The Universe: The Terminator Universe
The Movies: Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, Terminator Genisys, Terminator Dark Fate
The Big Picture: In 2029, the Evil Skynet sends Killer Robots with a thick Austrian Accent, to kill future Resistance Leader John Connor, or his mother, or his wife or some other chick.
The Terminator (1984)
and starring A PILLOW as JOHN CONNOR
RECAP – In the year 1984, the T-800 killer cyborg, a Terminator is sent back from the future to kill Sarah Connor, a waitress who will one day be the mother of John Connor the leader of the human resistance in the war of the machines in 2029. Also sent back is Kyle Reese, one john Connors soldiers, to protect her. Sarah is already having a crappy day. Work sucks, a date stands her up and someone is killing women in town named Sarah Connor. Sarah notices someone following her and hides in a nightclub where she is spotted by the Terminator. As he is about to kill her Reese saves her and they escape. Reese and Sarah hide under a bridge and Reese tells her about the future, who much it sucks and how her son is the hero who will save humanity. After the Terminator chases them in a police car, Sarah and Reese are arrested. The Terminator shoots up the police station and Reese and Sarah escape. Sarah and Reese hide in a hotel and after making some bombs they have sex. The Terminator finds them and chases them to a factory. After numerous almost killing of the Terminator, Reese is killed, and Sarah tries to escape through a press. As the Terminator follows her, she smashes it. The last scene is Sarah, pregnant, on her way to Mexico, making tapes for her son in the future, about his father, Kyle Reese.
REVIEW – If you took a space ball back and showed up naked in 1984 and told them Terminator would be the first movie in a billion-dollar franchise, I don’t think anyone would believe you. It’s a good flick, but it could also be mistaken for a late night shlocky Sci-fi murder shoot um up. There is kind of nothing really remarkable about the movie except the future talent involved like James Cameron, Stan Winston and even Arnold. The effects do not hold up. Any close up of Arnold when he is showing off his “robot” side, is obviously a fake head. The Terminators look straight out of an old Ray Harryhausen movie. And the story is really nothing special. But so much of it now is Iconic, “Come with me if you want to live.” “I’ll Be back” classic lines that have been run into the ground through no fault of their own. The movie is good, don’t get me wrong. But the best thing about it, is that is lays the groundwork for better or worse for what’s to come.
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Well Sarah Connor is pregnant, and her son will one day be the leader of the human resistance. The remains of the Terminator are still at that factory. So if you are an evil AI in the future, if at first you don’t succeed, try again, and again, and again, and I think you know where I am going with this.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
and starring Edward Furlong as JOHN CONNOR
RECAP – In 1997 a T-800 killer cyborg, a Terminator, is sent back from the future to PROTECT 13-year-old John Connor who will one day be the leader of the human resistance in the war of the machines in 2029. John is kind of a delinquent who is smart enough to hack ATM machines. While on a trip to the mail john is pursued by a police officer and is saved by THE TERMINATOR. The police office is actually a liquid metal T-1000 sent from the future to kill John. The Nice Terminator wants to get john as far away as possible but John wants to save his mother Sarah who is in a mental hospital where she has been going on and on about the killer robots from the future who will one day end the human race. So you can kind of see why she’s there. John and the Happy Terminator arrive as the T-1000 arrives to kill Sarah. After shooting up the place, they escape to Mexico, where Sarah has hidden a fort Knox full of weapons. As John and the Funny Terminator bond Sarah decides to take off and kill Miles Dyson, the man who will invent the chip used by Skynet. Sarah shoots up Dyson’s house, but John and Termy the happy killer robot, arrive to stop her. They explain to Dyson who they are and what he will do, and Dyson agrees to sneak them into Cybedyne to destroy everything. Sarah, John, Dyson and the quippy t-800 arrive at Cyberdyne and start shooting up the place, which gets the attention of the police and the T-1000. The T-1000 chases them into a metal factory, where he takes down Termin-Arnold, wounds Sarah and is about to kill John. The HERO-Nator, arrive in the Knick of time to drop the T-1000 into some boiling metal. The T-800 then sacrifices himself so that no trace of his kind can be used in the future to create Terminators and judgement day will be averted.
