One of the titans that came out of the 1980s was The Terminator and like Aliens and Predator was a film that defined a genre creating a terrifying glimpse into a future in which humanity would be struggling to survive against an enemy more powerful than anyone could comprehend…but of course the humans of the 1980s knew that this dark future was not really going to happen, unlike the humans of this era which know that when my people arrive humans, as a species, are totally fucked.
Anyway, let’s not get off topic…
The Terminator franchise is one that like the Alien franchise started off very strong, and managed to get even stronger as time passed and the sequel hit the screens. However, as more time passed and more sequels were made a powerhouse franchise started to rot from the inside as writers and directors took it upon themselves to take something that began absolutely watertight on its own (namely the first film The Terminator) and first adding to it (if creating a few holes in the continuity) with the sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day before starting to let the films just dribble out like the last drops of piss falling down someone’s leg.
Remember the Alien franchise?? You know how it just got worse and worse and worse the more people tried to make new films for it?? Well, guess what happened here?? Yep, Hollywood once again took something that was great, something that had so much creativity, so much lore and made the idea of time travel fit into a gritty world that seemed possible and…shat all over it.
It seems that none of the once great franchises are allowed to just die and now we have to suffer through films like the kind-of prequel to Alien namely Prometheus and the wasted opportunity that was Predators. So film makers have attached their nipple clamps onto the Terminator franchise once again and cranked up the juice with Terminator Genisys to see if perhaps there is still life in the old girl yet.
The question is then: how does that film stack up against the others??
What made the first two films so great and how were they fucked up in later films??
The answers, my human friends, lie within this section of reviews…below you'll find reviews for:
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Directed and co-written by James Cameron in 1984, The Terminator stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. This was the role that transformed Arnie into a Superstar and made his career. The film featured revolutionary special effects, and seamlessly blended science-fiction with a terrifying antagonist.
If you have been reading my reviews in order on this page from top to bottom then you will have read my review of Aliens and know that I hold it up as one of the greatest action films of all time. However, 2 years prior to the release of Aliens James Cameron had already released The Terminator, now as I was a baby in 1984, I didn’t actually watch this film until much later, and now that there is another film in the works I am going to review the film franchise from the beginning.
We start in the future, but is it a utopia…er…no, no it is not…
In post-apocalyptic 2029, a race of sentient and artificially intelligent machines are fighting a war against the remaining members of the human race. A war that the humans are ultimately going to win. The machines send a prototype killer Cyborg known as a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) back to the year 1984 in order to kill Sarah Connor (Hamilton) because her unborn son will be the leader of the human resistance, and so without her he would not exist, therefore the human resistance will not be able to win the coming war. The human resistance is able to send a lone soldier named Kyle Reese (Biehn) back in time in order to protect Sarah from the Terminator.
Sarah meanwhile is leading a normal life, she works at a diner and doesn’t believe that there is anything unique about her.
The Terminator tracks down everyone called Sarah Connor and kills them. Reese manages to find the right Sarah first, and fights off the Terminator as it was poised to kill her. Reese explains about the intelligent machines, Skynet, as they will be called, the future he left behind and the consequences of what will happen if her son John Connor never exists.
Sarah is initially sceptical, even after witnessing Reese gun down the Terminator and it simply getting back up to come after her again. As time goes on she begins to realise that Reese is telling the truth and no matter what the Terminator will not stop, it will not rest, and will keep coming until she is dead.
I think it must be hard for audience in this day and age to imagine what it was like when concepts like time travel, intelligent machines, and post apocalyptic futures were not the norm. These days there are so many instances of time travel (think Back to the Future, Timecop, Star Trek), post apocalyptic futures (think Waterworld, Book of Eli, Mad Max) and intelligent machines (think Sonny from I, Robot, and Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) that audiences cannot think back to what it was like when these concepts were new. The Terminator was a genre defining film, and seamlessly blends concepts like time travel, cyborgs into the gritty world of 1984’s Los Angeles. Taking a concept that is as potentially ridiculous as time travel featuring in a dark, edgy, and the normal world we live, should be stupid, but it is definitely not…
At the time Schwarzenegger was a film star but this was the film that propelled him to superstardom. This was a film made in the 80s when his English was a little iffy, fortunately, he only has a total of 18 lines throughout the whole film, including the infamous “I’ll be back” which apparently he mispronounced, it was supposed to be “I’ll come back” but he said it wrong and the rest as they say is history. The fact that his English is a little poor only help the character of the Terminator because it implies that the machines have not perfected the voice just yet. It gives a greater sense of detachment. In the world Reese has left behind this Terminator is a new piece of technology, it looks human, has sweat, bad breath, and are almost impossible to distinguish from a human being. That is what makes it so terrifying but of course from the perspective of the authorities it makes Reese crazy. It is nice and convenient that the enemy he is supposedly fighting looks completely human, and even when the Terminator attacks a Police Station, still, people will not believe that it is anything other than a drugged up human being. It is seriously terrifying to think that this…
…is in fact lurking beneath the skin of him…
The supporting cast are also suit their roles perfectly.
