Terminator: Dark Fate Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

An augmented human and Sarah Connor, along with the help of a familiar and, unlikely ally, must stop an advanced liquid Terminator, from hunting down a young girl, whose fate is critical to the human race. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Terminator: Dark Fate from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

96

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 128 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta
Directed by: Tim Miller
Music by: Tom Holkenborg
Written by: David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray
Region Code: A

Release Date: January 21, 2020

“Welcome to the Day After Judgment Day”

Synopsis:

“An augmented human and Sarah Connor, along with the help of a familiar and, unlikely ally, must stop an advanced liquid Terminator, from hunting down a young girl, whose fate is critical to the human race.” – Paramount Home Media Distribution

My Take:

More than two decades have passed since Sarah Connor prevented Judgment Day, changed the future, and re-wrote the fate of the human race. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is living a simple life in Mexico City with her brother and father when a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator travels back through time to hunt and kill her. Dani’s survival depends on her joining forces with “Grace” (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced super-soldier sent back in time, and a battle-hardened Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). As the Terminator (a model Rev-9) ruthlessly destroys everything and everyone in its path on the hunt for Dani, the three are led to an aging T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Sarah’s past that may be their last best hope.

Okay, I completely understand WHY devout Terminator franchise fans would question the decisions behind making Terminator: Dark Fate. The question isn’t why make another Terminator movie, the question is why make a film that is essentially nothing but Terminator and T2 rolled up into one film? The answer is, I couldn’t tell you. Now, as a franchise fan, my curiosity was piqued when I saw that Linda Hamilton was back. Arnold had to be a given so, no surprise there, which is fine with me. Given the other films that I have seen her in, I wouldn’t have imagined Mackenzie Davis in an action role of this caliber.

When Terminator: Dark Fate opened in theaters I was there to see what the story had to offer. I even got my wife to tag along. Seeing what transpired in Terminator Genesys which seemed clearly aimed at telling a Terminator story with an alternate vibe, this one, which sort of kind of tried to change an element here and there, boiled down to nothing more than a rehashing of the foundational plot points in the first two films. The presence of Sarah Connor, her tweaked timeline, how Arnold’s character is worked into the narrative and, their shared history both compliments and, detracts from the present situation. By that I mean there is just a hint too much sentimentality that is occasionally interjected.

Based upon how the concept is handled you could certainly look at Terminator: Dark Fate as an homage to Terminator and T2. If looked at in that light, there is something to be said for the things previously mentioned. If looked at as a straight up sci-fi actioner based solely upon Terminator lore then the film stands on two very weak legs. So, where do I stand in all of this? I like to look at it as more of an homage to the best two films in the franchise. I had a blast watching it in the theater. As a fan I enjoyed seeing Linda and Arnold onscreen together in a Terminator film. I wasn’t crazy about some of the dialog and the explanations regarding how their respective characters arrived at this point but, did the best I could to see past it.

I really liked the concept of Grace’s “enhanced” abilities and how Mackenzie Davis got herself into incredible shape to play the role. It didn’t call for much acting but, she had zero issues handling it and, I liked her portrayal. The weak link in the casting was Natalia Reyes. Her character “Dani” was required to fulfill the film’s elements of human drama but, she just never came across as credible. The production elements, stunts and visual effects were exactly what you’d expect from a Terminator film in 2019. At 128 minutes it runs just a bit overlong but, the pacing isn’t problematic.

Having seen Terminator: Dark Fate twice now, my feeling is the same. On the surface it’s a flawed and unoriginal Terminator film. Taking another look just beneath the top layer, it’s a flashback to those early Terminator films that opened the door to the kind of effects laden sci-fi thrillers that kept us coming back. In that light I am okay with it, warts and all.

Replay Value: 3.5 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Terminator: Dark Fate comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray, was derived from a 4.5K source and finished on a 4K digital intermediate.