REVIEW – Clearly the best of the bunch and James Cameron at the top of his game. Everything about this movie is better. The effects, which is mostly the liquid terminator, which may seem old hat but, for 1991 things morphing into other things was jaw dropping. The action scenes are great. The call back lines of “Come with me if you want to live.” and “I’ll Be back” don’t feel forced. But the story and the characters are so much better. Sarah the timid waitress is a gun toting, bad ass. And Linda Hamilton really makes you feel the burden of knowing the future has on her, and what it done to her relationship with John. Also the Elliot / E. T.erminator relationship between John and the Terminator, while kind of predicable, has a lot of heart. You feel for both of them at the end when Arnold decides to “Terminate” himself. There are some funny things, like John’s best friend was also Tom hanks best friend in Big. He apparently had a career as a professional best friend. Also while the music on the radio in The Terminator was generic 80’s music, T2 gets Guns n’ Roses you could be mine, played every time a radio is on in the first hour of the movie. They should have stopped at this one, but they didn’t. But alone, this a great movie.
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? You don’t really think John and Sarah ride off into the sunset, do you? There are 4 more Terminator movies.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
and starring Nick Stahl as JOHN CONNOR
RECAP – In 2003 a T-800 killer cyborg, a Terminator, is sent back from the future to PROTECT Kate Brewster, the future wife of John Connor who will one day be the leader of the human resistance in the war of the machines in 2029. John Connor is an adult now, working construction and living off the grid. He explains in the beginning Judgment Day came and went. No war, no terminators. End of movie. WRONG! In a posh LA store, a naked woman arrives, a TX or Terminatrix, (I am guessing there is a gender distinction for killer robots in the future, Males are Terminators and Females are Termiatrixes?) The TX steals a car, does AOL dial up into a phone and gets a list of targets. Meanwhile Kate Brewster, unhappily engaged to some douche, gets a phone call that her vet clinic has a break in. she arrive to find john who broke in to get medicine because he wrecked on a motorcycle. Soon after the TX arrives and tries kill Kate, the T-800 shows up and crashes a truck into the TX as john and Kate escape. The T-800 arrives and tells john he was sent by him to protect Kate by his future self who the T-800 in the future had killed. (Yeah, I know, that’s what he said) The T-800 tells john and Kate that judgement day still happens in like a few hours. They go to Sarah Connor’s grave who has died of cancer and get a ridiculous amount of weapons. Their plan is to contact Kate’s Dad who is in the military and try and stop Judgment Day 2.0. They arrive, but the TX beats them to it. She activates all the killer robots lying around and they start to kill everyone. The t-800 tells them there is a bunker where they can shut down Cyberdyne and they have to fly there. The TX briefly reprograms the T-800 but Kate and john escape the bunker in a plane. Not long after they arrive, the TX crashes in a helicopter and then the T-800 crashes in a BIGGER helicopter. The T-800 and TX fight while Kate and John make it inside the bunker, then The T800 puts his battery in the TX’s mouth, (it sounds dirtier than it is) and blows them both up. John runs inside and sees there is no Skynet to be found. It’s a bunker with old equipment. Kate figures out the T-800 only sent them there to keep them safe. Judgment Day happens, the missiles launch. And John and Kate will be there to fight the machines.
REVIEW – Oy vey what a turd this movie is. And its not just because it’s a come down from T2 and it certainly is. But it just feels like they took all the things from the previous movies that people liked, and just stuck them in this one. The Terminator says pop culture phrases. The bad terminator can shape shift. And Sarah Connor is very much missed and very unceremoniously killed off camera and it’s a shame. This movie feels like it was made because people said they wanted another Terminator movie. There is just nothing new and fresh, and its really tone deaf. Arnold gets his Terminator clothes from a gay stripper stereo type. The TX makes her boobs bigger when she gets pulled over by a cop. The action scenes are just noise with nothing as memorable as the ones in T2. All of the warmth of Arnold’s T-800 is gone, in fact he feels almost like a side note with nothing clever to do or say that he hasn’t done twice already in the other movies. His death had so much pathos in T2 and in this one, you feel nothing, because the Terminator never connects with Kate or John. It’s a real shame. The only shocking thing is Judgement Day happens. I kind of wished this movie hadn’t