Linda Hamilton is expertly cast as the naive waitress struggling to believe that she is the mother of the future and without her the human race has no chance of surviving the future. She is a typical unimportant person, she works in a diner, has a jerk boyfriend who messes her around and is basically just getting through life. She doesn’t seem to have any aspirations to become anything more than she is, so to meet someone who is telling her that she is instrumental in the survival of the human race, she is going to be sceptical.
Michael Biehn is also superb as Kylee Reese, the human resistance fighter, trying to beat the Terminator using weapons that can do little harm to it. He doesn’t know if he can possibly defeat it, and he doesn’t know if he can keep Sarah safe but it quickly becomes obvious that he will either stop the Terminator or die trying. Pitting him against Schwarzenegger, who is huge and Biehn, well, isn’t, demonstrates how hard the battle is going to be against this seemingly unstoppable machine designed to infiltrate and kill without fear, remorse, or hesitation.
By today’s standards some of the special effects are a little dated, there are a couple of moments when Arnie’s head has obviously been replaced by a puppet, but for the time they were ground breaking and final reveal of the Terminator in all its terrifying glory is well worth the wait.
If I have to be critical, and as a critic I kind of have to, probably the only bit that I don't understand is a car chase that ends with Reese crashing his car, and Terminator crashing the one he is driving. Reese struggles to get the car started, the police arrive, demands Reese's surrender and then head over to the other car only to find the Terminator has slipped into the night. Why did he not simply get out, walk over, break Reese's neck and shot Sarah in the face?? He doesn't care about the interference of the police when he attacks a police station so why does he - or it - decide to vanish into the night?? I guess you could argue it is to conduct some repairs as his eye and arm gets damaged so perhaps that is why.
I’m sure there are dull people out there who have never seen The Terminator and if you are one of them then you are probably someone who hasn't got a television, and rely on spears to hunt down animals and cook their carcasses over a fire you had to light by rubbing two sticks together. To everyone else you probably already know how awesome this first film was. The time travel element is watertight, there are no lingering threads, and it end with a forbidding foreshadowing of what is in store for the human race.
Take one guess which way my Thumb is going…yep, it is unquestioningly Up.
8.5/10 - Gritty thriller that is a science fiction classic and perfectly handles the idea of trying to manipulate the past to change the future.
Made in 1991 Terminator 2: Judgement Day is the sequel to 1984’s The Terminator and features both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton reprising their roles as the Terminator and Sarah Connor respectively. The film was directed by James Cameron, who also co-wrote and co-produced, and features new cast members Robert Patrick and Edward Furlong.
It has to be said that The Terminator was an excellent story that was completely watertight and did not really need a sequel. However, unlike many sequels that are just shamless cash-ins of the popularity of the original film Terminator 2: Judgement Day not only equals the first film in terms of acting, special effects and story and in fact surpasses it.
So in 1991, the Terminator returned…
Sarah Conner (Hamiliton) has been incarcerated in an asylum for attempting to blow up a computer factory and her ten year old son John (Furlong) has been placed with a foster family. No one, not even John, believes that intelligent machines sent a human-looking assassin through time to kill her and she has been classified as insane. But of course Sarah knows the truth, she knows what is coming, but no one is prepared to listen to what she has to say and heed her warnings.
Unbeknown to both John and Sarah, two more machines have been sent back through time, one to kill John and the other to protect him. A new Terminator (Schwarzenegger), the same model as the one that went after Sarah, has been captured and reprogrammed by the human resistance to now serve as the protector to John Connor from an even more advanced Terminator sent by the machines to kill him. This one called a T-1000, it is made of liquid metal and is capable of altering its form to look like other people.
The Terminator rescues John and he insists on going after his mother before the T-1000 can track her down. The three struggle to keep ahead of the T-1000, the human authorities, and try to change the future in order to prevent Judgement Day from taking place by finding out who created Skynet so they can kill it before it becomes self-aware. They have to contend with Sarah’s mistrust of the Terminator that looks identical to the one that tried to kill her back in 1984.
