After months of cast photos and speculation, the first trailer for the newest entry into the Terminator franchise has finally dropped and it's showcasing a lot of new faces as well as a few legends. Information has been coming out about the film in dribs and drabs ever since the proposed new trilogy of films (intended to be kickstarted by 2015's Terminator Genisys, before its disappointing box office results came in) was scrapped to make way for some reengineering.
The footage has calmed many fears, and reaffirmed a few bad expectations, that fans have been wondering about. Here’s 10 things we’ve learned from the first trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate.
10 James Cameron is all in
One of the reasons that many people cite for the Terminator franchise’s diminished cultural impact is the departure of writer and director James Cameron after the first sequel. The first two Terminator films were as much a vehicle for Cameron’s career as a director as they were for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career as an actor. The Terminator was the first success of a filmmaker who went on to create two of the biggest movies of all time.
Terminator: Dark Fate marks Cameron’s return to the world of Terminator, with both a producer credit and a story credit, after a nearly 30-year absence from the franchise. Cameron had gone on record to express some support for the franchise earlier, in marketing for Terminator Genisys, but the trailer for Dark Fate says it loud and proud - “...James Cameron returns.” Cameron isn’t just giving a thumbs up from the sidelines, he’s fully invested this time around.
9 Sarah Connor is here to kick butt
Next to Cameron, the other main selling point of this particular Terminator reboot is the return of Linda Hamilton as the franchise’s legendary hero Sarah Connor. Hamilton bowed out of the franchise after the second film also, though her presence is felt strongly throughout all of the other films, with her character returning (albeit in an alternate, and much younger, form played by Emilia Clarke) in Terminator Genisys.
The most crucial piece of information that the trailer gives is that Sarah Connor is 100% there for the fight and she’s not taking prisoners. Racing into the action and skidding to a halt, she emerges from her truck blasting (and with the biggest gun she can carry) before blowing the new Terminator away with a rocket launcher. Hamilton is clearly not just there to give advice and Sarah Connor looks set to be a crucial part of the movie’s action.
8 Arnie is there in the flesh
Even after the loss of its leading lady and its creative driving force, the Terminator franchise soldiered onwards and it’s become quite clear that it would never have got this far without Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s appeared in person, and as a main character, for all of the Terminator films except Terminator Salvation (where the digital likeness of his younger self appears on top of a new Terminator body in the finale) so, like Hamilton, fans had some questions about how he’d appear in this one.
Arnie isn’t in the trailer very much. There’s an action shot which may feature his character (it could be someone else) but it seems like he’s only got one shot in the trailer. We can, however, learn a lot from that shot. For one, it appears that Arnie is both back as an ally to Sarah Connor and appearing as his natural, older, self. What role he’ll play in the story is still unclear but, unless the producers wished to immediately repeat mistakes from the last misfire, his appearance implies that Arnie could be playing a human this time around.
7 Skynet has a new target
The first voice we hear in the new trailer is that of Natalia Reyes, speaking as her character Daniella “Dani” Ramos. She describes her life before the inciting conflict of the film to be “nice” and “simple” and she’s clearly as in over her head as Sarah Connor was in the original Terminator. Her exact purpose in the film is still a mystery but the trailer makes it quite unequivocal that Dani Ramos is the target of the new Terminator while also the key to overall victory for humanity over the machines.
When asked why she cares what happens to Dani Ramos, Sarah Connor simply responds “Because I was her.” Does that mean that Dani is destined to give birth to a leader of the human resistance, the same way Sarah Connor was in the original film? Given how female-driven Dark Fate seems, it would be a tad antiquated to boil down even one of its female characters to purely being a baby-maker but there’s still room to be pleasantly surprised here.
6 There are cybernetically enhanced humans now
One of the most mysterious aspects of Dark Fate, so far, has been how Mackenzie Davis’ character fits into the new story and the trailer provides a lot of information to chew on. We see, right off the bat, that Davis’ character, Grace, is right in the middle of the action. She’s protecting Dani Ramos in the beginning of the trailer, and, the way that events are structured, it seems like she’s already doing the job long before Sarah Connor shows up on the scene.