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Well most of humanity has been wiped out. John and Kate have a lot of time alone in that bunker so yeah you guess it, John Connor gets into HAM radio.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
and starring Christian Bale as JOHN CONNOR
RECAP – In 2018 John Connor is not yet the leader of the human resistance in the war of the machines, but he does enjoy doing occasional inspirational radio shows. Connor and his group of fighters break into a Skynet facility. While inside John sees the plans for Skynet to start building T-800s. Skynet attacks and all but Connor are killed. John has to speak to the high command of the resistance, who hang out in a submarine. High Command tells him they plan to attack Skynet in a few days. John objects because Skynet is holding people captive and the need to save them first. High command consider s them casualties of war. Before he goes, they tell Connor he is number 2 on Skynet’s kill list. When asks who is #1, he is told Kyle Reese. Meanwhile Marcus who was killed by lethal injection in 2003, walks out of the mud, and meets up with a 15-year-old Kyle Reese. Reese is captured and when Marcus tries to save them but gets thrown into the water. Marcus meets up with a hot pilot of John’s. On their way back to Connor’s base, Marcus stand on a landmine, and blows up. When he comes around, he sees he is chained up. Conor looks on And when Marcus asks what is going on, they reveal to Marcus he is part Terminator. John think Marcus has been sent to kill them all and plans to kill him. The hot pilot objects, and breaks Marcus out. As John and his men pursue, he confronts Marcus about how the Terminators tried to kill him, and his mother Sarah and his father Kyle Reese. Marcus tells John he knows that Kyle is being held by Skynet and can help break him out. John agrees and makes a radio plea to all the other resistance groups not to attack. Marcus is welcomed into Skynet and it told his true purpose, infiltrate the Resistance and lure John Connor to his death. John by now has broken into Skynet, and while looking for Kyle comes cross a very familiar Austrian looking former body builder robot, a new T-800. John fights the T-800 while Marcus finds and releases Reese. With John almost done, Marcus joins the fight against the T-800. His help short lived as the T-800 punches Marcus in his human heart and stops it. John is again almost beaten but manages to revive Marcus. John is stabbed through the chest, but Marcus is able to finally kill the T-800. After the resistance blows up Skynet, John is taken back to base, but his prognosis is bad, his heart is too damaged. Marcus agrees to give John his own heart. John at the end takes his place as the head of the resistance, because the actual resistance’s sub was blown up.
REVIEW – I made a note that this movie is better than it deserved to be, and then the “Transformer” Terminator showed up……That’s this movie’s biggest problem it feels like too much. We have John’s ascent to the top of the resistance story, John’s quest to find his future father, Marcus dealing with being a robot, Marcus’s love affair with the hot pilot, Skynet’s plans for the humans, Skynet’s secret plans for John Connor, their plans for Marcus, the weird noise machine that John find out kills Skynet drones. John and Kate’s expectant child… Its TOO MUCH. It’s a movie that can’t even decide who the main character is, you think its John and then he disappears when Marcus shows up. So its Marcus’s movie? NO! Cause when he finds out he’s a robot, its all about John again. This is an example of more is not better. And I don’t feel like I’m the only one frustrated about it. That said there is a lot to like about this movie. I normally don’t get the trying to make Fetch-ness of trying to make Sam Worthington happen, but he’s really good in this. Everyone is. A lot of the action is good. Except that Transforming Terminator. That’s so stupid. The callbacks are a little better, but I think I liked John playing “You Could be Mine” while attacking some motorcycle terminators (more stupid) better than finding new ways to squeeze in “I’ll Be back”. John says like he lost a bet. But that all said I did like this better than T3, but its nowhere near T1 or T2.
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? John Connor is now the leader of the resistance. So it’s only a matter of time before more Austrian Accented Former Body builder killer robots are sent back into the past to kill him, or his mother or wife or father or mailman or accountant or who knows. It’s the CIRCLE OF LIFE!!!!
