Few franchises have had as many chances to reboot as The Terminator. In the decades following the hugely successful first two films, four theatrical attempts have been made, each roughly six years apart, to make good on the franchise’s most iconic line: “I’ll be back.” (There was also an excellent TV show in there.) However, most were met with varying degrees of indifference from general audiences. And now, the man who has long been at the franchise’s center is finally taking himself out of the equation.
“I got the message loud and clear that the world wants to move on with a different theme when it comes to The Terminator,” star Arnold Schwarzenegger said to the Hollywood Reporter. “The franchise is not done [but] I’m done.”
“Someone has to come up with a great idea,” he continued. “The Terminator was largely responsible for my success, so I always would look at it very fondly. The first three movies were great. Number four [2009's Terminator Salvation] I was not in because I was governor. Then five [2015's Terminator Genisys] and six [2019's Terminator: Dark Fate] didn’t close the deal as far as I’m concerned. We knew that ahead of time because they were just not well-written.”
Here’s where I’m going to step in and challenge Schwarzenegger a bit. He’s 100% right that Terminator Genisys was not well-written. It’s way too confusing and tried way too hard. But I will 100% stand up for Terminator: Dark Fate. That movie is the best of the later sequels by far, and while it’s not some masterpiece, it’s at least better than Terminator 3, which the actor says was “great.” It’s fine, but it’s not great.
However, Dark Fate was kind of a last-chance effort. You not only had Schwarzenegger back yet again, franchise creator James Cameron produced and Linda Hamilton returned to co-star for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day. That was the shot. But it failed, in large part because fans had been burned so badly by the previous two films.
Without Schwarzenegger, is there even a Terminator franchise? He seems to think so. We don’t agree—but if history is to be believed, we’re about two or three years away from the next attempt to bring it back.
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