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Editorial: It's Time to Say 'Hasta La Vista' to the 'Terminator' Movies

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July 2, 2015

Terminator Movies

Is it time to finally say "hasta la vista" to the Terminator? With the release of Terminator: Genisys, it might very well be. This summer, like most moviegoing summers, is the summer of sequels. Earlier this year we got Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the long-running Jurassic Park series. Sure, it is stomping through box office records right now, but did that series really necessitate three sequels? The quick answer is no. Similarly, the new installment in the Terminator series, dubbed Terminator: Genisys, opens this week (and already opened in select special screenings Tuesday night). It is the fifth installment in the series – a series where each film gets progressively more terrible than the last. With Genisys opening this week, let's look at why studios – and to a lesser extent audiences – still crave more Terminator movies, even while the science fiction franchise has devolved into a disappointing series of diminishing returns.

James Cameron started the Terminator series with The Terminator in 1984, a movie that was very emblematic of the time. The style, the soundtrack, the cinematography – it very much has a 1980's aesthetic. The action films of the 80's were unique in the sense that the filmmakers and to some extent the studios didn't care as much about the violence. So films like The Terminator could have grotesque violence and get away with it. Nowadays, most action films are rated PG-13 – although arguably you can get away with a lot more with a PG-13 rating as of late, blurring the line between the R and PG-13 rating. However, most modern action films are sanitized when it comes to hardcore, very graphic violence – especially the later Terminator movies (Terminator Salvation was criticized at the time of release for being PG-13 and not R).

The Terminator - Where It All Began

The Terminator was also unique at the time because it had such a high concept premise, while also easily digestible to most general audiences. It also helps that the movie is essentially one big, long chase – in the vein of other popular action films of the 80's, like Mad Max or Death Race. You could argue that most of the Terminator films (at least four out of the five) have had the same basic premise: a terminator gets sent back in time to change the timeline and kill off the Connor bloodline. In many ways, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is essentially a big-budget remake of the first movie. It was as if Cameron had better tools and more money to do things he couldn't have done in the first movie. You could also sense Cameron was pushing boundaries – doing things because he wondered if they could actually be done. T2 was revolutionary for many reasons – primarily being the visual effects, but it also had stellar action sequences and at its heart an emotional story. While The Terminator was more of a gritty, lean, straight thriller – T2 was a grandiose action blockbuster with a lot of heart. Many fans could probably agree that the one thing the latter two Terminators were missing was exactly that: ironically enough for a movie series about machines, a heart.

James Cameron seemed to be done with the series after T2. As he said, he had told all the story he wanted to tell. However, nothing is finite in Hollywood – the studios don't believe in definitive endings. No different than Universal continuously wanting to make Jason Bourne movies even though the series wrapped up beautifully with The Bourne Ultimatum, the studio that owned the Terminator rights at the time was determined to make more Terminator movies. With Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, you had yet another remake of the first two movies: a terminator gets sent back in time, followed by yet another, more advanced terminator to kill off the Connor bloodline (trust me, it's as repetitive to type as it is to watch the movies). For me, Terminator 3 encapsulates a big problem I have with the Terminator series – a series that never should have been a series to begin with. Terminator 3 isn't a terribly bad movie – although it's not really a great one, either.

However, it milks just about everything the series has to offer – terminators fighting each other, trying to kill off the main characters while a Connor tries to stop the inevitable. What was refreshing about Rise of the Machines was actually the ending, which felt oddly fitting for a series that's main purpose was to stop the inevitable, only for that to blow up in our heroes' faces. However, Terminator 3 is just a retread of the first two movies, just with bigger action and more flashy visuals. It lacks the grittiness of The Terminator and the heart of T2. If the series had stopped at Rise of the Machines, the Terminator series might have been remembered more fondly. Many trilogies have a great first chapter (The Terminator), an even better second film (T2) and a disappointing but solid finale (T3). However, Hollywood couldn't let the series die – so we saw yet another Terminator film, this time albeit slightly different.

Terminator Genisys

I give Terminator Salvation props for trying something different – it's the first movie in the series not to feature Arnold Schwarzenegger (besides a quick reference) and is set in the Future War, which is something apparently some fans really wanted. What Salvation proved (besides that Arnold is really the glue that held the previous movies together) is that the Future War worked best as a narrative background – not as the main narrative focus. When you set an entire movie around it, it becomes significantly less interesting. Salvation actually has some decent ideas but it unfortunately has some fairly bad execution. I thought after the failure of Salvation that Hollywood would finally let the series rest, but of course they would try to resurrect the series once Arnold was out of public office. On top of the financial and critical failure of the last two Terminator movies, there's also The Sarah Connor Chronicles – a television show developed by Fox that ran for two seasons. I won't go too heavily into that show because it ignores T3 and doesn't fit with the timeline or continuity established by Salvation – if anything; it only muddles the Terminator continuity even more.

