How Terminator: Dark Fate Is Different From the Other Sequels, According to the Director

How and why Sarah Connor is back is a huge question in Terminator: Dark Fate.
How and why Sarah Connor is back is a huge question in Terminator: Dark Fate.
Photo: Paramount

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is so good, three sequels and a TV show haven’t been able to crack the code to find a way back into Terminator that will wow audiences as that movie did. It’s one of the many reasons why some fans are skeptical about the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate, which is being called the first true sequel to Terminator 2, despite Rise of the Machines, Salvation, Genysis, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dark Fate’s director Tim Miller explains why he thinks his movie gets it right when the others got it wrong:

I honestly believe this would be the best version of the movie after the second one. This will be more clear when you see the movie, but the first two movies really deal with time as a loop, what’s happening is the same thing that happened before and everybody is fighting to ensure that happens again. And Jim [Cameron] had this lucky break that he only broke that rule at the end of Terminator 2 when Sarah destroys Cyberdyne, it’s the first thing that happened that hadn’t happened before, and so it was going to change the future — but no one knew how. And I don’t think the movies that came after it really explored that in a clean way like I believe we are, with true consequences, and it makes perfect sense for Sarah to be the one to face those consequences since they were her choices to begin with.

That was the other big hurdle for Dark Fate. Bring back the one character who hadn’t come back yet: Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton. In the same interview, Hamilton explains how hard it was for her to agree to come back and even to get back into the character after all this time.

There is a real gift in that so much time has passed, and that gives me so much more to explore with the character. Sarah Connor is the same person but I wanted to see how the difference in events have changed her and shaped her and send her forward. There was meat there. I didn’t want to just recycle the same idea. It’s a woman who has a different mission, a different story, so I wanted to see what we could do with that.

Of course, all of this is very vague and none of it mentions the T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was completely destroyed along with other Cyberdyne tech at the end of Terminator 2 but is somehow back. Not to mention John Connor, the focus of all the original movies, who hasn’t shown up in any marketing materials, or the wholly new cast including Mackenzie Davis as a new breed of futuristic protector. Hamilton was asked about the film’s plot and what Sarah has been up to since Terminator 2:

She’s a woman without a country. Her original mission has changed due to circumstances and she really doesn’t have a team anymore, she just has a thirst for vengeance, so that makes her very alone. She’s still a wildcard, but a wildcard without a real true mission is a lot more unpredictable. Basically very hard for her to find her humanity, so once again we get to take a journey on that level, to have some deep things that need to be rediscovered for her survival.


Some good tidbits to consider. How did the destruction of Cyberdyne at the end of Terminator 2 still breed Terminators? Did Judgment Day never happen? Will it still happen? And why is Sarah looking for vengeance if she won the last time? We’ll find out more this week as Dark Fate comes to Comic-Con—and the full story on November 1, when the film hits theaters. Plus, there’s more on Hamilton’s preparation and hesitation, in the EW interview.

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I finally saw the trailer for Dark Fate before Far From Home, and I cannot for the life of me figure out who the fuck this movie is for (beyond the shareholders of the various corporations in charge of the IP).

For one, the Terminator franchise was always tied to fears of WWIII, and while nuclear annihilation is just as much a possibility now as it was 35 years ago, I think most people under 30 are much more frightened of global warming than AIs rising up and decimating the planet’s population.

But for another, the movie just looks dumb. It’s trying to compete with Marvel/Avatar levels of specatcle, and for me the appeal of T1 and T2 is their, for lack of a better term, groundedness. These movies are set mainly in the L.A. of the ‘80s and ‘90s (and actually Los Angeles, not friggin’ Vancouver) and despite T2's groundbreaking use of CGI, use mostly practical effects and techniques. Real stuntpeople, real trucks, real helicopters, real explosions. This movie has vehicles getting hurled into the stratosphere. It looks hyperbolically fake. I’m reminded of the Wiseman Die Hards — another zombie ‘80s franchise — which rejected the semi-realistic tone of the first movie in favor of dopey CG action, and transformed John McClane from an average Joe into a buff, indestructible posthuman superhero. These sequels feel less like actual movies than interminable PS2 games you might have checked out from Blockbuster and played for an hour or two before returning them a day early.

At this point, my own nostalgia is depleted. All of these zombie franchises can just fucking die already, for good. And to my fellow generational cohorts, all I can say is this: Every sequel to an ‘80s movie you consume is just another piece of your own death.