Terminator Genisys (2015)
and starring Jason Clarke as JOHN CONNOR
RECAP – Where to start…. OK in 2029 John Connor is leading his troops on the final battle against Skynet. After winning the battle and the war, John leads his leads them to Skynet’s time travel chamber and see a Terminator was sent to 1984 to kill his mother. Kyle Reese volunteers to go back and protector her. On his way, we sees John attacked by someone. The Terminator sent to kill Sarah arrives in 1984 but instead of killing three young punks for their clothes, he is attacked by an OLDER TERMINATOR. Kyle arrives in 1984 but instead of being chased by cops, he is chased by a T-1000 disguised as a cop . Just as he and a young cop are about to be killed, a SARAH CONNOR smashes a truck through the store, with the Older Terminator, “Pops” in the back. Reese gets in and they escape. Sarah is not the timid waitress from the original film, she has been trained by Pops to fight since her parents were killed when she was 9. Sarah and Pops have built a time machine (Yeah they built a time machine…. honestly if that was the only unbelievable thing in this movie) and are planning to go to 1997 to stop Judgment Day, but Reese, had a vision he had while time traveling, and says they need to go to 2017 to stop something called Genisys from becoming Skynet. So Sarah and Reese show up naked on a freeway in 2017 and are arrested. They are about to escape when they are helped by JOHN CONNOR who doesn’t really explain why he is there but knows enough details about them to prove he’s real. They are about to leave together when Pops shows up and shoots him. John is revealed to be an evil nano-Terminator /human hybrid who went back to 2014 to make sure Skynet happens. He’s even been working for Cyberdine with Miles Dyson and his son Danny. Pops, Sarah and Kyle escape and plan to blow up Skynet before it goes online. John shows up, there is chase, they’re arrested again, John shows up at the police station, they escape and go to Skynet, and shock of shocks, JOHN IS THERE. John and Pops fight while Sarah and Reese set explosive charges and discover another time machine. Pops sacrifices himself so John can be destroyed and Sarah and Kyle blow up Skynet. At the end Pops is alive and is now a liquid Terminator, but a good one. And the three of them hit the open road. Ugh…
REVIEW – Who thought this movie was a good idea? Its like it was written with bits of script pages from other Terminator movies and then red string was used to put them together. Kyle Reese is there and so is the Liquid Terminator and Sarah is a bad ass and Arnold is a good guy, they have to blow up Skynet… all things done better in other movies. Its all over the place. The whole point in these last movies was John Connor has to live but in this not only does he die but he’s the bad guy. Someone in a corporate boardroom must have thought that was a great idea and the other people in the room were to afraid to lose their jobs to disagree. So is this a reboot or a sequel? The answer is YES. It has the same characters recast in the same story universe but it also hinges on the events of the prior movies taking place for any of that to make sense. It not only erases the continuity of the Salvation and Rise of the Machines, but a lot of Terminator 1 and almost all of Judgement Day. Why would you erase the best movie in the series for this hunk of crap? John Connor, the whole point in the series so far is not even conceived in this. At the end of this movie, JOHN CONNOR DOESN’T EXIST! SKYNET WINS!! And when did all these Terminators get sent back? There was one sent to kill Sarah when she was nine, and one to save her and the liquid one to kill Kyle and original Terminator sent to kill Sarah in 1984. There are a half dozen Terminators in this stupid movie. This was clearly a set up for a new series of movies but who cares. For all its explosions, and chases and effects, this movie is boring. The story is stupid. The characters are beloved but not this version of them. You only root for them because you’ve been trained as an audience to do so. The jump from 1984 to 2017 seems to be done more for budgetary reasons rather than being plot driven. Sarah and Kyle in 2017, are not thrown at all by things they’ve never seen before like cell phones, digital ads, MRI machines or ANYTHING invented in the prior 34 years. Arnold’s Terminator again is an afterthought, there to spout exposition, or fight other Terminators or save them always in the nick of time. You never care about Sarah or Kyle or John. The family dynamic between them is never touched on. John has no qualms about killing his parents and they have no qualms about killing their son. NONE!
Terminator 1 is a movie with a love story, Terminator 2 is about family. There is a heart because they are about the relationships between the characters in those two movies. Something that all the subsequent sequels so far lack. The people making those movies think to make a Terminator movie you just have to recycle enough old bits from the movies people like. These last three movies prove that is not true.
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Well they showed John Connor as an adult, The Terminator came back as a good guy. Sarah Connor came back and so did Kyle Reese. God only knows about the next one. But I am going in with VERY low expectations.
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
and starring CGI Edward Furlong as JOHN CONNOR
RECAP – 1998 JOHN CONNOR IS KILLED! THE PERSON ALL THESE MOVIES HAVE BEEN CENTERED AROUND IS KILLED IN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES!!!!
Okay… deep breaths….
