Topic: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

Ever since Slider_Quinn21 posted FANTASTIC FOUR: Why did it fail? -- I've thought of that question regarding numerous interesting failures. I hadn't planned to go see the new TERMINATOR in theatres; I rarely go anywhere. But someone I wish I didn't know who annoys me -- well, I heard them snarking that DARK FATE failed because it had women leading the cast and a Mexican and that it was replacing white men in the key franchise roles and upon hearing that, I sped over to the cineplex, walked into an IMAX screening and came out having really enjoyed it.

Natalia Reyes is a terrific viewpoint character, Mackenzie Davis is an incredible action talent and Linda Hamilton anchors the franchise in the way that Nick Stahl, Christian Bale and Jai Courtney so singularly could not. Except clearly not because the audience is staying far, far away from DARK FATE.

I wonder if RISE OF THE MACHINES, SALVATION and GENISYS have cemented a popular view of TERMINATOR: that it produces incompetent action movies with inept scripting and incoherent plotting with each installment being the first film of a trilogy for which the sequels are never actually made, and only crazy people want to yet again watch the opening act of a story that once again won't be finished (although unlike RISE, SALVATION and GENISYS, DARK FATE does not demand or promise a sequel).

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

I think it’s because the formula is tired at this point.  They try to dress it up a little, but it’s really the same thing every time.  I think they would be better served to flip the script and give the opposite angle.

SkyNet had to realize it could lose in its gambit to kill Sarah Connor, so wouldn’t it have an insurance policy?  What if it also sent a contingent of Terminators into the future?  As we know from our own history, we often become complacent and don’t respect the past after a few hundred or a thousand years.  This “sleeper cell” of Terminator infiltrator units could suddenly appear out of their time bubbles; blend into society, and go about the business of resurrecting SkyNet.

That idea would give us a look at something new - where does humanity progress to after defeating the machines?  And with no specific target this time, this could bring Terminator back to its horror roots as we’re left to a guessing game on who is a Terminator.  Lastly, they could still have their near unstoppable nature for a reverse reason this time - the Terminator technology is so antiquated that humanity is too advanced to deal with it.  Similar to how Moore’s Battlestar Galactica presented that the Galactica survived the initial attack because it was still hard wired and off the grid.

That’s what I think the franchise needs.  Go full on sci-fi while also taking us back to the horror roots of the unstoppable monster.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

I think it would be interesting to take a page from Daniel Wilson's Robopocalypse series.  If you don't want to be spoiled for that, I'd stop reading here.

In the Robopocalypse books (which I *highly* recommend, despite the hokey title), "Skynet" takes over and attacks mankind.  But "Skynet" is actually doing it to prepare humanity for another, more evil, AI that is much, much worse.  It attacked humanity but in a way that would make humanity stronger and more capable of facing the bigger threat.  It would be interesting if Terminator tried to go in that direction (and there's some sense that maybe Genisys was thinking something like this) where it turns out that Skynet, in a way, sees itself as an ally of humanity.  That the death of Sarah (or John) Connor is worth the safety of mankind as a whole.

The problem with this is...what would that even look like.  It'd obviously be terminators fighting alongside humans....but against better terminators?  So Terminators 2-6.  So maybe not smile  Anyway, go read Robopocalypse

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I think the series actually went the most logical way a while back - as a TV show.  I think once you've seen Terminators 1 and 2, anything else would be repetitive.  They tried different terminators, they tried different characters, they tried different timelines, and they tried going into the future.  The Sarah Connor Chronicles took a different approach and did something that movies just don't have time to do - establish character.  Who are these people.  What is a terminator that isn't programmed to kill, and how can it evolve?  And if Skynet sent back enough terminators, would some of them form a third faction that isn't loyal to Skynet or humans?

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

Temporal Flux is absolutely right to say that JUDGEMENT DAY, RISE OF THE MACHINES and GENISYS have all featured humans fleeing a cybernetic assassin who is just barely held off by a reprogrammed robot Arnold Schwarzenegger; SALVATION varied this a bit with Sam Worthington playing the robot(ish) protector. Perhaps DARK FATE, in addition to being the fourth installment in a role to be the first in a trilogy that could be left unfinished, was yet another chased-by-a-robot movie and the audience had seen enough of those. Also, DARK FATE tries to sell itself in ways that GENISYS already attempted to the disappointment of the audience. Maybe they weren't willing to take the chance of being fooled again.

