The first 'Terminator: Dark Fate' reviews are out — here's what the critics are saying

Next month, director Tim Miller (Deadpool) will release the sixth and latest instalment of the post-apocalyptic Terminator franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate.

Although the majority of diehard fans of the franchise have shunned and critiqued all three post-1991 Terminator films, it’s possible they might see some worth in the upcoming instalment — or at least some critics think so.

A week ahead of Dark Fate’s North American release on Nov. 1, a number of reviews have surfaced. While most critics were more impressed with the film than they were with Rise of the Machines (2003), Salvation (2009) and Genisys (2015), they made it very clear the bar was set very low — suggesting the franchise might have repaired itself.

Linda Hamilton in 'Terminator: Dark Fate.'

Linda Hamilton in 'Terminator: Dark Fate.'

Kerry Brown/Paramount Pictures via AP

After three decades, with the return of James Cameron as executive producer and Linda Hamilton as leading lady, many believe Dark Fate could be promising.

It was also confirmed that the film would serve as a direct sequel to the first two — and most popular — Terminator films, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which Cameron, 65, directed.

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Though there is a lot of hype surrounding Terminator: Dark Fate, as well as specific expectations, here’s what the critics are saying about it so far — with no spoilers.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Terminator: Dark Fate offers a fair bit of pleasure to those wanting a 21st-century retread of T2. But it suffers greatly from obeying the imperative the first sequel established: trying to blow minds and up the ante the way that FX-pioneering adventure did … One might expect that, having hired Deadpool director Miller, the filmmakers have a sense of irony about all this and wanted him to bring some meta-movie wit to the action. No such luck. This film contains even less humour than the last one. We’re distracted from the staleness of this storyline by sequences that strain awfully hard to dazzle us … Aside from predictably excellent CGI, an underutilized Mackenzie Davis is the film’s best new addition.”

From Entertainment Weekly:

“Dark Fate director Tim Miller has a higher budget, a more seasoned cast, decades of nostalgia. What he lacks is grace … You sense the clash of mission statements as the zigzag plot skips past any real character intrigue … Schwarzenegger’s late appearance brings a new note of straight-up comedy. He’s now a Terminator named Carl who has a complicated relationship with Sarah … another unsteady piece of franchise recycling, never really deciding whether it’s continuing the story of familiar icons or launching a new adventure … Dark Fate is frequently bad in a funny way, without the dutiful dullness of the last couple sequels. Characters can drive onto a military base and just take an airplane, no questions asked.”

From Variety:

“Thirty-five years of saving the world have taken their toll … Hamilton, playing this burnt-out husk of a saviour, is triumphantly funny and alive. In Dark Fate, she’s like Susan Sontag as a bad–s… She establishes the movie’s human stakes, letting us know why this battle still matters. And so, in his way, does Arnold … Sarah despises him for what he did to her son, yet it’s their hostile and mournful connection that gives the film its spark. And so does the action, which Miller stages with dream-like clarity and flair … Dark Fate, if anything, comes close to being the Logan of series. It’s a heavy-metal fantasy with a heart that, astoundingly, isn’t made of tin.”

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From Empire:

Dark Fate feels like a real Terminator movie at last, from the breakneck, deeply terrifying chase that opens it to its moving finale. This was never just Arnold Schwarzenegger’s series; it’s Linda Hamilton that’s the key ingredient …  This film takes true narrative risks … As familiar lines are spun in new ways and we build to a heavy metal clash of a finale, this occasionally leans too heavily on the homage but mostly, remarkably, feels like a worthy descendant rather than a cheap cash-in … For the first time in a long time, we can look to the future of Terminator with hope.”

From The Guardian:

“[Dark Fate] basically replays the famous elements from The Terminator and T2 with some new actors, new twists, newish attitudes to sexual politics and famous lines slightly changed … It conveys a solemn finality, as if graciously acknowledging its own classic status — though certainly keeping the door open for more films … It’s good to see Linda Hamilton getting a robust role, although, sadly, she has to concede badass superiority to Mackenzie Davis. This sixth Terminator surely has to be the last. Yet the very nature of the Terminator story means that going round and round in existential circles comes with the territory.”

From Vanity Fair:

“The quaint, half-sweet reunion of foes and wary allies is not quite enough to sustain a big-budget film these days, and so new characters — and thus, new facets of future chronology — must be introduced … The true leads of Dark Fate are Natalia Reyes and Mackenzie Davis, infusions of new actorly energy who bring with them a major alteration of the Terminator mythology … On the ride home, maybe, you think about just how miserable the film’s overarching assertion is. ‘No fate,’ various characters in this franchise have been saying for decades now. And yet, aren’t these films, Dark Fate among them, testaments to exactly the opposite idea?”

READ MORE: Edward Furlong returning as John Connor in ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’

While many critics claim Dark Fate is the best and most entertaining instalment in the Terminator series since Judgment Day, they don’t seem too positive about it being a very meaningful or even necessary film in itself.

More reviews of the movie can be found here.

Terminator: Dark Fate hits cinemas across Canada on Nov. 1.

Watch the film’s trailer in the video above.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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