‘Terminator: Dark Fate’: Why the franchise still kills
There are plenty of sci-fi franchises that are either dead or are slowly being killed off by the Hollywood machine. Take Ridley Scott’s beloved Alien franchise and of course the decaying juggernaut that is Star Wars, which Disney is sucking all of the remaining life out of. Yet there’s one franchise that refuses to die, and that’s the Terminator franchise.
Back in the summer of 1991, Terminator 2: Judgement Day first hit our theater screens. The movie is undoubtedly hailed as one of the best sequels ever made, and rightly so. James Cameron’s first film definitely was a masterclass in sci-fi storytelling and had some of the best special effects to be seen in the 80s, but his sequel took all of that and built on his original ideas tenfold.
Three more sequels later, a TV show, and an upcoming and hopeful return to form with Tim Miller’s installment of the series, Terminator: Dark Fate – because let’s face it, Genisys has its moments, but ultimately it sucks – and the franchise is doing better than ever.
Mackenzie Davis leads the troupe in the new film due out in November, along with Natalia Reyes and the returning Linda Hamilton, who will be bringing back the all-time badass Sarah Connor. We’re absolutely buzzing for this. To celebrate our excitement, here are some of the best things about the franchise that still make Cameron’s time-traveling behemoth as good today as it was back then.
Exciting time-travel plotlines
One of the biggest staples of the franchise is the narrative, and within that the concept of time-travel. It’s difficult sometimes to grasp it, with the films constantly changing the timeline and universes, making it a bit of a mindfuck.
But time travel isn’t complete without the confusion right? Indeed, we get plenty of this, as the first film told the story of Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) traveling from the year 2029 to 1984 to save the life of Sarah Connor from the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), as she will one day give birth to John Connor – the future saviour of humanity.
It made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name
Today, Arnie is one of the most loveable actors out there. He’s a charming guy and a really good actor, whether he’s in a serious or silly role. And we have the Terminator franchise to thank for that.
Despite his charisma and funny side, he was terrifying in Cameron’s 1984 movie. His harsh stare, robotic movements (a must when you’re playing a robot), and his fantastic one-liners really made this series and his career shine. What made it even better was his switched up heroic role in the sequel when he became the guardian angel for a young John Connor and his now very skeptical yet fearless mother. Speaking of whom . . .
It features bold and courageous female characters
Back in the 80s, women were the real heroes of the sci-fi genre. We’re thinking of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from Aliens, but in this case it is Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor who shines above them all.
In the second film in particular she is strong willed, gutsy, and above all valiant as hell. Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke have also had cracks at playing the iconic character, but neither of them could come close to Hamilton’s portrayal.
In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, we got to see our first female Terminator – the T-X, as played by Kristanna Loken who goes head-to-head with Arnie. It may not have Cameron’s magic, but she’s still a fun and daring character.
The films offer outstanding CGI and special effects
CGI can be just awful sometimes. That’s why many movies in this day and age could learn a thing or two from the Terminator series. Not only were practical effects used to make the deadly robots look even more real and frightening, but the special effects were just gorgeous.
T2 won the Oscar award for Special Effects and Makeup that year because there was nothing on par with how slick and believable everything looked. The visual orgasm that is the T-1000 in all its liquid metal glory is a sight to behold and really pioneered special effects from then on. Remember when Robert Patrick’s T-1000 melts through the prison bars? Yeah, it’s hard to forget.
It redefined the genre
With Alien and Star Wars being the other two sci-fi juggernauts at this time, it’s hard not to argue that the Terminator series really helped to reshape the genre. As previously mentioned, it planted the seed for the notion of time travel in film, but it also paved the way for more expansive world-building.
In T2, we get to see the future world laid out in the first movie properly realized, and 2009’s Terminator Salvation did a one-up and was set in 2018 within the post-apocalyptic Skynet age. No matter what you think of this film, it was great to see some stellar world-building that inspired so many other movies within the genre to do the same. Say what you want about Cameron – he really knows how to craft an exciting and engaging sci-fi.