Paramount Pictures marked the anniversary of the Terminator franchise’s original fictional Judgement Day (August 29, 1997) with the release of a full-length trailer for its forthcoming film, Terminator: Dark Fate. It’s technically the sixth film in the series, but it’s actually been conceived as a direct sequel to the hugely successful first two films in the franchise: Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
So Terminator: Dark Fate pretty much ignores all the other Terminator movies as existing in alternate timelines—an attempt to go back to the glory days of the franchise, complete with the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, and Linda Hamilton, plus James Cameron on board as producer. Per the official synopsis, “27 years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a new, modified liquid metal Terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent from the future by Skynet in order to terminate Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a hybrid cyborg human (Mackenzie Davis), and her friends. Sarah Connor comes to their aid, as well as the original Terminator, for a fight for the future.”
The first teaser dropped in May, whereupon we learned that Dani has been on the run with her friends for a couple of years under the protection of soldier assassin Grace, the human/cyborg hybrid. And Luna’s Rev-9 Terminator can actually split in two, the better to take out its target(s). An understandably suspicious Sarah nonetheless teams up with Grace to protect Dani and her friends, and we had a brief glimpse of Schwarzenegger’s grizzled old Terminator, apparently hiding out in a remote cabin in the woods, ready to come to their aid as well.
This new trailer fleshes out some of the plot details. It opens with a gravel-voiced Connor demanding answers at gunpoint from Grace, who quickly and easily turns the tables. Sarah tells her she successfully altered the course of history by avoiding Judgement Day on August 29, 1997, thereby saving three billion lives. “Enough of a resume for you?” Grace, however, has a broader perspective: “You may have changed the future, but you didn’t change our fate.” (I’ll just note that was pretty much the premise of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, when a young adult John Connor—with Nick Stahl replacing Furlong in the role—eventually discovers that Judgement Day had only been postponed by their efforts in Terminator 2.)
Dani’s survival is crucial to preserving the human race, although it’s not revealed why that’s the case. Is she the future mother of another resistance leader, like Sarah before her? Perhaps, but I’m hoping for a fresher take. We get plenty of action scenes showcasing Grace’s fighting skills and the T-3000’s impressive abilities. And we see a lot more of Schwarzenegger, who helps train the ragtag band of humans to improve their chances of survival. (Dani’s anguished declaration, “Nobody else is gonna die because of me!” is a good indication that there will be casualties.) Apparently Sarah still doesn’t much like the original Terminator: “When this is all over, I am going to kill you.” But he’s chill with that. Sarah also gets the last word, popping off a grenade with panache while uttering the classic line: “I’ll be back.”
Cameron and Paramount Pictures are hopeful that this return to the Terminator franchise’s roots will prove successful enough to be the first in a new trilogy. “We rolled up our sleeves and started to break out the story and when we got a handle on something we looked at it as a three-film arc, so there is a greater story there to be told,” Cameron recently told Deadline Hollywood in an extensive interview. “If we get fortunate enough to make some money with Dark Fate we know exactly where we can go with the subsequent films.”
Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters November 1, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/Paramount Pictures