Whether you believe the end of times wasn't the fabled Judgment Day in T2, but rather the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, or allowed nostalgia to seduce you into one last outing with the T-800 and crew, the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise was always going to make or break it. Blasting into theaters on an almost $200 million budget and making less than $30 million at the box office so far, it seems that not even the appeal of old franchise veterans Linda Hamilton or Arnold Schwarzenegger could endear the film to fans.
With its strong female-led cast, bombastic special effects, and timeline shenanigans, it promised to deliver more of what you'd come to expect from the iconic sci-fi franchise after Terminator 2. It delivered on most of its promises, but without offering anything unique to give the franchise new life. Read on for five reasons we want more sequels and five reasons why this franchise should sink into a vat of lava thumbs down.
10 WANT MORE: TO TELL DARKER STORIES
Despite being called Dark Fate, the film lacked a certain grittiness the franchise is known for. With its substantial budget, it had all the glossy, superficial sheen of a huge blockbuster, despite its poor performance on opening weekend.
Consider franchises that stepped back from their ballooning budgets and hypertrophied storylines to make stripped-down, unfettered films like Logan, which ended up being one of the most successful additions to the X-Men franchise. A Terminator film in the same vein would probably earn the respect of fans who've long since thought the franchise jumped the shark — as evidenced by the retconning of three of its sequels.
9 DON'T: THE FRANCHISE IS NO LONGER FRESH
Unlike Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation, which at least attempted to work in new timelines, characters, and perspectives into the franchise, Dark Fate feels like a retread of more of the same tired territory. It doesn't have any exciting components unique to itself that bring it vitality.
The film notoriously took half a dozen writers to complete, with constant rewrites that made it bloated and aimless. Even with James Cameron's involvement, who gave the franchise Judgment Day, its most famous addition, this film still felt like it was missing the comeback energy it should have had to bolster anticipation.
8 WANT MORE: ITS KICKASS LEADS
In perhaps the only shocking moment the film really had to its credit, franchise darling John Connor is gotten rid of in the first scene. This paves the way for its three female leads to effectively take over and carry the movie, lead by the only other face more synonymous with the franchise than Arnold Schwarzenegger — Linda Hamilton.
Linda Hamilton and newcomer Mackenzie Davis shared equal responsibilities as kickass leads, providing action and character development that would feel at home in a John Wick film. Davis may have had a one and done role, but following stories of similar characters would make fans hold out hope for the franchise if they were that well done.
7 DON'T: THE FRANCHISE NEEDS TIME TO BE MISSED
In some ways the Terminator franchise seems like a sad excuse to force something to happen that will never be successful. Similar franchises have tried to recapture the former glory of their '80s fascination and failed in their recent endeavors, like Predator, Rambo: Last Blood, and Alien: Covenant.
The Terminator franchise needs to be missed. It needs to leave collective memory for awhile and gestate in the mind of the public. That way enough time will go by and a solid enough storyline will be developed for them to be receptive of a new contribution to a series that's been around for decades.
6 WANT MORE: THEY'LL BE PARABLES TO OUR SOCIETY
Like similar sci-fi films Blade Runner or Westworld, Terminator stands as a testament to the achievements humankind will make in the future and how its hubris will present complications when it comes to its survival against its greatest creations.
More sequels would mean more parables to our society, acting as mirrors to the progress we're currently making in areas like robotics and artificial intelligence. As sci-fi films usually reflect the era in which they're made, each new Terminator film would provide a new cautionary tale to humankind's traction in technical advancement.
5 DON'T: ARNOLD IS GETTING TOO OLD
Of all of the films that came after T2, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a perfectly serviceable sequel because of one thing: classic Arnold. It was 16 years ago and Arnold was still in great shape, able to fit into leather jackets and hold up prop guns with ease.
The more the franchise moves away from classic Arnold, the more it will suffer. For better or worse, he is the Terminator, and without him, the franchise doesn't feel as grounded. Very soon he will be unable to be featured in films like this and the illogical attempts to force his iconic character into the plot will be bad.
4 WANT MORE: TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ALTERNATE TIMELINE
By killing off John Connor early on in the film, the franchise effectively "pivots" away from the crucial juncture fans thought they knew. John is one of the most important figures in the future, and he is the one that sends Kyle Reese back in time to kickstart the necessary series of events.
Without the Connor character the way we have come to know him, we're forced to learn what a new timeline would represent. We get to learn about what replaced Skynet and how Legion operates. We get to learn about how humankind might move on without its greatest general against its greatest threat, with infinite possibilities.
3 DON'T: HOLLYWOOD IS OUT OF IDEAS
Like so many reboots, remakes, prequels, and sequels, Dark Fate falls into the unfortunate position of being just another money grab from an unimaginative industry. Hollywood doesn't seem to want to take risks on any film that isn't a sure thing, especially with the cost it takes to make big budget films.
It's why the plot of Dark Fate was basically an exact copy of the plots of Terminator and Judgment Day, with a gender swap for good measure. There's no real efficacy by humans to stop Judgment Day so as to leave this film open to be a sequel trilogy — that will doubtless have more uninspired plot points.
2 WANT MORE: TO FINALLY SEE THE HUMAN RESISTANCE
With the presence of time travel in the Terminator films, the main characters sure do stay in the present a lot. Terminator: Salvation tried its hand at jumping into the future, depicting the human resistance after they'd already been fighting machines for some time, but what about the period between Skynet's activation and the rise of the Resistance?
The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series promised to show that specific time period, and even T3 stopped short of revealing it, ending the film just as the world as humans knew it began to crumble. Perhaps one day, one of these films will show how we began to fight back.
1 DON'T: IT WILL MESS WITH THE TIMELINE
At this point in the franchise, the timeline has been messed with so many times it's difficult to follow what's happening on the screen, much less fact-check whether or not it should be happening. Terminator: Genisys effectively rebooted the entire franchise. Sarah Connor never met Kyle Reese, she never had John Connor (in fact, he's a Terminator cyborg), and the whole plot of the film moved any sequels in a different direction.
That film is being ignored with the release of Dark Fate but it brings up the sort of issues that the franchise will run into if it continues. Any sequels to the original Terminator further convoluted the principles of time travel, and the best sci-fi stories at least do their best to adhere to their own logic.