After three utterly forgettable outings, James Cameron’s franchise gets a reboot taking up where “Terminator 2 – Judgment Day” left off and whipping up a storm of action and nostalgia.
There has been a great stir over the news that Terminator – Dark fate, which came out in theatres in the US in early November has been a disappointment at the box office right from the very first screenings.
Those in the know claim that the movie directed by Tim Miller (who also helmed the rather more convincing Deadpool in 2016) is in danger of losing upwards of a hundred million dollars against the initial budget set by 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures, raising a question mark over whether the next two chapters of the fateful struggle going on between man and machine since 1984 will ever see the light of day.
What award-winning director James Cameron, mastermind of the original franchise and coproducer and cowriter of the story of Terminator – Dark fate, originally had in mind was a commercial and artistic project along the lines of the last three episodes of the Star Wars saga.
In brief: we take up the story of T-800 (played, naturally, by Arnold Schwarzenegger) recreating the grim backdrop so beloved of millions of fans, the mood that permeated films like Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2 – Judgment Day (1991), massive blockbusters that packed a punch with their dystopian vision of the near future and the judicious use of cutting edge special effects.
Basically, the triumphant return of Cameron should have served to cancel the memory of Terminator 3 – Rise of the machines (2003) which he had no involvement with, as well as Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys (2015; though this one did have Schwarzy on board) which were set on different timelines compared with the initial instalment. Decent enough in their own right, nothing you can put a finger on, but something of a waste considering the grandiose scale of the first two episodes.
So has Cameron succeeded in his intentions? Box office earnings apart, the answer has to be a resounding yes. Terminator – Dark fate, has two aces up its sleeve with the return in stle of both Linda Hamilton (the legendary Sarah Connor who gave birth to John, the leader of the resistance) as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger who, ironic and gloomy as ever, plays a T-800 who has pretty much gone native: he has even got married and is enjoying his retirement. But when the moment comes, he dives back into the fight…
The plot is straightforward enough: men and corporations governed by artificial intelligence (the dreaded Skynet) are fighting once more over the destruction of the Earth. Thus we find a new bionic bad guy arriving from the future (the top of the line Rev-9 played by the impeccable Gabriel Luna) ready to rock with two female protagonists: the cyborg Grace (a ripped Mackenzie Davis) who has also arrived from another point in time and a seasoned Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, 63 years of age) who has a painful past and gives an impressive performance. What is at stake here is the life of Daniella “Dani” Ramos (Natalia Reyes, sadly short on charisma), a humble Mexican worker who – we can only presume – is bound to become the mother of a future leader of the resistance. But this is something we will learn more about in the next two episodes, assuming they ever get made.
Brilliant CGI, well paced direction, a plethora of original action scenes (particularly memorable the one with the traffic jam or the fight at high altitude inside an aircraft), as well as social issues (it is hardly a crime to define this sixth Terminator as a profoundly feminist film which addresses the problems of the migrants arriving in Texas from Mexico), a solid plot and credible acting (the relationship between Hamilton and Schwarzy is definitely the highlight of the movie) alla combine to make Terminator – Dark fate well worth the price of the ticket.
There can be no doubt that nostalgia (and melancholy) play their part in a film of this kind, but the fact that they have managed in just over two hours to bring back to life the visual magic we thought we had lost after 1991 can only mean a thumbs up.