So why does Hollywood keep going back to the Terminator well, even though the movies keep on under-performing and the quality keeps on dropping? I think the answer is simple enough: Studio executives and audiences want to recapture T2. It's a great film – a film that has the action spectacle that audiences love and expect from a movie called Terminator, but also the heart and emotion that connect audiences to the characters and the story on a fundamentally deeper level. Most people might've forgotten this but at the time T2 was a cultural event. The film had a huge impact on pop culture – that summer, the Terminator was everywhere. The marketing was extensive and vast. From t-shirts to toys to arcade games to posters to tie-ins, Terminator was huge. It was something to behold, especially since you don't typically see that kind of marketing push for an R-rated movie in this day and age. It also makes sense given T2 was undoubtedly the biggest film to come out in 1991. In the summer of 2015, Terminator: Genisys will likely just be another summer movie before Ant-Man comes along and washes Genisys out of the public spotlight.

T2 has been cemented into our culture forever. Studios and audiences want more of that – but they likely won't ever capture that lightning in a bottle again. The glory days of the Terminator series are likely behind us. Early reviews have been pretty scathing for Terminator: Genisys so far. Replicating T2's kind of massive success is likely going to be near-impossible. Especially if you look at the previous Terminator films, which have struggled in some shape or form to recapture the success of the first two movies. That's not to say future Terminator projects won't be good – but the likelihood diminishes with each and every mediocre installment. The series should have ended with Terminator 2.

Will Genisys be successful? Even though the reviews aren't promising, it could still make a dent at the box office. However, I say let the series die here and now. The best possible scenario for the franchise is for Genisys to underperform at the box office and for the rights to revert back to James Cameron. At this point, if anyone should make a new Terminator project, it should be him. He likely won't – and that's probably a good thing. It's high time for us to say "hasta la vista, baby" to the Terminator series once and for all.

What do you think? Should Terminator: Genisys be the final Terminator movie? Or do you want to see more movies in this franchise? Sound Off in the comments below!

