Hollywood has been trying to recapture the magic of the first two Terminator films pretty much from the moment Terminator 2 stormed its way into theaters. And since the second Terminator film was such a success, both artistically and financially, it’s no surprise that people would want another good installment of the franchise. Unfortunately, all we’ve got so far is two mediocre movies and one surprisingly awesome TV spin-off. During its long, mad quest to build a better Terminator movie, Tinseltown has veered down some surprising and ill-considered paths, and now word has broken of one of those dead-end alleys: a Terminator 5 that “would’ve centered on an alternate timeline in which Sarah Connor [and] Kyle Reese lived.”
This particular coulda-been was in the works during the period when Fast Five director Justin Lin was attached to the potential new Terminator franchise. A confidential source tells Moviehole that the primary reason Terminator 5 is still spinning its wheels in development hell is because they haven’t been able to put together a script that’s good enough to lure Arnold Schwarzenegger back for the project. (Whether Schwarzenegger, currently aged, 65, has any business strapping on the shades of an ageless cyborg killer is a different matter entirely.)
The idea of resurrecting Reese and Sarah Connor tracks with comments Lin made back when he was supposedly on the project. At the time, he told Movieline that “Sarah Connor is such a big part of the franchise, you know. Yeah, I mean I’ve always been surprised how in part 3 she was just like… It was like one line and she was gone….Yeah, like leukemia and… But I think the great thing about this franchise is you have… You can actually have different canons because you have the element of time travel. So, there’s a way of kind of respecting all the works but also able to create a new time line.”
It’s unclear exactly how this idea would work, though, even if you think it would be a good idea. Moviehole suggests that the idea would have been to use original cast members – Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Michael Biehn – but what would that mean? Would it mean a “sideways” sequel with older (and alive) versions of the characters introduced in the first film? That would add star power, but what exactly would a Terminator film starring one actor in his sixties and two others in their fifties look like?
While Moviehole’s write-up doesn’t explicitly say so, I have to imagine that this “alternate universe” story could also serve as a convenient way to reboot the franchise, Star Trek style, with new, younger actors in those three primary roles. I’m not saying that is a good idea, but I’d be very, very surprised if it’s one that has never been entertained during the ongoing attempts to make a fifth movie.