Can James Cameron revive the Terminator saga – or is it time to switch the cyborgs off? | Movies

IIt’s inevitable, on a week a new Avatar movie is in cinemas, that some James Cameron fans are wondering why another of the Canadian director’s long-running sci-fi sagas is languishing in Hollywood purgatory. Despite returning to the Terminator series as producer on 2019’s excellent but financially disappointing Dark Fate, Cameron chose to hand over directorial duties to Deadpool’s Tim Miller. But in a new interview on the Smartless podcast, the film-maker suggests he hasn’t given up hope of another reboot.

“If I were to do another Terminator film and maybe try to launch that franchise again – which is in discussion but nothing has been decided – I would make it much more about the AI ​​side than bad robots gone crazy,” Cameron said.

In a separate interview with Deadline, the director said he was “reasonably happy” with Dark Fate, despite his “battles” with Miller during the production process.

“I think the problem, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. Tim didn’t want Arnold, but I said, ‘Look, I don’t want that.’ Arnold and I have been friends for 40 years, and I could hear it: ‘Jim, I can’t believe you’re making a Terminator movie without me.’

Mackenzie Davis, left, and Linda Hamilton in Terminator: Dark Fate.
Mackenzie Davis, left, and Linda Hamilton in Terminator: Dark Fate. Photograph: Kerry Brown/AP

“I said, ‘If you guys could see your way clear to bringing Arnold back and then, you know, I’d be happy to be involved.’ And then Tim wanted Linda.”

“I think what happened is I think the movie could have survived having Linda in it, I think it could have survived having Arnold in it, but when you put Linda and Arnold in it and then, you know, she’s 60-something, he’s 70-something, all of a sudden it wasn’t your Terminator movie, it wasn’t even your dad’s Terminator movie, it was your grandad’s Terminator movie. And we didn’t see that. We loved it, we thought it was cool that we were making this sequel to a movie that came out in 1991. And young moviegoing audiences weren’t born. They wouldn’t even have been born for another 10 years.”

In many ways, Dark Fate was the perfect Terminator sequel for those of us who enjoyed the early films, rounding off the story arc that began in the 1984 original. For anyone new to the franchise – well, they only needed to be pointed in the direction of earlier entries for it all to make sense. Perhaps that’s not how it works these days, though.

On the other hand, switching Terminator to an AI tale sounds a bit like Hollywood’s long-since-abandoned plan to reboot Top Gun with geeky remote drone pilots instead of musclebound, Aviator-sporting aero-jocks. Eventually somebody in the writing room must have pointed out that the only way to get audiences vibing to the sounds of Kenny Loggins and Berlin at 15,000ft was to bring back the machismo and high-octane aerial spills of the first movie, along with a slightly sheepish looking Tom Cruise. It also recalls Ridley Scott’s efforts to reimagine Alien without the Xenomorphs, which nobody has done with anything less than lukewarm results.

OSchwarzengger in The Terminator.
Original model… Schwarzengger in The Terminator. Photograph: Cinetext Bildarchiv/Orion Pictures/Allstar

The problem for Terminator is we’ve already tried the nostalgia route about a dozen times over. This series may not quite be Terminator without a relentless T-800 (or updated model) somewhere in the mix, but Arnie has surely had his time and even Hamilton’s return didn’t have the desired effect. About six different actors have played John Connor, and not one of them held a candle to Edward Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgment Day; yet Furlong himself is now very much off Hollywood’s radar.

Unless somebody out there has an ingenious vision for making us all care about the man v the machines saga on the kind of visceral, personal level that informed the first two movies, you have to wonder if this is really worth Cameron’s time mulling over, especially when he has another five Avatar films to make.

Perhaps it’s time for old red-eyes to be gently lowered into the glowing molten metal for the final time, at least until the powers that be come up with a reboot idea that doesn’t just involve retreading old ground or reimagining Arnie as a souped -up take on Siri gone nuts.