*This article contains SPOILERS
Following the release of Terminator: Dark Fate in the U.S, the studios behind the latest instalment in the Terminator franchise appear to have given the greenlight for websites and publications to begin releasing more substantial information regarding, cast, story and the motivation behind THAT one scene.
Terminator creator and legend, James Cameron, was at a roundtable interview with the entertainment press, when the subject of Terminator: Dark Fate’s infamous opening scene arose.
“The idea that we whack John in the first 30 seconds, that was my idea. I said, ‘If we really want to surprise the audience and we want to get everybody off balance…James Cameron – Transcribed by IGN
It’s like we’ve invested so much across the first two films and then to some degree or other in the subsequent ones, that I wasn’t involved with, in this whole John Connor mythology. It’s like, ‘Let’s just get that right off the table. Let’s just pull the carpet out from underneath all of our assumptions of what a Terminator movie is going to be about. Let’s just put a bullet in his head at a pizzeria in the first 45 seconds.”
IGN went on to state that Edward Furlong‘s John Connor was originally intended to have more screen-time in the scene, including more dialogue with Sarah Connor but due to the visual effects not being good enough, it got cut down.
“was always meant to be quite tiny, and just as a springboard for the story to show Sarah’s ultimate trauma from which she only begins to recover right at the end of the new film. She’s driven by hatred, by revenge. … Her badassery comes from a place of deep hurt and deep pain.James Cameron – Transcribed by IGN
We never really planned much — there were never any other scenes of John other than that opening set-piece. ”
It’s difficult to imagine that James Cameron, the same James Cameron who took great displeasure in David Fincher‘s Alien 3 killing off Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Newt (Carrie Henn) at the start of the movie, would suggest an opening scene to Terminator: Dark Fate which would mirror that very same fate.
Of the demise of Newt and Hicks, Jim said:
“I thought [the decision to eliminate Newt, Hicks, and Bishop] was dumb. I thought it was a huge slap in the face to the fans. [Alien 3 director] David Fincher is a friend of mine, and he’s an amazing filmmaker, unquestionably. That was kind of his first big gig, and he was getting vectored around by the studio, and he dropped into the production late, and they had a horrible script, and they were re-writing it on the fly. It was just a mess. I think it was a big mistake. Certainly, had we been involved we would not have done that, because we felt we earned something with the audience for those characters.”James Cameron – Aliens’ 30th anniversary – io9
Terminator: Dark Fate director Tim Miller, also recently spoke of the notorious scene from the new Terminator movie, giving his motivations behind it…
“Without spoiling the big scene you referenced earlier, is it fun to pull the rug out from under audiences, and establish an anything-goes vibe from the get-go?”Nick Schager – Esquire
Tim Miller replied:
“I wouldn’t say that “fun” is a word I’d use when describing that scene [laughs]. But I would say that I did feel like it was great to splash some cold water on the audience’s face and say, okay, this is not going to be what you thought.Tim Miller
Fairly late in the game, we actually tried something where you didn’t find out about that [scene’s bombshell] until late, in the hotel room, which I thought was an interesting structure. But oddly enough, watching the movie with that scene in that place, it really changed a whole lot of stuff in a negative way. And it doesn’t do what we all talk about, which is that you want the audience to sit up and take notice right at the beginning, by wiping the board clean.”
Tim Miller also spoke to THR about the decision to kill John…
“You’d think it [killing John off] was probably a controversial decision, but it really wasn’t. There was a lot of talk at the really early stages of should this new savior be someone who was connected to the Connors? Should it be John’s daughter or something like that? Which I was always against, because I’m just not a fan of the Chosen One sort of movie as much as I am of a hero sort of rising to meet adversity, who could be an everyman or an everywoman. I identify with those people much more than I do with Neo in The Matrix or King Arthur or something like that. So I was all for this being some new person that wasn’t connected to the Connors and had been chosen by the hand of fate.”Tim Miller
… on fuelling Sarah Connor and clearing way for new characters…
“We all knew a couple of things. One: Sarah Connor is not a happy character. She is best when she is driven and tragic and you need some rocket fuel for that. You can’t have John be a 36-year-old accountant somewhere. And really, when you think about it, he could be sort of a pathetic figure as a man who had missed his moment in history and was relegated to this banal, ordinary existence, when in fact had Sarah not chosen to destroy Cyberdyne, he would be the leader of humanity. Nobody wants to see that. Secondly, [John’s death], that’s rocket fuel for Sarah. And lastly, you need to clear the stage for these new characters. They are not going to be able to have their moment, or come into their moment, with John hanging around. There’s just no good way to do that.”Tim Miller
… and finally Tim wanting to slap audiences in the face by killing John.
“Everybody was in pretty strong agreement, and the way to start it, was really, you want to have this dramatic impact. You want to slap the audience in the face and say, ‘Wake up. This is going to be different.’ I feel like that accomplished that. I hate the violence of it. I hate the idea of a kid being shot, but the dramatic fuel that it gives the story is kind of undeniable.”Tim Miller
It very much appears to be the case that the opening scene of Terminator: Dark Fate, in which young John Connor (Jude Collie with Edward Furlong’s T2 likeness) is terminated by young T-800 Carl (Brett Azar with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T2 likeness), was simply used for its shock factor and as a means to start a new trilogy without being bogged down with fan expectations – though the almost dismissive phrasing, used by James Cameron and Tim Miller, to explain it to the audience and fans doesn’t exactly help the matter.
What do you think – was it a mistake to terminate a Terminator legend OR was it an inspired strategy to restart the stalling franchise?
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