“I’ll be Back”
These infamous words were spoken in 1984 and yes Arnie, you did indeed back, and we are eternally grateful that you did come back because there are very few films that manage to outshine their own predecessors. Ghostbusters II or Toy Story II are arguably among those that manage to do just that, however, there is no arguing that point with regards to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It is a film that out performs The Terminator in every way. This time around the effects are truly seamless, the film includes groundbreaking CGI and special effects. It was nominated for numerous awards and won four of them, for makeup, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.
Taking the bad guy from the first film and making him good is inspired and creates a lot of the best moments between John and Sarah as they clash regarding what to do with the machine that Sarah believes could turn on them at any moment. Linda Hamilton has become almost unrecognisable, Sarah is no longer the naive waitress she once was, she is obsessed with preventing the war and training her son so he can be the leader he needs to be should her efforts fail. She has spent years training her mind and body, and has been preparing her son since birth so he can fulfil his ultimate destiny as leader of the human resistance. Her muscles are toned, her mind is sharp, and even during her incarceration she has kept herself in shape because she knows she needs to get out of that institution in order to protect her son from the nightmare that is to come on August 29th 1997 when Skynet will initiate a nuclear war in order to destroy the majority of the human race.
Arnie is given the opportunity to expand on the character of the Terminator, in the previous film he was an unstoppable killing machine, in this film he is given more of a personality and gets to other yet another immortal line.
This is Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, his English is better, he knows the role of the Terminator and whilst last time he had to be the unstoppable killing machine, here Cameron really goes all out to humanise a machine designed to kill. He and John develop an almost father-son bond because the Terminator will do anything to keep John safe, and John develops an emotional attachment to the machine programmed to defend him no matter what.
I also have to say that despite Robert Patrick’s rather unimpressive physical appearance as the T-1000 he is more than a match for Arnie’s Terminator, which is exactly the point. Patrick isn’t as formidable looking as the former Mister Universe but his unimposing appearance makes him seem more frightening because he doesn’t look like a ruthless killing machine. He also adopts the disguise of a police officer, so someone that a person would go to for help, is actually the one that is hunting him down. He moves in a distinctly inhuman way, his movements are very precise and is capable of running at a very fast pace. As he is a liquid poly-alloy damage to him “heals” and he can alter his form to take on the appearance of different people. There are several occasions when you don’t know if you are looking at a human character or the T-1000 is disguise. To make things worse he can alter his liquid metal form to form knives and stabbing weapons making him an even more dangerous opponent.
Michael Biehn reprises his role as Kyle Reese but only appears in a cameo role (a cameo that didn’t appear in the original theatrical version but is in the extended or director’s cut versions). He appears to warn Sarah that another Terminator has come back in time and this time it is their son who is the target.
Basically Terminator 2: Judgement Day is as flawless as a film could be, everything about it just works brilliantly. Linda Hamilton has transformed Sarah Connor into a warrior trying desperately to warn the world about what is going to happen. She has made it her mission to try and stop Judgement Day from taking place and Skynet from being created in the first place. Arnie is once again magnificent as the Terminator, this time the character is given more of a personality, with Robert Patrick’s T-1000 both unimposing and terrifying at the same time. Unknown at the time, Edward Furlong is the perfect for the role of John Connor.
I urge you to watch the Extended or Director’s Cut versions because whilst the extra scenes are not essential they do show John humanising the Terminator, and plus you get to see the cameo by Biehn which is worth seeing.
Like Aliens this is one of the greatest sci-fi actions films ever made and as it is one of my favourite films of all time I am going to give it a rare 2 Thumbs Up
10/10 - This is, without a doubt, one of the best science fiction action films ever made…FACT!!!!
Made in 2003 with only Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to reprise the role that made him into a megastar. No one else returns from the previous films (with the exception of Earl Boen who has a cameo as Dr. Peter Silberman), and James Cameron is not sitting in the director’s chair this time.
Remember the film Alien?? It was groundbreaking, genre defining and a masterpiece of both horror and science-fiction. Then along came Aliens, it was action packed, featured an army of aliens and had a squad of colonial marines being picked off one by one. It was one of the best action films ever made. Then came Alien3…and do I even need to go on…
Remember The Terminator?? It was groundbreaking, genre defining and a masterpiece of action and science fiction. Then along came Terminator 2: Judgement Day, it was action packed, featured superior special effects and humanised a machine that had been designed to be a remorseless, unfeeling killing machine. Then came Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines…
So what is going on I hear you ask?? Well, this is the film where the machines rise up against humanity, but I am guessing you want a tad more than that so let’s take a peek…
John Connor (now being played by Nick Stahl) has been living off the grid since the death of his mother Sarah Connor. He is not sure whether the actions taken by him, his mother, and the Terminator from the second film have prevented Judgement Day. He has lived past August 29th 1997 (the date of Judgement Day) but he is still not taking any chances.
