Why I still love Terminator despite 18 years of bad sequels, weak rip-offs, a failing tv series, and embarrassing gubernatorial campaigns
I was somewhat of a late bloomer when it came to Terminator appreciation.
Being a doe-eyed four year old when the first sequel came out, my parents did everything in their power to prevent me from seeing a movie they considered to be far too violent. And so, for the next decade, I’d offer blank stares and shrugged shoulders whenever a friend would sarcastically shout “hasta la vista!” or mumble, “I’ll be back.” It was a lonely existence.
But then, one fine summer when I was 15, I ended up catching a TV broadcast of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And, baby, it was love at first sight.
Here was a movie that had absolutely everything. It was about the relationship between parents and their children. It was about the struggle between free will and destiny. It was about the desire to overcome our darkest, most destructive impulses. But it was also about robots who ride motorcycles and fire grenade launchers while spouting 80s witticisms. It was about time travel and special effects and blowing stuff up just for the sake of blowing stuff up. As a 15 year old boy, this was freaking Shakespeare.
From that point on, Terminator became a very important part of my life.
Like, for instance, there was this one year where I dropped out of college and decided to live on my parents’ couch, and whenever someone asked me what I was doing with my life I’d tell them I was waiting to lead the resistance in the coming war against the machines.
And then, at the first office job I ever worked, I spent four months calling the tech support guy “Skynet.” Amazingly I lasted three years there.
And I, like everyone else, thought that Terminator 1 and 2 were the beginning of a beautiful franchise, one that would be mentioned in the same breath as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Another entry in the gleaming halls of sci-fi excellence.
But, alas, then we were given Terminator 3, and all such hopes were dashed. The proverbial ball was dropped with a sequel that was nothing more than a pale imitation of its predecessors and somehow all the good parts of the franchise came undone overnight. Several others have already commented on the failure of this movie, so I’ll just simply say that I was heartbroken.
And then Schwarzenegger ran for office.
And then there was the TV show.
And so, when I heard that McG, the visionary auteur behind Charlie’s Angels 1 and 2 would be directing a fourth installment, I responded with a resounding “meh.” I’d been hurt once before, and now I was bitter and scorned.
But then time passed, and more info came to light… and soon I found myself reconsidering my rather cynical position.
First I heard that Christian “He’s Freaking Batman!” Bale had been cast as John Connor, and my interest immediately piqued.
And then I learned that the story wouldn’t be a rehash of the old “robot sent back through time” bit, but would actually be the movie I had been dying to see since I was fifteen: John Connor, in the future, leading the war.
And then I saw the trailers. And, baby, it was love all over again.
Complex discussions about the nature of humanity? Check.
One man’s struggle to find and fulfill his purpose? Check.
John Connor crushing robots with a helicopter? You better believe it!
In short, McG and crew have managed to spark my waning interest with some very promising material. Can this film live up to the wildly unrealistic expectations of one diehard fan? Can it undo eighteen years of disappointment? Can this movie cement Terminator’s position as action/adventure/sci-fi brilliance?
Well here’s hoping.
And now the fun part… for the next 42 days we’ll be discussing every aspect of this movie. Like how we’re supposed to believe that Edward Furlong could grow up to be Christian Bale. Why I love Bryce Dallas Howard and why I’m worried about Anton Yelchin. Why a Schwarzenegger cameo could make this the movie of the summer. Why the prospect of seeing Linda Hamilton return as Sarah Connor has me psyched out of my mind. And why, after all this time, I still need to know if we can win the impending war against the machines.
So check back tomorrow to see what I have to say about Kate Connor and her role in the series.
And spread the word, because if you’re reading this… you are the resistance!