Terminator: Dark Fate ★★½

On one hand, there’s a lot to like here. It takes the franchise back to its roots, for better or worse, ignoring the string of lacklustre sequels that have come and gone since T2. The leads of Dani and Grace are likeable, even if their relationship feels overly familiar. But for all the care and thought put into the story and characters, the film itself feels very messy and kind of cheap. Arnold surprisingly comes off as the most committed actor here, while Linda Hamilton is woefully one-note. And where T2 revolutionized special effects, the visuals here feel extremely half-baked. It’s hard not to compare them. The new Rev-9 terminator looks more cartoonish than threatening as it makes weirdly cat-like leaps (like, every time it shows up) and even the “healing bullet wounds” effect looked significantly more convincing 30 years ago. It’s certainly not horrible, but it’s not the return to glory that I think fans were hoping for. Everything about the execution just feels “good enough.”