminator sent back at the same time to kill John Connor.’ Let’s say we buy into it though and continue.
So, with the potential Skynet timeline being averted, anything can now happen. Many praise Linda Hamilton and her character in this film (we’ll get to that discussion in a bit). John had to die for her character arc to evolve into what it is in Dark Fate. In addition, a sequel that is a soft reboot needs to be unique itself. We think with Connor not being the future resistance leader makes the film pretty unique from the others, don’t you?
All-in-all, take a deep breath everyone! Yes it’s shocking, but let’s embrace something new. Let there be new characters and let there be new stories. Alright … rant over. You may continue, haha!
(As a side note, the scene includes the recreation of John and Sarah Connor along with an undamaged T-800 as if we were watching a Terminator 2 post-credits scene in 1991 – actually looked decent, so good job on the filmmakers part)
Terminator: Dark Fate Timeline Clarifications (Confused Yet!?)
Following the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the franchise has seen some less than spectacular sequels like Rise of the Machines and the aforementioned Salvation and Genisys. The latter two were designed to be the start of their own trilogy of films, but these were critical and commercial flops.
So, plans were made by producer James Cameron to make a direct sequel to the films he previously made. While this could be seen as a vain attempt to regain control of his brainchild, this actually makes the most sense as the time travel elements in Genisys were too complicated to continue on and the franchise has been plagued with inconsistency following his departure.
During the events of Judgment Day, Sarah and John destroyed Cyberdyne Systems, the company that would ultimately create Skynet and they stopped Judgment Day. These actions have completely altered the timeline now. Then we witness the murder of John and we know right away that this is a completely Terminator film than we’ve seen in the past.
Skynet has been replaced by Legion, an artificial intelligence designed for warfare (it’s like people never learn) and instead of launching an all-out nuclear war, it instead attacks the network and Internet systems which leads to the government launching tactical nuclear weapons that would destroy the system with an electromagnetic pulse.
Unfortunately, Legion still survived, terminators were still created, humans now starve and kill each other for food and supplies. With John out of the picture, a new leader of the Resistance has emerged in Dani Ramos.
Terminator: Dark Fate Movie Cast and Crew
Tim Miller – Director
While Miller is most known for directing 2016’s Deadpool, he became available to direct Dark Fate when he left working on Deadpool 2. While it is believed star Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller had creative differences that led to Miller’s departure, Deadpool 2 turned out to be another great film.
In any case, Miller brought his unique view on action to this film. There are reports of Miller and producer James Cameron disagreeing on certain story points. Supposedly Cameron wanted this to be the first time Dani is being hunted by the terminator, so someone like Grace would not be sent back to protect her. Miller didn’t think this would be possible.
For example, how would Dani know where to find Arnold’s T-800 character? In any case, Cameron eventually came around (surprisingly, because we hear he’s a bit of stickler to work with) and the final product doesn’t reflect the clash Cameron and Miller had.
Linda Hamilton – Sarah Connor
Hamilton returns to the role that made her famous and in many ways, she’s more intimidating and tougher than her role in Judgment Day. The film opens with Sarah and her son, relaxing on a beach in Guatemala, believing they’ve succeeded in their mission and have stopped Judgment Day. That is until a T-800 shows up and murders John in front of Sarah.
Fast forward 20 years later and she has become angrier and more hateful than ever before as she goes everywhere hunting terminators and drinking herself to sleep every night just so she can dull the pain. In a sense though, this gives her purpose as she has been dealing with so much loss in her life after seeing the father of her child killed and then her son being brutally murdered in front of her.
It is a twist that the T-800 that killed John though, is the one supplying Sarah information (anonymously) on where terminators will show up, contributing to her sense of purpose.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Terminator T 800 (“Model 101”) / “Carl”
It is next to impossible to produce a Terminator film without the involvement of Schwazenegger. However, due to the events of Judgment Day, this T-800 comes from a now non-existent timeline so, he is the last of his kind and ultimately sacrifices himself at the end of the film so the question now becomes, have we seen the last of the legendary action hero in the role that made his career?
The answer is most likely yes, given that Schwarzenegger is now 70 years old. In addition, there may be a Hollywood trend of beloved action characters retiring, such as Sylvester Stallone retiring from the Rambo franchise. It is possible that he could take a behind the scenes role in future films, but that remains to be seen.
But a bit more on his character for this film, as it is definitely a very different version…
After the T-800 killed John, he was without a purpose as it was from a different timeline and programmed by an A.I. that no longer exists. This is a question Sean and Chris pondered in an earlier podcast episode as to what a terminator would do once it would accomplish its mission.
This T-800 leaves to try to find its purpose and while doing so, develops something resembling a conscience as it marries a woman and raises a child with her (not biologically his, if it was, that would have been a heck of an explanation the film would have to give the audience, haha!).
When asked if he loves his wife and child, his answer is a bit cryptic, “not like a human can.” This implies that in his mind (or programming?) he loves her, but obviously doesn’t know how to like a human. By growing close to humans, he’s had the opportunity to reflect on the consequences of killing John and resolves to give Sarah a purpose.
For many years, and as we mentioned above when we discussed Sarah Connor’s character above, he has been the one that has been sending Sarah the coordinates and time stamps for the terminators that are being sent back in time to kill their targets.