Unable to locate John, Skynet sends a new terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Loken) back through time to kill those men and women who would become his lieutenants. The T-X has traits of both the original Terminator and the T-1000. Once again the resistance sends a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) to protect John from the T-X and prepare him for the coming Judgement Day which his actions have only postponed.
This time around John is not the only one under threat, his future wife Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) is also on the T-X’s hit list.
Let’s not beat about the bush, the first two Terminator films were two of the best science fiction action films made…EVER…that is a fact.
The Terminator introduced the inhuman, unstoppable killing machine, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day raised the bar from the original becoming one of the greatest sci-fi films, and one of the greatest sequels of all time. Plus, Terminator 2: Judgement Day give the world a visual treat that has not been outdone since the day it way released.
They were two films, the original and the sequel, in which maybe, just maybe the human race had been saved from destruction. In Terminator 3 the audience learns that despite their efforts, this was not the case. Worse still, like other movie franchise, this film’s only purpose seems to be to poke fun at the franchise in general. In Rise of the Machines Arnie is returning to the universe that made him into a superstar but now that he is getting on a bit, the filmmakers have felt the need to have that fact included in the proceedings, for example, he claims to now be an ‘obsolete’ design which is clearly a reference to his own aging and uses his own once great line in reference to someone else “She’ll be Back”
Take a look at this…
This is a picture of the Terminator, now I am pretty sure that looks scary, a machine that looks human has been damaged to the point where the cold mechanical mind behind its remorselessness.
This is a terrifying concept, I mean imagine everything you ever knew being questioned, and finding out that a computer from the future had developed a time machine and sent a unfeeling machine specifically designed and built to blend in, then kill humans to come back through time to change the future.
What would that do to your brain???
What else is true??
How can the human race possibly survive if an artificial intelligent can build a time machine and is trying to alter history itself to ensure its own victory.
Now look at this…
Tell me that you see the problem…The Terminator is a terrifying creation, it is designed by an artificial intelligent that wants to exterminate the human race. Terminators have come back through time and as the technology of the future has developed more and more advanced machines have come back into the past to try and change history. They can infiltrate perfectly, and will not rest, will not stop and will keep coming until their objective is complete and their target is dead.
So why the hell is Arnie wearing a pair of pink star sunglasses???
Acting wise...who really cares, how can I possibly talk about acting and the story when this time around Arnie steals his outfit from a male stripper after deciding that to wear a fat woman’s clothes would be Inappropriate. Wearing women’s clothing has been factored in by the human resistance and they have reprogrammed yet another captured terminator and thankfully they have decided that it is inappropriate so this terminator has a dress sense…really???
You are telling me that he is worried about what he is wearing!
Terminator 3 is a film that has managed to take something, no two somethings, that were great, some might say epic and ruin them. In the space of a couple of hours fans will be weeping because filmmakers have managed to obliterate the two incredible films that James Cameron, Arnie, and Linda Hamilton created in 1984 and 1991.
Nick Stahl is fine as John Connor as is Claire Danes, however, they essentially just run around trying to keep away from the T-X. Kristanna Loken spends most of the film wandering around killing various people, and having a very serious expression on her face. In this film, the special effects are the stars of the show, the T-X has onboard weapons and can alter her appearance. It has to be said that the special effects are impressive but are being relied on far too heavily to carry the proceedings.
The main problem with Terminator 3 is that it is not trying to take itself seriously, and has lost the gritty realism of the previous two. The audience may be left to wonder why Skynet seems to think that sending terminator after terminator back through time is the only way to destroy their enemy. If Skynet is so clever then why does it not think of something else. The first film: send a terminator back through time to kill Sarah Connor – it fails. Second film: send a more advanced terminator back through time to kill John Connor when he is still a child – that one fails too. Third film: Skynet thinks of something else? No, send yet another more advanced terminator to try and kill some other people and John if he’s about.
Why don’t the machines send two terminators, or three, or an army? The audience may have asked themselves these questions during the first two films, only they didn’t because the first two films were so good they didn’t want to pick holes in it. Now, during Terminator 3 all the audience will want to do is pick holes, and will be left to wonder how a computer system advanced enough to build multiple time-travel machines (during Terminator Reese said the human resistance destroyed the facility housing the time displacement equipment, and as the machines sent another terminator back in Terminator 2 then logically they must have built another time machine) but are not advanced enough to think up a new tactic.
