The Ideal Terminator Marathon…

(Philip Morgan.Staff Writer)

Hey everybody, Phil here again with another requested blog from Josh. Today, I will be sharing with you how to get the most out of a Terminator Marathon. This isn’t going to be nearly as insane as my Ghostbusters marathon because I am a casual fan of the Terminator franchise. I know the Ghostbusters universe inside and out, but with the Terminator there are a few things that get fuzzy and I am still trying to sift through the haze. The Terminator universe is so rich that, when James Cameron stepped away from the franchise, other film makers and writers took serious liberties with the rules.

Before we can talk about the Terminator franchise, we need to talk briefly about what the Terminator is loosely based on. I am talking about a short story by Harlan Ellison, “Soldier From Tomorrow” published in 1957 and was later turned into an episode of the Outer Limits titled “Soldier”. This short came out in 1964 just 20 years before Terminator. I touch base on this, because when Terminator came out there was a law suit that came up between Ellison, the Production Company Hemdale, and Distributor Orion Pictures that claimed Ellison’s story was plagiarized. They settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, due to enough similarities to the story that The Terminator acknowledges the Outer Limits episode in the ending credits.


Here is a link if you would like to know more about Harlan Ellison’s Soldier Of Tomorrow

Here is a link on the Outer Limits episode.  . Even in this version some liberties were taken that trail a bit from the original story. Nothing major, but I think worth noting.

Now let’s get to the Terminator Franchise. We start of course with the first film “The Terminator”. This is one of the greatest Science Fiction stories of all time. You just can’t go wrong, a killing machine sent from the future to kill the mother of its greatest enemy and a soldier from the future sent back as well to protect her. Even as a footnote that sounds awesome. That is probably why the first film works so well and the Franchise could have just survived with just this one film.

It didn’t take long for a comic of the Terminator to be put out by NOW comics. As I said, writers played around a lot with this series and they were only basing concepts around the mythology of the first film.  They were given a lot of creative freedom on where the stories would go, so the comic played out like an anthology series. Sometimes it would evolve characters from the film, other times it involved random soldiers from the future and what roles they played in the war against the machines.

There are so many comics out there and I can’t possibly tell you where they fall in the universes continuity. There are even stories that involve the universe of Alien and Predator. I would love for James Cameron to direct a movie that had Terminator, Alien, and Predator in the same movie. That is a toy box dream come true there. It is not likely to happen, but that story exists in the world of comics. There are even stories that crossover with Superman and Robocop.

Comics have always been a fun place for Franchises to play together. Here is a list if you would like to know more. List Of Terminator Comic Books

Now back to the movies.

After enjoying Terminator, I like to enjoy “Terminator 2 Judgment Day”. Now, this movie is one of the greatest sequels of all time. This is the kind of sequel that all sequels should aim to be, it takes what made the first film good and perfects it. Arnold Schwarzenegger had become a regular action hero in 1991, so instead of having him return as the antagonist, he returns this time reprogrammed as the protector of a teenage John Conner. Since Arnold was now the good guy, they had to come up with something twice as deadly for him to fight. This film introduces one of the greatest sci fi creations called the T-1000, an advanced prototype terminator. This was an amazing film and, when most people think about the Terminator franchise, I am sure iconic images of this movie pop into their heads.

Now after that wonderful outing I would recommend the “Terminator 2 3D Adventure Across Time” experience at Universal Studios. That’s right I actually include this little marvel in my marathon, it is funny that this attraction is called “Terminator 2 3D Adventure Across Time” and not just “Terminator 3D Adventure Across Time”. That just shows how bad ass Terminator 2 is, it is so awesome that it got a ride. I guess the 3 in 3d could confuse people into thinking that this attraction is supposed to be the 3rd chapter. It does continue the story from number 2, but throws certain rules out the window, like instead of time traveling naked, they just jump through portals to time travel. In the end it is just an attraction and not really a continuation of the Terminator universe. Sadly the Minions ride has taken the place of this attraction, but it originally started in Universal Studios Florida and made its way to Hollywood. I am glad I got to experience it. The story is not cannon, but totally fun. I believe you can catch glimpses of the attraction on Youtube, so I recommend giving it a look.