I'd argue that every pre-DARK FATE sequel to JUDGEMENT DAY has suffered from being either inauthentic, incompetent or incomplete or some combination of all three. RISE OF THE MACHINES is, like Season 4 - 5 of SLIDERS, a cheap copy of the original content, in this case JUDGEMENT DAY.

JUDGEMENT DAY had grand and lavish action sequences from James Cameron who has an incredible grasp of geography, motion, location, editing, pacing and timing. It also had a grippingly troubled female protagonist in Linda Hamilton, a hilarious dynamic between the rascaly Edward Furlong and the taciturn Arnold Schwartzenegger.

In contrast, RISE has blandly pedestrian action and a blandly present Claire Danes. RISE also presents a John/Terminator relationship that rings false. Nick Stahl's John is ineffectual and weak, perpetually cowering and overwhelmed by simple acts like breaking and entering that the young John performed with confident ease, and Stahl performs John with a one-note nervousness. He reflects none of Furlong's wit, cunning, rebellion and daring and simply isn't John Connor. And Schwarzenneger is back as the Terminator, but this is a different machine with the same face; this Terminator never bonded with John in T2.

Despite RISE claiming to be the further adventures of John and the Terminator, this isn't the T2 John and this isn't the T2 Terminator. It's inauthentic. The best that can be said of RISE is that it dares to show (a fairly sanitized) rendition of Skynet's victory at the end (even though RISE had alternate footage filmed so that another Terminator would have shown up to defeat Skynet had the studio balked at the ending).

SALVATION is incompetent. The story is nonsensical with Skynet inexplicably augmenting a human, Marcus Wright, with Terminator powers to infiltrate the human resistance despite this human (inevitably) switching sides. John Connor has once again been recast as Christian Bale who exists to run around in various action sequences that don't affect the core plot for Marcus and Kyle Reese. The ending simply resets the movie to the beginning of the situation with Marcus Wright dead and John Connor continuing his leadership of the resistance.

The reason for all this: Connor was supposed to be a mostly off-camera character, but Christian Bale declined the role of Marcus and insisted that he play John and ordered that John have (superfluous) scenes added to the film for him to perform. In addition, the original script had Connor dying and Marcus Wright changing his appearance to look like Connor to maintain the legend of the man, something Bale also had altered. The ending was also changed: the original intention was that Skynet would reveal that it was enslaving humanity to save it from its own destruction, but this was also lost in shifting the film from Marcus to Christian Bale.

THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES is, despite being an excellent TV show, somewhat inauthentic and incompetent. The recasting is actually pretty good with Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker doing a great job of performing new versions of Linda Hamilton and Ed Furlong and the scripts are also splendid. However, CHRONICLES seemed determined to create unresolved plot thread after unresolved plot thread and was dead set on creating a cliffhanger finale for Season 2 that had next to no chance of ever being resolved (and remains unresolved) when a more competent TV show would have crafted the final episode to work as both a season finale and a series finale in the likely event of cancellation.

And GENISYS is completely inauthentic, shockingly incompetent and again incomplete. The original TERMINATOR featured a troubled, war-scarred Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. GENISYS recasts with Jai Courtney and Courtney is a charisma-free vacuum whose performance has no thought, no detail, no effort and no depth. Courtney's Reese is a bland hero; there is nothing of Biehn's rebel soldier, nothing of Biehn's madness or grief or loss or desperation as survivor of a borderline extinction. And then we have Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor except Clarke captures nothing of Linda Hamilton's 80s demeanor in TERMINATOR and also nothing of Hamilton's angry war veteran in JUDGEMENT DAY.

GENISYS claims to be returning to the roots of the original TERMINATOR and yet presents impostors once again. Furthermore, despite showing the original version of Reese being dispatched by John to save Sarah (which is why John meeting Kyle doesn't match the SALVATION depiction), GENISYS doesn't explain where the "Pops" Terminator came from to rewrite the events of the 1984 film. It's presented as a mystery to be explored later, but it comes off as sloppiness. And the film works in revisiting/remaking moments of the 1984 film -- except it then inexplicably has Sarah and Kyle time travel to 2015 on the eve of Skynet being activated. At no point does the movie explain WHY Sarah and Kyle would decide to throw away 31 years to find a way to stop Skynet other than the filmmakers not wanting to continue recreating the 1984 setting -- which also makes the 'mystery' of Pops look less like an ongoing question and more of a plothole -- one that will never be resolved as GENISYS will have no sequels. Inauthentic. Incompetent. Incomplete.

