This time I want to stray a little from my typical cartoon villains articles.
In this article I don't want to describe the Terminator series - you can find all the info on the internet, so there's simply no point in repeating the Wikipedia and IMDB paragraphs. What I want to do is describe my own personal view on the it and how I viewed and reacted to each movie, throwing some info in there as well. I had a pleasure of seeing the movies for the first time in chronological order

When I was a kid in the late 80's I was crazy about movies. VHS was riding its high wave of popularity and the visit once a week in the rental places was a must. I had two teenage sisters so naturally they were always renting horror movies, and I begged them to watch it with them. I was allowed to but they were covering my eyes when the violence was taking place. Nonetheless, I loved those movies and to this day I'm crazy about 80's horrors and thrillers. Once a week they were renting B horrors like Maniac Cop and Child's Play, and that's how I got to see the first terminator movie in the late 80's.

THE TERMINATOR (1984)


"Listen and try to understand! It doesn't feel pity! Or remorse! Or fear! And it absolutely will not stop, ever! Until you are dead"

Some may not know it, but the first Terminator movie was a full fledged B horror movie. James Cameron was originally a horror director, and the first three movies he did were horror movies (Piranha 2, The Terminator, Aliens) until he switched to sci-fi action and then drama. The movie is a typical almost by the books 80's horror, and was recently described as a techno take on 1978's "Halloween". We again witness a relentless Mike Myers character after a teenage girl. With boyfriend type on her side and "Psycho"-like music, "The Terminator" was everything horror movies were at that point. A fad was starting to pick up with some kind of inhuman killer in a big city. The great thing about the movie was that Arnold wasn't known yet, so he didn't have any tag on him. He was simply the face of the mysterious and ruthless women killer. Of course you already knew he's not human once he ripped one of the punks' heart out with his bare hand right at the beginning.

The movie was dubbed in some European countries as "Electronic Murderer" and I always liked this title better. It's more fitting. Anyway, the movie terrified me. I was watching it late at night with my sisters and I thought (and still think) its much more scary than Halloween. The only difference with Terminator and Myers is that Terminator feels no emotions at all, he is simply a cold machine with no life behind it's eyes. Other than that, he is virtually the next Myers. The flick is a real by-the books horror movie, and I want to showcase that as well
For the most part, the movie keeps us in question. We don't know what's going on yet. All we know is that there's a killer in LA who kills the women alphabetically from the phone book, dubbed "Phone Book Killer" by the press. And here we have another common horror movie trace - two cops that are on the case of the killer, Lieutenant Traxler and Detective Vulkovich. Like Det. Ray Cameron in "Night Of The Creeps" and Det.Frank McCrae in "Maniac Cop"

After seeing the news, teenage waitress Sarah realizes that she is the next person in the phone book after the recently killed woman. Meanwhile her roommate Ginger is murdered at their apartment right after (as usual in horrors) having sex with her boyfriend. Her death is still blood chilling to me. She tries to run but he shoots her in the spine so she drops on the floor and can't walk. She keeps trying to desperately get away crawling but no luck. He slowly follows her like the typical horror character, catches up, steps over her and shoots her in the head 5 times!


Afterwords it all becomes clear after the TechNoir scene where Reese, the soldier who came to protect Sarah explains everything to her (and the audience as well). Both Reese and the killer came from the dark, holocaust ridden future. While Reese is a dedicated soldier, the killer is an emotionless being sent by supercomputer Skynet to kill Sarah and thus prevent the birth of the future resistance leader.
I love how the suspense is accompanied by chilling soundtrack that resembles a loud heart beat, brilliant and scary. The entire movie sets a specific vibe and aura of paranoia.
Another scene that I absolutely love and that gives that classic fear chill is when the Terminator smashes in his car into the wall. Cops arrive almost immediately. They check out the car but...no one's there...

That was a really cool scene as well. Like in those classic horrors, others arrive check the place and there's no one there.
After the killer almost gets them at the Police Station, slaughtering everybody there, both Sarah and Reese slowly give up to the paranoia and pressure. There's a deleted scene in which they both cry and talk how this thing which, by that point killed all her friends and family, will always be after her. The whole idea of something so alien to emotions whose existence is based entirely on killing you is amazing. And the realism is mind blowing - the Terminator is sweaty all the time because the metal underneath is warm and heats up the skin. Plus, the following day after the Police shootout, his body starts decomposing, which is not a pretty sight. Since his human parts are live, they died after taking shots. Of course later on we have the mandatory sex scene in the motel and then he finds them and it's right back to the chase. Just like Myers, this thing kept getting up no matter what. We even had THREE moments where we thought its the end! three! And it was still getting up trying to kill its target at all cost. Another strong scene I want to mention is after Reese tries to blow him up with home made dynamite.

After the blast he dies, but the artificial killer is still on. He jumps at Sarah and crawls over Reese's dead body.
He finally gets smashed under hydraulic press right before he could grab his victim's neck. the scene was accompanied by climatic choir music and the ever present heart beat sound.

The movie scared me so much that I missed all those hits with Arnie because he was like Freddy Krueger to me. I was so scared of that movie and that character that I was afraid to look at the VHS cover to look him in the eyes (Ah, kids!). I loved the movie but I was never picking favorites then, it was simply another cool horror flick and many came after. Even thought today it's my favorite, at the time it was one of many great late night scary movies. It almost got forgotten until...


TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)



"I swear I will not kill anyone"


Wow! What an incredible shift that was! The whole vibe, mood, feel and even the genre changed.
Terminator 2 :Judgment Day, known also as T2 is considered as a movie milestone and one of the best action movies of all time. Everybody knows that movie, and everyone had seen it at some point. It was the movie that really gave an enormous boost to the franchise, and made it one of the most recognizable ones. At the time of its release it was the most expensive movie ever made and one of the biggest movie phenomenons. I remember it being hyped like nothing else - I think the only movies that were as hyped as T2 were 1989's Batman, Titanic and Star Wars Episode I. It's really hard to describe how huge it was for someone who wasn't around at the time.
It was everywhere - TV commercials, toys, VHS pre-feature previews, covers of almost every magazine for weeks.
The very first time I heard about the sequel was from my sister. She asked me "remember that guy?' and showed me a teen magazine which had entire pages about T2. She said "Part two is coming up, and now he's a good guy". I said "Good? He??? I can't believe it!" I kept staring at that picture, which was the same one as the one below

And I kept thinking "I can't believe it! He's good???"I was also wondering how come he is in the sequel if he was crushed and destroyed in the first movie, and when and how was he reprogrammed. Those questions were born out of confusion that the press created - the articles were saying that it's the same terminator from the first movie and had lines like "this time he's a protector", so it seemed like this is the very same character, when it was the same model instead.
It was also surprising to hear about the sequel, especially that huge. As Cameron grew as director and star, having two big hits Aliens and The Abyss under his belt, he dug up his old franchise from the low budget horror flick he did, and expanded on its universe and ideas. Cameron was going really deep in Abyss, both literally and figuratively speaking. He did the same in T2 having multiple ideas and double meanings. RottenTomatoes website describes the movie - "T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters." spot on. Of course the movie got 100% positive reviews.
Although a completely different beast, T2 is universally acclaimed as the best terminator movie and one of the best and the most original movies ever (I like the first one best tho). The story is brilliant and very carefully constructed, you really got to pay attention to it. And of course, the special effects were revolutionary and look even better than today's CGI whose quality is heavily on decline since the decade started.
It was everywhere, kids were role playing as T-1000 and T-800, toys were all around

In school almost everybody had seen T2 in the theaters, and those who didn't did so as soon as it came out on VHS. Long story how, but my family managed to get a copy even before VHS' official release, everyone wanted to see this phenomenon. The movie was nothing like the first, and could be seen without seeing the first. Some of my friends didn't even know that's a sequel - they thought that number 2 stands for the number of the terminators in the movie. Everyone was talking about it. It was mind blowing from the very beginning when the endoskeleton steps on the skull. Basically T2 could be found in the dictionary under the word "cool". The story was too deep and too complicated for young people, I noticed its brilliance much later when I could understand and connect things much better. Brilliant music, brilliant story, brilliant FX, just wow. It was so spectacular that for a young kid like myself it was unlike anything else. The first chase was breath stopping, and from the very first scene it was simply great. When T-800 walks out of the bar and then gets himself sunglasses with "Bad To The Bone" playing, that was very cool and badass.

The first chase seen with the truck basically froze the entire room. I was watching the movie with parents and sisters, so the living room was packed, simply everyone wanted to see IT. And the room froze during that scene, I remember being so uptight and keeping my fists tight hoping that T-800 will catch up to to chase to help John. I don't think I was even breathing throughout the entire scene :D
We get to see John who is the epitome of a wise guy kid, yet very smart and clever. He knows what he's doing. And the new villain , T-1000 was the biggest attraction. It wasn't any surprise of what he is because it was so pumped up by the media, with tons of screen shots from the movie. After everyone thinks that it's all said and done, here comes Cameron and tops it all with the most original idea ever - liquid artificial creature that changes appearances and shapes and can change into anything it touches. It was a really freaky thing, and of course nothing like anything we've ever seen in the movies before

Robert Patrick was phenomenal as this prototype T-1000. But i don't think there was anything more mouth opening than the scene in which he becomes a floor!

...or when his head gets blown in half or just tons of other stuff. At the hospital scene we were fully shown what T-1000 is and what is it capable of

In the era where CGI was never extensively used before, and when we were used to seeing the stop animation technique, that was really something. After the Pescadero hospital fight we get a break from the chase and see some deeper ideas. Sarah Connor is now virtually a female Rambo and commando! John was in good hands.
So as our cast manages to escape the T-1000 for good, it's then when we truly get into thinking. Cameron slowly accommodates us with T-800 who starts learning from little John and the two become more and more friendly. T-800, named Uncle Bob, becomes more and more human and ultimately becomes the likable friend and father figure. That's when we take a break from the action to see the evolution of the 'guy' and few comedic scenes when John and T-800 become very close.

Then we proceed into Sarah's nightmares about the nuclear attack on LA and how it pushes her from the edge. She wants to kill Dyson, a man responsible for building Skynet. When she attacks his house we see the transformation she went through - she became like a machine herself, ironically even using the red targeting like the nightmarish killer from her teenage years, but she realizes what she's doing before she could kill the unsuspecting Dyson. It was a clever exchange - while T-800 was becoming more human, she was becoming more like a machine. It was a very tough thought - would you kill a person who intentionally didn't do anything bad, with two kids and loving wife to save the mankind? Sarah realizes that's not the way and that she would loose her humanity and abandons the mission. It's then when we see another classic kick ass scene with Arnold taking the skin off his hand to show Dyson who he is. They decide to prevent the war the other way and go take out Cyberdyne Systems headquarter. Since they're going back to LA that's a very dangerous move since they might bump into T-1000 again. As they're destroying the files, the entire LAPD surrounds the buildings. I remember being so sucked into this movie, you were really feeling for those characters and when the cops showed up I went "oh no!" and started biting my nails.T-800 destroys the police cars to insure they'll stay away, and right before he does that John prompts him not to kill anybody, to which he replied:
"Trust Me"

The scene when "Bob" shoots the police cars with mini gun and grenade launcher was also cool as hell, but then we quickly go back to the reality of the situation. The SWAT team enters the building and poor Dyson gets killed. That was very emotional since he was such a good guy and got sucked into it all out from normal life with loving family, and here we and he realized he's not going back home. The Cyberdyne explodes and with Bob's help Sarah and John go past the SWAT team, but the T-1000 is on their tales in a chopper. After a crash he acquires a big tanker and this is for me the single most thrilling chase scene ever. The music and the entire scene was mind blowing. The good team's car only has 60 MPH as the top speed and a huge tanker is right on them. T-800 climbs up the truck and shoots T-1000 with machine gun causing the truck to flip and break. And here's the iconic moment - T-1000 walks towards John but the liquid nitrogen freezes him

Thats when T-800 takes the opportunity and blasts him into thousand pieces saying "Hasta La Vista, Baby"

And here's another mouth opening, 'holy shit!' moment - the small pieces melt and gravitate towards each other forming one big puddle that reforms into T-1000 again! Entire room went "WOW, that's impossible to destroy it! Did you see that?!"

Now we know we're in trouble. The only place for the good team to run is the steel mill. Sarah's badly bleeding from the shot wound, T-800 walks with a limb and is pretty roughed up, and the T-1000 is unscratched still after them! That's when everything comes together. Everything that gathered throughout the movie was used in those last scenes. They know they don't stand a chance and John and sarah have to split up with T-800. Very emotional moment with teary eyed John screaming "no! we gotta stick together" and the serious T-800 ordering John to run immediately. Our beloved hero is staying to sacrifice himself in a fight he can't win. After another fight with T-1000 that turned him into armless crawling junk, Sarah and John have to face their danger alone. It seems like we're gonna get a happy ending with Sarah shooting the T-1000 pushing him to the edge, but then she runs out of ammo when she just needed one more shot! My hands were all sweaty! T-1000 delivered another classic move...

But the creature finally falls into the molten hot steel, melting/blending with the mixture.

What a ride it was. Now the relief and that's when I started breathing again lol
But then after burning the evidences, T-800 says that in order to make sure the future won't happen, he as the last remaining artifact of Skynet has to be destroyed as well. We shed a tear when we see "Uncle Bob" saying his goodbye to John, and the movie ends with hope.



TERMINATOR 2: BATTLE ACROSS TIME aka T2:3D (1996)



"Is this Skynet? May I ask why are we heading towards it?"

