Monday, August 02, 2010


Back again with another installment of THINGS I REALLY SHOULD HAVE SEEN BY NOW.


Now it’s time for the Terminator.


So, the only thing I knew before watching the Terminator was that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a killer robot.

It turns out, the only the thing that I needed to know was that he was a killer robot from the future and trying to kill Sarah Connor because her son leads the resistance against the machines that have taken over the world. And that was it.

While I love complicated storytelling, I love the simple stuff, too. This was simple and direct. You know, explosions and running and very dated animated robots. It was awesome.

Honestly, I really loved the old animation. I’m a sucker for outdated tech and stop motion that doesn’t hold up as time passes.1 The Terminator’s limp can amuse me for hours and the crawling without legs was the highlight of the film.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

I was immediately fascinated by the good guy twist on the Terminator. This model had been captured and reprogrammed by the resistance in the future and I think this movie did a great job of writing the Terminator as an actual robot. A lot of times, changing the loyalties of a robot causes a weird bit of humanity to seep into the character because they inevitably have to face some kind of contradiction that causes problems. The Terminator didn’t even blink. He just went with the flow and did as he was programmed. Awesome.

There was one really interesting bit that I found particularly fascinating. After Sarah Connor escapes and she, John, and the Terminator figure out what to do, she heads off to kill the man she thinks will cause the future devastation of the machine upheaval. There’s a moment where she has this guy at her mercy with the gun loaded and ready to fire and she realizes that she is becoming the Terminator.

Not literally, of course, but she was trying to kill this guy just like the Terminator was trying to kill her in the first movie. It was a great moment of realization and definitely a moment of noteworthy acting. Brilliant.

Of course, this movie being made years later had better animation, which was cool in its own right, and the story had evolved into the kind of universe with its own lore, which is something I always like to explore. I saw this movie as very different to the first one, but I liked it just as much.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Girl terminator? Weird, but not entirely unexpected. Also, she was a combination of the original Terminator and the new Silver Surfer looking model, which was not unexpected either. You always have to up your ante when you bring back the same type of bad guy.

John Connor was the primary focus of this one2, which I was slow to get into, but once they get into the problem solving stages of this movie, I was all for it.

This movie ended with Judgment Day, which was REALLY cool. We saw in the previous movie that you can’t always predict how your actions will change the future and, although they had hoped that they had stopped the rise of the machines, there was always this little niggling of doubt you could see on the characters faces. I enjoyed the fact that that day seems to be a fixed event. Although the dates and times and causes may be different, the event had to happen. It forces the viewer to recognize that there are always consequences and they cannot be avoided. It makes us look at ourselves and how we are progressing into the future.


I can see how this became such a beloved movie series and how it garnered the Sarah Connor Chronicles television series. It’s a universe rich with story telling, especially the time travel. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lack of paradox, which is a hard thing to pull off in time travel movies. These movies found their rules and stuck with them.


1 Seriously, I watched Clash of the Titans whenever it was on Sci-Fi as a kid. Love it.

2 Well, he’s essentially the focus of all the movies, but he’s grown up and his mother’s dead in this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?