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Review The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009)


With the latest movie Terminator Genisys (2015) having been released into theaters I thought it would be nice to revisit and re watch the previous movies in the franchise to see if they still hold up. And how they compare to each other and the latest one once I get the chance to view it. 

So first up:




The Terminator (1984)





Let there be no doubt that The Terminator is a classic. After all these years it is just as effective as it was the first time I saw it. It is fast paced and visually it holds up pretty nicely. The relentlessness of the terminator in pursuit of Sarah Connor is all you need to be compelled since a machine that never stops is one scary notion. Casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as the terminator is simply genius. He convinces us of the fact that he is a cyborg. I can't think of any other person who could do it better. Michael Biehn also impresses and it is a real shame that we barely get to see this fantastic actor in films anymore. He does a lot with very minimal material and that is something that should be commended. The Terminator is impressive and easily one of the best in the franchise.

Then there is:




Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)





The first time I saw this I was amazed. Back then we never had seen CGI and other special effects like they were used in this film. Combined with the stellar action sequences this sequel was and is a favourite of mine for sure. So how does it hold up today? Pretty well. A lot of moments are memorable and impressive. However while understandable I still would have preferred Arnie to be back as a villain instead of the good guy. Still the comedy that ensues from the interactions between John Connor and the machine do make it worth your while. I wished though they would have given more scenes where we would question the machine since it is a machine after all and should not be capable of understanding emotions. But it makes us care about it (or him). And it makes sense because who else would be capable of dealing with the T-1000 (Robert Patrick). Robert Patrick also does a good job as the villain. Compared to Arnold in The Terminator though I think they could have made him more ruthless. I guess though that because of his morphing abilities he is more effective when doing things more stealthily. It makes more sense that he would avoid attracting attention to him. In hindsight I would have liked to see these machines battling it out a little more and longer. Another plus is Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. She beefed up for her role and she turned around her damsel in distress role. This also makes sense in relation to the story. She had to prepare herself and her son of what was coming. She had to be able to take care of herself. Even when she at times is villainous and is losing her humanity you understand where it is coming from. The fact that people completely ignore past events and still claim that everything that has occurred is a figment of her imagination is downright infuriating. She is just trying to save planet people, give her a break!

One of the criticisms of some people is that this film lacks character development. Like the original this sequel is basically about a killing machine chasing the good guys. All of the events occur in a day or two. How can you expect a character to develop in such a short time? And even if it is possible what would it achieve for the story. It's a simple tale of good versus evil. You don't need a lot of depth for that. At it's core Terminator 2 is an action movie. And action wise this movie is spectacular even today. While a lot more flawed compared to the original this one is a classic in it's own right.

Ok, I have no choice but to discuss this one but here goes:




Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)




Honestly I completely forgot most of what this film was about. It was like I blocked this from memory on purpose. After having seen it I remember why that is.

Rise of the Machines is crap. It's enjoyable crap but crap nonetheless. The action and special effects are the main draw and they are solid and nice enough. The terminatrix was a good addition and seems to be much more ruthless than the T-800 and T-1000. Kristanna Loken as the terminatrix was quite good and I personally would not have mind to see her return in the franchise. However everything else including the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger was questionable. Rise of the Machines is proof of what happens when you remove the heart and soul needed for a project of this magnitude. In this case the presence and involvement of James Cameron is missed. The Terminator franchise was never that deep story wise however James Cameron very wisely kept it minimal so that you could add to it later if needed. Plus it gave it a sense of mystery making the mythology more compelling. However even then director Jonathan Mostow managed to mess up the existing mythology. He lacked vision and creativity to make the events and characters compelling. I could care less about John Connor and Kate Brewster. It was real hard to imagine them as the future leaders they were meant to be. Edward Furlong in Terminator 2 was easily more qualified and skilled than the way Nick Stahl portrays him. One of the major complaints I have is the fact that this third part which in theory should have been the biggest so far never feels epic. They are near the end of the world. You would have to create some sort of sense that something is at stake. It seems more like one of those Asylum titles that parodies Terminator. Like I said this is enjoyable crap. The pace is fast enough to make you overlook it's million flaws. And it was nice to see the newer machines in the last moments before Judgment Days starts . Other than that this is one of the most useless sequels in film history.

Last but not least:




Terminator Salvation (2009)





The first one in the franchise to show the future which is talked about and showed glimpses off in previous movies but not shown fully. 

Somehow a lot of people seem to think this is a movie not worthy to be in the franchise. And while this film certainly has it' s fair share of flaws I do think this one is far better than Terminator 3. What people need to understand that John Connor still is not the leader that is prophesied in the previous movies. We are close but not right there yet. The same goes for Kyle Reese. He is a rookie that has not met John Connor yet. Earth is not all dark and gloomy yet and the machines are still rising. With this in mind a lot of the events in this one will make much more sense. Except maybe for one involving Sam Worthington as Marcus which will require to suspend disbelief. However it is one that I thought was a welcome twist and made the film a lot more interesting. But it is one that only works for the first time you see it. Since a lot of the story is focused on the Marcus character it at the same is it hugest flaw. Continuity  wise (which is negligible if you see this film as an alternate universe). More important though that most of the tension and drama comes from the Marcus story line. Especially not knowing what this character is about. Once you know what the deal is all of that tension and suspense is gone. You are then left with a film that is action packed but misses the thrills tied to the original story lines pertaining characters Kyle Reese and John Connor. They are almost secondary characters and we never get to know them real well. I think this is a grave mistake as this was the opportunity to show the fans more about how special they are. Now we are told and have to assume they are. Overlooking these flaws I do think that the action is spectacular enough to entertain and gives enough food for thought especially had it been given a sequel. As a standalone this entry is quite decent and even as part of the franchise it does more than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines did. But yes it's not a classic. 

I do wonder what was going on with Christian Bale at the time. Why was he flipping out since there is not one scene that needed that much concentration or focus? Because to be honest a lot of his scenes are pretty generic acting wise.







So a lot of the films hold up. The first two easily are classics. They can be enjoyed time after time again without getting bored. Terminator 3 is the worst in the franchise. People thinking differently are the reason why so many blockbuster films made these days are so lacking and why Hollywood is not even trying to make good movies any more. With all it's flaws I think Terminator Salvation is quite underrated and deserves more praise. Sure it did not show enough of the future and mythology people were expecting. Although it's sequel might have done this if it had gotten the chance to. I am looking forward to seeing Terminator Genisys although I don't understand and will never understand why they would spoil the most important twists in the trailer. I will reserve my rant about trailers these days for another time. I hope that despite this the movie will be enjoyable.


Edit: 06-08-2015:


I had the displeasure of watching Terminator Genisys. It almost makes me want to take back some of the things I said above especially in relationship to Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines. I was under the impression it was the worst in the franchise. I was wrong, so very wrong. Now that honour goes to Genisys. Read my review about it why I think this.







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