Going as far back as the 1927 German film Metropolis (by renown filmmaker Fritz Lang), we as humans have been exposed to the idea of robots (or cyborgs: I know there is probably a difference of some kind). Ever since, we have gotten examples ranging from the Cybermen of Doctor Who (of which I am a huge fan), 2001’s HAL 9000, and the Blade Runner replicants to the lovable animated robots of Big Hero 6 ‘s BayMax and the titular hero of WALL:E. Which leads us, of course, to the Terminator franchise.
The newest film, Terminator: Dark Fate, takes place after 1991’s T2: Judgement Day (which I would rank in the top five or so greatest sequels in the history of cinema), meaning it disregards the previous films, only one of which I have seen, 2015’s Terminator” Genisys (which was a disappointment to say the very least). After the success of preventing Judgement Day, we learn that Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John made it past that day in August of 1997, but that did not mean they were completely safe. The film opens with John’s murder from a terminator, leaving Sarah on her own. She lives live now gettting mysterious texts from a source letting her know when other terminators will enter her time line.
One such event occurs as she helps protect a young Mexican woman named Dani (Natalie Reyes) from a newly evolved terminator called a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), which is somewhat of a cross between the normal t-800 and t-1000 (except its liquid state is much darker and muddier). Sent back in time to protect Dani is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), who is somewhat of a machine but more on the human side. Before her arrival, Grace had a tattoo applied, showing her cooridinates that match those of the mysterious texter (though it is really easy to predict who it is).
Of course, being a terminator film, you have to have Schwarzeneggar, being this is the role that made him a household name (and, as a kid, made me believe robots/cyborgs were real). As always, he is perfectly convincing, even when he is saying lines that are hard for me to comprehend the silliness. Just as convincing is Hamilton, playing a character that has become synonymous with the idea of a woman you don’t mess with (the only one more intense would be Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the Alien franchise). She also has to face the idea of forgiveness towards a certain character, which is something not in her blood. Davis does a decent job of being a protector who becomes more friendly as the film progresses, and there is a fine character arc for Reyes as her Dani quickly goes from “What is happening?!?” to “Enough is enough”. Luna also does an okay job as the villain, though he lacks the amount of cold menace from the 1991 film given by the great Robert Patrick.
The time travel formula is basically the same as the original two (which is where I learned the effects of time travel): protect the past to save the future (in this film, the company that has made new forms of technology is called Legion, as Skynet is now just a word only known to Connor and the T-800). Unlike Terminator: Genisys, this film thankfully is easier to follow the time travel aspect (Genisys was, to borrow a line from Doctor Who, was too “wibbly wobbly” and “timey wimey”).
The action sequences are just basic, but sometimes impressive. There are other nice touches from the original films, such as car chases in actual vehicles, not just sports cars. It also takes place, for the most part, in just two days or so.
One of the more interesting aspects of the film is how the Arnie character has been living as a human (he goes by the name Carl, and works selling draperies. He has fallen in love (so to speak) with a single mother (Alicia Borrachero) and taken care of her son Mateo (Manuel Pacific). He has almost learned to have a soul, so to speak, though his relationship with his wife is not physical (“Does she know you weight 400 pounds?”, quips Connor). It is not entirely clear if Carl has developed a full imbodied soul, but he does truly know how to keep a family safe.
Parents, as is the case in the other films, there is some nudity (though it is not sexual here). There is still a good amount of violence and much swearing that makes this R rating what it is.
There is an intriguing line by Grace, after Sarah has mentioned what she had originally done in the previous films, which changed the future.
“You may have changed the future, but you didn’t change our fate.”
As humans, we are now more reliant (and, especially with cellphones, rather addicted) on technology than ever. Whether it will bring us to near extinction is up for debate. We as human beings are indeed supremely intelligent, but can we make intelligent beings that can think and feel for themselves? Comment below with your thoughts.
I am reminded of a joke from a minister. When scientists come to the conclusion that God is no longer needed, God asks if they are even able to make people from the dust of the earth, they say yes. Intrigued, God knows this is something he has got to see. When the scientists grab the dust of the ground, God quickly says, “No, make your own dirt.”
One thing that can be said is that, if we are in a future similar to that of the one we get in these films, what technology won’t be able to overpower is that of the human spirit, ensuring us that we will, in the end, be back.