This holiday season, my X-Mas wish is that they stop making Terminator movies
by Joseph Shelton
There’s something embarrassing about Terminator: Dark Fate, and it’s not how the cast of the first two (and only good) Terminator films have aged, or that to some extent their whole careers have been circumscribed within the limits of a series of movies about killer robots. There’s nothing wrong with starring in films about killer robots, especially if they’re smart or at least fresh, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with aging. In fact, I may have done a little aging myself, just to see what it’s like.
What’s wrong, then, is doing something over and over and over and expecting a different result. In fact, in some circles that’s the definition of insanity. Terminator: Dark Fate is the 6th in the franchise, but like 2018’s Halloween semi-reboot, it ignores most of the franchise for what is ostensibly a “back to basics” approach to the material. But while Halloween managed to feel, well, at least entertaining, Terminator: Dark Fate sort of dissolves into component parts after you’ve seen it. You’re left with some vague half-memories – Arnold was there, wasn’t he; his presence in this film being explained in the most ludicrous way yet. Wasn’t there also something about a plane wreck, and something about Hoover dam? I don’t know, I think I might have nodded off.
Imagine if, some time ago, a friend made you a meal you really liked. And then, every few months that friend makes you eat the same meal, only it gets a little grosser and, well, dumber every time. Finally you’re at a place where you are finally able to tell that friend “hey, listen, I really enjoyed the meal, especially the first time you made it, but now every time since the ingredients are getting worse, the premise thinner, the portions larger. Please stop serving this to me. Please make me a salad or something. I no longer wish to have this enormous, dumb, rich meal. Even if it HAS got Schwarzenegger in it. Please stop.”
And then you realize that your friend isn’t your friend at all, but a giant multinational conglomerate, and that they’re not listening to you, even a little bit. And not only are they not listening, they have nothing but contempt for you. This is very much what the experience of watching Terminator: Dark Fate is, and I cannot recommend it to anyone. •