Term Limited

Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Terminator: Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate tries to live on nostalgia while setting itself up as a girl-power franchise going forward. And after seeing it, the phrase “I’ll be back” rings more like a threat than a promise.

Sequels (and prequels) are, by nature, derivative. But Dark Fate lacks anything that resembles a creative extension of the franchise. This one is a direct descendent of Judgment Day, and ignores everything that happened in the miserable sequels that came out in the interim.

What’s Old Is Not New Again, It’s Still Just Old

Sarah gets us up to speed on what’s been going on since 1991. She changed the future, SkyNet never happened, but a Terminator still got to John, carrying out orders for a future that never came to fruition.

But somehow, artificial intelligence still rises, just under a different name. Terminators are still coming back in time to snuff out resistance leaders, and Sarah Connor is still kicking butt with. If you feel like you’ve heard this story before, it’s because you have! A near-impossible-to-kill is sent to stalk a future hero, who alternately runs, hides, and fights.

This time Linda says “I’ll be back,” and Arnold picks up the iconic sunglasses but opts against them. Her fierce, mother bear attitude is in full effect. His strength and selflessness (once his original murder mission is accomplished) is on full display. None of this is new. At all.

Let’s Get Physics’al

Okay, that headline isn’t my finest, and I usually don’t nitpick the science of science fiction movies. But this movie doesn’t take liberties with the laws of physics, it breaks the laws and should be arrested. From the time the cargo jet gets off the ground, I’m watching things that are just not possible. Like taking off with the cargo door open. That would give serious drag but I suppose it’s possible. What’s not possible is that anyone standing there would be able to just chill and not be sucked out, slip out, whatever.

Then as the plane falls apart while careening out of control, people are gently floating by, as if they were in outer space, and not very well within our atmosphere and within the Earth’s gravitational pull. And don’t get me started on the parachuting Humvees.

Terminate The Budget

Dark Fate opened well below expectations. Early estimates were for around $40 million in North America, and it came in around $29 million. Globally it’s at $123 million, which sounds great, until you see that it had $185 million production budget, plus tens of millions more in marketing and promotion. The fact that the last three sequels were less than compelling and young audiences don’t remember Judgment Day, enthusiasm for this franchise has waned, and it shows by all the empty seats in theaters.

This isn’t the biggest box office disaster in 2019, but it should give studio suits pause before they green light any more sequels.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Corona with a lime. That’s what’s being served in the movie. No doubt the cash from the product placement will help offset the losses at the box office.


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