If ever there was a candidate for Tired Trinity Syndrome it would be this film, it is just a mess, and it is completely unnecessary. The ending of Terminator 2 left the audience to think that maybe Sarah, John and the Terminator had managed to avert the coming war, that maybe there was new hope. Terminator 3 shits on that ending, and effectively shits on everything else as well.
Why does this film even exist??
Like Alien3 it manages to not only soil itself but also damage what has come before it because the terrifying Terminator has been reduced to a parody, and the Terminator is a creation that deserves so much better than that.
Perhaps it was nostalgia that made Arnie want to do this film, Terminator made him a megastar so perhaps it was a full circle kind of thing. The first film made him a star so he will be there until the bitter end of the franchise, which should have been here, but sadly it wasn’t.
Enter Terminator: Salvation
This is a shocking effort, and has absolutely no business to exist and like Alien3 has forced my Thumb to move from firmly Up to squarely Down
3/10 - Very poor film that will cause the audience to chuckle but Terminator films are not supposed to do that.
Made in 2009 Terminator: Salvation is the third sequel to 1984’s The Terminator and the fourth film in the series. It features Christian Bale as John Connor with Sam Worthington as new character Marcus Wright. This time Arnold Schwarzenegger does not physically appear (as he was Governor of California at the time), however, his face was digitally mapped and used to create the new model terminator.
I am hoping that you, my loyal reader, have read my other reviews and are therefore up to date with my thoughts regarding Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and so I was approaching Terminator: Salvation with a high level of caution. Thus far in the franchise the events have been taking place in our present, whereas this time we are actually going to see the war between humans and the machines…this could work…so the question is: does it??
Well let’s check it out…
Set in 2018, John Connor (Bale) is just one of the survivors of the events of Judgement Day (seen at the end of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), and is now one of the key figures in the Human Resistance. He is not the main person in charge and has to answer to his superiors who live inside a nuclear submarine.
The resistance plan to launch an attack on a Skynet base in San Francisco but John discovers a “kill list” which indicates that the machines are planning on killing the Resistance’s command staff in a week’s time. John’s name is second on their list under Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). No one else in the Resistance realises the significance of Kyle Reese, but John knows that he is the man who will become his father so if he dies then John will never have existed. As he tries to find him, Reese is captured along with a number of others and taken to a prison facility.
In the ruins of a base in Los Angeles, Marcus (Worthington) is discovered to be the only survivor. It later turns out that he is a cyborg, created by Skynet, only he doesn’t know that he is a machine. John believes that Marcus mission is to kill him and orders his destruction but after Marcus saves his life, the two make a bargain, they will go in together and rescue the prisoners, including Kyle Reese.
I remember going through this with Alien Resurrection, after the dismal Alien3 I pondered whether to watch the film at all. I faced the same dilemma, now unlike the Alien films that were already out before I got into the franchise and I had purchased them in a box set I wasn’t going to not watch one of the films. But Terminator 3 came out after I had become a fan, so after watching it at the cinema, and secretly wishing I had a time machine so I could go back in time and warn myself not to watch it. Of course, if I had a time machine I would do nothing but fuck around with the past of both my life and the lives of friends, enemies, and anyone who looks at me funny.
So, whilst I did go into Terminator: Salvation with moderate hopes, it seems I had not set my hopes low enough…permit me to explain…
Immediately the audience will notice that things don’t seem to be matching up with what they have seen during glimpses of the future during The Terminator and Terminator 2. In both of those films the humans and machines seemed to have ray gun-like weapons, whereas in Salvation they seem to be using the same kinds of weapons that are in use today. It could be argued that the fact that terminators have been sent through time mean that the future is not happening in the same way. As it said in the first two films, the future is not set, so perhaps Skynet’s own interference with the timeline has resulted in the changes the audiences are witnessing. Indeed Kyle Reese in The Terminator made it seem as though the machines had taken over very rapidly and dominated most of the world, in Salvation the machines have their territory and the humans have theirs. However, Reese in Terminator said that he was unsure if he could defeat the Terminator with the weapons at his disposal and yet the Human Resistance are also using those weapons. The terminators are walking metal skeletons so shooting small metal projectiles at them seems to be rather pointless.