T2 passed and I think I was the only one thinking that there's gonna be another movie. All my friends thought it's a finished story, but somehow I just felt like there's gonna be another one. And then few years later I picked up on something - T-800 left his broken arm pinned under a wheel in the steel mill. Not much, but it's something.
Years passed, T2 became sci-fi classic and one of the best sci-fi action movies of all time and iconic movie, but it seemed like the story is really finished. Someone in school spread a rumor that they're shooting the third movie, and it appeared to be true , sort of. James Cameron regrouped the team - actors, designers, composers, camera crew - everybody, and started shooting the third terminator for the Universal Studios theme park.
The idea was to actually write the script and direct a brand new movie that will be a part of the 3D attraction.The best thing about it is the reunion of the trio - T-800, John and Sarah, played again by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Furlong and Linda Hamilton. T2 music and feel was present, just like the Cameronesqe action scenes and Arnold's one liners.I want to describe the plot to everyone since its not as known as the other movies'
This time the focus isn't on the characters but on the universe created with the Terminator franchise.
Somehow Cyberdyne has got up after the attack and Sarah and John re-attempt to stop it's development. By that point the company is already producing the first terminators known as T-70's . As Sarah is talking to the Cyberdyne visitors group saying that it'll bring more damage than good, the T-1000 appears and T-800 right after him (don't ask how - this is non-canon theme park story, so all the characters are still "alive"). The time sphere they came through is still open and T-800 takes John with him to the future where they want to take out the Skynet himself while all of his units are on the field fighting the final battle. T-1000 follows them but a blow in the face with shotgun slows him down.


On the way to Skynet's pyramid (brilliant idea) they are attacked by small flying mini-hunters and another T-800 who almost kills John before "Uncle Bob" blows him up. "He was my college roommate" he says lol

After that they proceed further and they reach the pyramid. They snuck in when the gates opened for a second.

After going down the elevator they finally reach Skynet's core, but it wasn't completely defenseless - Skynet itself was guarded by gigantic liquid metal spider, the T-1000000!

John and T-800 shoot at cooling units and freeze the monster for enough time to plant a bomb and get out of there.I have never seen the show live but seen the entire movie on youtube, it seems fantastic. The feel of T2 is evidently there, but I believe T2 3D is just little over the top. Maybe I'm getting this impression because it isn't set in the present but in the future, so there's not much realism there. Anyway, the movie is more of a bonus to the series, a nice small addition. It was also great to see the reunion of the iconic trio - Rambo like Sarah, wise ass John and hip Uncle Bob.There was even more cool stuff that was suppose to be included, but unfortunately it was not. For example, here's the idea of the Terminator storage facility

Seemed like the terminator series was sealed. T2 3D satisfied my gut feeling about another Terminator movie. The two movies became classics and Cameron moved on to another stories. Soon after, he lost his rights to the franchise. The terminator duo was put on the shelves for future generations to enjoy,and to quote Cameron - the story was done. It was over. But was it?


TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003)



"There is no fate"

One day I went to the supermarket and found a movie magazine that mentioned the third terminator coming up, and I was shocked! It wasn't nowhere near surprising as T2 when it was coming out, but it was still very unexpected. The article told the story about acquiring the rights to the franchise but not much more than that. It also mentioned Cameron being replaced by Jonathan Mostow, which was a very awkward thing - it's like writing new Lord Of The Rings books without Tolkien. More surprising was the choice - I thought after replacing the A list director they would come up with another A listers like Spielberg or Lucas or someone like that, instead they chose the director that only did TV movies and one theatrical release that came and went. That was really not good at all, but I was still looking forward to it of course. The movie was destined to be a huge blockbuster, following such an iconic and legendary movie as T2.

I went to see it in the theaters and judging by the trailers and interviews saying how it was modeled after the previous movie, expected nothing short of amazing.
Yes, the movie is universally considered a black sheep of the series. Yes, it lacks any depth, but never intended to be deep. Yes, it has enormous amount of plot holes and contradictions, and yes, it's pretty much hated by the diehard fans of the series. But even thought it's nowhere near the originals, it still a very interesting take on the concept.
It was a very big moment, since now I was so much older and I was about to enter the theater to see a continuation of such classic that I grew up with.
Few things that were cons right upfront - lack of ANY character from the series. The dynamic trio that became so iconic isn't in the movie. There's no Sarah and no T-800. John is played by a different actors so he really doesn't feel like the same person. The legendary friendship of John and Uncle Bob is absent as well, although unintentionally. But the new T-850 is nothing like the previous models we've seen and the fact that Furlong isn't there just doesn't bring that chemistry back.
The other one is lack of novelty villain. In the first movie, it was something unlike anything we've seen before - artificial killer with live flesh. In T2, we had the most original thing ever - liquid metal man changing shapes and forms, but here T-X is nothing new, unlike her predecessors - she's just a combination of both.

