With NECA’s upcoming Terminator action figure release, I got thinkin’ on how a series got to be so good only to be drowned out by Hollywood’s need to push a franchise into its grave. From the original hit, to tv’s The Sarah Connor Chronicles, to the failed Terminator Salvation, fans of the series have been on a roller-coaster since the beginning. Lets take a look back and see what the franchise has had to offer us throughout the years.
James Cameron, one of the greatest creative minds in cinematic history, was the mastermind responsible for creating the human-hunting robots that plagued our post apocalyptic nightmares! In 1984, Terminator, written and directed by Cameron, hit theaters and our perception of artificial intelligence would never be the same. The movie told the story of a young woman by the name of Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, who was just a regular Jane, until the day SKYNET sent a cybernetic organism in the disguise of a human, to hunt her down and terminate her. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role as the terminator was the beginning of him becoming a household name. You see, Sarah Conner would one day birth a child who would become humanities’ savior and SKYNET’s prerogative throughout all of the Terminator franchise is to either kill her or her son, John Connor. In the original Terminator, John Connor sends his most trusted soldier Kyle Reese, played Michael Biehn, to protect Sarah from the terminator, little did John know that through this action he would be born when Reese and Sarah fell in love. Eventually, they destroy the Terminator, Kyle Reese dies, and Sarah Connor begins her journey to stay off the grid and protect her unborn child. Little does she know that they failed to destroy all evidence of the terminator, something that would move the date of Judgment Day closer to reality. The first Terminator is a great build up to what Cameron had in store for us with his follow-up Terminator 2 Judgment Day.
In 1991’s Judgement Day, also written and directed by Cameron, John Conner, played by a young Edward Furlong, is now a youthful trouble maker who lives with foster parents because Sarah is locked up in a mental institution. With young John unprotected, SKYNET sends its newest creation the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick, to terminate John. The T-1000 is a model capable of turning into liquid metal, making him nearly invulnerable. Once again the future John Connor sends a protector, but this time its a familiar face from the Connors’ past, the original model that was sent to kill Sarah in the original movie. I am going to stop there, if you have not seen this movie because you’ve been living in a cave, go now and buy it. Terminator 2 is one of the greatest action, movies of all time, it was one of those movies that is looked at as a revolution in film making. From the CGI used for the T-1000, to one of the greatest chase scenes of all time. Judgement Day is the best part of this franchise and nothing can ever match the influence it had on science fiction and action movies for years to come.
Here’s where things started to go down hill. Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines came out in 2003, and while I didn’t mind it too much, all the movie did was expand on the same story-line and follow the same formula. Directed by Jonathan Mostow (Surrogates), Terminator 3 followed the story of a grown-up John Connor, Sarah passed away in between the films, who is now on his own and coping with the world now that Judgement Day had been averted, of course if this were true then we wouldn’t have a sequel. Another Terminator, who takes the look of a woman this time, is sent back to kill John and his core of most trusted advisers. Predictably, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his roles as the ‘good’ Terminator, this would also be his final involvement in the franchise. This movie isn’t all that bad, I do enjoy the ending and I feel that it does fit into cannon up to that point.
Next up was an attempt at bringing the Terminator franchise to television. The Sarah Connor Chronicles ran for two seasons, and was unfortunately canceled with a HUGE cliff hanger. The show took place between T2 and T3 and told the story of Sarah and John on the run. The show had a ton of familiar actors/actresses including Lena Heady as Sarah, Thomas Dekker as John, Summer Glau as Cameron the ‘good’ Terminator, and Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese (Kyle’s brother). To tell you the truth I liked this show, and it played well into Terminator cannon, so much that when they announced a 4th movie was in the works I was excited that the filmmakers would tie in everything that had come before into one masterfully crafted tale, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Terminator Salvation in my opinion is complete garbage. I would call it at best a ‘reboot’ attempt at trying to make the Terminator franchise into someone else’s story. I refuse to accept the movie as cannon as it changes the story line in such extreme ways that it’s an insult to fans of the franchise. This is one of the reasons that the name McG makes me see red. I’m done talking about this movie. Let’s move on.
Do we need another Terminator movie? I’m not sure that we really do, it’s kinda how I feel about the Jurassic Park series. Where else do we need to go, what else do we need to see that we have not already? I would rather have a franchise stop then have it bled dry by the powers that be in Hollywood. UNLESS James Cameron jumps on board, hopefully this one “won’t be back”.
Stay tooned 😛