From a cinematic perspective this is a genre film that was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind, and that comes through in the Ultra HD presentation. I wouldn’t describe this film as overtly colorful, although, there are elements, such as the daytime scenes in Mexico, the car factory and wide-angle shots of vehicle chase, where the palate of autumn-based hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red/green benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing vividly pleasing and lifelike. Resolution gets a noticeable boost as well. Close-ups and mid-level shots offer improved refinement and deeper definition that makes textures easier to delineate.

There is intermittent use of visual elements that utilize high dynamic range. There were instances where bright elements looked appreciably vibrant, such as the crackling arcs of light against the dark highway upon Grace’s arrival from the future, the roaring flames from the crippled C5 military plane or the final standoff with the Terminator in the dam. The film contains a host of sun splashed, daytime segments, which appeared more vibrant and tonally gradational compared to the Blu-ray. The film’s plethora of defining low level sequences had excellent depth of field and emboldened contrast.

Based upon the excellent quality of the original source the difference between viewing Terminator: Dark Fate in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t night and day, but there is no question that its UHD presentation benefitted from the increase in resolution, WCG and, high dynamic range treatment.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations, I found the HDR rendering to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t consistently lent to bright color and vibrant highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR10 renderings, any minute differences were negligible and not enough to warrant a rating difference.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be an entertaining listening experience that made excellent use of the platform. The immersive mix compliments the already top-notch soundtrack and enhances the experience of watching the film. The use of audio objects placed above and at ear level is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. The film’s active moments, swallow you up as the revolving, rotating and all-encompassing surround sound comes at you from all sides. The attention to detail here is noticeably on display, giving you a taste of what is to come early on during the film’s opening encounter at the car factory and finishing things off with the C5 battle/crash, followed by the finale at the dam.

There is also much to enjoy in scenes that aren’t actively intense as smaller elements in the background are articulated and dimensionally full. In general, this Dolby Atmos mix made for a fully involving surround sound experience. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and discrete object placement, which complimented the source material. I had a great time!

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Terminator: Dark Fate comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to eye catching color or infinite levels of dimension but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation. Resolution is excellent with clearly rendered images that exhibit refined levels of detail during close ups and discernible depth of field in wide angle shots. The chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues. That coupled with the drab lighting schemes and dark cinematography makes for a visually pallid but thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast vary and range from Rosy to pale while appearing textural and predominantly lifelike. Blacks are deep and dynamic and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts in this whistle clean high definition presentation.

The 7.1 channel audio is demonstration quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems near reference. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts superlative clarity and high-level detail. Dialog is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it penetrates well into the room. Channel separation and imaging is excellent. This draws out both large and small sound elements and allows their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds contained in this demanding soundtrack.

At times the listening position is submerged in a 360-degree web of sound that contains a host of discretely placed near field and panning sound effects. The encounter in the car factory, followed by the extended highway chase sound in the film’s opening sound terrific, offering a glimpse of what the track has in store. Low frequency effects are applied with authority and provide room shuddering bass capable of potent impact. This is an involving and noteworthy audio presentation that is guaranteed to rock your home theater.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Terminator: Dark Fate Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Terminator: Dark Fate Blu-ray
    • Deleted and Extended Scenes
    • A Legend Reforged
    • World Builders
    • Dam Busters: The Final Showdown
    • VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly
  • Digital

Final Thoughts:

Terminator: Dark Fate is the sixth installment in the iconic Terminator film franchise. Conceptually speaking it’s an uninspired film that most may dismiss as a simple rehashing of the better films in the franchise. While that certainly may be true, I opted to view it as an homage to those early films, finding parts of the story to be entertaining while reveling in the action and typically fun special effects.

Terminator: Dark Fate comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Paramount Home Media Distribution, featuring faithful overall video quality (which includes Dolby Vision HDR) that makes the most of the source material, terrific lossless surround sound, that features a head turning Dolby Atmos immersive mix, and a lackluster supplemental package. As a franchise fan, I found Terminator: Dark Fate disappointing given the innate potential of its subject matter. That said, I enjoyed it for its nostalgic feel and entertaining sci-fi action. In that light I urge genre fans to check it out on Blu-ray and see what their findings are.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems