Although some general audiences actually enjoyed the movie, 2015's Terminator Genisys was ultimately the lowest point for the entire franchise to date, with sub-par acting from all of the cast making Schwarzeneggers performance as a grey-haired Terminator the only performance worth noting and a convoluted narrative that repeatedly shot itself in the foot while borrowing imagery all too often from previous and better installments. Many fans will proclaim that the last decent movie was 1991's legendary Terminator 2 Judgment Day while spreading hatred at the latter two chapters of the story, claiming that the only Terminator 3 worth watching is one heralded by creator James Cameron. Narratively 2003's Rise of the Machines did bring the franchise full circle with a fitting explanation for the paradox problems fans noticed in T2's narrative, but unfortunately, the narrative of the third movie was hidden underneath an unimaginative, tongue-in-cheek, superficial chase movie. 2010's Salvation, while neither adding nor taking anything away from the franchise could have been used by the writers as a back-door way of creating a Terminator and RoboCop crossover, with protagonist Marcus sharing many similarities to the Cyborg Cop, but after the abomination that was 2014's RoboCop reboot any desire to cement such a crossover was put to rest.
Now we have news that James Cameron the creator of the franchise and the writer, producer, and director of the first (and best) two movies is to collaborate with Deadpool director Tim Miller on a new installment with Genisys producer mega-rich David Ellison funding the movie. With Alien Covenant hitting theaters this May, a new Predator soon to enter production and a Star Wars movie every December for the foreseeable future one would think that as a science fiction fan and a hardcore fan of the Terminator Franchise I would be elated, but I am not.
While it is true that after the release of Terminator 2 James Cameron did pursue making a third installment, it was after the release of the record-breaking Titanic that the director announced that he would never return to the Terminator franchise. This was then compounded in 2003 when he advised the franchise's star, Schwarzenegger, to only accept a role in the third movie for no less than $30 million. Then after claiming that prior to the release of Salvation that the franchise's future was with the iconic "future war" between the human resistance and the machines, he then proclaimed that Genisys was a worthy successor to his original two movies. With 70-year-old Schwarzenegger, we not only have the aforementioned motives for appearing in "Rise of the Machines", but also his recent negative comments towards Salvation, despite having visited the set of the 2010 movie and offering his assistance with the CGI Terminator (which never came to pass, by the way). As for David Ellison; this is a producer that has a mixed portfolio with movies such as the recent Mission Impossible's reinvigorating the movie franchise, but with movies such as Genisys and G.I. Joe Retaliation leaving very little to be desired. Finally, we have Tim Miller whose directorial debut with last year's Deadpool proves that he is a talented and creative director, especially when considering the movies microbudget. Yet, of concern is the reason for why he is no longer involved with the production of its sequel; creative differences, specifically over the casting of Cable. If Miller is unable to come to a mutual agreement with a franchise's star over casting decisions how is he going to work with the creator of a franchise on its viable future, more specifically a renowned director in his own right that is well known for being hot tempered and fiercely dominant on set (yes Cameron I mean you).
As you can sense the recent news fills me with little confidence that the Terminator franchise will be redeemed from this collaboration. But paradoxically, as a fan of the franchise, I do want to see it return to at least a semblance of its former glory. Unfortunately, the last movie, 2015's Genisys proved unequivocally that the franchise's reliance on the format established in the 1984 original has grown stale, outdated and overused.
Thus to amend, retcon and fix the Terminator franchise I suggest, quite simply a reboot, but not in the vein of Sony Picture's horrendous RoboCop or Ghostbusters, but instead following the example of 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy - a retelling of the lore from a fresh perspective, namely the future war. A trilogy of movies, set in 2027, 2029 and 2032 respectively would allow for the chief characters and themes to be re-introduced in the first movie, with the second exploring the ramifications of and the use of time travel and its effects on the future, with the third and final movie providing a conclusion to all that has gone before (sticking to, at least narratively, the first three original movies).
Visually these three movies simply need to emulate the stylistic approach Cameron used for the future scenes of his two movies, while narratively the many aspects of the future war can be explored such as the value of human life, mankind's overreliance on technology, mankind's destructive and aggressive nature etc. Furthermore, the use of T-600's and T-800's can be used to explore themes such as paranoia (akin to John Carpenters 1984 cult classic The Thing, and 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers), survivors guilt (imagine patrolling during the night as an incapacitated T-600 impersonating your dead friend repeatedly calls for help) and PTSD. With the right writing team and direction, such a trilogy while reinvigorating the franchise could delve much deeper than any of the previous installments, even the original classics.
Just one final word of warning from a hardcore fan. As Genisys learned to its cost - do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt to remake nor retcon the first two movies. As with the Aliens franchise the first two Installments of the Terminator franchise should be considered untouchable, unmovable objects; fixed points in space and time.
More about Terminator (movie)
Directed by Tim Miller, Terminator's release date is November 22nd, 2019.
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