Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Terminator Series

The Terminator (1984) * * * *

Cast:Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Earl Boen, Bill Paxton, Brian Thompson

Directed by James Cameron

Sci-Fi/Action classic combo that finds Schwarzenegger as a seemingly unstoppable killing machine (literally) sent back through time to kill Sarah Connor (Hamilton) who will go on to give birth to the savior of humanity 40 some years into the future, while the future resistance sends Kyle Reese (Biehn) to protect her. Wow, what can I say about what has become one of the all time staples of both action and science fiction? Aside from that fact that The Terminator is one of the all time greats and still remains Schwarzenegger’s best movie of all time. I also would add that The Terminator has aged very well, as James Cameron’s pacing, atmospheric direction and action packed spectacle still delivers. Indeed in terms of the series this is by far the most compulsively watchable, the one with the most heart and has the most suspense. Another thing that makes The Terminator a classic years on, is the way Cameron plays with time paradoxes, as Cameron’s sure hand not only keeps the action going but also keeps the story fascinating and tightly wound. Indeed this is hands down one of the best movies of the 80s and for those who haven’t seen it;  you guys don’t know what you’re missing. Also of note is how The Terminator sports some of the best action sequences to date (The police station massacre) and 25 years later remains every bit as intense as when it came out. In other words they don’t come any better than this…

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) * * *1/2

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton, Earl Boen

Arnold returns in this crowd pleasing sequel that finds Schwarzenegger sent back in time to protect John Connor (Furlong) from the T-1000 (Patrick) a far more advanced prototype that is impervious to bullets, can shape shift and is made of liquid metal, also on board is Sarah Connor buffed up and pumping belts of ammo at “Liquid Man” (As many dubbed the T-1000) alongside the Cyborg protector. Once again Terminator 2 is every bit as excellent as you’ve been led to believe, the action is spectacular, the movie is extremely suspenseful and compact, the special effects are awesome and the story is just as captivating, however it still in my opinion isn’t quite as good as the first because the movie sort of takes a detour half way through as the film provides needless bonding between Furlong and Schwarzenegger, also the film isn’t quite as paced as well as many of the Mental hospital scenes seem unnecessary and padded. That said, T2 delivers everything it promises and often a bit more. Indeed T2 is at its best when it focuses on the paradoxes and indeed the overall impending doom that is judgment day and the fight to prevent and whether one can or cannot alter destiny. Also the film boasts a villain that is easily every bit as memorable as Arnold was, in fact having the T-1000 imitate a police officer is a great touch, and the liquid nitrogen finale as well as the story arcs make this a fairly excellent sequel.

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) * * *

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Clare Danes, Kristana Loken, David Andrews

Directed by Jonathan Mostow

Belated and somewhat unnecessary sequel finds Arnold sent back to not only protect John Connor (Stahl), but also Connor’s future wife Kate Brewster (Danes) and numerous Lieutenants (that are killed off and never explored again) while facing off against the T-X (Loken) an even more advanced model than the T-1000 and is build specifically to destroy other terminators. Terminator 3 does feature some good action sequences, The fire truck and wrecking ball car chase is among some of the best car chases I’ve ever seen, however Terminator 3 is let down solely by a very weak villain in Loken. She has the look down but try as she might, Loken isn’t nearly as menacing as either Schwarzenegger in the original or Robert Patrick in the first sequel. Indeed the movie is often times half baked as many elements are just abandoned, such as how the TX is sent back to take down numerous targets, also the TX doesn’t have any real power or threat over the T-1000, they should’ve just sent another T-1000 back or cast a far more imposing actor, as seeing Loken battle Schwarzenegger is often ridiculous, still weak villain aside the story has a downbeat hook that made the first two compelling, and thankfully the ending doesn’t chicken out as the movie ends on a downbeat note, the paradox angle as usual provides the best moments, as do the action sequences and Schwarzenegger’s effortlessly winning charisma. Indeed on its own Terminator 3 is pretty decent, but it is somewhat of a disappointment as a sequel to one of the best series of all time. Indeed I recommend it, but with some reservations.

Terminator: Salvation (2009) * *

Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jane Alexander, Anton Yelchin, Michael Ironside, Helena Bonham Carter

Directed by McG

Terminator 4 abandons everything that came before it to basically showcase the actual fight in the future, so this one lacks the time travel angle, as it starts off with John Connor (Bale) leading the resistance in battle and teaming up with a Terminator that is build on human memories (or something?) Anyway lots of ammo and plasma guns are fired at the big robots in a film that is adequate as far as things like this go, but sorely disappointing when even compared to Terminator 3. Bale’s hero is somehow even more expressionless than Schwarzenegger was, and Schwarzenegger was playing a cyborg! The action is okay, but this isn’t anything you haven’t seen before and at times I was more reminded of Mad Max more than anything else. What is ultimately even more of a cheat is that the movie doesn’t play around with said paradox angles, and the moments of would be heart comes off as ridiculously sappy. In other words fans of the series who such as myself that enjoyed the science fiction element of these films will be sorely disappointed by the lack of ambition shown here. T4 is an ultimately mediocre and soulless exercise in apocalypse action.


  1. I'm a fan of the Terminator movies. You can't beat Arnold! haha -Sara

  2. Thank god Movie In The Attic is back!!!!!

  3. Glad to see Movies in the Attic here on Blogger. I also like the style of not making your reviews for each one too long. You get right to the point, which is perfect for me. I haven't seen Salvation yet, but I concur on your thoughts about the other three.

  4. The movie's only unmitigated pleasure is a too-brief fight scene between Connor and a naked combatant made up to look precisely like Arnold Schwarzenegger.