GENISYS sold itself as being a return to the series' roots (by returning to the 1984 movie to choose an alternate path) and advertised itself with James Cameron claiming he loved GENISYS, a claim he'd later withdraw. I suspect that Cameron was thrilled to see GENISYS refilming moments of his 1984 film and was so overwhelmed by these overtures that he only later came to see that outside of these recreations, the surrounding movie featured bland impostors of his creations in a clumsily plotted and unfinished story.

Fairly or unfairly, DARK FATE is part of a franchise that presents unfinished, confusing stories with stand-ins for the real characters.

DARK FATE, like GENISYS, it claims to return to the roots of the series, sidestep the sequels (but only after T2 whereas GENISYS replaced even the original TERMINATOR) and is endorsed by James Cameron once again -- except with GENISYS, all of that turned out to be utter BS. The fact that DARK FATE managed to recapture authenticity, competence and completion doesn't seem to matter because such things can only be appreciated by an audience that sees the actual film and as they'd been burned on three previous occasions, one can understand them not returning for a fourth. That's despite the authenticity being real this time: we have Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor; we have Ed Furlong as John Connor. These aren't recasts; these are the same faces we saw in TERMINATOR and T2.

And DARK FATE is a return to competence. While James Cameron did not direct this movie, I feel he might as well have much in the same way HALLOWEEN 2018 recaptured the style of the 1974 movie despite Carpenter neither filming it nor having final cut. DARK FATE is plainly a movie that Cameron had made on his behalf the way George Lucas directed RETURN OF THE JEDI through Richard Marquand. Despite never going to the set, Cameron managed its scripting and oversaw the editing and DARK FATE captures all of Cameron's strengths while also amending some of his weaknesses.

Where RISE, SALVATION and GENISYS were pedestrian in their action, Cameron's gift for pacing, shot sequencing, motion and geography are plainly present in Tim Miller's direction. DARK FATE is a relentless chase movie akin to a Season 2 episode of SLIDERS and Miller and Cameron ensure that each action sequence presents a new variation: a terrifying car chase, a battle in an auto factory, a battle within a crashing airplane, an underwater escape -- each sequence presenting a different form of physicality.

Also, Tim Miller infuses DARK FATE with a beautiful feminine energy. Mackenzie Davis' Grace can be unstoppable and indomitable, but she conveys the pain and shock of each blow and how near collapse she is as she performs another astonishing feat. There's a tenderness and tactile sense of identity to Grace in contrast to Schwarzenegger's implacable brutalism. And also, DARK FATE is complete. It doesn't end demanding a sequel, instead ending on a closing note that indicates that should there be a sequel, there'll be a great one, but if there isn't, the adventure continues. It's what SARAH CONNOR's finale so singularly wasn't.

It's a shame that GENISYS was made; had DARK FATE come in its place, it'd have been the first sequel to declare itself a return to authenticity, and had DARK FATE been on track to earn the same $440 million that GENISYS made, it would have been considered an adequate success. And looking at DARK FATE's sister movie, HALLOWEEN 2018 was also a 'deboot' that had the original leading lady reprising her role as a lead character -- except HALLOWEEN 2018 was a return to the original film's roots as a low budget indie movie made for 10 million dollars and earning 255 million at box office.

In contrast, DARK FATE is not a return to TERMINATOR (1984) being made for 6.4 million but instead yet another attempt at T2's blockbuster earnings with a blockbuster budget. Admittedly, a 12 million dollar version of DARK FATE would not have Linda Hamilton or Arnold Schwarzenagger and likely not have the computer generated deaging effects to recreate a young Linda Hamilton and Ed Furlong as Sarah and John, so maybe DARK FATE just came too late. It should have come out in 2015 before GENISYS poisoned the idea of going back to the original well.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

I think that's a wonderful walk through the Terminator lore.  I don't have anything to add, but I thought that was well written.

I'm seeing Dark Fate tonight.  I've already had a little of it spoiled for me, but I'm not terribly worried about that.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

I saw it.  SPOILERS ahead so stop reading now if you don't want it spoiled.

