There is no way other saying it: Terminator as a franchise is pretty much dead and I can not see itself ever return in any form what so ever (or at least I hope that’s the case), I don’t mean to gloat and proudly proclaim that I was correct about my Terminator: Dark Fate predictions. I didn’t want it to be bad, which it wasn’t, it was just a very forgettable movie and that might be even worse, it was forgettable because every plot points, set-ups, concepts and characters were used in previous Terminator movies. When I was asked what this movie was about, there wasn’t a clear answer to this and later I was asked: “did you even liked the movie?” theoretically yes, because good stuff in this movie was used much better in previous movies. What does this say about Terminator movies? Well lets find out, what happened, if there is way to save this franchise and if it should be saved…
First and most obvious problem is the box-office of these movies, last three Terminator movies were either financial disappointments or outright bombs. That is not a problem with the loosing audience, the problem is that these movies aren’t meant to have this kind of budget. Box-office result are more than less the same Terminator: Dark Fate made 261 million dollars, not bad you might say, but the budget for this movie was nearly 200 million, Terminator Genisys made much more 440 million on 155-158 million dollar budget, similar story is also for Salvation, large budget but box-office is rather small. Studio is completely missing the point of Terminator, Terminator is not MCU movie, Star Wars or Hobbit. With smaller budget like 60 million dollars, the results would be less disappointing.
John Connor appears to one of the hardest characters to write and maybe there is some truth to that, because the character is so larger than life and reason why his character works in Terminator 1 and 2 is because in first movie we don’t see him, he is just described as some almost mythological figure and in second movie he is just troubled teenager. Problem appears that he is introduced in later installments, all he has to do is the saving humanity and that’s really limiting, we have seen him doing that in Salvation. What else he can do “besides saving humanity”, so why not turn him into a villain, because what else is there to do or just kill him off and replace him with character that is virtually same as him. I sincerely hoped that John Connor would appear in Dark Fate and the reason why he is absent in the movie would be, to build him up and set him for potential sequel (that is now not gonna happen).
Not just John Connor
If it only was a problem with John Connor, maybe there would some chance for this franchise to have some future, but that is unfortunately not the case. As unfortunate as it might be the characters in this movie aren’t interesting anymore, Sarah Connor remains the same character since the second movie and same goes for good T-800. If these are only characters you have, and they don’t change or evolve, the stagnation is inevitable. Dark Fate doesn’t push franchise forward it remains in same place, characters are the same, stakes are the same, premise is the same and villain is liquid again.
Now is the time
The story of Terminator is a story of diminishing returns and failed set-ups. After Dark Fate failed at the box-office and its sequel is probably not gonna happen, this is now third Terminator movie that should start a new series of movies. Maybe don’t plan your future movies, if don’t know if your movie is going to be success, audience will ask for a sequel if your first movie is good, like with the first Terminator.
It is very surprising that we haven’t seen a Terminator movie set in the “War with Machines”, imagine movie about some of first encounters with T-800, no John Connor maybe brief reference and that’s it. Premise like: “A group of survivors in hellish post-apocalyptic world, encounters a deadly enemy unlike any they have seen before.” and even could build this as unrelated movie and let people on the internet speculate. I love James Cameron’s depiction of War with Machines, dirty, unforgiving and desperate world, where people eat rats, now that is Terminator movie I would love to see. The magic of the first movie was that it was more of a horror movie than action movie and if this low-budgeted, horror-themed Terminator movie would be made it could potentially save this franchise and show the fan-base that there is more to Terminator than “we must protect the future savior of humanity”.
Does it need to be saved?
Maybe it is better to putTerminator on hold and stop making these movies at least for a while, Terminator had really good run and got more chances than a lot of action franchises I can think of, people who made these movies love Terminator and no one wants to make “bad movie” on purpose, but that being said, there are limits to how much you can make, with the same premise and story. Terminator movies are a milestone in making action and CGI, the character portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cultural icon and nothing can take that away, you still got two great movies to enjoy I sure do. Maybe Terminator will be back at some point, with a new story and characters, but until then we can only wait and see what comes up…
Until then keep watching Terminator and Terminator 2 Judgment Day!