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Terminator: Dark Fate - Out of the Past. Into The Future (UK exclusive feature)

Terminator: Dark Fate

Feature by Jack Foley

JAMES Cameron introduces Terminator: Dark Fate, a movie that continues the explosive, game-changing story he established in Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The Terminator blew audiences away. Back in 1984, they’d never seen anything like it. Arnold Schwarzenegger was seemingly born to play the titular machine – sent back from a computer-controlled future to assassinate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of the man who would save humanity.

Film industry bible Variety called it “a blazing, cinematic comic book” and in many ways Terminator – though based on an original script – did show the way for comic book movies, with its high concept and spectacular action, grounded in a relatable hero and terrifying villain.

The second film didn’t emerge for seven years, as writer/director James Cameron needed the right story and the right technology for his explosive vision.

The Terminator ended with Sarah Connor fighting for her life, destroying the killer T-800 (Schwarzenegger) but failing to save her lover (and father of her unborn child) Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn).

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah is full of anger and regret, determined to keep her son John Connor (Edward Furlong) safe, but eaten up by her own rage. “She was this naïve waitress who then goes on this epic, dark journey of the soul,” says James Cameron.

“She eventually emerges out the other side, by the end of Terminator 2, having recaptured her lost humanity. Because I always said that Linda was the terminator of movie two. The Arnold terminator had become a protector. The most relentless one in that movie was her.

“When she decided to go after [AI pioneer] Miles Dyson it was like, ‘Forget it. You’re dead, dude.’ But she rescues herself from the brink of becoming a machine herself. It goes back to that old adage that to slay the dragon you have to become the dragon. And she had become the dragon.”

Terminator: Dark Fate

Really, in Terminator 2, Sarah Connor rediscovers what it is to be human – alongside a T-800 (Schwarzenegger) who this time has been programmed to try to save her, and her son, from another robot assassin, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick). The effects in that movie were ground-breaking – and terrifying. The T-1000 was able to morph and impersonate anyone or thing – making him near unbeatable.

And yet they did beat him – Sarah and the T-800 working together to foil the threat of a future Armageddon. Or so they thought.

Terminator: Dark Fate picks up that very same story nearly 30 years later, and discovers that the danger of Artificial Intelligence is inevitable. That it will //always// be there. And, now in her sixties, Sarah Connor (Hamilton) is still trying to save humanity.

Cameron worked with a team of writers and director Tim Miller to imagine just what happened to her after T2 – and what keeps her fighting. The key then was getting Linda Hamilton to return – and the lure ultimately proved irresistible.

“There are no prototypes for what she was being asked to do,” says Cameron. “To be a 60-something, female action character. There’s no prototype to that.”

Terminator: Dark Fate

She is, though, still having to fight a killer machine, specifically now Gabriel Luna’s deadly REV-9, the most sophisticated terminator ever made. And this time, the target isn’t her son, but a young girl (Natalia Reyes), who is also being protected by ‘advanced’ human Grace (Mackenzie Davis).

And then, of course, there is Schwarzenegger’s T-800, the original model that first floored audiences and who is now very different indeed.

“He’s what happens if you leave a terminator with no new mission, just sitting there, trying to continue to emulate human behaviour, to blend into society and stay off the radar until his next orders come,” says Cameron of what audiences can expect from Schwarzenegger in this next stage of the story.

“He’s like this ancient mariner character. He’s like the flying Dutchman, he’s just endlessly roaming around out there, without purpose. So, he creates his own purpose.”

Cameron explains: “We wanted to get back to basics. That was coming from [the director] Tim Miller, from David Ellison – my fellow producer who brought me into this – and from the original writing team. It was, ‘Let’s just go back to the basics. What do we like about Terminator? How do we imagine that for the 21st century?’” The results are a stunning, surprising and hugely satisfying continuation of the classic story.

Read our There’s No Fate But What We Make For Ourselves UK exclusive feature

Terminator: Dark Fate is in UK cinemas now.

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