The early reviews for Terminator: Dark Fate are in. When director James Cameron's 1984 film The Terminator was released, it's unlikely anyone foresaw it becoming a gigantic multimedia franchise encompassing movies, TV shows, video games, comic books, action figures, and basically every other possible type of tie-in product. At its heart, The Terminator was a fairly simple, almost slasher-esque, tale of an unstoppable killer on a dogged pursuit of a frightened victim, albeit with a time travel twist that granted the victim a protector from the future.
It wasn't until 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day came around that the full potential of the property became apparent, with Cameron returning to direct arguably the greatest sci-fi/action film of all-time. Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton also returned, although the script was flipped, with Arnold now the good guy, and Hamilton's Sarah Connor hardened into a stone cold badass survivor. Unfortunately, the sequels since T2 have just been varying flavors of disappointing, failing miserably to live up to Cameron's first two outings.
Next week sees the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, which attempts to right the ship, with Cameron back as a producer, Deadpool's Tim Miller at the helm, Schwarzenegger and Hamilton once again in tow, and every movie past T2 ignored. Included below are spoiler-free excerpts from Terminator: Dark Fate's early reviews. Click on the corresponding links to read the reviews in full.
Molly Freeman - Screen Rant
Terminator: Dark Fate is a perfectly exciting popcorn flick, one that expectedly focuses more on thrilling action than thoughtful discussion of race and gender in modern America. It is, otherwise, an incredible return to form for the franchise. Dark Fate is the Terminator sequel fans have waited nearly 30 years for - and, thankfully, it's well worth the wait. The action spectacle perhaps warrants a viewing in IMAX, though that will make the rougher CGI moments stand out more. Ultimately, Terminator: Dark Fate delivers pulse-pounding action, some sci-fi thrills and plenty of badass moments for original stars Hamilton and Schwarzenegger.
Brandon Zachary - CBR
Produced by franchise co-creator James Cameron, Dark Fate follows many of the conventions of the first two films, and ignores the subsequent, lackluster entries. The plot plays out exactly how you would expect, with few actual surprise. But it's nevertheless enjoyable. Miller stages number of impressive action sequences, ranging from high-octane car chases to over-the-top duels between Rev-9 and the Terminator hunters. There's also a freefall fight inside the supply bay of a crashing plane that may be a serious contender for the best sequence in the entire franchise. The action is the big draw, and it doesn't disappoint.
Jim Vejvoda - IGN
Director Tim Miller’s exciting and breathlessly-paced film succeeds in introducing new protagonists for us to cling to, namely Natalia Reyes’ Dani Ramos and Mackenzie Davis’ Grace. Reyes is basically this film’s answer to the 1984 original’s Sarah Connor but with some key deviations, while Davis’ cybernetically augmented super-soldier is sort of the Kyle Reese equivalent as her selfless protector. Both actresses shine in their dramatic and action scenes. Reyes, in particular, hasn’t been at the forefront of pre-release press for this film, but she nearly steals the show. Mackenzie Davis also delivers a bravura action heroine turn here, kicking lots of ass yet never losing sight of the human, emotional core driving her character.
Haleigh Foutch - Collider
Bottom line, Dark Fate is the return to form for the beloved title that we’ve all been waiting for. The characters get their due, the action is top-tier, and the cast is aces. Miller understands the world he’s working in and embraces it fully, offering a new chapter for these beloved characters and, despite the grim title, promising a bright future for one of the greatest but long-suffering franchises in movie history.
William Bibbiani - The Wrap
Linda Hamilton may not be the protagonist of “Terminator: Dark Fate,” but she’s certainly the star, returning to the franchise for the first time in nearly 30 years. She hasn’t lost a step in that whole time and looks just as comfortable firing rockets at robots as she does exploring the deep-seated pain inherent to Sarah Connor. Her rage and her nobility have sorely been missed in the “Terminator” series, and we are once again reminded that she has always been an exciting movie star who deserved a long, A-list career.
Owen Gleiberman - Variety
The movie, directed with gritty rock-solid craft by Tim Miller (“Deadpool”), marks the return of James Cameron to the series (as executive producer) for the first time since “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” and at moments the film almost seems to be saying to its fan base, “Okay, we admit it, the last three ‘Terminator’ films sucked. They were action-movie fodder of diminishing returns, movies that spun their own wheels. So guess what: Forget all about them. Pretend they never existed. This, take our word for it, is the real third installment of the series.” That kind of thing can become its own form of hype, but in this case it’s a promise the movie takes to the bank. “Dark Fate” is a lean, tough, and absorbing sequel that taps back into the enthralling surface of the “Terminator” series’ comic-book kinetics as well as the sinister sweet spot of its grandiose pulp mythology.
As is quickly evidenced by the excerpts above, the overwhelming opinion concerning Terminator: Dark Fate from critics is that not only is Miller's film a thrilling action blockbuster, it's also easily the best Terminator movie since Judgment Day. As many expected, the re-teaming of Schwarzenegger and Hamilton seems to produce sparks, and rejuvenate the flagging franchise. Additionally, the new cast members like Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Gabriel Luna all turn in gripping performances.
To be fair, not quite every review of Terminator: Dark Fate is golden, but the negative takes are so few that it seems fair to call those simply outliers. Going into 2019, many fans were afraid that even with Cameron back, Terminator would just disappoint everyone again. Thankfully, that doesn't look to be the case, and Terminator 2 finally looks to receive a worthy continuation.
Sources: Various (see above)
- Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019