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I liked it quite a bit.  I like, like some action movies, it dragged on a bit.  There's a part in every movie like this - with an unstoppable killing machine hunting you - where you can't have slow character moments anymore and it's just a fight to the death.  This applies to a lot of horror films - you can't exactly argue with Michael Myers - and it applies to Terminators as well.  And I thought that section of the movie was much too long.  Especially the part in and around the dam.  I even thought the part on the plan was just a big overkill.  I think they should've escaped from the warehouse with the EMP to the military base.  The terminator could've wrecked the military while the heroes were setting up the kill box.  It would've saved 10 minutes of insanity and still been plenty of action.

I liked how the franchise upgraded itself.  They won.  John died.  Skynet lost.  Something took it's place.  I read something that James Cameron said about a potential Dark Fate 2, and I think this is essentially going to be his theme.  That as long as we are headed towards an AI, whether it be military or commercial or whatever - there's a chance that it turns on us and leads to a Judgment Day.  So I think, if they do more, they'll explore the idea that we have to find peace with the AI before we create it.  Or something.  I don't know.

So I thought the setup was creative.  I didn't like that they killed John.  I understand why they did it, but I would've preferred if they went a different route.  Maybe John and Sarah had a falling out, and she can't give up the fight.  As a fan of Terminator 2, it bothered me to see Edward Furlong's John gunned down.  Just like I didn't like that Sarah was killed offscreen in Rise of the Machines.  But it made the Carl stuff work, and again, I get why they didn't do it.  They would've had to recast John since Edward Furlong doesn't seem like the John Connor type anymore, and I guess this works better.

I could also feel Josh Friedman's fingerprints on this.  The whole Carl thing did feel very Sarah Connor Chronicles and I liked that.  I liked Carl as a character and his motivation once his mission was complete.

I did wonder if Sarah's motivations should've been different, though.  This is a world where she's "terminated" because John died - tortured by the fact that she's forgetting him.  In that scene, I was thinking "that sucks - his death is locked into the timeline."

But it's not.  This is a universe where time travel exists.  Why wouldn't Sarah give herself purpose by trying to go back in time to save John?  Fix that one little mistake that got her son killed?  I'm not saying that should've been the movie - but I think that should've been her motivation.  Heck, maybe it should've been Carl's motivation.  Instead of sending coordinates to time displacement events, maybe Carl should've been sending Sarah blueprints to make herself a time machine.

So instead of this war-ravaged Sarah in a continuation of Terminator 2, you get another evolution of Sarah who's dedicated her life to science and building this machine to save her son's life.  It isn't about the 3 billion people she saved - it's about saving the one she lost.  Then Carl finds out about Dani and decides to give Sarah a different purpose.  The movie continues as is, and Sarah decides to let John be gone and face this new threat.

But as for the movie itself, I think it worked well.  I thought several of the scenes worked - I liked Grace as a character and the looks into her backstory.  I liked Dani as a rougher Sarah Connor from the first movie.  I thought there were some genuinely suspenseful scenes - I remember being on the edge of my seat in the chaos of the Border Patrol station, knowing that the terminator could be anywhere in the chaos and wondering how the heroes would get away.  Once they got into the kill box, I liked the finale.

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About the woke stuff.  Nothing in this movie bothered me.  Three female leads, three male leads, it doesn't bother me.  Give me good characters, and it's fine.  They explained why Grace could fight a terminator hand to hand, and that was enough for me.  She was a certifiable badass and a great lead hero.  Linda Hamilton was great.  Again, I liked Dani.  At no point was I worried that there weren't enough dudes.

That being said, I think sometimes these movies go too far.  Instead of an all-female ghostbusters, they could've just had it be 3 women and a man.  Or two women and two men but the women are the leads (just like Murray and Ackroyd are the leads of the original and the other two are less prominent).  I think there's this modern way of thinking that we just need to go all the way, and I think the most permanent social change comes from slow steps.  And I think any of these "woke" movies that fail, I think people are just resistant to too much change at one time.

I think people see something like John dying in the first five minutes as a woke statement.  "F MEN" the movie is yelling at them. "THE FUTURE IS FEMALE" - And I think you could've easily made a movie where you make huge leaps for female action stars and don't appear like you're rubbing it in people's faces to some people.  Maybe you make Dani Ramos into Danny Ramos.  And you have these kickass women trying to protect this scared young man.  And Sarah spends the movie thinking that this Danny guy is going to be the next John Connor.  But maybe he's just the father of the future leader of the resistance - his daughter.  Do a spin on the whole idea in the original of Danny and Grace giving birth to the future.

