Early Terminator: Dark Fate Reviews Praise Sarah Connor’s Much-Needed Return

Linda Hamilton stars in Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures' "TERMINATOR: DARK FATE."

Early Terminator: Dark Fate Reviews Praise Sarah Connor’s Much-Needed Return

James Cameron insisted years ago that he finished telling the story of the Connor family with Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, this didn’t stop Hollywood from taking his most famous creation and milking it for all it was worth. New installments were released in 2003, 2009, and 2015. Unfortunately, both critics and fans agreed that the sequels paled in comparison to the first two films. Even Sarah Connor herself, Linda Hamilton, admitted that the last three sequels were “very forgettable.”

But now, Cameron and Hamilton have reunited with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator: Dark Fate. The first reviews for the film have started to pour in. Judging by what critics are saying, it sounds like Cameron and Hamilton were the missing ingredients all along. You can check out a few highlights below.

According to Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, one of Dark Fate’s greatest strength is that “its storytelling remains tethered to the earth.” Additionally, he praised Tim Miller’s “gritty rock-solid” direction as well as Hamilton’s “Madame Max charisma.” He continued, “Terminator: Dark Fate is a movie designed to impress you with its scale and visual effects, but it’s also a film that returns, in good and gratifying ways, to the smartly packaged low-down genre-thriller classicism that gave the original Terminator its kick.”

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IGN’s Jim Vejvoda didn’t mince words when awarding the movie an 8/10. He called Dark Fate “the best Terminator film since T2: Judgment Day.” In Vejvoda’s view, Cameron’s films were hits because Sarah Connor was the focus. With this, he contended that Hamilton’s return is “the best, smartest thing the film did to ensure it creatively succeeds where the last three Terminator franchise resets failed.”

Writing for Screen Rant, Molly Freeman echoed Vejvoda’s sentiments. She also appreciated how the film managed to comment on lingering fears of technology. “Dark Fate smartly adapts the Terminator premise to tap into those fears and modernize the franchise, but not without losing the main focus of humans versus machine.” Plus, by focusing on “the thriller nature of the heroes running from [Gabriel Luna’s] predatory Rev-9,” the film “doesn’t get bogged down in world-building and instead focuses on thrilling action.”

Collider’s Haleigh Foutch noted that Miller stuck close to Cameron’s “formula.” However, she cautioned that this might result in criticism similar to the kind that J.J. Abrams faced after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Foutch compared Hamilton’s role to Jamie Lee Curtis’ return to the Halloween franchise last year, which also ignored lackluster sequels. She wrote, “Ignoring everything after T2, and the decades that have passed since then, allows Dark Fate to explore new facets of the iconic character and by dropping her in a future that looks an awful lot like the one she sacrificed so much to prevent brings out new shades of Sarah Connor’s dark determination, wrapped in guilt and regret.”

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In more of a mixed review, The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore took aim at the film’s action set pieces. Apparently, these scenes “go from big to huge to ludicrous.” Still, he praised the supporting cast. DeFore believed Mackenzie David was “underutilized,” but also called her film’s best new addition. Moreover, he found Gabriel Luna to be “strong” and “a more than capable heir to Robert Patrick’s T-1000, delivering the same laser-focused menace while adding some people skills to the mix.”

Sadly, not everyone was as complimentary. Indie Wire’s David Ehrlich suggested that Dark Fate “should definitely” be the last Terminator entry. Although he considered it a “minor improvement” over what came before, he found the film “coma inducing.” Ehrlich specifically targeted, among other things, the movie’s “pandering fan service and soul-numbing parade of weightless special effects.”  He also revealed that there were only a “precious few” lines of “fun” dialogue in the film.

Other critics were even more scathing. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich insisted that Dark Fate is “frequently bad in a funny way.” He conceded that the film wasn’t as dull as the other sequels, but insisted that it’s rife with clichés. Franich also found Dark Fate’s VFX to lack the “wow” factor of Cameron’s efforts. “The early films were landmark progress points for special effects, but Cameron was a gearhead who appreciated wear and tear. There’s something just too polished about Dark Fate, humans and robots alike performing tireless feats of acrobatics.”

You can share your thoughts on these latest Terminator: Dark Fate reviews in the comment section below!

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