Only a few sci-fi franchises can be as confusing and convoluted as The Terminator. What began as a straightforward action thriller eventually developed into an interconnected world of mixed timelines, alternate futures, and – in the words of the original Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, himself – shoddy writing.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the eternal action icon, turns 75 this year, and he’s been doing some introspection about the highs and lows of his acting career. As is to be expected, you can’t separate Schwarzenegger’s career from Terminator – by now, they’ve become one and the same.
The Austrian bodybuilder recently reflected on the current state of the Terminator franchise in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he theorized about the future of the time-bending series and whether it has garnered enough goodwill with fans to keep going for a few more years.
“The franchise is not done. I’m Done.” Schwarzenegger firmly believes there will be more Terminator movies coming our way, and with the recent news of James Cameron working on the script for a new film in the series, he was right. Still, if what he says are his true feelings on the subject, Dark Fate might have been the last we ever see of the iconic T-800 – and for some fans, that’s excellent news.
Schwarzenegger is quite aware of how much he owes to the Terminator franchise, and in the interview, he shows real love for the world, the franchise, and the mythos behind the Terminator. However, his tone drastically switches when he addresses the more recent entries in the series – Genisys and Dark Fate. He briefly touches on Salvation but acknowledges he wasn’t in it because he was busy being the “Governator” at the time.
Want to know the reason why Genisys and Dark Fate proved box office flops? According to Schwarzenegger, it’s “Because they were just not well written.” That’s a fact that not just Terminator fans know, but also those involved in the development of the movies, as Schwarzenegger revealed during the interview.
Both films tried to retcon the original Terminator timeline – a risky move for any long-standing franchise like this one. Altering the image of characters like Sarah and John Connor, and essentially erasing multiple films from existence – in the case of Dark Fate – through a time paradox is not the kind of thing that unites fans of a franchise. On the contrary, that’s what you do when you want your series to resemble the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
As standalone action flicks, the recent Terminator films might not be all that offensive. The issue arises when we compare them with the rest of the franchise – with the legacy and the overarching plot built by the prequels about the chronology of the war between humans and Skynet. That’s when there’s a problem with your movies being “not well written.”
It only takes one poor chapter to sour an entire saga, and in The Terminator‘s case, it seems as if those bad episodes just keep piling together. Let’s just hope that James Cameron’s next AI-inspired film manages to finally bring the franchise back to its awesome roots.
What did you think of the Terminator sequels, and do you think that Arnold Schwarzenegger was right?