And maybe you're saying "f*ck that - we shouldn't give any credence to the 'Get Woke, Go Broke' crowd" and I think that's fair.  But what sucks is that we have a legitimately good terminator film that has some badass women, and it's going to bomb.  Just like Ghostbusters 2015 failed.  Just like Ocean's 8 probably isn't getting a sequel.  If you go from "all-female" to "female-led" I think it's the small step but a permanent step.  You can still have your badass female leads.  You can still have your Latina savior.  But if you sprinkle enough "traditional stuff" into the equation, then there's a decent chance no one will notice.  Look at Mad Max: Fury Road.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

I am not a huge fan of TERMINATOR or James Cameron, but after Informant -- I mean, after some random dude with whom I have no prior association whatsoever declared DARK FATE to be a failure because it was political under the "get woke go broke" hashtag -- well, I quantum-leapt to the cineplex to see it. Anything that pisses off this person -- whom I absolutely do not know in any way, shape or form -- I absolutely have to see. :-D

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I am not a huge fan of TERMINATOR or James Cameron, but I see the talent and craft even if the final product doesn't serve my personal obsessions. DARK FATE is a chase movie and Cameron/Tim Miller designed it to create characterization and relationships in shorthand and on the go.

We don't get a conversation where Grace and Dani share their values; we get a shot of Dani resting her head on Grace's lap. We don't get an arc where Dani shows her leadership skills; we get a quick moment of Dani shepherding her brother to work and protesting his replacement by a robot.

We don't see Sarah Connor staggering through life with alcoholism; we get Linda Hamilton wordlessly conveying that she exists to blow up robots and sleep before doing it again. Cameron's approach doesn't rely on dialogue or even necessarily action and decision to convey character; he depends on actors to sell you on it while often putting them in highly reactive roles as they deal with their ship hitting an iceberg or their being hunted by an AI.

In the original TERMINATOR, Kyle Reese is defined less by the script and more by the performance that Cameron and Michael Biehn produced: the performance wordlessly conveys to you that Reese is a starving soldier who has long lived without any kind of comfort or luxury, who is terrified of the Terminator and Skynet, who is traumatized by war and barely holding it together to perform his mission -- which is why Jai Courtney's blandly heroic performance was so offensive to fans. Courtney made Reese so confident, so at ease, so certain whereas Biehn's Kyle Reese was fundamentally broken but not letting it stop him from doing his job.

I am not a huge fan of this approach, but it is a perfectly valid approach.

**

To be honest, I felt about Legion the way Slider_Quinn21 feels about the First Order and the Empire in STAR WARS; it's a re-branding. However, as someone who admires the first TERMINATOR (without enjoying it) and both admires AND enjoys TERMINATOR 2, I didn't feel DARK FATE besmirched John Connor or Edward Furlong. The amount of effort taken to put Furlong in DARK FATE was insane with Cameron reporting that most of the de-aged footage was unusably poor.

Ultimately, DARK FATE asserts that John succeeded; he stopped Skynet and it didn't come back, but other people kept creating AIs and one of them would inevitably turn against their creators. And DARK FATE declares that the future is always dark and that our heroes will forever have to delay, forestall and prevent it; they will keep pushing it backwards forever and ever. So I felt okay with that -- but narratively, Legion and Skynet are really about the same and I didn't think DARK FATE differentiated the two sufficiently.

I think that DARK FATE needed to present Legion as a more seductive or manipulative form of evil; rather than blowing up humanity, it creates situations to make them turn on each other. We see a bit of this, but as Temporal Flux points out, DARK FATE is ultimately following the T2 formula of a killer robot chasing down humans.

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I like all of Slider_Quinn21's ideas. That maybe Sarah could have been trying to change the past and save John from the Terminator. That maybe Dani could have been Danny to add a man to the mix since Arnold Schwarzenneger is barely in this movie. I think Cameron/Tim Miller just wanted to do a really intense chase movie without a lot of sentiment or conversation, largely driven by a distinctly feminine energy that's in contrast to RISE, SALVATION and GENISYS being driven by men. And they succeeded creatively and have crashed and burned financially.