The plot was a big mystery since there were so many questions that arouse from the creation of another movie, most of them were unfortunately left unanswered (like for example, how Skynet got built if they destroyed everything, every file and every piece in the last movie, even the entire building). Unfortunately in the very first few seconds of the movie there's a huge franchise error when John says he was 13 when the events of T2 took place, while he was actually 10. And pretty soon after, the biggest goof of them all. T-850 refers to himself as T-101 while in the terminator universe a model like this is very primitive and moves on two tracks like a tank or like T-1's. Mostow's confusion came from the fact that 101 is the number of his look, not model.
Unlike T-800 in T2, T-850 does not evolve at all and has way too many comic scenes to the point that he virtually is a character that is a parody of the terminator character, often saying stupid/funny lines and acting ridiculous (One of tons of examples: he actually talks to the hand when the guy at the bar told him to. It's plain stupidity, having nothing to do with being alien to the surroundings. T-800 didn't say please in T2 when asked by the biker). Like I said, T-850 is virtually the typical SNL terminator parody, a sort of Jar Jar Binks of the terminator series

The entire go-go scene seems like the SNL skit. That was the main critique of the movie - there was way too much humor to the point where the movie itself doesn't take the franchise and itself seriously. Such huge departure from what the series was all about and it's message.
We also find out a heck lot about the new villain pretty soon. Unlike her predecessor, she has a solid form, but doesn't have a real flesh - she is covered with liquid metal, the substance that the last villain was made of. Well, that makes her much more vulnerable and much less deadly - she is solid, If she's gonna be blown into pieces she wont reassemble. Also, she can only turn into humans, she can't become a wall or a floor like T-1000 could. Two other abilities make up for that loss. She can actually turn her hands into futuristic weapons and she can remotely control vehicles.

It's also hard not to notice the obvious influence of Matrix in many areas. The T-X looks exactly like Trinity, but with different colors.

Same with music, machine designs and future war depiction
The T3 plot is virtually a copy of T2's plot. Voiceover at the beginning, female fighter, Arnold as protector, liquid metal,truck chase, runaway into south being abandoned to try to prevent the future, CRS/Cyberdyne attack etc etc
I thought it was a really good movie. Not in the same league as the originals,not even remotely close, but good nonetheless, a bit underrated. I believe that the T-X was a nice way out. It's really hard to come up with something that would top T-1000, yet I'm happy they kept the iconic liquid metal there. Also, she was the only villain of the series that never had a scene showing that she's indestructible. As oppose to others, there was not one moment where we would think "this is it, she's dead". not good because we never really feel that she's powerful at all, thus she doesn't create that feel of danger, especially after she gets split in half by a chopper...

...and later overpowered and destroyed by supposedly far less advanced T-850 with one hand!!
The movie ends without any happy ending showing that the war they were trying to prevent happened anyway. Another thing the fans didn't like is the new depiction of the Skynet - instead of supercomputer it was a software this time.
Overall it wasn't that bad (if not the huge overuse of humor), but it didn't have the feel of the terminator movie at all.


TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (2007)




Seems like it's starting to be a tradition. After a movie becomes the series' black sheep, the franchise gets reduced to TV series. That's what happened to Robocop after RoboCop 3 and that's what happened to Terminator as well.

The TV series is interesting and good for TV series' standards, but I still believe a blockbuster franchise like this is not meant for TV. What I like most about it are small nods and homages to the original movies. The series ignores T3 and tells its own take on what would happen after T2 if the future wasn't prevented. Of course the TV series has to come up with some outlandish ideas and we have someone coming from the future all the time, back and forth, and we had 10 terminators or so, almost every episode there's a new terminator of the week.
This time a brand new super advanced TOK715 is protecting John from the bunch of T-888's and looks like teenage girl. The show lately introduced T-1001 made of liquid metal.



TERMINATOR: SALVATION (2009)




The new movie's coming up in May next year, and this time it'll focus on the future war. The cast is relatively unknown with the exception of the phenomenal Christian Bale as John Connor

The action will take places in 2018, a decade before any time travel stories and before the appearance of T-800 model. The newest inventions at this time are T-600's and we're also gonna see plenty of new machines like Harvesters, underwater machines etc

Sounds promising, especially since the director, McG, is a big fan of T2 and promised to keep the movie faithful to the original franchise this time, omitting T3 to some extent.

What I always found interesting looking back at the series is how enormously far the apple has fallen from the tree

Hope you liked the article and enjoyed the read