Continuity errors aside Christian Bale steps into the shoes formerly occupied by Edward Furlong and Nick Stahl, this time he is not a scared child or frightened adolescent trying to stay one step ahead of the machines. He is a freedom fighter but in this instalment he is a soldier on the front line, not one of the commanders hiding onboard a nuclear submarine. The man of action is a role that Bale can play well (as he did in Batman Begins), and Sam Worthington also does a good enough job convincing the audience that he has no idea why his mind is in the body of a machine. However, it is young Anton Yelchin who really steals the show with his portrayal of Kyle Reese, a teenage who cannot even begin to realise how important he is.
My biggest problem with Terminator: Salvation is that it had so much potential to pick up after the very poor Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. It could have given the audience a real insight into the war against the machines. Sadly it writes cheques that it simply couldn’t cash. The inclusion of a digitally recreated Arnie as one of the new breeds of terminator is a nice touch, however, it just cannot salvage the proceedings.
Seeing the war could have been truly epic, show us the ray guns, let us see how the war is going. John Conner has been built up as the new Jesus, he is the man who is going to lead the humans to freedom, but he doesn’t seem to be that important here.
I also don’t get the purpose of Marcus, because whilst we see the first T-800 (that is the model number of the Terminator that Arnie plays) Skynet possess the ability to put a human mind into a cyborg’s body. What I find most puzzling is what Marcus was supposed to do, how was he meant to give Skynet the edge?? Also, when he and Connor break into the main facility they use various key pads to gain entry to the facility, now surely if Skynet is a self-aware artificial intelligence then it is effectively omnipresent. It can be everywhere it is connected to so, why does it need to have a manual keypad because surely Skynet can open each door as its own machines move around. Plus, Skynet also takes the time to explain to Marcus why his brain is in a cyborg body, again, why is this computer system bothering to explain what its own motivations for doing it were. We have wireless technology so why aren’t the Terminators and every other machine in this world not connected to one another so if one machine finds you, they all know where you are…I could honestly go on and on listing the bad choices made by the filmmakers.
Essentially there is very little that can redeem Salvation and the audience will be left to wonder why the machines felt the need to explain their plan to Marcus, why their facilities include doors that can be opened with access codes, etcetera. There are so many questions left unanswered that Terminator: Salvation cannot be seen as anything more than another largely pointless addition to the franchise.
Alien and Aliens, two great films, both achieving legendary status so do us all a favour end the franchise there. The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, two great films, both achieving legendary status so end the franchise there. Are you noticing a pattern?? I am saying for fuck sake just leave things alone, STOP ringing out shit sequels that are completely uninspired, dull, tedious, and add nothing to the worlds they are set in.
At the time of writing this review Terminator Genisys is due for release this year, am I going to go and see it you ask?? Of course I fucking am, but I am not exactly happy about it. I have seen a few teaser trailers, and read a synopsis…I cannot say that I am hopeful. Arnie is in this one, physically this time rather than just face-mapped, but he is getting on a bit. I still think the man is a legend, and I still love watching his films, well with the exception of Hercules in New York because Jesus fucking Christ that was terrible. I just don’t want these films to continue, I don’t want it to be the first film in a new trilogy, please, please just let this franchise die in peace.
As far as I am concerned the Terminator franchise is like a beloved lady friend (I say lady friend otherwise the following analogy might get weird) who alienated me years ago but has called me to witness their slow death, and she is lying in a hospital bed looking up at me tearfully saying “We had some good times, didn’t we?”. I stroke her forehead and nod stoically. “I’ll beat this” she whispers, “I can be great again”. Once again I nod and this is the point at which I would lean in, and kiss her gently on the forehead, whilst reaching behind her head so that I can grip her pillow. I stare sadly into her eyes before pressing the pillow down onto her face, as tears stream down my cheeks, “You can never be great again” I whisper as the pitiful struggles stop and the heart monitor finally and mercifully flat lines.
As that was a fairly dark analogy, I better wrap this up, and give a rating.
Terminator: Salvation is just another waste of a potentially great idea, there was so much that it could have been and yet in the end, like all of my ex girlfriends, proved to be nothing more than a disappointment and a massive waste of time.
Obviously, my Thumb is so forcibly down it is in danger of burrowing into the centre of the Earth
3.5/10 – It is better than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines but if it were up to me this franchise would have been smothered to death for its own good after Terminator 2
The Terminator franchise continues in this 2015 instalment which gives us a glimpse of the future war, and the events that lead to Kyle Reese returning through time to protect Sarah Connor from a Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger steps back into the role that made him a superstar in 1984 and this time he is joined by Emilia Clarke taking over from Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner and Jai Courtney who stars as Kyle Reese.
