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Movie Review

You probably know that more than 20 years ago, Sarah Conner and her son, John, shut down a futuristic defense computer network called Skynet and saved billions of lives. What you may not know is that John was killed soon after by a T-800 Terminator that had already been sent from that former future and was still set upon its assigned duties.

A mind-twisting paradox? Uh, yeah. But time-traveling Terminators don’t seem to care much about that type of time/space conundrum.

In fact, in the years since, Sarah has continued to receive messages and texts about new robotic threats from the future. Every couple of years, someone sends her the GPS coordinates of where yet another Terminator will be materializing in her timeline. And the stalwart, grizzled and revenge-driven Sarah Conner gears up, ventures out and destroys the thing before it can get onto its mission.

She’s gotten quite good at it. And, oddly, it’s given her a sense of purpose. As she puts it, “I hunt Terminators, and then I drink ’til I black out.”

Where are these things coming from and what do they want? Well, that’s a good question, since Skynet is no more. But Sarah doesn’t take the time to chat with them. And once she’s done hitting those super robots with enough ordinance to obliterate a small city, well, there’s not much evidence to explore.

Recently, though, an unexpected wrinkle popped up in Sarah’s highly regimented kill-and-black-out routine. She got another text, and when she arrived at the given location, she found something out of the ordinary (if you can call the usual murderous robots ordinary, that is).

This time, there was a young woman named Dani in the line of fire. And she was being protected by a super-strong “augmented” human named Grace (obviously, another product from the future). That was new … but familiar feeling, too. And the Terminator was something completely different.

The newest robotic assassin is something called a Rev-9. It has a liquid metal shapeshifting exterior (like Sarah’s been seeing lately), but it’s melded to a super-alloy endoskeleton. And the two parts can separate and operate independently: a nearly indestructible super killer that can split in two at a moment’s notice.

This new threat is going to take a fresh approach. And it appears that Sarah is going to be forced to hear answers to questions that she really hasn’t wanted to ask. Sometimes even a seasoned robo-killer can start feeling a little old for this sort of stuff.

Positive Elements

When a threat is overwhelming, everything comes down to sheer survival. And this latest Terminator film harkens back to that driving, uncomplicated theme. As such, each member of the Terminator-terminating team of heroes gives his or her all to protect each other and somehow to fight back against a seemingly indestructible foe.

Some of the characters—both human and robotic—self-sacrificially choose to give their very lives up in that fight for the sake of saving others. “What matters are the choices we make now,” Dani declares when facing fears about the future. And Grace supports that idea, stating that a leader once taught her that “there is no fate but that which we make for ourselves.”

We also learn that the texter who alerted Sarah over the years did so to help give her a sense of purpose after her son’s death.

[Spoiler Warning] Sarah’s mysterious texter is actually the very T-800 Terminator that killed Sarah’s son. He reports to learning to be more human over the years: to coming to understand his misdeeds and finding his own purpose and sense of redemption by reaching out to humans in need. Now calling himself Carl, he took in a woman and her child and protected them as his own family. Carl chooses to help protect Dani, too. (In fact, that aforementioned longing for personal redemption also drives Carl to make some utterly self-sacrificial decisions.)

Spiritual Content

Dani worries about no one being there to give her dead loved ones a proper burial. Sarah scoffs at the need or the worry, suggesting that it won’t help them or Dani at this point.

When Sarah realizes that Dani is being chased by this new robotic threat, and that Grace is there to protect her, she instantly sees the similarity to her own youthful story. “Good. Let someone else be Mother Mary for a while,” she grumbles.

Sexual Content

As has been established from past films, when people materialize from the past, they appear completely naked. Both Grace and the male Terminator do so. But while the Terminator appears in a squat, revealing just his bare back and thighs, Grace sprawls on the ground with the camera just behind her bare backside. And then as she rises and fights, we see her naked profile (though not in full light). Later we also see other parts of Grace’s back, thighs, backside and stomach as doctors examine her wounds, and she’s dressed in a short hospital gown.

Dani’s brother jumps out of bed in a pair of boxer shorts.

Violent Content

The new Rev-9 Terminator is designed to unleash death and destruction in massive amounts and with furious speed. And we see the lethal ’bot do so throughout the film. It can also reconstruct its limbs into any shape it desires. Finally, the Rev-9 creates long blades and pulls guns out of its liquid metal body to butcher and blast its victims.