Most importantly, though, we get a good up-close look at her cybernetic enhancements and what they can do. She moves and fights like a Terminator but she also explicitly states that she’s human. But fans have seen Terminators that think they’re human before. We also see her taking out some cops in her birthday suit (a classic sight for fans of the Terminator franchise) which strongly implies that she’s been sent back the old-fashioned way to carry out her mission in the past.
5 Gabriel Luna looks like the film’s big bad
This may be the producers holding their cards close to their chests (and, after the uproar surrounding a massive villain spoiler in the marketing for previous Terminator sequel, Genisys, who could blame them) but it doesn’t look like there’s going to be much more of a threat to the main characters outside of Gabriel Luna’s new Terminator.
This is, by no means, a bad thing. One of the aspects that made the original Terminator films so enjoyable was how streamlined the plots were. You had a killing machine, that killing machine had a target and that target had protectors. That was pretty much it. They’ve already streamlined the timeline (by erasing all of the events after Terminator 2: Judgement to clear the way for Dark Fate’s story) and a more straightforward plot couldn’t hurt either.
4 John Connor may not be in the movie very much
The loudest absence in the Dark Fate trailer would have to be John Connor’s. The original MacGuffin of all the Terminator films until this point, and the main character of several, is not only anywhere to be seen throughout the trailer - he’s never even loosely referenced.
Again, it’s easy to understand why. Aside from not wanting to give too much away this early in the game, John Connor has been as much at the heart of the Terminator franchise’s successes as he has been at the heart of its failures. After bombing as both a protagonist and an antagonist, he may be mostly gone for good.
3 You probably shouldn't get too attached to Diego Boneta's character
While the trailer is clearly trying to withhold plot details, it does leave in what may turn out to be a moderate spoiler. In the opening of the trailer, an action sequence takes place on a highway and the result of the high-speed pursuit at the center of it is a narrow escape for both Mackenzie Davis' and Natalia Reyes' main characters as an SUV rams into their truck and causes a large, fiery, explosion. The problem is that there's clearly a character (that the surviving main characters are shown to be allied with against the Terminator) still in the truck when it gets rammed.
Events shown in the trailer appear to take place, for the most part, chronologically and he never appears again. His face is, almost always, partially obscured but, judging by the available cast information, this character is most likely played by Scream Queens actor Diego Boneta. As Sarah Connor appears to be showing up for the first time in the film at end of that scene's footage, it's safe to assume that his character doesn't last out the whole first act of the film. Again, that's not definite. Just maybe don't get your hopes up too high if you're a Diego Boneta fan.
2 The tone may be much darker than usual
If the title wasn’t already enough of a giveaway, the trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate wants you to know for certain that the movie is going to be both figuratively and literally dark. As mournful choir singing, and ominous piano notes, usher in a serious-looking chase scene, Natalia Reyes’ Dani Ramos describes the situation as “a nightmare” and the color grading for the film, whilst not Suicide Squad dark, is noticeably lower than the overlit Terminator Genisys.
Of course, all of this is something that’s subject to change. One thing that stands out in all the gloom is the name of director Tim Miller, who is specifically referred to as the director of Deadpool, and it is fairly uncommon to see totally dour action films in a post-Avengers world. Right now, the film is clearly trying to drum up intrigue, that will generate a new fanbase to carry the franchise into the future, so the tone in the final cut could be very different.
1 We shouldn’t get our hopes up for many practical effects
One of the areas in which Dark Fate does not seem to differ from its predecessor may, in fact, be its Achilles heel. Brimming with some impressive stunt work and robust choreography, Dark Fate still looks to suffer from a terminal overabundance of computer-generated rigmarole.
Computer-generated effects are, of course, a huge (even integral) part of the Terminator franchise’s history but the charm of the original successes lay in the tangible quality of the vast majority of the stunts and effects. All of the effects shown in the trailer are unlikely to be 100% finished products but, unless the movie is going to pull something truly earth-shattering out of its hat at the last minute, it’s already looking a little unremarkable.