You know what, I both love and hate trailers, and the reason is because they can give you a tantalising glimpse of a film that wets your appetite just enough to want to go and see it. I remember seeing the trailer for Jet Li’s The One and the premise looked so cool that all I wanted was to see the film. Unfortunately there are two kinds of trailers, those that give you enough to make you want to see the film without giving too much away, and then there is the other type of trailer which give the impression that the film is going to be something it is not like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or even worse major spoilers are revealed which would have been great twists had the audience not been fully aware that they were coming. You may be wondering why I am making a point of going on about the trailer, well, not surprisingly the answers will become clear later in the review.
Without further stalling what is happening…honestly I have no clue…but I’ll have a crack at trying to explain it…
In 2029 the leader of the Human Resistance John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads a massive offensive against a Skynet facility whilst another group attacks Skynet’s system core. During the battle, the attack on the core is won and the terminators around John and co shut down, the war is over, the humans have won. Unfortunately moments before the victory the machines sent a T-800 Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese volunteers to time travel back to 1984 to protect Sarah, as he is in the time vortex he sees John being attacked and glimpses flashes of a past that is not his own.
When Kyle arrives in the past he learns that the Terminator he was sent to battle has already been defeated by another T-800 named “Pops” (Schwarzenegger) that has been protecting Sarah since she was nine years old. As a result the woman Reese was sent to protect does not need his protection and together with Pops they swiftly dispatch a T-1000 that is also there for some reason.
It turns out that Sarah and Pops have built a time machine and want to travel to 1997 (the year Skynet became self-aware) to destroy Skynet once and for all. Reese manages to convince them to travel instead to 2017 because the timeline has now changed and a programme named Genisys is Skynet that is due to go online in October thus starting the War with the Machines.
After they travel they are arrested and are rescued by non-other than John Connor himself, both are delighted to see him but then Pops arrives and shoots him. Sarah and Reese are horrified but then John regenerates and we learn that he is in fact a new breed of Terminator and has been sent back to ensure that Skynet comes into existence…
Right, first things first, the trailer…the idea that John Connor himself has now become the very thing that he has spent his life trying to destroy could have been a really clever and interesting idea. I mean the hero of the Human Resistance is now working for Skynet, that would have been a pretty good twist, if the trailer hadn’t revealed it. I mean a major spoiler was given away right off the bat. Imagine how good it would have been if we didn’t know that. Reese is convinced that Pops is bad, then when he arrives in 2017 and immediately shoots John, it would have carried far more weight if we didn’t already know that John is a machine.
If you can get past that epic spoiler then the rest of the film is pretty entertaining, Arnie is getting on a bit now, but they do address why he looks older than any other T-800 seen before. Simply the human tissue is alive so it will age even though the machine beneath does not, it is a bit of a throw away explanation, still it kind-of works.
The action sequences are decent, especially those which take place in the future, and the sequence in which Pops fights the T-800 in 1984 reminds me of the battle between the Incredible Hulk and Tony Stark in Age of Ultron. The CGI is very impressive but the way the T-800 moves doesn’t look real, there are moments when it does, but when it doesn’t you will notice. The battles between John and Pops are powerful, unfortunately, they are not as bone crunching as the fights between the T-800 and T-1000 from Terminator 2.
I think that Jason Clarke does a great job as John Connor/T-3000 and manages to give Skynet a more human face that none of the other films have done before. It turns out that when John was attacked by another Terminator (a T-5000 played by Matt Smith) every cell in his body was replaced on a cellular level with machines so he is and isn’t John Connor. He has John’s memories, personality, but he wants to ensure Skynet survives, however, he does offer Reese and Sarah the chance to join him. I was thinking that perhaps Skynet had recognised that no matter how it tampered with the timeline, the human race will ultimately win, so had decided the only way to ensure its own survival was to create a human/terminator that had the body of a machine but the mind of a human. This doesn’t happen. Instead we have a charismatic villain that seems to be trying to get Reese and Sarah to join him whilst making sure that Skynet will exist.
As far as the rest of the cast go, Emilia Clarke is fine as Sarah Connor, I have to say that she doesn’t have the screen presence of Linda Hamilton. In the first film Hamilton was superb as the waitress struggling with what is suddenly happening to her, and by the second film she had transformed into a badass. Here we are supposed to see Sarah in her badass role unfortunately she does doesn’t look like a badass, and the fact that she is really short doesn’t help. Maybe it is a personal thing but short people just aren’t intimidating, well, Jet Li is pretty intimidating in his films sadly Emilia Clarke just isn’t and whilst her acting is decent enough she is not the badass Sarah Connor seen in Terminator 2. Jai Courtney is also no Michael Biehn, in the original film Reese was supposed to look thinner and unable to take on the Terminator, whereas Courtney is too heavily built and to be honest he seems to be far more mechanical than any of this co-stars. Former Doctor Who Matt Smith also appears for about five minutes as the embodiment of Skynet sadly he is neither threatening nor intimidating so it kind-of begs the question of why he was even there.
