Terminator: Dark Fate (4K UHD)
The future has arrived as the latest reboot/sequel in the Terminator franchise, Dark Fate, hits 4K UHD/blu-ray this week. While the film didn't pull in the audiences in theaters, you definitely need to give it a shot with it's home entertainment release. Check out my full review to find out why!
As was the case with (too) many 2019 films, I missed out on seeing Terminator: Dark Fate in theaters. While the franchise has seen plenty of stumbles over the years, it's still a series I enjoy. Even the "bad" ones allow me to turn my brain off and enjoy the goofy action on display. As such, I've been very eager to check out the film when it arrived on 4K.
Judging from Dark Fate's less than stellar box office run, it seems there are plenty of people in the same boat I was in terms of seeing the film...Folks, I have to tell you, we messed up. This is absolutely a film that deserved more love at the box office and is easily one of the best Terminator sequels around.
The premise of Dark Fate isn't too dissimilar from other Terminator films, but there are some unique twists that make it more engaging. The film serves as a reset in that it completely disregards every other Terminator sequel aside from T2: Judgement Day. Sarah Connor was able to stop Judgement Day and change the course of the future. Skynet never came to be and neither did the human resistance under John Connor...But that doesn't mean things are peaceful.
In changing the course of the future, an entirely new timeline was established. Some things remain the same, however. Machines (under the name Legion) are still are war with humankind, and are looking to solve their problems by sending a highly advanced killing machine into the past. So yeah, there are definitely similar story beats going on, but I love how Dark Fate actually acknowledges how Sarah and John were able to change the future completely.
A Rev-9 (played by Gabriel Luna) has been sent back in time to kill Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) who plays a critical role to the future (I'm not going to tell you how). To combat the deadly new killing machine, humans send back Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented human, for protection. While attempting to escape from the Rev-9, none other than Sarah Connor herself comes to the rescue, forcing the group to work together to find a way to stop another horrible future from getting worse.
Things get more complicated as they reach out to a secretive asset...an old Skynet Terminator. Crazy enough, Arnold's return as an aging T-800 is one of my favorite aspects of the film. Having been left in the past, mission completed, and Skynet no longer in existence, he received no further orders. As such, he was forced to learn and adapt to life as a "normal" human, going so far as to grow a conscience and have a family.
It's a touching plot thread, and the best they've done with Arnold's return to the character since...well, Judgement Day. I was surprised at how attached I became to his "Carl" character, and it all goes towards the film's overarching theme of fate and becoming something more than intended. Sure, those themes can be a bit heavy-handed in the film, but it's still a great message and presented in some fun ways.
I won't go into it much more as there are certainly some 'surprise' elements in the film that are worth discovering on your own. The story hits on familiar tropes, but manages to present them in a way that feels completely fresh for the franchise. And that's not to mention the impressive action sequences in the film.
Seriously, the opening 10 minutes felt more intense and action-packed than the entire final acts of previous Terminator films! It's all incredibly well done, and the film's finale is jaw-dropping (which is assisted by the fact you actually come to care for these characters and what happens to them). Suffice it to say, even if Dark Fate's story doesn't work for you (though it absolutely did for me), the action is more than enough to keep your attention.
I get people being tired of Terminator films. The last couple reboot attempts weren't great, and it seems like beating a dead horse. If you missed out on Dark Fate, however, you should absolutely give it a shot for its 4K UHD/blu-ray release. I was impressed with how it came together and I would love to see more stories set within this newly established timeline.
Sight and Sound
As a science fiction action film, Terminator: Dark Fate has a lot of different visuals going for it. From the effects on the various machines/war sequences, some impressive de-aging moments, and plenty of explosions, there's plenty of eye candy going on. Thankfully, the 4K transfer is gorgeous and highlights everything going on in stunning clarity.
The skin tones are crisp, and the hard lines of the various tech pop out clearly. The blacks are deep without resulting in crushing, which is great considering how much of the action takes place in darker locations. Even as fights take place dimly lit areas at night, you never lose sight of the action and how it unfolds.
The sound is given similar treatment and fully immerses you into the film. The mechanical sound effects give the machines a real "weight" to them, and the surround sound means you can hear the Rev-9 as it comes up to attack from behind. Couple this with an epic musical score and great prioritization on dialog, there's no complaints to be found on this side.
All in all, the technical elements of Terminator: Dark Fate are solid. They aptly highlight the film without ever getting in the way.
The Bonus Features
Terminator: Dark Fate's 4K UHD release includes a digital copy insert for the film, along with a Blu-ray copy which is where you'll find all of the special features:
Deleted and Extended Scenes A Legend Reforged World Builders Dam Busters: The Final Showdown VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly
While they aren't numerous, the featurettes are fairly meaty, including two that surpass the twenty minute mark. The "World Builders" feature is a hefty half-hour long look behind the scenes that looks not only at the special effects, but how the action sequences came together and the design of their new futuristic timeline.
In all, these offer a great behind the scenes look at how Dark Fate came to be, including an exploration of the new timeline they created. There's some neat things broken down that both fans of filmmaking and Terminator will likely enjoy.