I'm tired of James Cameron not directing a Terminator movie. There, I said it. As I write this, Terminator: Dark Fate has hit theaters and flopped hard, earning just $29 million at the box office in its opening weekend, which isn't the lowest bow for the Terminator franchise (see: Terminator Genisys opening to $27 million in 2015), but still isn't a good sign that the franchise has the necessary momentum to justify the larger trilogy story that was planned. But there is still one last-ditch hope: James Cameron returning to the helm of Terminator.
Dark Fate came with the "big sell" of bringing back franchise stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and snagging James Cameron as a producer, and still couldn't muster up a quality opening weekend, so at this point what's left to make fans even care at all, besides getting Cameron in the director's chair? Dark Fate was the beginning of a much bigger new storyline, and since this latest film already pulled the reboot card a mere four years after Terminator: Genisys attempted to do the same (with Salvation also attempting the same thing ten years ago), the franchise doesn't even have another "fresh start" to try with fans. Unless they go the Spider-Verse route and try to combine all these twisted Terminator reboot timlines (3, 4, 5, and 6) into one crazy film, then we basically have to stick with the storyline of Dark Fate for the foreseeable future.
Since it's a storyline that James Cameron himself is already invested in helping to create, it should fall to him to make sure the next chapter of that story is executed better. Most of the criticism about Terminator: Dark Fate reaches one main consensus: director Tim Miller just wasn't skilled enough to do the material proper justice. There are hints that there could've been tensions behind the scenes between Cameron and Miller about both the content and execution of Terminator: Dark Fate - and having it seen it, it's perfectly understandable why that would be. Dark Fate may have some of the best ideas of any Terminator sequel, but it's also arguably the worst-looking installment, visually speaking. With Terminator 6 setting the stage for an even bigger (and twisted timey wimey) Terminator 7 to come, Cameron really is the only one to provide the proper visual push needed to realize big James Cameron ideas on the big screen. So let's get to it!
Look, I realize the context of what's going on here: James Cameron is James Cameron, Multi-Oscar-winning director who basically pioneered the billion-dollar box office mark for movies - only after re-inventing what sci-fi/action blockbuster franchises could be (see: Terminator, Aliens). James Cameron does what James Cameron wants - not what Internet bloggers and angry fanboys want him to do. Cameron has been devoting his time and creative effort to bringing audiences back to Pandora for those long-awaited(?) Avatar sequels, and seems to care little about lending his massive talent to anything else. But you know what: I don't care. I'm coming at this like Terminator would: relentless, no matter how shots are fired my way.
We need James Cameron back doing Terminator. James Cameron who delivered one-of-kind Terminator action spectacle, with cutting-edge film technology; James Cameron who was introducing audiences to badass female protagonists before it became a hashtag trend; the same James Cameron who has now helped do just that with Dark Fate's central character arcs between Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) and future soldier, Grace (Mackenzie Davis). The ladies now leading the franchise deserve a better shot than what Dark Fate and Tim Miller delivered - and audiences deserve to feel that thrilling magic of Cameron's Terminator 2 heyday once more.
Beyond Avatar, there's nothing that James Cameron has to do for the rest of his career to still go down as a cinematic success story. However, giving fans at least one more great Terminator movie experience would certainly help cement Cameron's legacy as a cinematic great, in every sense of the word.
Terminator: Dark Fate is now in theaters. Unfortunately, it's not directed by James Cameron.