After so many disappointing sequels, I had given up hope that there would ever be another good Terminator film. So I skipped Terminator: Dark Fate in theatres last year, figuring that there were far “better” movies that I would want to drag Jay to in the coming months, rather than another convoluted time travel story of undoing a life-changing apocalypse. Judging from the paltry box office numbers for Dark Fate, I was not the only one who stayed away.
Since then, of course, a life-changing event of a different sort has occurred. With theatres being shuttered for four months and counting due to the pandemic, Jay and I have seen most of what’s available, especially lately when new digital releases have slowed to a trickle. Even as we were running out of movies and Dark Fate kept begging us to rent it for 99 cents, I passed repeatedly. But when it popped up for free on Amazon Prime this week, I figured I’d give it a shot, and Jay was on board.
Jay remained on board for less than five minutes. I hadn’t even gotten to the end of my Terminator 2 recap when gave up on the movie and the franchise. I pressed on alone, hoping for the movie to not suck. And if the bar is not sucking, Dark Fate can be considered a success. But shouldn’t the bar be a lot higher?
Dark Fate is likely to be the last of the series (though I thought that before) because it has shown that Terminator has nothing new to offer. It may be that the series feels stuck in the past because the original Judgment Day came and went almost 23 years ago without incident. But the real problem is that the series hasn’t evolved at all in response. The new apocalyptic futures provided by the franchise’s ever-changing timeline have just been copies of the original Terminator’s bone-filled landscape, and neither the villains nor the action have come close to any part of the consistently brilliant T2.
Dark Fate was wise to ignore all the other entries since T2 but despite its best efforts it ends up sharing their fate. Dark Fate is not a bad movie but since it doesn’t offer anything new, this franchise still is stuck in the past. In the end, Dark Fate made me wish I had asked Jay to watch T2 last night instead. I bet she would have lasted longer than five minutes with that one.