Last week brought our first look at Linda Hamilton in Terminator 6, a development that was no doubt accompanied by the phrase: another one?
Yes, indeed, we're getting our sixth Terminator movie next year, and it promises a wholesale reinvention of the sci-fi franchise. Here's what we know so far.
The story so far...
Let's be honest, the legacy of the Terminator series rests entirely on James Cameron's first two movies, released in 1984 and 1991. The bleak, gritty original was inspired by a dream Cameron had in which a robot rose from a fire, in turn giving birth to Arnold Schwarzenegger's terrifyingly relentless cyborg. The role was to transform the Austrian body builder into one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s.
Having travelled back in time, the Terminator rampages through the Los Angeles streets in pursuit of Sarah Connor (Hamilton), the mother of the future saviour of the human race in the war against the machines. Cameron's low-budget blend of ultra-violence and cutting-edge animatronics and make-up (devised by Stan Winston Studio) created a visceral sense of menace. The film's blend of shadow and futuristic technology, meanwhile, helped birth the phrase 'tech-noir' (named after a nightclub featured in the movie).
Sequel Judgment Day was even more conceptually ambitious, playing around with notions of fate as the day of the future war (August 29th 1997) draws closer. Tinkering with Arnie's iconography, the sequel casts him as the lumbering T-800 good guy versus Robert Patrick's sleek, menacing T-1000, the liquid metal effects for whom marked a watershed moment in the development of CGI. The movie's enormous box office grosses (upwards of $500m) saw it secured as one of the defining blockbusters of all time.
Then, of course, came the long-delayed third instalment in 2003, Rise of the Machines. Emphasising spectacle and mayhem for the most part, as Arnie's obsolete Terminator is pitted against the advanced and ruthless T-X (Kristanna Loken), the movie takes an unexpectedly intelligent, sombre turn in its final moments, as our main characters realise they can't outrun the fate that awaits them. As nuclear bombs rain down and intelligent computer system Skynet takes over, the machines' rule is complete.
2009's Terminator: Salvation is the first (and so far only) movie in the series to completely occupy the futuristic wasteland after the machines have taken over. A growly Christian Bale stars as a grumpy John Connor leading one final assault on Skynet, although the CGI Arnie who appears at the end is best forgotten.
Breaking with tradition again, 2015's Terminator: Genisys confuses everything by venturing back to the events of the very first movie and reworking them. We've now got a new Arnie battling his original, evil, 1984 self and Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, with a newly insurgent threat represented by the Genisys app. Oh, and John Connor (Jason Clarke) is now a Terminator in disguise.
Baffled? You needn't worry too much...
Terminator 6 ignores the events of the last three movies
It turns out we can scrub Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys from our minds. That's because the sixth movie acts as a direct continuation of the events following Terminator 2, the last essential instalment in the franchise. Referring to the most recent movies, James Cameron, who returns in a producer capacity, says the sixth movie "pretends they were a bad dream".
At the end of T2, Arnie famously sacrificed himself in molten metal having seen off the T-1000. It's a scene that continues to bring many of us to non-ironic tears, leaving Sarah and her son John (Edward Furlong) to face an unknown future. Or so they thought...
Sarah Connor returns to take her rightful place
The return of Linda Hamilton to the series for the first time since T2 holds more than just a nostalgic kick. Sarah Connor is, in essence, the heart and soul of the franchise, the woman whose fate decides the future of the entire human race, so it makes sense for Terminator 6 to cycle back to her. Not to mention, the notion of a female-centric blockbuster will strike a more powerful chord amid this turbulent period of #MeToo and other movements.
"As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return," Cameron tells The Hollywood Reporter. "There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys, but there isn’t an example of that for women."
There are some significant new faces
Although not much is known so far, it's been revealed that screen newcomer Natalia Reyes will be playing Dani, a Mexican woman on the run from a new Terminator (played by Gabriel Luna). Meanwhile, Empire reports that Black Mirror's Mackenzie Davis is playing "a soldier-assassin" from the future, whose name was recently confirmed as Grace. There are also reports that newcomer Jude Collie will be appearing as the young John Connor.
One simply does not deny Arnie a role in the new Terminator movie. Barring that embarrassing CGI replacement in Salvation, he's appeared in every one of the movies so far, and will now appear in the sixth. Director Tim Miller (responsible for anarchic 2016 comic book hit Deadpool) says his intention is to "embrace" the actor's age, something that has been played around with to comic effect in both Rise of the Machines and Genisys.
"I haven’t talked to Arnold about this so I could get in trouble," Miller told The Hollywood Reporter last year. "But because he’s been in all the other movies — unlike Linda — I do think there needs to be a reason to be different here. I like my sci-fi grounded. I like my characters grounded. And what Jim said about the exterior aging while the interior remains the same — well, not the interior, as in the brain, as emotionally and intellectually he will have evolved. They’re learning machines. But that’s a way to make it different than it was. Even in Genisys, he looked — I should stop — he was a slightly gussied-up version of the old Terminator. I think we should embrace his age. And that’s what’s going to make it interesting and fresh for the fans."
It's a Terminator movie for a new generation
Our relationship with technology has, of course, come a long way since the days of T2, and Miller says this is why a new Terminator movie is essential.
"The [first] films are more relevant today than they were when he made them," Miller tells THR. "A lot of it seems like prognostication because it's coming to be — the world we live in right now."
Cameron (who is currently hard at work on the Avatar sequels) adds: "The machines have already won." It's just [that] they've won in a different way. We are co-evolving with our technology. We're merging. The technology is becoming a mirror to us as we start to build humanoid robots and as we start to seriously build AGI — general intelligence — that's our equal. Some of the top scientists in artificial intelligence say that's 10 to 30 years from now."
It's out next year
Note it down: Terminator 6 arrives in November 2019. Cue the theme music: dun dun dun, dun dun...