Text Box: DVDSleuth.com

Text Box:   




DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Paramount Home Entertainment

4K UHD Released: 1/28/2020

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/16/2020

While there were never true ground-rules for sequels, the social contract between movies and filmgoers was pretty consistent.  A sequel (or prequel) would feature the same characters and continue a storyline or storylines.  Sure, things would change every now and then (especially when we are talking about low-budget direct-to-video movie series), but a group of movies would often play like chapters from a larger over-arching story.  However, with the trend of reboots and re-imaginings, we are starting to see more and more films which share a title with other movies, but play by their own rules.  For example, the God-awful Halloween from 2018 ignored decades of sequels and created its own branching storyline.  We get a similar approach with Terminator: Dark Fate. 

Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) leads a pretty simple life.  She lives with her father (Enrique Arce) and works in a factory alongside her brother, Diego (Diego Boneta).  However, her peaceful existence is shattered when a man (Gabriel Luna) enters the factory and attempts to kill her.  As if this weren’t strange enough, a woman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) suddenly appears and rescues Dani.  Grace spirits Dani away from the factory with the assassin in hot pursuit.  Their chase is soon joined by Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who has spent her life hunting Terminators.  When Mackenzie explains that she’s a soldier from the future, Dani is obviously skeptical, but Sarah is quick to believe her and the notion that Dani must be kept safe.  As this trio attempt to avoid the assassin who is after Dani, they seek solace in a surprising place.

So, to re-visit the opening idea, the Terminator franchise has been through a lot of ups and downs since its inception in 1984.  Every few years, another sequel comes along and they always contain the same basic ideas – a machine from the future has traveled through time to kill someone.  (Save for 2009’s Terminator Salvation, which took place in a dystopian future.)  Some of the sequels have been linked to others, while some have told their own, independent story.  The quality has been very hit or miss, with all of them featuring good visual effects, but the appeal of the story and characters can fluctuate wildly.

Terminator: Dark Fate decides to continue this trend of inconsistency by playing as a direct sequel to Terminator 2.  Here, we learn what happened to John Connor following the conclusion of that film and what Sarah Connor has doing since that time.  The movie also plays as a sort of loose remake of Terminator 2, as we have a good cyborg and an evil Terminator fighting over the fate of someone who will be an integral part of the future.  At least one of the six individuals (I don’t know which ones) who worked on the story and screenplay have decided to add an unexpected political spin to the film, as the story begins in Mexico and then moves across the border to the United States.  Here, we see the challenges of immigration and there is a scene involving migrants in cages which is less than subtle.

Also behind the camera, we find an interesting mix of the old guard and a newcomer.  Series creator James Cameron returns to the franchise in an official capacity (and not just “Based on Characters Created by”) as a Co-Writer and Producer.  He’s joined by Director Tim Miller who shot to fame with his feature film debut, Deadpool.  This pair, along with the many other people involved, have managed to create a film which contains some dynamite action sequences.  The movie wastes little time in revving up the action, as there is a chase scene (which is very reminiscent of one in Terminator 2) early in the first act.  We also get a fight aboard a transport plane which is fairly impressive.  However, despite this action, the film feels very hollow.  I’m not sure if it’s the familiarity of the story or the lackluster characters, but there’s nothing here to make the movie feel special.  (My wife bailed halfway through, as it simply wasn’t grabbing her.  She had a similar reaction to Gemini Man, another movie which featured nice action scenes, but little heart.)    

In the past, I’ve always been up for a Terminator film, but now I’m wondering if it isn’t time to give the franchise a rest.  (And the box office results of Terminator: Dark Fate imply that I’m not the only one who thinks this way.)  Yes, the movies have a good track record of blending action with sci-fi storylines, but none of the sequels (of the Sarah Connor Chronicles television show) have bene able to recapture the magic of Cameron’s first two films.  As noted above, some of the movies have tried something different and now with Terminator: Dark Fate going back to the well of Terminator 2, we’ve come full circle.  Yes, Terminator: Dark Fate is better than a lot of action movies out there and Mackenzie Davis gives an especially spirited performance as Grace, but the movie feels like a carbon copy of movies made over thirty years ago.  Fans of the series will certainly want to check it out, but other than Carl’s jokes, they will come away disappointed.

Terminator: Dark Fate has created a distrust of window treatment specialists on 4K UHD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an 2160p HEVC transfer which runs at an average of 55 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The picture shows off an impressive amount of crispness, which allows for a high level of detail and great depth.  The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  This is a muscular track which provides a notable amount of surround and subwoofer effects.  The action sequences deliver smooth surround sound effects which contains multiple distinct sounds.  The subwoofer is active throughout, driving home each gunshot, explosion, and punch. 

All of the extra features for Terminator: Dark Fate are found on the Blu-ray Disc included here.  The Disc contains six DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 9 minutes.  Most of these are brief and we get no new characters or subplots here.  “A Legend Reforged” (20 minutes) is a broad making-of featurette which places an emphasis on the return of James Cameron and Linda Hamilton to the franchise.  The piece looks at the story and the characters, while offering a nice amount of on-set footage.  “World Builders” (33 minutes) examines the look of the film, as well as the use of visual effects to augment settings and de-age actors.  “Dam Busters: The Final Showdown” (9 minutes) turns its attention to the final sequence.  We see how the set was built and how the action was carried out.  “VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly” (3 minutes) illustrates how various layers of visual effects are used to create a scene. 

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long