Terminator: Dark Fate Has a Lot of Explaining to Do

How did we get here? It’s 2019 and there’s a new Terminator movie coming out – one that reunites James Cameron, Arnie, and Sarah Connor herself, Linda Hamilton, that’s directed by the dude that made Deadpool. I’m not usually one to complain about sequels, especially follow-up movies that are released decades after the last one (my undeniable love of Blade Runner 2049 can attest to that), but the Terminator franchise, and its continuation after the peerless T2 with two sequels and an ill-fated reboot, just bugs me.

The problem isn’t the movies themselves: Terminator Salvation has its moments and a brilliant performance from Anton Yelchin, Rise of the Machines ends its bland narrative on a surprisingly dark note for a blockbuster of that time, and Genisys – okay, Genisys just sucked. But the real problem is James Cameron and the fact that he made T2 basically sequel-proof, rendering the last three movies essentially high-budget fan-fiction. T2 ended with John and Sarah Connor victorious over the machines, with the good Terminator sacrificing himself in order to prevent the tech that made him getting into the wrong hands. Movies have open endings all the time, or at least a promise of something more: the Joker card at the end of Batman Begins, or Darth Vader twirling away into space at the climax of A New Hope, but T2’s ending is shutters-slamming-down closed.

All of which makes the very existence of Dark Fate something of a paradox. From the trailer, in which any mention of John Connor is conspicuously absent, it’s clear that Cameron saw the success of the new Star Wars movies and thought “I’m having some of that!”. The trailer itself is good if not great. The narrative seems to place Sarah as the protector and mentor to a new Terminator, played by Mackenzie Davis, and the little girl she’s protecting from what looks like an amalgamation of every previous villain of the franchise. We have a Sarah with a big gun, and even bigger muscles, and we have the tried-and-tested pursuit narrative, all of which is fine, and I for one am happy to see Hamilton back in the franchise (considering Cersei herself, Lena Heady, nearly bettered her performance in the short-lived Sarah Connor Chronicles, fellow Game of Thrones alumnus Emilia Clarke was not so lucky).

Yet there is still the nagging question of how this can be happening at all, apart from the external Hollywood reasons. The franchise’s motto, “No fate but what we make”, goes out the window if, as the line that has became the antithesis of that motto in Rise of the Machines,”Judgement Day is inevitable”, is backed up by the fact that Arnie is back from his molten lava vacation (though it’s probably another T-800, which only causes more questions). And seems to point to the fact that what John and Sarah achieved at the end of T2 merely postponed it.

Even so, I’m interested to see if everyone involved can pull this off, especially since Cameron himself has had such a hands-on role in the production. What do you think? Are you excited about Dark Fate? Do you have your own theories as to how this story could even happen? Or has your interest in the franchise been (alright, I’m sorry, I had to, please forgive me)…terminated? Let us know in the comments below!

By Kevin Boyle

(header image via Youtube)

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