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  • Н.И. +
    Hasta La Vista 'Terminator' Movies.
  • davidshaw
    oh my god the people that work at this site are the fucking worst. let them keep making movies, you don't have to see them. stop being such little shits, it's embarrassing, and it doesn't make you "smart" or "cool" or "better than other people" for not liking popular things. it's embarrassing. stop it.
    • huh? You realize it's not your site. They can post whatever they want. You dont have to read anything on here. Why is it wrong to question the last terrible Terminator movies? This is a movie site after all. Its not like they want the movie to suck. Stop being a twat.
    • Wha? This is an editorial, it's meant for discussion.
    • Often I find the site is pretty enthusiastic about anything scifi, which I suppose is why I stuck around, but people can't like everything and that movie looks rubbish.
  • Brian Sleider
    Thing is, they have story they could tell, they just choose, to tell different stupid ones instead. I'd love to see a proper war of the machines movie. But instead they just keep telling the same story.
    • DAVIDPD
      THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES cancellation is where I stopped caring about the franchise. They killed that show just as they were getting their feet wet. I shouldn't bellyache too much...but it was good.
      • I loved that show so hard.
        • MLTC
          You mean so much. I bought the show on DVD. Stupid Fox! :-(
  • Jordan Odinson
    Terminator vs Robocop movie, it's long overdue.
    • Dan Hibiki
      and then the Aliens come!
  • Jason Scarpelli
    Time to say Hasta La Vista to the Terminator movies? Should Terminator: Genisys be the last movie??? You do realize that Genisys is the first of a new trilogy right??
    • Where are you getting this from...
      • Ry
        Umm it was well written about just about everywhere online.. guess you don't read much online.
        • Jason Scarpelli
          Some people are just idiots.
          • Ry
            LOL. "Where you hear that?" Oh.. I dunno.. GOOGLE?... DO U EVEN? Surprises me still how many people ask questions when the answer is there a split second after typing the question. How long we had search engines for?
          • I mean, I just asked a question. Kinda dickish to write me off for making some goddamned conversation. Fuck me, huh?
      • Jason Scarpelli
        From the mouth of Paramount studios and everyone involved with Terminator Genysis. The news has been circulating for almost a year. Part two hits May 19, 2017 and part 3 hits on June 19, 2018. It's most likely on this site.
        • Hadn't seen anything mentioning that on this site. Must've missed it. Thanks.
  • DAVIDPD
    Thank you Dan Marcus. This needed to be said.
  • Eggyweggs
    I liked Salvation, I thought it was a refreshing take on a repetitive story. Rise of the Machines was just terrible, absolutely terrible. The last 20 mins were good but that's about it. I'm looking forward to seeing this but I admit, I'm expecting a CGI mess of Michael Bay proportions but I'll give it a shot regardless.
  • ari smulders
    nobody can save the Terminator franchise if you keep Arnold in it! Every movie he made the last 5 years has bombed and some where very enjoyable to watch but nobody wants to see a old bodybuilder anymore. Kick Arnie out, give a new badass guy a chance and maybe it works in 20 years. If jurrasic world can do it, why not the Terminator franchise?
  • txJM
    This infantile "I don't like it, so it should end" mentality is getting old. 2 million people went and saw Genisys last night. Your "editorial" is less important than their cash-in-hand.
    • Guest
      Porn movies make big money. Does that make the acting good?
      • Eggyweggs
        No but it's great entertainment!
      • txJM
        Who said anything about acting?
      • That statement is just so wrong. Because yes, we all read Playboy for its interviews right? 😉 I hope you were being sarcastic.
    • Brian Sleider
      Lots of people go watch shit movies.
      • txJM
        Exactly. Lots of people drive shit cars. Lots of people wear shit clothes. I'd wager that most of the First Showing staff fit in one or both of those categories. Yet movies are the target of their misguided, hipster ire.
        • Brian Sleider
          Im not sure what kind of person wants universally accepted bad movies to keep getting made. I know I'd rather them stop make Terminator movies if they cant manage to make a good one.
          • txJM
            That's because your perspective is severely limited.
          • Randall13
            Audience score on Rotten Tomatoes - 69%, That is not "universally accepted bad".
          • Brian Sleider
            With a critic score of 27 lol.
        • Whatintheduece
          It's true that people do all those things, and i'm sure it must also be true that if you were interested enough to visit a site dedicated to those interests that similar criticisms would be made about what people like and don't like with the current going-ons, such is the act of discussing thoughts on a particular topic. Perhaps you should avoid articles that talk about movies if you don't like to hear people talk about movies.
          • txJM
            How 'bout fuck yourself?
          • Brian Sleider
            How very mature of you...
    • Are you saying everyone that works at FS is delusional? No one seriously asks for it TO END. It's merely a push for a discussion because heh, most of us love T1 and T2 so its valid to question the franchise after delivering shit after shit sequels. It doesn't matter what the 2 million sheep think. This is simply a discussion and not a petition to get them to stop making them. Grow up.
  • filmtogo
    I would've love to see the tv show Sarah Connor Chronicles to get more appreciation. I think Terminator could work if they going back to be more of a SciFi/Horror, if they recast everybody including Schwarzenegger and just doing a sequel with other characters or a completely new reboot. Don't try to be this Terminator big blockbustery explosive extravaganza. If you would've written Terminator: Ex Machina on Alex Garlands Ex Machina I would've totally accepted that movie as a new kind of Terminator movie 😉 The question is not if the should continue but how they should do it.
  • Wayne
    Terminator Genisys was certainly more entertaining than Jurassic World.
    • stevieray1986
      Thank you!
    • Considering how mediocre JW was, that is really not saying much.
      • Darren Levine
        i think you're both nuts
  • OfficialJab
    I guess there's no point in criticizing an editorial, but it's pretty much the same copypasted opinion from any comment section. "I liked the original but they didn't NEED sequels." or whatever slight variation on it. I liked all 4 but think this one looks awful, so I'll probably just watch it on Netflix a year or two from now.
  • ragethorn
    I watched Genisys last night. I cried throughout the entire movie. They butchered my babies.
  • ragethorn
    I'm interested in watching another Terminator movie if done by a director such as Alex Garland and the storyline should no longer involve Arnold or even John Connor. Tell me another side of the story already. Or do what Salvation tried to do and failed. Tell me the story of the future.
  • Louie Avila
    Ok Terminator 3 was pretty "not good". Although to something is done or end of life by poeple that didnt have the foresight to create something awesome to begin with is pretty short sighted. Even the new Star Treks were a HUGE successes after many long series and prior movies. New technologies in movie making make the different when paired with a good story (and execution).
  • Н.И. +
    Oh really sorry! read this: J.K. Simmons says he'll be back for more Terminator sequels!!!
  • John Doe
    Could not agree with this article more!
  • Steven
    Totally agree. My only hope for further films is when the rights return to Cameron and he perhaps treats the fans to two films set in the future. No time travel in the first, just the horror as described by Kyle in T1 and the second and final film introducing the new infiltration units and the downfall of Skynet and the use of the time displacement machine. I'm sure he could come up with a few good plot twists, but the beauty of T1 & T2 was the simplicity. We don't need time travel shoved down our throats and wacky plot twists I doubt this will ever happen, so we're left with watching a good idea being ripped apart film after film.
  • Н.И. +
    After 5 avatar movies, James Cameron will be about 70 years old and very hard for him to make another Terminator movie at 70.
  • Jamie Horwath
    I would see it if it was R. I generally like the terminator movies. I actually liked three. It was the ending that really stuck with me. At least salvation tried to continue the story. Plus it was cool to finally see the war a little. I didn't like the pg13 rating. Now, with this new film I was thinking about seeing it. I thought okay, it's a reboot or retcon of the story. That part doesn't bother me. It's this pg-13 crap. They lost a viewer and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The pg-13 rating is just a slap in the face as passionate fans made the series what it is. So, yea time for the terminator franchise to go unless they make it R rated.
  • avconsumer2
    Haven't seen it, & will probably netflix it, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't another one. ($129 million worldwide - it didn't "kill it", but hey... $129 million)
  • Firefly15
    This franchise is dead, and played out. Genisys bombed at the box office.

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