I kind of feel the length thing, but... I just really enjoyed watching Mackenzie Davis beat people up. It's my thing. I also enjoy watching Sarah Michelle Gellar, Summer Glau, Ashley Scott, Ruby Rose, Melanie Scrofano, Jaimie Alexander, Brie Larson, Carrie Anne Moss, Lena Headey and Linda Hamilton beat people up. I think I enjoy that more than I enjoy watching or reading Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo snarking at each other.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

Oh, I forgot one of my other ideas.  I think it could've been cheesy so maybe I would've deleted it from an eventual final draft.  But I think it would've been interesting if Carl had reached out to other Terminators who were sent back and no longer had a purpose.  It might've been kinda fun to have a collection of terminators (not necessarily just ones played by Arnold) both working as spies and perhaps coming to help.

Maybe it wouldn't have worked because I think the finale worked fine the way it was.  But it might've been fun.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

Comic book businessman Rob Liefeld (terrible writer, awful artist, excellent salesman, in his 50s) had an interesting tweet; he said that he never showed his sons the TERMINATOR movies and he thinks TERMINATOR failed because the franchise's height was in 1991 and that the franchise is only meaningful to people his age.

Well, after T2, TERMINATOR was then absent from the cinema for 12 years before returning in 2003 with RISE, 2009 with SALVATION, 2015 with GENISYS -- and because there was an 12 year gap and then 12 years of forgettable films, families didn't pass TERMINATOR onto their children. Even SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, an admittedly unforgettable story, is best forgotten because it has no ending. Anyone who saw T2 in theatres in 1991 without sneaking into a screening is now at least 46 years old.

And TERMINATOR and T2 maybe haven't enjoyed a continued, rising audience in home viewing because the pedestrian RISE OF THE MACHINES and incoherent SALVATION and clumsy GENISYS have made the series a bad memory which meant DARK FATE was trying to capitalize on nostalgia that had been systematically destroyed. I wonder if TERMINATOR fans don't even really want to revisit TERMINATOR; outside of a wish to conclude SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, the feeling is that TERMINATOR is best seen as having ended with T2 and then left alone both by the creators and the viewers.

HALLOWEEN 2018 was in a similar situation, but HALLOWEEN 2018 only cost $10 million to make. Even if you adored SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, DARK FATE wasn't going to acknowledge it, so DARK FATE was aiming itself at an audience that didn't exist in sufficient numbers to justify a 145 million budget that needs to earn 450 million to break even. One might as well spend $145 million on producing SLIDERS REBORN for an audience of 23 people.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

It's also interesting to look at what happened behind the scenes of T3, SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, T4 and T5.

With T3, there was no creative drive to make a third film, just a desire to cash in on the success of T2 with a new PG-13 product. The screenwriter of T3 and T4 has actually blogged about the process: despite T3 being a heartless money grab to exploit T2, the writer didn't even *like* the second TERMINATOR movie and deliberately wrote T3 to annoy the studio by presenting John Connor as a wealthy Silicon Valley supervillain now seeking to make money off a Skynet takeover. Naturally, the studio balked and the writer grudgingly stripped out his more offensive elements until what was left was an empty retread of T2.

There's a troubling attitude in franchise fandom that only certain creators can handle a franchise correctly whether it's Gene Roddenberry for STAR TREK or James Cameron for TERMINATOR. I think the more nuanced truth is that film and TV are in the business of selling tickets and ads with the content being a secondary concern, but the creators producing the content need to devote themselves to serving the content by identifying the story they want to tell and telling that story with commitment and craft. T3 was made entirely to serve a balance sheet.

With T3, the studio and the writers were completely uncommitted to telling any particular story with a third TERMINATOR; they just wanted to be paid for having brought one into being. Which is why THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES disproves the idea that only specific individuals can handle the TERMINATOR franchise: CHRONICLES didn't have James Cameron or Arnold or Linda Hamilton or Edward Furlong -- but it had Josh Friedman's complete devotion to telling his story. The dialogue was punchy and sharp; the action was gripping and had a human cost. Cameron was a fascinating Terminator whose Summer Glau appeal and loyalty to John masked a shocking inhumanity as she casually abandoned civilians to die if they weren't relevant to keeping John safe.

However, Friedman's devotion to telling his story was often in foolish defiance of ratings and format. CHRONICLES was hit by a writer's strike that cut the first season short, losing viewership. Friedman's second season was so alienating to new viewers that it couldn't grow its audience and was cancelled on the 13th episode -- only for Warner Bros. to save it by lowering their license fee. Friedman received nine more episodes, almost certainly the last nine of the series -- and his devotion to telling his story had him decide to end the show on a cliffhanger.