Next, I like to enjoy “Terminator The Sara Connor Chronicles”. This is a series that picks up from “Terminator 2 Judgment Day”. This series may follow the previous 2 films, but it has its own continuity. John is still a teenager struggling with the burden of being the savior of mankind and he now has a female Terminator to protect him named Cameron. This series only lasted 2 seasons and there was no clear conclusion, since the show ended on a cliffhanger.

Then I like to enjoy the true sequel to “Terminator 2 Judgment Day” and watch “Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines”. Now I personally see nothing wrong with this movie, the same way I enjoy Ghostbusters 2 and a lot of critics didn’t enjoy that movie much. I think the same can be said about Terminator 3, it doesn’t really add anything new to the franchise. It is pretty much more of the same, Arnold returns as protector of John Connor and this time he is fighting a Terminator called the TX. A Deadly Prototype Female Terminator or Terminatrix . She has the same abilities as the T-1000, with the added arsenal of deadly weapons built into her like a Plasma Cannon and Flame Thrower. She is made of liquid metal and she has a Cybernetic Skeleton. Not sure how much of an improvement she is over the T-1000, but hey this film was still fun. I know there are many fans and critics alike that really hate this movie, but I found it very entertaining. I think I accepted this movie, because I knew regardless of what ever hype was going for the third Terminator, it was not going to top “Terminator 2 Judgment Day”.

Now we move to the one film of the franchise that I personally can’t stand, “Terminator Salvation”. One of the main reasons that I am not terribly fond of this movie is the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and it just doesn’t feel like a Terminator film without him. The CGI T 101 that attacks John Connor in this film does not count as an appearance, because it doesn’t take long for John to blow the skin off the robot and that ends Arnold’s CG likeness cameo. Arnold’s T-101 appearance is the best part of the movie, as far as I am concerned. Another thing that makes this less of a Terminator movie is that it takes away the future war will be fought in the past elements, by eliminating time travel and directly focusing on the actual “future” war. I understand that Terminator 3 left the series with little choice by saying that Judgment Day was inevitable, with the bombs being launched and John Connor narrating that the goal was not to stop Judgment Day, but to survive it. As much as I enjoyed Terminator 3, I thought that was one of the weakest story elements and it totally took away from the hopeful, but unclear road ahead that Terminator 2 flawlessly delivered. I understand the battle against the machines in the future is the whole point of the franchise, but I like the idea of the possibility of them being able to stop this robot apocalypse. Without that element, I just don’t care what happens to the characters. We have seen them do everything they can to stop Judgment Day and ultimately fail, but now we are supposed to care how John is going to end this war even though he was unable to stop the war from happening in the first place. I do give the movie credit for trying to do something new, but I don’t think it was the right move. The franchise probably should have been left alone after Terminator 2, but with a property so popular how can any studio not want to cash in.

Now we end the marathon with “Terminator Genysys”. I feel obligated to let you guys know that there are major SPOILERS AHEAD. I figure I should let you guys know since the movie is new and many of you guys probably have not had the chance to see it. This movie starts in the year 2029, before Kyle Reese goes back in time to protect Sara in 1984, Reese steps into the time displacement device and witnesses John being attacked by someone who turns out is the physical embodiment of Skynet. Now that Reese witnesses this before he is transported to 1984, a flood of memories of his childhood without a war enter his mind. Which is very strange since Reese grew up after Judgment Day. Reese arrives in 1984 and we all discover that everything we knew about the Terminator franchise has changed. Yup Terminator went full Star Trek 2009 on us and now we are in an alternate time line. Now, Sara Connor is not the simple waitress from the original movie and is now a trained soldier in the war for the future. She is well aware of who Reese is and why he is there. Also, she already has a protector from the future and her protector is none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold’s Character is called “Pops”, it is quite apparent that he is an aging Terminator that was sent to 1970’s when Sara was a child to protect her from a T-1000 that was already pursuing her. Sara’s parents were killed by the T-1000 and Pops protects her so he can teach her all that she knows in 1984. Who sent Arnold to protect Sara as a child? We are never told, those files were conveniently deleted from Arnold’s memory and whoever sent Arnold back doesn’t want Skynet to know. So as I stated this is a pretty big mystery that is not answered in this movie.  The audience is left to just wonder. Now that the time line has been altered Judgment Day is now set to go off in the year 2016, instead of 1997 like it was set in the earlier films. So Reese and Sara use their own jerry rigged time displacement device to travel to 2016. Pops can’t travel with them since he got his flesh melted off fighting the T-1000 leaving his metal arm exposed. This movie is going back to its time travel roots, which I like and pushing again that nothing mechanical can go through the time device without being torn apart. Sara and Reese travel to 2016, they are arrested once they appear. You can’t just appear out of nowhere and be completely naked in a busy intersection without having to answer some questions.  They get rescued by John Connor, who has somehow made his way to 2016 and Pops shows up shooting John. This shooting reveals, well it was revealed in the trailer too, John is the new dangerous Terminator that Arnold has to fight in this movie.

