The Dark Fate of the Terminator Franchise
by Jonas Barnes
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely seen the trailers for the most recent film in the “Terminator” franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate. I recently went to see the movie and I loved it, personally.
Me & my movie date were geeking out the whole time and the smiles couldn’t be wiped off our faces. For me, it had everything that I love about a Terminator film including Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In fact, on paper, this movie should have absolutely crushed at the box office. But even though we had Linda, Arnold, an R rating and a returning James Cameron…people stayed home.
In fact, on its opening weekend, it was number one at the box office, but it still financially shit the entire movie house. Maybe it was just a bad weekend for movies, or maybe it was the fact that the Terminator franchise has let fans down almost entirely since T2: Judgement Day (arguably the best action film of all time) and we just had no faith in it any longer.
Dark Fate, for all intents and purposes, had the blueprint for a successful Terminator film in 2019. We had the nostalgia factor with the original actors coming back. We had a bad ass female heavy cast that did a damn good job. We had political commentary without being heavy handed. We had damn good action and pacing. So what went wrong? I think a lot of what went wrong started with T3 and the sequels that followed.
Hear me out: I think moviegoers simply had franchise fatigue when it came to Terminator because of the absolute cyclone of endoskeletal shit that was fired at us for years after T2. Nobody can blame anyone for not trusting anything with the name “Terminator” on it, by the way. Did you see Terminator: Salvation? What a mechanical colostomy bag full of watered down PG-13 bullshit cliches that was. And the absolutely unnecessary cash grab that which was The Sarah Connor Chronicles!? And that absolute cinematic diaper that which was Genisys?? What I’m trying to say is that trusting anything with the name Terminator attached to it is as foolish as trusting a fart after drinking a gallon of river water in Mexico. Based off everything we know, those will both end in shit.
The shame in all of this is that Dark Fate did a lot of things right. This movie basically erased the shameful, embarrassing sequels by the 3 minute mark (I won’t spoil how) and did its best to reboot the franchise. It gave us a badass new villain that was both liquid metal AND an upgraded robot in one that could split into two threats. It gave us good effects. It gave us Sarah Fucking Connor again. It gave us a new story arc for the old T-800 that could really be expanded on (and does get expanded on in the comic book Terminator world). It gave us a well-rounded, well-paced action film. It gave us all the things you’d want from a Terminator film plus some new shit that was legitimately interesting, and it gave us a new super heroine in the lead role. In breaking the movie down, there was really no reason that it should have failed other than that we simply do not trust the Terminator name any longer.
At the end of the day, I’m a movie fan. I’m a nostalgia junkie. I mean, I loved Freddy Vs. Jason for fuck’s sake. You know, the movie that starred Kelly Rowland and had Jason Voorhees + Freddy Krueger doing WWE finishing moves to each other for the better part of an hour…? Yeah, I liked that one a lot.
I liked it for what it was: A big, loud, stupid, violent, fun throwback to a time I loved in cinema. At the end of Dark Fate, I was happy. I was smiling from ear to ear and I was cheering for Sarah Connor and what the future held for the Terminator franchise because this one felt refreshing and fun… but now that I’m a week removed from that screening and I’ve seen how the public has reacted to it, I fear we may have seen the last of Sarah Connor. It’s possible that we’ve become such jaded moviegoers that we can no longer suspend disbelief and simply enjoy a nice throwback to something we loved.
I fear that The Terminator will, in fact, not be back.