Terminator: Dark Fate (Blu-ray) (2019)

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Released 12-Feb-2020

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sci-Fi Action Deleted Scenes- 6 deleted and extended scenes (8:55)
Featurette-A Legend Reforged (20:11)
Featurette-World Builders (32:46)
Featurette-Dam Busters: The Final Showdown (8:30)
Featurette-VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly (2:33)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2019
Running Time 128:05
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tim Miller
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Linda Hamilton
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Natalia Reyes
Mackenzie Davis
Gabriel Luna
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Antonius Holkenborg


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
German
Italian
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Terminator: Dark Fate resets the entire Terminator history and lore; the events in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008), Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys (2015) never happened. Instead, the film is a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991); in 1997 Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) successfully destroyed SkyNet and averted Judgment Day, but the next year a Terminator appeared and killed the young John Connor, ending that plotline completely.

     Mexico City: twenty-two years later. A new type of Terminator, a liquid alloy Rev-9 model (Gabriel Luna), arrives from the future, 2042 to be precise, tasked with the mission of killing Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a young Mexican girl working in a vehicle assembly plant. Dani is saved from the Rev-9 by the arrival of a protector from the future, Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a genetically enhanced human. Chased by the Rev-9 they are assisted by the sudden reappearance of Sarah Connor with an armoury of weapons which allows the three to escape the Rev-9, for now. For twenty-two years Sarah has been receiving text messages pinpointing the location of Terminators arriving from the future and so she has been hunting and destroying them.

     We then learn of the events in the future that underpin the story of Terminator: Dark Fate. While Sarah had indeed destroyed SkyNet, in the future humanity will create another artificial intelligence for cyber warfare called Legion which will turn on humans and almost drive them to extinction before one human will arise to show humans how to fight back. This alternative John Connor will be Dani, so the Rev-9 has been sent back in time to 2020 to make sure that she was killed before Legion is created. With the Rev-9 on their trail, the three women make their way to the source of the text messages sent to Sarah. They discover that the texts have come from “Carl” (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the T-800 Terminator that had killed John but who was now living with a woman and her teenaged son and had developed some “human” emotions. Together they must try to work out how to save Dani and to destroy the Rev-9, which will not be easy.

     Terminator: Dark Fate was directed by Tim Miller, only his second feature following Deadpool (2016), and produced by James Cameron returning to the franchise he had kicked off with The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The intention of the filmmakers, in addition to rebooting the franchise, seems to have been to make everything as big, frenetic, destructive and loud as possible, surpassing the now ignored parts of the series. Thus, within 15 minutes of the film starting we are in the midst of vehicle mayhem as the Rev-9 in a truck (reprising T2) pursues Grace and Dani through town and along a freeway with explosions, wreckage and carnage galore. After that the film does take a breather to allow the characters to bond and to provide exposition until, after a sequence in a US Border Detention Centre, the characters team up with Carl leading to a final, long sequence involving helicopters, a C-5 cargo aircraft, a dam wall and spillway including an underwater sequence, and a climax in the dam turbine room. All involving an almost mind numbing array of destruction, explosions, combat with a variety of weapons and digital effects.

     Terminator: Dark Fate, of course, is replete with digital effects. By now we are used to liquid alloy Terminators, and Terminator faces and bodies being blown or hacked apart only to reform, so those CGI effects we just accept even though we know that they are not real or practical. Where the digital effects jar is where they depict things that are in the real world and the eye notices the difference. Examples that don’t look quite right are when the Rev-9, in human form, leaps around the gantry in the car factory, when Sarah and Dani exit the Humvee overwater or almost the entire sequence of the C-5 on fire falling apart amid flames in the sky as the Rev-9 and the others battle inside. In this case, bigger does not necessarily work. Indeed, the best action sequence in the film is the vehicle and freeway chase near the start that was shot practically as much as possible, and it shows.

     I have read criticisms of the character of Dani Ramos and of Columbian actor Natalia Reyes but I think that Reyes is very good as the feisty, yet innocent, potential saviour of humanity. Indeed, all the three female leads, each with different characteristics, are very good; Linda Hamilton is great as the grizzled, single-minded warrior, while Mackenzie Davis, the enhanced human with a mission to protect Dani, is lithe and athletic and there is some delightful interplay between the three women at various times that befits their different agendas. It takes a big presence not to be dominated by their performances, so of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, with his physical presence and wry humour, is just the man. I was less impressed with Gabriel Luna; he does not feel menacing enough but then he has to compete with the extensive CGI adaptations and injuries to his Terminator.

     Despite the return of James Cameron and Linda Hamilton to the franchise after 30 years Terminator: Dark Fate was not as big a box office success as the filmmakers would have hoped although the 70% critics’ and 82% audience scores on rottentomatoes.com are positive enough. Most people seem to agree that Terminator: Dark Fate is an improvement on Terminator Genisys but it remains to be seen as to whether this is enough to kick-start the new Terminator franchise with Dani as the new John Connor.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Terminator: Dark Fate is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Shot digitally, the print looks as one would expect a recent high budget action film to look. Detail is strong, showing, for example, every line and whisker on Arnold’s face, the CGI destruction of the Rev-9’s face impacted by bullets or pulled apart with a chain, the merging of the metal alloy puddles. Indeed, so good is the detail that the eye discerns easily some of the dodgier CGI. Colours are beautiful and quite natural for a digital film, the explosions a vibrant yellow / red, blacks and shadow detail are excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Even in motion, such as during the vehicle chase, the print is firm. Marks and artefacts are absent.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available plus there are French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
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Shadow Detail
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Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English DTS HD-MA 7.1, French, German and Italian DTS 5.1 and English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1.

     I am not set up for 7.1 but even in 5.1 Terminator: Dark Fate is loud, aggressive and enveloping, without much subtlety and ready to shake the room. During the non-action scenes there is ambient sound and music in the surrounds but of course during the action everything breaks loose; engines roar, cars are wrecked or crash into other cars or guard railings, explosions boom, guns fire and the huge bullets fired by Sarah at the Terminator wiz across the sound stage. The C-5 battle is all roaring engines, fire effects, disintegrating fuselage and impacts, water bubbles in the underwater sequence and the climax features turbines and impacts with a range of weapons. Dialogue however is clean throughout and the subwoofer provided additional boom and depth to everything! The music by Antonius Holkenborg aka Junkie XL, who also provided the score for Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Deadpool (2016) and Alita: Battle Angel (2019), is suitably bombastic and, of course, adds sections of the well known and loved Terminator theme by Brad Fiedel.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:55)

     Six deleted and extended scenes without commentary. They can be selected individually or there is a “Play All” option. The scenes are:

A Legend Reforged (20:11)

     A decent general overview of the film with lots of on-set footage, some film clips and comments from a wide range of the crew and cast including director Tim Miller, producer James Cameron, three writers including David Goyer, a stunt coordinator and cast Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis. They discuss carrying on the “true” story immediately following Terminator 2, director Miller’s fresh vision, the return to the franchise of Jim Cameron and Linda Hamilton, a more “human” T-800, the focus on the three female characters, and the new Terminator model.

World Builders (32:46)

     This is an excellent featurette. It involves contributions from the cast and crew as above, but with more input from the numerous visual effects and special effects supervisors, production designer Sonja Klaus, the makeup designer and a range of vehicle, fight and wire stunt coordinators, and it includes lots of behind the screens blue screen stunts, previz, conceptual art and the layers of CGI showing how a number of the sequences were achieved. Although there are no internal breaks the extra is broken up into a number of individual sections:

Dam Busters: The Final Showdown (8:30)

     Another good behind the screens featurette showing the construction of the dam turbine hall set and the filming of the climactic battle with practical effects, previz, the actors, CGI, body replacement, stunts and blue screen wire work.

VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly (2:33)

     Accompanied only by the film’s music, this shows the different layers of practical effects and CGI that went into the Dragonfly troop carrier landing and it being attacked.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region A Blu-ray of Terminator: Dark Fate has the same extras as our release but far less audio and subtitle options. However it does include a Dolby Atmos audio track for those with that capability.

Summary

     Terminator: Dark Fate as an action film is big, loud and explosive, upping the action ante from previous Terminator films while bringing back the iconic Sarah Connor, paying fan service (including variations of the “I’ll be back” and “come with me if you want to live” dialogue and the T-800 doing his thing with a pair of sunglasses) and resetting Terminator history and lore. While the film did not fare as well at the box office as hoped it is an impressing action film in its own right.

     The video and audio are excellent. While a commentary would have been nice, the extras are impressive and we get what is available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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