In a world of remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, and spinoffs, franchise fatigue has become a regular burden that we all must bear. One day, we will all patronize our grandkids by letting them know that back in our day, we only had four Disney live-action remakes in a year, and not the 3 every week they have. We will serenade them with wild tales of original stories that we got to see in theaters for the first time, then they’ll ask us, all stupid and innocent-like, if any of that ever happened. Then you’ll silently nod and smile, before looking up towards the sky, a single tear running down your check as you face the reckoning of what we have lost. And while you weep for the stories that were casualties in the wake of the unchecked corporate influence on cinema, you’ll remember when James Cameron lied to everyone and said that “Terminator: Genisys” will be a Renaissance for the franchise, and think “That’s it! That was the moment!”. They produced a legitimately bad movie, revealed the plot twist in the trailer, AND had the creator of the franchise blatantly lie to everyone. If all of that didn’t make them stop, nothing can. Game over!
If there has ever been a franchise that really needs to stop, “Terminator” has been making a strong case to be that franchise basically since the end credits of “Judgement Day” rolled on-screen, which came out all the way back in 1991. The best thing anybody can say about anything released with the “Terminator” brand on it since then is that it might not be as bad as people think, but has that stopped the wallet-mongers at Paramount Pictures from making yet another film in the franchise? That’s a negative. And so, now we have a movie called “Terminator: Dark Fate” coming out November 1st, which will supposedly revive the franchise… from itself… by going back to its roots… again. Yeah, let me know how that turns out.
I audibly laughed in the theater the first time I saw that name come on screen during the trailer and some random guy gave me a high five for doing it. That’s the best name you got?! You couldn’t come up with anything more relevant?! If you think a film that’s subtitle is “Dark Fate” is going to be substantial in anyway you deserve to be laughed at derisively to your face. I know that sounds harsh but it is the only way you’ll learn. Names like “Dark Fate”, or “[Star Trek:] Into Darkness”, or anything that vaguely references darkness without specifically connecting to anything in the story is such an insultingly simple tactic to appeal to people who crave ‘edginess’. If your title, the most direct pitch to the public as to what your film is about, is literally about nothing, then I have little faith that the film has anything unique going for it.
And other than an admittedly pretty cool and ominous song in the background, that trailer seems like a repeat of all the mistakes of the fateful “Terminator: Genisys” trailer that spoiled EVERYTHING for the last film. Learning lessons is for losers! Instead of finding out John Connor is a machine now, it seems we are literally just doing the Disney Star Wars route and retelling Sarah Connor’s story by bringing her back to help someone else do exactly what she already did. And another machine-human hybrid is sent back in time to protect this person, and another liquid metal Terminator with an unfeeling stoic face is there, but this time he is somehow even stronger. Oh, and Arnie is back again (Would have been a lot cooler if we didn’t know this already)! Don’t pay attention to the fact that we’ve seen the Terminators take bullets to the face with that exact same effect for decades now. Try not to remember that liquid metal robots were only groundbreaking back in the George H. W. Bush administration. This is the movie we’ve always been waiting for! Everyone is back, doing the same things, saying the same one-liners, but this one will be the game-changer! We’ll like this one because they’ve already shown us all this and we told them we liked it a couple of decades ago.
So, Paramount and Skydance are going to shove the same concepts down our throats again and hope that we don’t realize just how incredibly familiar everything is. Maybe they are even hoping we’ll only find out after we buy tickets! But why even see it? Is anyone still curious about this universe? It was a fun concept but they’ve overplayed their hand. They haven’t had a good film in almost 20 years and popular culture has moved on. They are so afraid to evolve as a franchise because they made a few misguided attempts in the early 2000s to be a little different that failed for so many other reasons. But that doesn’t stop them from continuing to make movies, and it seems their goals are to let us know things are just as we remember from the 80s and 90s. If the films are only good if the same premises are constantly repeated, then maybe new films shouldn’t be made. At the very least, I think it is clear that everyone would benefit from a break from the franchise. I just wonder who keeps telling these people that this is something we all want. How many times do we need to tell you we aren’t interested for them to finally get the message?