It’s not exactly explained how Carl would know this information given that he is from a timeline that no longer exists, but just remember it’s a movie and make up a reason of your own (Jeremy points out that maybe the T-800’s technology is still similar and can detect when a terminator will soon time travel, who knows?).
Mackenzie Davis – Grace
Davis has starred in other major sci-fi films in recent years such as The Martian and Blade Runner 2049 and this is certainly another notch in her career. She’s able to stand toe-to-toe with a new and more lethal terminator (probably the most lethal we have ever seen) and takes charge in many situations that involve the protection of Dani Ramos, the new hope and resistance leader for the future.
The new aspect of the “protector” that is being sent back that is added in this film is that Grace has become an augmented human. If you’re imagining better, faster, and stronger, that’s pretty much what it means. It seems using that ability has a big impact on the human body and she needs to replenish herself and/or take medications in order to shake that impact on the body. We like the idea of an “augmented” human as it’s a new character aspect introduced into the franchise and not too implausible for future technology.
In the end, Davis delivers a strong performance as one of her first main roles in blockbuster film. We think she and her character easily measure up next to the intimidating Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor.
Natalia Reyes – Dani (Daniella) Ramos
Reyes makes her Hollywood debut in this film, but we think she gets overshadowed by two great performances from Hamilton and Davis.
We think that this could possibly be the fault of the filmmakers as Cameron doesn’t have the best track record when writing for some of his characters. Even though he isn’t credited as being part of the screenplay writing team for this film, he did offer suggestions supposedly. In addition, screenwriter David Goyer shares the same reputation as he has some ‘not-so-good’ screenwriting credits with the films Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
However, Reyes does manage to hold her own in the film and while there are some moments of maybe the being a strong leader in the film being a bit corny and possibly overacted, it doesn’t feel too gratuitous like we’ve seen in other blockbusters from recent memory.
Gabriel Luna – Rev 9
Fans of Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will recognize Luna as the Robbie Reyes iteration of Ghost Rider from the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Luna was fantastic in his portrayal of the new and deadliest terminator ever created in the Rev-9. The Rev-9 is almost like a T-800 combined with a T-1000.
Reyes’ lines are minimal like the other terminators from previous films, but we think his portrayal in Dark Fate is a potential rival to Schwarzenegger in the original film, which is saying a lot since that’s what made Schwarzenegger a global phenomenon. Reyes as the Rev-9 is deadly, ruthless and virtually unstoppable – of course with the exception of a team made-up of an experienced Sarah Connor, a T-800, the future resistance-leader, and an augmented human from the future.
Terminator: Dark Fate – Dripping with Nostalgia
As has been the case with many franchises who have received long overdue sequels, this soft reboot/sequel is at times, dripping with nostalgia like too much syrup over a stack of waffles.
There are many similarities between Dark Fate and the original film. The obvious being a human sent back in time to protect someone essential to the future resistance against a terminator programmed to kill said person. Even the first encounter between Grace and the Rev-9 is eerily similar to that of when Kyle Reese protects Sarah in the dance club.
There is also a variation of the “Come with me if you want to live” line as well as “I’ll be back” being said by several characters including a variation from Carl who remarks to his family that he “won’t be back” as his past has caught up to him.
Dark Fate also retains many of the chase elements that made the first film terrifying while introducing several new action scenes.
Jeremy did note that there is only so many times that the films can introduce a story where a terminator is sent back in time to kill someone and a human or reprogrammed terminator has to protect that person. If a sequel to Dark Fate were to be produced, Jeremy and Chris agreed that it should focus on Sarah and Dani. Maybe it could be focused more on training Dani to become more of a leader and warrior or ways to destroy Legion and stop the new Judgment Day from occurring.
(At the moment, the franchise is in trouble with opening expectations not quite met, so the probability of a sequel does not look good, but you never know. Read about it here.)
Among ourselves, we did differ in our opinions on the amount of nostalgia in the film with Chris noting that if it was given serious thought, then it would become bothersome as the amount of call-backs are plentiful, while Jeremy didn’t mind it during the course of the film (Jeremy appreciates call-backs to original/previous films).
Force Fed Sci-Fi’s Terminator: Dark Fate Rating and Review
Normally, we utilize our unique rating scale for reviewing our films, but for movies that are recent releases, we retain our ratings of WOULDN’T WATCH, WOULD WATCH and WOULD OWN while amending our last one as WOULD SEE AGAIN IN THEATER as we feel like this is a high compliment for recent theatrical releases. Jeremy and Chris differed slightly on their ratings, but still rated Dark Fate highly as Jeremy called the film a WOULD OWN and Chris rated it a WOULD SEE AGAIN. Jeremy and Chris cite the action sequences and the performances of Luna, Davis, Schwarzenegger and Hamilton to be among the highlights of the film, and Chris once again contributes his rating to the sentimental impact the franchise as a whole had on him when he was younger (it holds a special place in his heart, aww!)
What did you think of Terminator: Dark Fate? Have you seen it yet? Do you agree with our ratings and comments? Listen to the full episode as our hosts discussed the budget of Dark Fate and how much the film will have to potentially gross for a sequel to be greenlit as well as their thoughts regarding the Rev-9. Please listen, rate and subscribe to our show and comment your thoughts below!