Which I think speaks to another part of putting out a good product: in addition to being committed to executing the chosen story well, there needs to be some thought to the audience that will be watching this material. Josh Friedman served his story, but he didn't serve his fans.

SALVATION is similar and different to T3: it actually had a story, but it backed away from telling it. The original plot of SALVATION: during the Skynet-human war, a human-Terminator hybrid named Marcus tries to help the human resistance by searching for and saving John Connor from a Skynet plot. Connor is a largely offscreen character and the story establishes him as a rising legend who inspires humanity to resist. When Marcus finds him, he fails to save him -- but a dying Connor begs Marcus to carry on for him. Marcus alters his face to look like John Connor and to assume his role in the resistance.

The script was pretty solid -- and then the creators asked Christian Bale to play Marcus and Bale refused and said he wanted to play John Connor and that he wanted more screentime and that he wanted his character to live. SALVATION was changed to meet these stipulations and the result was a pointless movie that didn't move the TERMINATOR story in any particular direction and featured a lead character in Bale's Connor who had no impact on the plot. SALVATION served Christian Bale instead of SALVATION.

Much of the drama regarding T3 and T4 is detailed in the writer's blog: https://johnbrancato.blogspot.com/2009/ … horse.html

And then GENISYS (2015). Setting aside the poor casting, I'd say the greatest problem of GENISYS is that it is designed all around time travelling back to the original 1984 movie and then changing the situation. It's a rebootquel and STAR TREK (2008) made it clear how this can work. However, at the midpoint, the action abruptly jumps from 1984 to 2017 and it makes no sense. In 1984, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese have over three decades to work out Skynet's plan and stop it; in 2017, they have days. This nonsensical decision is inexplicable.

The reason this happened: it's pretty clear that even as GENISYS was being scripted, the studio and director and producers were unwilling to present a 2015 movie that was set in 1984. They didn't want to do a period piece. They didn't want to go to all the time and trouble and expense of maintaining the aesthetics and technology of 1984, so for simplicity of production, they detached themselves from serving the story they had in their hands.

DARK FATE is... certainly not the innovative, inventive cinematic event of T2 in 1991. It doesn't have anything all that new; it's not a visionary work. But it does care about the fans with the painstaking effects work to bring a 1992 era Linda Hamilton and Ed Furlong to the screen for a scene and giving a senior citizen incarnation of Hamilton a leading role. And it is absolutely committed to serving its chosen purpose as a female-driven chase movie.

Re: Terminator: Dark Fate - Why did it fail?

I found a neat fanfic -- a virtual third season of SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES written in screenplay format.
http://tib.cjcs.com/terminator-the-conn … c-project/

I'm only on the fifth script and I'm depending on somewhat vague memories of the TV show, but these seem very solid, capturing both the screenplay format, the militaristic and somewhat defeatist tone of the TV show and the optimism of the characters within it. It's a very plausible rendition of a TV budgeted screenplay.

That said, despite maintaining the format of Sarah Connor's ruminations in voiceover and the troubled tone of the future resistance, there's a slight lack of emotion. By that, I mean I'm on the fifth script and John and Sarah only grieve for losing each other in brief moments. That's sort of the point; they have no time to really stop and process. But it's a little dissatisfying. I can't speak to whether or not this is a good pastiche because I haven't rewatched CHRONICLES, but it's working for me right now.

I'm also impressed with the writer's portrayal of Allison from Palmdale; Cameron is gone, but Summer Glau appears in every episode and the scripts have notes of Cameron except the writer shows how Cameron was in many ways a machine approximation of tiny facets of a much more complicated woman.

Admittedly, the SARAH CONNOR I would have preferred would have been a proper ending to Season 2 with a rewritten "Born to Run" where Catherine Weaver's entire plot is explained along with that three dots stuff, Cameron dies, Derek dies, Sarah sends John into a time bubble to escape certain death -- and he ends up seemingly alone only to be reunited with Derek, Kyle Reese and Allison Young, and John proves able to handle himself in the Skynet war thanks to Sarah's training, meaning that John is where he belongs and will be fine -- an ending that allowed the show to close out but still allowed for Season 3 should the Sci-Fi Channel have saved the show for two more years.