Review: Terminator, Dark Fate (4K)

In Mexico City, a newly modified liquid Terminator — the Rev-9 model — arrives from the future to kill a young factory worker named Dani Ramos. Also sent back in time is Grace, a hybrid cyborg human who must protect Ramos from the seemingly indestructible robotic assassin. But the two women soon find some much-needed help from a pair of unexpected allies — seasoned warrior Sarah Connor and the T-800 Terminator.

Plot: An augmented human and Sarah Connor must stop an advanced liquid Terminator, from hunting down a young girl, whose fate is critical to the human race.

Director: Tim Miller

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Runtime: 128 min

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Terminator: Dark Fate represents a significant upgrade over its immediate predecessors, even if it lacks the thrilling firepower of the franchise’s best installments.

Online Ratings:

  1. Rotten Tomatoes 70% (Audience 82%)
  2. IMDB 6.5
  3. Metacritic 54
  4. Cinemascore B+

“The Terminator thrill-ride we’ve been anxiously waiting for.”

Review:

This movie was shot with Arri Alexa cameras in 4.5K and finished at a 4K Digital Intermediate, that means you’ll get a native 4K presentation! On top of that, as per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in both Dolby Vision & HDR10. Let me just say right off the bat that this is isn’t a normal UHD release. I’m curious to see if you agree with me.

Let’s start with a positive, the image is sharp and the overall clarity showcases a rich and defined environment — the world building is excellent. You’ll get great facial textures in all the close-ups with the included suspects; pores, sweat, facial hair, beard stubble, cuts, bruises, etc. Beyond that, all the wide shots of the cities and various environments are full with massive amounts of detail. A lot of great detail is constant throughout the film and it looks great, but…

Terminator: Dark Fate lacks POP! or any kind of WOW! factor when it comes to certain capabilities of UHD. The movie is rather mute when it comes to color and it’s even toned down when it comes to the black levels. (Two good examples of this are during Chapter 10 on the train and in Chapter 17 when they’re falling from the sky.) This isn’t due to any mistake on the transfer, but with the way the movie was intended to be shot — instead of blacks you will get more greys and instead of big HDR boosts to color you’ll get a shortage of it because of the palette.

The only case (in my opinion) where the HDR work its magic is in Chapter 14/15 (when everything slows down) on Arnold’s property in Texas. Here you will notice the brighter greens in the grass, trees and surrounding forest — even the browns on the bark, wood panels on the house and the dirt stand out. (Little things like the red’s in Arnold’s shirt look great as well.) Other than that, you’ll get great highlights in all of the explosions throughout the movie as a staple. I’m no cinematographer and I don’t think the movie looked lackluster, it just doesn’t have the normal HDR POP! I’m used to seeing.

It will be interesting to see what other reviews think about this disc — I think (movie aside) the UHD still leans heavily on the positive… but that’s just me. The lack of color isn’t a mistake of the transfer, but the point.

The UHD of Terminator: Dark Fate is the best way to watch the movie, but I don’t know if I can recommend it whole-heartily. A huge life-long fan of the Terminator franchise needs to get this in the best format available, but if you’re a fair-weather fan that doesn’t have UHD yet, I think you’ll be just as happy with the Blu-ray. Take Gemini Man for example, the movie is lackluster, but it has a top notch presentation, so a UHD pickup makes sense if you like eye-candy. When it comes to Terminator: Dark Fate the movie is miles better, but it’s not a reference grade disc — the decision will be up to you.

Now that all the dust has settled, ultimately, Terminator: Dark Fate gets my recommendation to own. Just know that it doesn’t have the attached great HDR or black levels, but it does have the sharpness and detail. Personally, as a long time fan of the franchise I enjoyed the hell out of this movie and it’s one of the better Terminator films to date. Regardless of what you may decide, make sure you grab a copy at your local retailer when it releases on 4K, Blu-ray & DVD Tuesday, January 28th.

Did you catch Terminator: Dark Fate in theater? Were you a fan of this movie? The series? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheers,

Matt.

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