Terminator: Dark Fate Director Tim Miller’s Simple Reason Why Other Sequels Were Disappointing

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate

While it’s not being held to the same level of esteem as the first two Terminator movies, it seems that a lot of folks think that Terminator: Dark Fate is higher quality material than the three sequels that preceded it, i.e. Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys. You may or may not agree with that, but Dark Fate director Tim Miller definitely thinks so, because as he sees it, those past three movies didn’t work due to Linda Hamilton not being involved. As he sees it:

I knew the answer to that: it didn’t have Linda Hamilton in it. It is essentially Sarah’s story. And even if they focused on Sarah, it’s not Linda Hamilton. And that’s always gonna feel odd. And that’s nobody’s fault, I’m not taking away from anything in those movies.

Tim Miller recently stopped by the ReelBlend podcast to talk about Terminator: Dark Fate, and when he was questioned about if he looked at the past several Terminator movies upon boarding Dark Fate and asked himself what they ‘did wrong,’ he delivered the above response. Miller doesn’t loathe the Terminator movies that came out between Judgement Day and Dark Fate, but in his opinion, without Linda Hamilton playing Sarah Connor, the franchise loses a lot of its appeal.

To be fair, the only one of these three Terminator movies that included Sarah Connor as a character was Genisys, with Emilia Clarke filling the role since this was giving us a different version of the younger Sarah. Rise of the Machines and Salvation focused squarely on John, though Linda Hamilton did make an uncredited vocal cameo in the latter movie. But that’s a far throw from getting to see her back on screen as Sarah.

This isn’t the first time that Tim Miller has been critical towards the three Terminator movies that preceded Terminator: Dark Fate, previously describing the franchise as being “tainted” a little bit because those previous entries were such a “different thing.” But Miller also noted it was important to examine Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys in order to ensure Dark Fate didn’t resemble them. He said:

The other reason we really look at those movies is because, even though they’re not officially part of this timeline, you also don’t want to do anything that they did that looks like you’re copying them.

James Cameron, who returned to the Terminator franchise to work on the Dark Fate script and contribute to the editing process, echoed similar thoughts back in September, saying that looking at those movies helped with taking a ‘back to basics’ approach and avoid making the same mistakes.

You can listen to the full ReelBlend interview with Tim Miller below.

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One thing that Terminator: Dark Fate does share in common with Salvation and Genisys is that it could serve as the first installment of a new trilogy. Neither of those movies succeeded in that goal, but we’ll have to wait and see how Dark Fate performs at the box office before determining if it’ll follow in their footsteps or manage to keep the Terminator franchise afloat with its unique narrative. It didn’t get off to the greatest start last night, taking in only $2.4 million in domestic preview screenings.

Regardless, getting to see Linda Hamilton reprise Sarah Connor and re-team with Arnold Schwarzenegger was certainly a welcome treat after all these years. And even if Terminator: Dark Fate doesn’t manage to place the Terminator franchise on more stable ground, at least critically speaking, it was an improvement over what came out in the 16 years prior.

Terminator: Dark Fate is now playing in theaters now, and be sure to read CinemaBlend’s review of the movie. You can also find out what’s left to come out this year in our 2019 release schedule, or get a head start on next year with the 2020 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.