In up-close contact, we see the machine hack and stab humans, sending splashes of gore flying as it slices through necks and torsos, and hacks into human heads and faces. At one point a group of soldiers rushes the creature to subdue it in a crowd, and the Terminator sends out multiple large spikes that drive in and through the dozen or so men around it. In a flashback scene, we see a similar robot impale and hack at human victims in battle, too: It lifts soldiers off the ground and drives tentacle-like arms through their bodies.

The killing construct also unleashes havoc in other ways, too. For instance, it pilots a large snowplow-like vehicle, smashing through walls, flipping cars in its path, crushing drivers and their vehicles and driving over people on foot. The Rev-9 steers a drone into a crowd of people, causing a huge explosion that leaves the area littered with dead and body parts.

When separated from its endoskeleton, the robot can double its attack—smashing with heavy metal limbs and large, battering objects; as well as slashing, pounding and shooting. It rips at the flesh of the heroes and sends them flying. But against its T-800 foe, it gets even more visceral, ripping off large chunks of the T-800’s flesh and wrenching off that ’bot’s metallic hand.

Up against the heroes, the robot tends to get as good as it gives. Grace takes a sledgehammer to the creature, battering in its face and ripping its flesh from its “bones.” And she whips a large chain around, literally lopping limbs off the liquid metal robo’s body. It is crushed in a large press. And the creature is ground to its basics and set aflame in several vehicles. It’s seemingly obliterated in a plane crash and again in another explosion. Of course, in the Terminator’s case, those savage, ripped-open wounds quickly reconstitute. As has always been the case, Terminators remain very hard to kill.

We see a number of people covered in blood and left with open, flowing wounds, including Dani, Sarah and Grace. We see the bloodied body of a teen who’s been killed by a shotgun blast. Bones are broken and disjointed. And one of the heroes has her torso painfully cut open and an internal part removed.

We’re told of a future threat that caused the death of millions of innocent lives. And not everyone makes it out alive here, either.

Crude or Profane Language

Nearly 20 f-words and a dozen s-words join uses of “b--ch,” “h---” and “a--hole.” God’s name is misused multiple times (once in combination word “d--n”).

Drug and Alcohol Content

Though Sarah proclaims that she’s essentially an addict who regularly drinks till she blacks out, we don’t see her imbibe or even crave alcohol.

Grace’s souped-up metabolism can only sustain her enhanced strength and durability in short bursts. Then she must be reinforced via a cocktail of drugs and antibiotics. She stumbles into a drug store at one low point and steals a bundle full of meds and prescription pills. And we see her inject a large hypodermic full of this combined concoction repeatedly, as well as being injected by others when she tumbles over in exhaustion.

Other Negative Elements

The heroes steal vehicles and drugs.

Conclusion

With so many timeline-shifting movies, TV shows, animated specials, and other media baggage in this uber-popular Terminator franchise, it’s easy for someone to wonder: How can they possibly keep it going? I mean, hey, it seems that the only truly consistent thing in this cinematic story mix is a reappearing T-800 robot (played, of course, by Arnold Schwarzenegger.) who continually gets older, grayer and fatter with each film.

But no one’s really worrying about everything making sense. The filmmakers simply set up a familiar “save the last chance for humanity” scenario. Establish a new incredible robotic threat and future-human savior. Sprinkle in a few nostalgic favorites. And let the amusement-park ride roll.

That’s pretty much all there is to Dark Fate. Like you’d expect, the latest super-duper killer machine from the future gets gunned down and keeps going; it’s mashed to pulp and keeps going; it’s ripped apart, pulverized and incinerated and keeps going. (I mean, can you imagine receiving a gift of a garbage disposal or refrigerator from the future? You’d be set, man.)

The fact is, if you don’t pause to ponder the logic or time-twisting paradoxes and impossibilities of this flick, Dark Fate is a well-choreographed, hard-hitting thrill ride of a film.

That said, it’s much harder to close your eyes to the content side of this equation. Unlike the last two PG-13 flicks in this franchise, Dark Fate ratchets things back up to R-rated levels here. Many, many people are shot, crushed and butchered in realistic CGI fashion. And then there’s the crude and profane language that abounds in those intense, thumping scenes. Ignoring all that is, well, nearly impossible.

Sorta like believing in a robot that can get old and fat.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Mackenzie Davis as Grace; Natalia Reyes as Dani Ramos; Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800/Carl; Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor; Gabriel Luna as Rev-9

Director

Tim Miller ( )

Distributor

Paramount Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 1, 2019

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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