by Adam Riske
Legacy seems to be a thing that fans care more about than studio heads and filmmakers. How else to describe what has transpired with the Terminator franchise since 1991. After an upward trajectory beginning with the original The Terminator in 1984, followed by an exponential leap in success with its sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the franchise has flat lined...and not gradually, either. The decline was almost immediate from the first frames of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Now after 2009’s catastrophic Terminator Salvation, we are on the heels of Terminator Genisys, a sequel attracting bad buzz that fans are more dreading than anticipating. What did we do to deserve this?
Aliens and The Abyss. He became a master of weaving special effects and action with characters that had just enough personality for us to care about them. He also was a champion for strong women in action movies, and not the type that feels like a put-on but instead the type that fed out of a story organically.
It’s hard to top something as influential as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and what the filmmakers who picked up the Terminator torch seemed to get out of the success of T2 is that what we cared about most was the story, specifically the war with the machines. Guess what? We don’t. At least I don’t. Even though it takes place in the future, T3 and Salvation might as well be prequels because they are there to fill in and dramatize details that we already know about from the first two Terminator movies. The key developments of T3 and Salvation include that the events of T2 are basically null and void (the characters delayed Judgment Day, they did not prevent it) and that Sarah Connor died a few years after the event of T2 – from leukemia. Are you fucking kidding me?
Now with Genisys (a title as stupid as if it were Terminator Super Nyntendo) the ripple seems to be that John Connor is – SPOILER FOR THE TRAILER FROM TERMINATOR GENISYS– evil? That’s just making shit up to make shit up. Could the filmmakers make a good movie out of this concept? Of course, though the evidence seems to be indicating otherwise. If this doesn’t work, though, all that director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) has done is to Walmart-ize the franchise even more; diluting its power by making it about being a product, an IP. Who knows? This sequel might even go a step further and do what is now the worst trend in blockbuster filmmaking right now, which is to retcon mistakes from earlier sequels through time travel gimmicks (I’m looking at you, X-Men). No! I hate that. Better to lie in the bed you made and improve it organically rather than do the cinematic equivalent of Gandalf’s magical eagles that bail him out whenever he’s in trouble. Movies shouldn’t have mulligans. There is no way to improve the Terminator legacy from more sequels. The damage has been done. It’s now time to stop the bleeding and cut off the franchise where it stands. NO MORE TERMINATOR sequels!