Now John’s abilities are just like the T-1000. He can mimic anyone that he comes into contact with and he can repair himself when shot. Instead of liquid metal he appears to be composed of nano bots. This means he can disassemble himself and appear real quickly behind an opponent. Also, the Nano bots can separate themselves from John and attack individually. This was a pretty neat concept, because after watching 4 Terminator movies and the TV Series I was getting tired of John being the savior of humanity. I think it was shoved down the audience’s throat more than it was John’s. The fact that John Connor becomes an instrument for Skynet is just awesome and that was a fresh direction to go. John is now in this time to assure Skynet’s existence in the future and he has set up shop in a huge building where some advanced technology, including Liquid Metal, is already well into development. Now, we are back on track to the real goal in the movie. It is not to protect Sara so she can raise the world’s savior. The goal instead is to stop Judgment Day from ever happening. Now that brings us to the climax of the film. Skynet is an App by the name of Genysis, where the subtitle of the film comes from. Genysis is supposed to go online in a matter of minutes, connecting all hand held devices together through satellites and therefore Skynet will have control over everything that is a machine. Judgment day is here and it is up to Reese, Sara and Pops to stop it. They set explosives all over the building to bring everything down, while Pops keeps John Connor busy. Eventually the fight puts both John and Pops in the time displacement device where both are real torn up and have metal exposed. Pops holds John in place and tells Reese to activate the time machine, which will tear both of them apart. So both Terminators are destroyed in the magnetic field of the time machine, Pop’s upper torso falls in a vat of liquid metal before the entire building explodes.

Sara is emotional destroyed by the loss of her cybernetic guardian, but the sadness is short lived and a liquid metal blade breaches the door, as in walks Pops all in one piece. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger has survived the fight and has now got a liquid metal upgrade. I had no idea that was the way Liquid Metal worked, but okay. After that we are treated to a post credit sequence where it is revealed that Skynet has survived the explosion. This was a pretty good reintroduction to the franchise. I can already hear Josh saying, “Oh come on. Really?”  (Note From Josh-Not Really, reading your thoughts makes me want to see the movie more)   The thing is I liked that Arnold’s Character is completely developed at this point, since we are dealing with an older Terminator and it took the fatherly love that the Terminator from Terminator 2 felt of John and built on this terminator’s love for Sara. The movie is not without serious flaws and I will say that it is nowhere near as good as “Terminator 2 Judgment Day”. There are just too many unanswered questions that, as an audience member, you just feel robbed. You sit there for 2 hours and find out that all you are watching is build up for the next movie. That is what this is, since Paramount had every intention of this movie being the first in a new trilogy. The movie should have been able to stand on its own, but as of right now the story feels incomplete. Unfortunately the movie was beat out by the Magic Mike’s sequel in the box office. That seriously hurt the possibility of another movie since paramount did not see the return they were expecting to get. I was pretty surprised myself, was Magic Mike really that good? Fortunately “Terminator Genysis” received some pretty impressive returns overseas, so we might see those next 2 films. I hope they are able to get those next 2 films done and bring this Terminator story to a satisfactory end.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Till Next Time.

 (Article Edited By Joshua Gilmore)

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