Salvation was slightly better than its reputation, though Genisys was utterly bizarre, and probably the most miscast movie I've ever seen. But... oddly... I don't hate it either, probably because its many, many, many, faults actually make it kind of interesting, in a messed-up way. You know: like a washing machine that discharges a torrent of ghee whenever you parp a horn.
Nonetheless, not one of the movies since T2 has come close to reaching it in terms of greatness. I love The Terminator, but it's a low-budget, punk-y, kind of a film; more horror movie than sci-fi. T2, by contrast, really ushered in the era of the summer action movie, pushing forwards special effects and action... while somehow having characters and a story with a ton of heart. I'd never seen anything like it, and upon release I watched it three times in the space of a week.
Dark Fate is... it's... kind of... it feels bland. Like a waste of everyone's time. I didn't want to come away feeling like that, but it's nothing to nobody, and I didn't care.
Fundamentally, it's just a retread of T2, profoundly inoffensive and unremarkable, but at least it's straightforward, and has a couple of really good performances from Mackenzie Davies and Linda Hamilton.
Even if I do have issues with the way they've continued (or not) Sarah Connor's storyline (SPOILER: they kill John Connor - the character the entire franchise has revolved around - in an audaciously throwaway fashion within the first five minutes - thus wiping the slate clean, and removing Sarah Connor's entire motivation... Instead, she just sort of hangs around, uninvited, with no real agenda).
But I'm not here to talk about whether or not Dark Fate is a good film. I'm not going to get into the weeds of what it gets right and what it gets wrong.
I want to discuss why it has done so abysmally at the box office, because for some of us, on paper, it should've worked: they told us they were ignoring the sequels that everyone has decided were terrible, they brought back the lead from the first two films, James Cameron was back on board (albeit not in a directing capacity).
And yet... not enough people were interested. It has flopped massively.
Why? I've got a theory, and it isn't just to do with it being simply an okay sort of a film.
Linda Hamilton is 63, Arnold Schwarzenegger is 72, The Terminator came out 35 years ago, and Terminator 2 was released 28 years ago. All of us who were fans of the original cast and those movies are now at least middle-aged.
I think it's that simple: we're an ageing fanbase. We're old. The message I took away from Dark Fate - whatever that title even means - is that I, and others my age, are kind of on the cusp of being irrelevant to studios. And that's fine. It happens. OK boomer and all that.
I mean, if you do want to appeal to us and our silver dollars... forget the kids, make a flat-out Terminator sequel with a small budget in the vein of the original, chuck ideas at it rather than budget, and you'll at least have reduced some of the risk.
Yet because T2 was a huge movie, in every respect, there's this idea that the Terminator franchise still needs to be huge. It doesn't. Much as I love T2, it never did. Indeed, Dark Fate's story would've worked fine without the ridiculous, CGI, plane battle at the end. It might've even improved it.
By targeting the ageing fans alone it might've at least given the studio a modest hit. Instead, they may as well have just fed hundreds of millions of dollars into a woodchipper.
However, trying to have their cake and eat it was never going to work, because there's a generation who were born since Terminator 2 who simply don't care about it, who know the franchise only as a bunch of mediocre movies that were sequels to something that was made long before they were born.
In short: with younger generations, Terminator doesn't have cachet like it did, Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't the all-conquering action hero he once was - I mean, he was a politician for years, for pity's sake, and it doesn't get less cool than that - and none of these kids have a clue who Linda Hamilton is beyond some grouchy old woman.
Dark Fate simply wasn't a good enough, mustn't-miss, movie to get the reviews that might've convinced some The Kids to overlook all that and give it a chance.
It's one of the risks you take with this whole soft-reboot thing that Hollywood plays with these days. You can blame The Force Awakens: bring in a new young cast that, theoretically, should be attractive to younger audiences, bring back some of the old cast (in a diminished way) for the legacy fans, and hope that it's enough to kind of bring both audiences in. They've done it with Halloween, and now they're doing it with Ghostbusters.
Yet, I think it's a real gamble, and you risk failing to satisfy either audiences that you're trying to appeal to.
For me, because of my age, that was the biggest disappointment with The Last Jedi; I wanted that movie to be all about Luke Skywalker, and it wasn't, because Disney (understandably, given what they paid for LucasFilm) wants to keep Star Wars alive for subsequent generations.
Dark Fate doesn't continue the story of Terminator 2: it restarts it and repeats it, and so it feels unsatisfying to the older fans, who now have to suffer a bunch of annoyingly young people getting in the way. The younger fans don't get to enjoy a new thing, because it feels like a load of old folk have turned up to a party, and just want to tell you all about their aches and pains.
Same, really, with The Force Awakens - which, I admit, I do like, albeit chiefly out of relief that they managed to recapture the spirit of Star Wars following the oddness of the prequels.
And also because it seems to point towards a movie - which didn't happen - that continues Luke Skywalker's story in a way that felt satisfying to those of us who remember the originals. They even throw out the tantalising prospect that Rey is somehow connected to the older films. But no. She's revealed to be some random girl.
As the old saying goes, in Hollywood nobody knows anything, and I certainly don't.
I mean, I even get why they went this route; Dark Fate feels like a safe bet, but in reality, with the benefit of hindsight.... it's a really, really old property. My generation tends to forget how long ago this series started, because most of us still think 1984 was yesterday.
When I saw Terminator 2 in 1991, an equivalent to Dark Fate would've been a soft reboot of, I dunno, The Birds, bringing back an ageing Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren to help a couple of kids deal with a terrifying new bird attack. Only, they spent $200 million on it, and all the birds were massive, CGI, mutant things.
I doubt I'd have cared. But maybe I would've cared about a new film with a new premise, which ditched all the baggage, and just happened to be called The Birds.
And that's the biggest problem with Dark Fate: it's a film bogged down by baggage and history. If they want to continue Terminator as a brand, it would've been better at this stage - ideally, after a few more years had passed since Genisys - to just start again. Do a real reboot.
The Terminator offers what is, fundamentally a great, simple idea: a robot comes back from the past to kill the mother of the man who'll one day kill it. Dark Fate does its best to blow away as much baggage as it can - literally in the case of John Connor - but there's enough lingering to signal to younger audiences that it's a continuation of a franchise that they either haven't seen or don't care about.
It's beholden to the past, not only in its legacy cast, but the beats of its story. It's more concerned with trying to be a film like Terminator 2 than it is in trying to be its own thing, in trying to reinvigorate the property in a real, tangible, fashion. Consequently, it is in some ways less interesting than Genisys, which at least had enough conviction to try and do something different... albeit in a way that was even more beholden to the past, and batshit insane.
So, y'know... I worry about the soft reboot trend. I worry about next year's Ghostbusters and Jurassic World 3 (which is also bringing back the original Jurassic Park cast), and I worry about The Rise of Skywalker - which looks like it's going to be the ultimate stab at pleasing both new and old audiences...
And I worry how many other once-beloved franchises are going to end up buried this way.