The Terminator (film series)

D: James Cameron
Orion/Hemdale/Pacific Western (Gale Anne Hurd)
US 1984
108 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd & William Wisher
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Mark Goldblatt
Mus: Brad Fiedel 

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese), Paul Winfield (Traxler), Lance Henriksen (Vukovich), Rick Rossovich (Matt), Bess Motta (Ginger), Earl Boen (Silberman)

One of the greatest science fiction films of all time, despite being originally conceived as a horror film, a technological spin on the slasher sub-genre which had become prevalent during the early 1980's.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a role which would define his career, stars as the title character, a cybernetic assassin sent back in time from a future where sentient robots have changed the face of the planet and are engaged in warfare with the last human survivors. Once back in 1980's Los Angeles, The Terminator's mission is to locate a woman whose unborn son would later become the leader of the human resistance. Her best hope for survival comes in the form of a human protector, also sent back in time from the post-apocalyptic future.
Though some of the effects have dated quite poorly and the mono sound recording leaves a slight uncomfort in the ear, the film is a groundbreaking piece of science fiction cinema which transformed James Cameron from a B-movie director into one of Hollywood's brightest prospects. The film also spawned many sequels, the first of which was a superior piece of filmmaking. 
The story poses a chicken-egg paradox which doesn't make much sense, but still delivers one of the finest endings in cinema history.
The Terminator
The Terminator

It's nothing personal
It's nothing personal
D: James Cameron
Carolco/Lightstorm/Pacific Western (James Cameron)
US 1991
135 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: James Cameron & William Wisher
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Richard A. Harris, Mark Goldblatt & Conrad Buff
Mus: Brad Fiedel 
PD: Joseph Nemec III

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Edward Furlong (John Connor), Robert Patrick (T-1000), Joe Morton (Miles Dyson), Earl Boen (Silberman)

It's a rarity for a sequel to be on a level par with the original movie, it's even more infrequent when the sequel is an improvement. Director James Cameron seems to have pedigree with sequels, although it would be best to ignore Piranha II. Still, two out of three isn't bad.
It wouldn't be particularly fair to say this is a retread of the first story, even though it may use virtually the same premise, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the same character once again, except this time, he's an obsolete version of the cybernetic assassin, reprogrammed to be a protector against the true villain, a far superior killing machine made from liquid metal.
With his mother in a mental institution, John Connor is a teenage delinquent who spends his days riding his motorbike and rebelling against his foster parents. Little does he know that he's a target for assassination before he grows into the man who leads a resistance against the machines on a post-apocalyptic wasteland.         
Everything about this sequel is an improvement on the first film, especially the ground-breaking special effects which created a new dawn of computer generated imagery. Though it may be set in a 1997 which has been and gone, it doesn't feel dated and has stood the test of time. A complete reversal of the original film, not just with Arnie playing the good guy, but also in the fact that his character arc is completely switched, entering the film as an unemotive robot and becoming increasingly human as the film progresses, despite the exposure of the metal shell beneath his synthetic skin.
One of the best sequels ever made? Affirmative.

Edward Furlong & Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Edward Furlong & Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

D: Jonathan Mostow
Warner Bros./Columbia/IMF/C2 (Hal Lieberman, Colin Wilson, Mario Kassar, Andrew Vajna & Joel B. Michaels)
US/Germany 2003
109 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: John Brancato & Michael Ferris [based on characters created by James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd & William Wisher]
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Neil Travis & Nicolas de Toth
Mus: Marco Beltrami

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Nick Stahl (John Connor), Claire Danes (Kate Brewster), David Andrews (Lt. Gen. Robert Brewster), Kristanna Loken (T-X)