In truth I have no idea what the canon of this film or even what this timeline has now become, we start off in 1984 in which the original Terminator is swiftly destroyed followed by a T-1000, so the events of The Terminator didn’t happen, we then jump ahead to 2017, thus removing the events that we’ve seen in Terminator 2 and Terminator 3. We’re in a new timeline then and whilst Sarah knows that she and Reese have to fall in love and have sex so that John can exist she is reluctant to just “mate” with Reese as Pops keeps reminding them that is something they have to do.
Lots of things blow up which is pretty entertaining, however, yet again so much in this film just does not make much sense. Pops has the flesh melted off his arm so he is unable to travel to 2017 with Sarah and Reese and instead he just prepares for them to return. When Cyberdyne, the company responsible for creating Genisys/Skynet, was being constructed Pops got a job working there as a labourer…so a terminator got a job…who were his references??? Where did they pay his wages??? Did he come to the Christmas party??? Was no one surprised by the fact that an older man would be able to lift things that should be far too heavy for him???
Anyway…Pops knows the layout of the building so is able to lead Sarah and Reese through the building to the mainframe in order to blow up Skynet. Again, this is what is bugging me, if Pops was working on the building why did he not implant explosives in the structure?? In fact if Pops knows that Genisys is Skynet then why does he not simply wait until the system has been developed, march in there and blow it up??? Why does he wait for Sarah to arrive??? Is he forgetting that he is a TERMINATOR…you know…unstoppable…remorseless…that absolutely will not stop until his mission has been completed. Why does he not just destroy Skynet himself??? In addition Reese tells them to travel to October 2017, they arrive and Genisys has only a day before becoming active, it was therefore lucky that they arrived in time to stop it, why did they not travel to September 2017 instead??? Then they’ve got a month to plan how to destroy Cyberdyne. Or better yet, travel to 2016 and then they have got an entire year to prevent Skynet from becoming active. Once you throw time travel into the mix you open a can of worms that lead to a million possibilities which unravel the continuity of the previous films.
I am also curious what Skynet would actually do if the Human Resistance was destroyed, what does a programme want??? Whilst I’m on that note, wasn’t Skynet software in Terminator 3 so therefore there was no system core that could be destroyed??? Why have we gone back to the idea that Skynet has a core that can be destroyed??? I honestly have no idea, it is probably best not to think about it too much, unfortunately my mighty brain cannot help but dwell on these things.
There are so many question left open at the end of the film and there is a mid-credits scene which will make you just roll your eyes as it turns out that whilst our protagonists think that finally Skynet has been defeated once and for all, it turns out that no, it hasn’t. I would say that is a spoiler but considering that this is apparently going to be the first of a new trilogy of course Skynet is still…alive…or…active…or whatever…
People I know who have seen the film have said “Well it was better than 3 and Salvation” my response has been that saying Syphilis is better than having your balls cut-off but it doesn’t mean you’d want to have either of these things to happen to you. Genisys is not a bad film it has rewritten the established continuity so maybe it is doing the same thing as the reboot Star Trek films and is creating branching timelines which are all valid and yet exist simultaneously.
Remember when I said that the Terminator franchise needed to be smothered to death for its own good?? I still stand by that because this film did not need to exist, on the plus side it does elevate things from Salvation as we finally get to see a future in which the Human Resistance has guns that fire purple lasers which is cool…yes, Terminator Genisys is leaps and bounds ahead of Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation although naturally it falls far short of the bar set by The Terminator and Terminator 2 Judgement Day.
I know I have poked a lot of holes in this film I am still going to give it a rather shaky Thumbs Up because it was entertaining and mercifully it helps the audience to forget about the previous two films, but like them Genisys really did not need to exist in the first place.
6.5/10 – This is way better than Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation and whilst the actions sequences are well done, and Jason Clarke is a pretty good bad guy taking John Connor from being the saviour of the Human Resistance to the saviour of Skynet, the messed up continuity is annoying and who the Hell sent Pops back to rescue a nine-year old Sarah Connor…can you say sequel-bait???