Kelly Sees the Potential of Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).

Dark Fate 002Rating: C+

Basically: Stop trying to explain time travel. I’ll just ask you more questions.

Summary: Skynet in the form of Legion attempts to kill a young woman, but not before the rebellion sends a human-cyborg back in time to stop them.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Terminator and Terminator 2 and I didn’t bother with the others because… well. I didn’t care. A lot of people are complaining that Terminator got very PC, but I’ve always thought that the series was Sarah Connor’s story and that it veered off track when it used 3 to focus on John instead- that time period really kills it for me. No Sarah, no Linda, no interest. So overall, this series is somewhere at the bottom of the list for me. But you know what I have seen a handle of? Marvel movies. Some of the Fast and Furious-es. You know how we like Big Dumb Fun here- we tend to skew towards Bad Action and subpar dialogue that get away with being watchable due to two or three good moments, but we admit that they are bad. Then when we do get something like a Mad Max, our minds are appropriately sent into orbit.

Dark Fate sits directly in the middle of the parabola. It’s not bad in the way that the Transformers or Resident Evil series are bad, but it’s not good in the way that something like Tombstone or even Independence Day is good. It’s got a great tone, some exceptional action (shout out to Mackenzie Davis, her workout regiment, and her super long neck), the leads are all pretty solid and their chemistry is on.

Let me get on my soapbox for a minute- I like that this movie is about women while not being about women. There are certainly movies that I adore where women are be proud of being heroes or to declare themselves and I also appreciate a movie with that kind of focus and tone. But I don’t think a movie needs to declare that it’s about women for me to be proud of being a woman- it’s awesome that they’re presented as main characters in a natural and normal way. And there’s nothing wrong with characters who are proud to be femaleI just like that this movie had a tone and stuck to it, rather than giving some obvious, forced dialogue that pulls away from my viewing experience in an attempt to pander to female audiences a la Dark Phoenix.

What doesn’t work here… well. This movie is long. There is some unnecessary mystery between the women instead of trusting each other to protect the asset. I wasn’t crazy about the plane bit. Most of all, the Terminator association really hinders where this movie could go and a lot of those things are force-fed for the sake of the franchise. This could have easily been a standalone movie. I don’t think Arnold was entirely necessary. I could have done without him, but you know, face of the franchise or whatever and all. There are several scenes that try to explain the time travel aspects- but it just opens up a lot more plotholes about how things exist and were able to… I don’t know, survive past critical moments that would have altered history. Damn that’s wordy. This is why I don’t do time travel! The more people try to explain it, the more questions I have. I just need to know- in this timeline, if John Connor was killed by a Terminator, but then Skynet didn’t exist and was instead born as Legion, how does John get killed in the first place if now there is no Terminator to send back? How does Sarah Connor talk to said Terminator if there was no Skynet to create him? Does like… does the timeline meld together with time travelers and lock itself in place in the present timeline?

I need to stop or else these questions will never end. I think Dark Fate is worth watching, especially if you feel the desire for some good hand-to-hand combat.

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