Before taking a hiatus from the biz to concentrate on a political career, it's quite fitting that Arnold Schwarzenegger chose to reprise the same character that originally made him a hot prospect. Unfortunately, the story isn't anywhere near as good as what we've come to expect from the first two movies.
A decade has passed since the events from the previous film. John Connor is living off the grid having saved the world from mass destruction, but finds that the action taken has only postponed the nuclear holocaust. Hunted by a female "Terminatrix", once again he is protected by the original terminator model, reprogrammed by his future wife, a young vet who he goes on the run with, hoping to reach her military man father before he sets in motion the events which lead up to Judgment Day.
The film feels like a cash grab, and without James Cameron at the helm it seems to meander its way along without a clear destination. The performances don't really work either, and without Linda Hamilton reprising her role as Sarah Connor it loses a bit of the magic. Enioyable enough, thanks to some good visual effects and a handful of car chases and well executed action scenes, but still a rather depressing appendage.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

D: McG
Warner Bros./Columbia/Sony (Derek Anderson, Moritz Borman, Victor Kubicek & Jeffrey Silver)
US/UK 2009
114 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: John Brancato & Michael Ferris [based on characters created by James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd & William Wisher]
DP: Shane Hurlbut
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Danny Elfman

Christian Bale (John Connor), Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright), Anton Yelchin (Kyle Reese), Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams), Bryce Dallas Howard (Kate Connor), Helena Bonham-Carter (Dr. Serena Kogan)

The first Terminator film to be set wholly after the nuclear holocaust which practically erases mankind. 
In the midst of battle between the last few human survivors and a race of intelligent machines, a cyborg infiltrates the resistance stronghold where the leader, John Connor, must determine which side he's fighting for.
Though the film has some good special effects (at least for the most part) and a unique visual style, it lacks any emotional substance that previous films had at their core, as well as the time travel element which made the previous movies more than just a humdrum science fiction adventure.
Sam Worthington also played a lead character in Avatar, released the same year with a very similar plot, although that was far more iconic and memorable than what's on display here. I can appreciate that the filmmakers wanted to do something different with the story here, but the overall result is highly disappointing.
It's also quite sad that, over ten years later, the film is best remembered for the leaked on-set footage of Christian Bale verbally abusing the director of photography in a foul-mouthed tirade.
Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation
Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation

New mission. New fate.
New mission. New fate.
D: Alan Taylor
Paramount/Skydance (David Ellison & Dana Goldberg)
US 2015
126 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier [based on characters created by James Cameron & William Wisher]
DP: Kramer Morgenthau
Ed: Roger Barton
Mus: Lorne Balfe

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Emilia Clarke (Sarah Cooper), Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese), Jason Clarke (John Connor), J.K. Simmons (O'Brien), Matt Smith (Alex)

Straight off the bat, I'm going to say Terminator: Genisys isn't exactly a sequel, and isn't exactly a remake. What it is, is a fucking insult! 
When The Terminator originally appeared in 1984, it was only a low budget piece of work which made a superstar out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the title character.
The story of a cyborg assassin, sent back in time to murder the mother of a resistance leader before she has a chance to conceive, drew upon many different genres to present a unique spin on the serial killer films which were dominating cinema theatres around the same time.
It played fast and loose with the theories of time travel, leaving a chicken and egg paradox which is still debated now, incorrectly regarded as a plothole.
1991 saw the first sequel emerge, with a much bigger budget, cinema-changing visual effects, packed with action, thrills and emotional conflict in abundance. It was so good, it's still considered by many as one of the greatest sequels ever.
There were two more sequels, but let's disregard them as Terminator: Genisys does, which starts off as a shot-by-shot remake of the first film but then creates an alternative timeline, where Sarah Connor, the subject of assassination, isn't the meek waitress she once was in the original 1984, but a vigilante action woman, her fate changed due to being guarded over by a reprogrammed terminator since childhood. Due to this 1984-esque rewriting of history, when human protector Kyle Reese does arrive back in time, the mission has changed, so instead of ensuring her survival and conceiving the child of the future, they travel forward in time to 2017 to prevent Judgement Day from ever occurring. Makes sense yet? Well, it won't... (Spoilers)
They arrive in 2017 to be the subject of assassination by yet another terminator, in the form of John Connor (who wouldn't even exist in this paradox), who turns out to be the "father of Skynet", a software which causes the demise of humanity. (Spoiler over)
This film just proves how egotistical Hollywood has become, not just to tarnish the memory of a 1980's classic, but to do so with a plot so ridiculous that it's insulting to the audience. I don't particularly mind the fact that this story negates the happenings in the third and fourth films, since they weren't anything special, but if the big studios are going to continue doing this, can we at least get our money back?
I spoke to one of the head cheeses at a Tinseltown studio who defended their business by laughing at me. This is because Hollywood treats the audience like idiots, which we partly are, because as long as they produce remakes, reboots and sequels of the films of yesteryear, there will always be people who'll watch them, even via piracy.
They can't be bargained with, they can't be reasoned with, they absolutely will not stop, not until we're all dead.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator: Genisys
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator: Genisys

