In September it was announced that James Cameron, the director and writer of the first two Terminator films, would return to produce a new movie directed by Deadpool helmer Tim Miller. But even bigger news is that Linda Hamilton, who played mother of the future Sarah Connor in the first two films, will be returning for the untitled reboot film scheduled to drop July 2019.
Will the new film finally return the franchise to its golden years? Only time will tell. Get it? Terminator=time? You get it. As we speculate away and with a SPOILER ALERT here is my ranking of the Top 6 Terminator Franchise Entries:
#6 Terminator Salvation
From the very first movie we had glimpses of the post-apocalyptic future and the gritty war between the human resistance and the robotic drones of the AI Skynet. But what about an entire movie set in that time period? Sounds like a great concept no? Well we got that in the fourth film, Terminator: Salvation, but it was far from great. First off there was barely any Terminators or terminating, cheap looking CGI Arnold notwithstanding. The action was meh. The story was bland. The characters were paper thin.
Christian Bale plays John Connor but is relegated to a side role in favour of Sam Worthington’s meh secret cyborg Marcus Wright. I say secret but it was spoiled in the trailer. Salvation could have been an epic sci fi war film but was more big budget Syfy movie of the week. Sadly the film is only famous for Bale’s offscreen blow out of a lighting guy.
#5 Terminator Genisys
This franchise reboot gets a lot of hate but it is a watchable, moderately entertaining film. Sure the story tries to do too much with its parallel timelines and time jumping and Skynet as a literal killer app is kinda stupid. And Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke as Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor respectively do lack the charisma and chemistry of Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton in the first film. Actually a blank sheet and a paper clip would probably have more chemistry than these two.
But Arnie is back and his Pops Terminator is fun and features in some cool action scenes. J.K. Simmons also energises proceedings as Detective O’Brien though he could have used more screen time. And Jason Clarke’s Terminator John Connor is downright scary. Too bad they spoiled that twist in the trailer as well. What is it with Terminator movies and spoilerific trailers. Just stop it. Terminate it even. Geez!
#4 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
This was the first entry when people began to realise the idea well had started to run dry for the franchise. And I am sure it was no coincidence that this was also the first entry sans Cameron. Anywho let us time travel back to the T3 writer’s room for a minute:
Head Writer: So we already had a Terminator try to kill Sarah Connor before she became pregnant with John and then we had a Terminator try to kill John as a teenager. What do we next? We need ideas people!
Writer 1: Why don’t we have a Terminator try to kill him as an adult?
Writer 2: And throw in his future wife and lieutenants for good measure!
Writer 1: And this time we will have a sexy female Terminator!
Writer 2: With big gazongas!
Writer 1: Ohh yeah!
Head writer: All I have to say is Box..Office…gold!
And now back to the present. Actually Kristanna Loken’s indomitable TX was one of the better parts of the film which felt mostly like a rehash of the previous two. Arnie is back again (he always comes back) and is cool too but lacks chemistry with Nick Stahl’s John Connor who is a serviceable if somewhat unlikable character. Claire Danes’ Kate Brewster, though, was as annoying as a stone in your shoe. The ending with the nuclear bombs falling was pretty awesome though.
#3 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
So some of you dear readers may have been wondering why this list is six entries when there have only been five movies. Well this is your answer people. The amazing Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series. If you never heard about it (which is sadly the case for many) this series aired on Fox from 2008-2009 and tells the story of Sarah and John after the events of Terminator 2. They meet a mysterious female Terminator named Cameron (a post Firefly Summer Glau) and battle Terminators and try to stop Skynet.
Glau’s Cameron is a wonderfully stoic character and a pre-Game of Thrones Lena Headey is magnificent as strong, protective Sarah Connor. And she is a 10 times better Sarah Connor than her Thrones alum Emilia Clarke. Just had to put that in there. Returning to TSCC Thomas Dekker is decent as John Connor but is somewhat overshadowed by Glau and Headey. The film delves deep into the mother/son relationship and the post-apocalyptic future. It also explores complex and thought-provoking themes. And the action is fantastic! Sadly, like Firefly, Fox pulled the plug early and TSCC ended after a Season 2 cliffhanger. Even so this sleeper series is a must watch for any fan of the franchise or just good sci fi television in general.
#2 The Terminator
The early 80s was such a sweet time for action sci fi. We had the mind blowing Aliens in 1986 and two years earlier the action gem The Terminator. This is where it all started folks. The post-apocalyptic future, the time traveling cyborg and the very first “I’ll be back.” Arnold is in top form as the unstoppable killing machine, Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese is a valiant and courageous future solider and Linda Hamilton’s Sarah is sweet and vulnerable but with an inner strength.
The darkest entry in the franchise it features some brutal Terminator murders and a bleak tone. The action is thrilling especially the police station assault and the final battle. It is iconic in every way and entertaining throughout while addressing deeper themes of fate, hope and humanity. Cameron would have to come really good to top this one.
#1 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
And Cameron improved on the original in every way with this seminal work of perfection. If you have not seen T2 you have not lived! Oh my goodness. What is there not to love about this movie? Arnold kicks so much backside and takes so many names as the reprogrammed Terminator. His surrogate father/son relationship with John (Edward Furlong) is funny, tender and touching. Hamilton’s now buff, highly trained and slightly unhinged Sarah Connor is one of fiercest female characters ever put to film. And Robert Patrick’s liquid metal T-1000 is terrifying and an unprecedented work of special effects wizardry.
Pick a scene. Any scene. The rescue of John from the mall and the truck/motorcycle chase? The rescue of Sarah from the mental institution? Sarah trying to kill Miles Dyson? The assault on Cyberdyne? The T800 firing the gattling gun at the police? The epic final battle? The T800’s final sacrifice? It is all 12 Flavours of Awesome Sauce! T2 is easily one of the best sci fi action films of all time and one of greatest all time action films of any genre. If the 2019 Terminator reboot is even close to the quality of this movie masterpiece then Cameron would have done the franchise justice.
For my ranking of all the Alien franchise movies you can click here. Hasta la vista baby!