In 2019 Dani Ramos lives in Mexico and is off to work with her brother, when a new REV-9 Terminator which can split into TWO Terminators, one metal the other liquid metal attacks the plant. Dani is rescued by Grace, an augmented (not a robot but pretty much) soldier from the future there to protect her. They evade the REV-9 only to be trapped by it on a bridge. Out of nowhere, 60 something Sarah Connor arrives and blows it up. As she goes to finish it off, Dani and Grace escape. Grace needs meds because she is only built to fight for short periods of time, and Sarah catches up with them. After Grace recoups Sarah wants answers because while she stopped Judgement Day in 1997, Terminators are still coming back including this new one. Grace has no idea what Skynet is, and says she is from 2042 where an AI named LEGION destroyed humanity and created Terminators. Sarah is confused because she has spent the last 20 years killing Terminators after she gets texts about their locations. Grace traces the texts and sees they are from the same coordinates in Texas that she was told to go to, if things went bad. Grace, Dani and Sarah cross the boarder and are caught (Sarah is wanted in 50 states) The REV9 shows up, they escape and go to a cabin in the woods, owned by CARL, the T-800 that killed John Connor. Carl has been sending Sarah the texts all these years as a way to give her purpose and so John didn’t die in vain. Sarah vows to kill Carl when this is over. Sarah has a military contact who can get an EMP to use on the REV9. While getting it the REV-9 attacks. They run to a military base and steal a cargo plane. While on the plane they find out the EMP was damaged and that Grace is not there because Dani’s son will start the resistance, but because Dani will. The REV-9 causes the plane to crash near a damn. Carl and Grace are badly damaged, and Grace says the only way to kill the REV-9 is with her power source. After a fight between Grace, Carl, Sarah and the REV-9, Dani uses Grace’s power source to stab the REV-9 and Carl throws it and himself down a whole and they both die. At the end Dani and Sarah drive off in a jeep to get ready.
REVIEW – Let me preface this with, I did end up liking this movie, but man the John Connor thing hit hard. The previous 5 movies all center around him. And all of that, Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys are wiped away in 5 minutes. Even though they fucked him up in the last one, at least he was still in it. Which makes The Terminator movies technically a trilogy, so what the hell am I even doing?! (See Rule #2)
But moving on, its good seeing Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor. The lack of John has made her a little sadder, maybe a little crazier, but it good she’s here. And her reaction and any scenes she has with Arnold have that much more depth. Also while Arnold is again marginalized, they do a much better job with him than Genisys having him not show up until an hour into the movie. I also liked Grace and Dani as characters, Dani is basically a stand in for Sarah in T1 except Dani is a fighter who wants to take on the REV-9 while the rest just want to keep her safe. I really liked Grace, in the T-800/ Kyle Reese role of protector. She is part human so she has emotions and her mother / daughter relationship to Dani gives the move more weight. Also that Grace needs medication to keep fighting is a nice touch as well making her less of a super hero and more… human.
The downside is I am done with liquid Terminators. Was cool in T2 but all the ones since have just been bad versions of the T-1000. Arnold in T-1 had a personality, and I love Robert Patrick in T2 but none of the subsequent bad Terminators have had one. You strangely root for Arnold in T1. But rest are just these emotionless unstoppable killing machines until they’re stopped and killed in the last 10 minutes of every movie. I’m tired of them changing shapes and disguising themselves. I’m over it.
And I guess this is my problem with Time Travel part of these movies. They keep changing what came before and its usually not for the better. T1 through Salvation stuck to the rules, but Genisys threw them out the window and Dark Fate acts like they never existed. So characters you root from prior movies are drastically changed or sometimes don’t even exist. As much as I like Grace and Dani, in the end its still the same story, just instead of John Connor being humanities’ savior, its Dani and instead of Kyle Reese going back its Grace. This movie even ends with Dani in a jeep driving off to train for the future war. These movies don’t progress. Rise of the Machines and Salvation for all their flaws at least tried to move the characters and universe forward. Genisys and Dark Fate undo all of that just to retread the basic story of the first film. I wish there had been a way to better connect all these movies but it feels like each movie since T2 was made solely because someone said “Hey lets see if we can make a few more bucks off a Terminator movie.” Then they throw in Arnold and a Liquid Terminator, recast prior characters and slap Terminator (Fill in the Blank) on the screen. I give Dark Fate credit for a new way to tell that same story for the third time, but end of the day, the future leader of the humans in the war against the machines drives off in a jeep.
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Who knows at this point. John, Sarah, Kyle, The Terminator, all died and have all come back. More movies about Dani? A way to work in ANOTHER this time 80 year old Arnold? It might be time to put these movies away. I just wish they could have gone out on a higher note.