Welcome to the day after Judgment Day
Welcome to the day after Judgment Day


D: Tim Miller

Paramount/20th Century Fox/Skydance/Tencent/Lightstorm (James Cameron & David Ellison)

US 2019

128 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes & Billy Ray

DP: Ken Seng

Ed: Julian Clarke

Mus: Tom Holkenberg

Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Arnold Schwarzenegger (T-800), Mackenzie Davis (Grace), Natalia Reyes (Dani Ramos), Gabriel Luna (Rev 9)


If you're counting, this is the sixth Terminator film and the first since 1991's Judgment Day with James Cameron's involvement, this time with producer duties and some contribution to the story, although how much is yet to be confirmed.

It's fair to say that the Terminator sequels post 1991 have been disappointing and while this film is better than Genisys, that isn't really an endorsement of praise.

Like 2015's Terminator: Genisys, this ties into the first two films, but also takes a massive dump on them with the direction the story takes the series in.

The film starts with footage from T2, before doing an Alien 3 and killing off a major character in a pre-credit sequence, despite this being the result of a plot hole of paradoxical proportions, making the events of the first two films completely redundant as John Connor is shot and killed by a rogue Terminator, simply because this film was made in 2019 and we can't have male heroes because of "toxic masculinity".

Fast forward to 22 years later and another Terminator arrives from an AI-controlled future to assassinate Dani Ramos, who is this alternate future's equivalent to John Connor. Likewise with the other films, a protector is sent back in the form of Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a soldier from the future with enhanced strength and speed (if she's loaded up on pharmaceutical drugs, that is). Linda Hamilton completes the trifecta of women as Sarah Connor, now a "Terminator Hunter".

The trio survive the chase from the Rev 9, a terminator akin to Robert Patrick's T-1000 in T2, although this one has a liquid body that can separate from its metal exoskeleton, effectively becoming two killing machines.

The real Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is merely a cameo role here, as the Terminator who, having successfully completed his mission, develops a conscience and becomes a family man... it's very much played for laughs with a style of humour that really doesn't fit in a Terminator movie and just feels like the filmmakers are taking the piss to parody an iconic character.

The action set pieces are competently done and the special effects are decent, without being groundbreaking the way T2's were, but it's quite obvious that the studio were involved in every single aspect here, and merely using James Cameron's name as a marketing gimmick.

The movie itself is entertaining enough for its duration as sci-fi action fluff, but when the studio is trying to sell this as "the real sequel to Terminator 2", ignoring events from the other three sequels, I find it a bit conceited and insulting.

In fact, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines is a better film than this one. This just magpies ideas from the first two films and puts a gender switch in. Once again, Hollywood proves that it can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity and it absolutely will not stop... until this franchise is well and truly dead.


Linda Hamilton, Justin Bieber & Natalia Reyes in Dark Fate
Linda Hamilton, Justin Bieber & Natalia Reyes in Dark Fate