While I may not believe that time travel is scientifically possible, part of me hopes that it is…if only so I can one day go back in time to make sure the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack, 4K Ultra HD/ Blu-ray/Digital combo pack, and DVD versions of the action-packed sci-movie Terminator: Dark Fate are as good as the movie itself. Because as it stands now, all three come up short, especially the last one.
Set thirty-five years after Terminator 2: Judgement Day,
in a timeline that pretends Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, Terminator: Salvation, and Terminator: Genisys never happened, Terminator: Dark Fate once again has a someone from the future (Blade Runner 2049‘s Mackenzie Davis) coming back to our time to stop a robot assassin (Gabriel Luna from Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) from killing a human from our time (Birds Of Passage‘s Natalie Reyes).
Even cooler, Terminator: Dark Fate not only once again has Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role he was manufactured to play — an early model Terminator — but it also has Linda Hamilton returning as Sarah Conner for the first time since 1991’s T2, and Terminator and Terminator 2 writer / director James Cameron helping out with the story (though Deadpool director Tim Miller was at the helm).
Despite all of the blasts from the pasts, though, Terminator: Dark Fate is not Terminator 2.5. Nor is it as good as that movie, or the original (or Deadpool for that matter), though it is stronger than T3, Salvation, and Genisys (even if it isn’t as inventive as the latter two). Though it is, as cybernetically-enhanced sci-fi action films go, a good one. In large part because of Mackenzie, who is as vulnerable and likeable as she is tough, and Hamilton, who is as much a bad ass as she was in T2, just with some subtle mothering instincts taking the place of her mental issues. Add in some spectacular action pieces, some humorous lines that sound like things people would actually say in those situations, and an interesting new model Terminator, and you have a rock-solid sci-fi action flick.
In fact, the only real bummer with Terminator: Dark Fate is how it pretends T3, Salvation, and Genisys don’t count. Especially given how it would’ve been easy to throw in a quick bit about the timeline being fractured and multiple times; y’know, like The Ancient One did in Avengers: Endgame. (The irony being that after I watched Terminator: Dark Fate, I felt like rewatching Salvation and Genisys, but not the original or Terminator 2. Go figure.)
It’s also too bad…
that the Terminator: Dark Fate Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and DVD aren’t as good as the movie they present. While the digital edition has a ton of great extras, both the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD editions are missing some key ones, while the DVD only has the movie. Which means fans of the film who prefer physical media won’t get to enjoy the commentary by Miller and editor Julian Clarke, the introduction to and commentary on the deleted scenes by Miller, two additional making-of featurettes (“Creating A New Threat” and “Future Tech”), and three pre-vis sequences (“Factory Fight,” “Air Battle To Humvee Falling,” and “Humvee Dam”).
Granted, you do get a code for the digital edition if you buy the Blu-ray or 4K collections. But as some people who’ve bought books, movies, and music digitally have learned the hard way, ones and zeros are not forever, especially when the company hosting them goes under or purges things off their hard drives.
Even with all the available extras, though, the digital edition of Terminator: Dark Fate ends up being incomplete as well. For starters, it has none of the movie’s trailers, nor one for the companion video game Terminator: Resistance (though given the response by critics and fans to the game, that might be for the best).
More egregiously, this has nothing on the noted science fiction authors that Miller assembled to discuss and flesh out the story during the writing stage: Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash), Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan), Neal Asher (The Soldier), Joe Abercrombie (The Blade Itself), and Greg Bear (The Forge Of God). At the very least, a quick roundtable Q&A hosted by Miller would’ve been appreciated.
Having said all that, though,
the extras they did see fit to include on the Terminator: Dark Fate Blu-ray and 4K editions are quite good.
For starters, there are six interesting deleted and extended scenes, clocking in at nearly nine minutes. Granted, none add anything of major consequence — like a line about multiverses and time fractures — but they are engaging and interesting. Though, again, it’s just too bad there’s no context or comment as to why they were cut from the film or (in the cases where it isn’t obvious) where they were taken from.
Next, the Terminator: Dark Fate Blu-ray and 4K collections have three making-of featurettes. In “A Legend Reforged,” the cast and crew spend twenty-minutes talking about this franchise, this film, and how the former led to the latter. This is followed by “World Builders,” a thirty-minute look at the sets and special effects, while “Dam Busters: The Final Showdown” spends another eight deep diving into the film’s climactic action scene. There’s also “VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly,” a quick, visual-only look at a vehicle and some other CGI shots from the movie’s future scenes.
While all of these featurettes are informative and engaging, it’s hard not to think they couldn’t have been combined and slightly condensed, especially since “World Builders” and “Dam Busters” overlap.
it’s also not hard to think that all of the extras couldn’t have been included on the Terminator: Dark Fate Blu-ray, 4K, and DVD collections. One can only hope Skynet decides to send someone back to fix this issue, and soon.