The Terminator series of films has had more than its fair share of highs and lows and this week sees the release of the latest instalment Terminator: Dark Fate. The original and especially T2 were such highs that they propelled the careers of James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and established the shiny Terminator as a cinematic icon.
The story of an AI becoming self-aware, waging war on the human race and the ensuing battle for survival was rich in promise and potential, and especially the special effects of T2 seemed to open out the limits of the franchise so there were no bounds.
However, then came ownership fights, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the inflating bosom of a female Terminator, time travel, John Connor as an AI-replacement bad guy, Genesys, Salvation and suddenly the whole thing looked like toppling into a morass of what might have been.
Happily for Terminator fans, and I’m certainly one, most of the original team of producers and stars have returned and the action-packed touch of Tim Miller is at the director’s helm. Mr Miller lets everyone know within five minutes that this is not that Terminator story rehashed yet again, the female characters are not fluffy haired chase bunnies, oh no, the Terminator is woke. A strongly female-centric story unfolds with Linda Hamilton to the fore as a Sarah Connor caught up in a cycle only she can break. Arnie is back (see what I did there) but instead of gurning for laughs, he’s a powerful sidekick.
So, with a solid story, only a few but well-honed gags and a staggering amount of action, Terminator: Dark Fate delivers on the promise of T1 and T2. It embellishes the story, is wildly entertaining and again the effects are eye-poppingly good and augment but do not dominate the narrative. This film provides the full stop on this chapter, leaves the door open for another, blasts through 128 minutes with thrills, spills and just possibly a tear or two. This is a rich, rewarding ride the does justice to the Terminator’s brilliant roots. This is the Terminator film long-term fans hoped for as a third instalment and for newbies, it’s a great place to start.
A delicate dance expertly executed by Tim Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis with conductor James Cameron happily back at the helm. Sit down, strap in and enjoy Terminator: Dark Fate in NZ cinemas now!
Reviewed by Mike Hales.