Friday, 7 March 2014

The Terminator Saga (An Overview)

Several months ago all round action legend Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would be returning to The Terminator Franchise in the upcoming sequel Terminator: Genesis (Sounds like a music project) This led me to the decision to explore the franchises previous installments which still stand as one of the greatest Science Fiction/Action franchises ever made and one that had a profound impact on my enjoyment and love of Film from a young age.

The Terminator (1984) 

- Fight The Future.

The Battle For The Future Begins In 1984.
How Does A Machine Begin To Comprehend Time Travel? (An Introduction: Part I)
So this where The Terminator Saga begins....and ends.. if you think about it (Damn Time Travel!), The Terminator was the Directorial debut of James Cameron who came up with the idea in a fever dream whilst he lay ill, he later went on to Co-write the script with William Wisher Jr. and Gale Anne Hurd who brought the rights to the film from Cameron for One Dollar on the condition that James Cameron could direct the film, due to previous production companies being unwilling to let a largely inexperienced director make the movie.

The film' told the story of a Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who is targeted by The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) a cyborg sent back through time from the year 2029 in order to murder Sarah to prevent the future birth of her son who will lead man-kind to victory in a upcoming war between man and machine.
Sarah is protected from this murderous cyborg by Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) a Resistance Soldier also from the future sent back to act as her guardian. 
(There is something delightfully 80's about that plot summary, I think it may be the phrase "murderous cyborg").

Today 'The Terminator' stands as one of the most influential Science Fiction Movies of all time. Along with the likes of Blade Runner, Planet of the Apes and Forbidden Planet, it can also be credited as an early example of how complex ideas can be portrayed to an audience through enjoyable and easy to watch action movies, In this case the film explores the idea of 'Time Travel' (Which was revolutionary at the time) but this style of conveying new and complex Sci-Fi ideas through action films in order to make them accessible to causal movie goers would later be used by films such as The Matrix and Inception.

The Terminator also debuts of the classic Arnie quote: "I'll Be Back." for the first time, which would go on to become his movie trademark.

The original story Cameron came up with more closely resembled that of Terminator 2 with two Terminators being sent back in time (including the liquid metal version seen in the sequel) but technical and financial constraints at the time made this seem vision unrealistic and the project was cut down to the single robot story-line.

In fact the entire production history of The Terminator is utterly fascinating from the complete lack of faith in the project from both the studio and (apparently: depending on who you talk to) Arnie himself, James Cameron firing his agent due to him hating the idea of the film and telling Cameron to work on something else, to the studio originally wanting O. J. Simpson to play the role of the Terminator but Cameron believing he would not make a convincing killer (Go figure).

Sarah Connor? (The Cast: Part I)
The film stars a small cast headed by Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor an unassuming waitress who finds herself targeted for termination.
Sarah is both a believable and likable lead and reacts to the insanity of the situation in the way most people would - a mixture of fear and confusion.
You cant help but to care for Sarah as she seems utterly overwhelmed by her situation, as she struggles to both come to terms with the horrible future Reese describes and survive against a machine that wants her dead for an act she hasn't even committed yet, but as the series progresses Sarah slowly develops into a stronger, harsher character becoming more like the warrior-woman Kyle describes her becoming in the future 

Michael Biehn delivers an incredible performance as Kyle Reese who is sent back in time to act as Sarah's guardian and protector, embittered by the events of the future he is almost as single minded as the machine itself in his determination to keep Sarah safe from harm.

The exploration of the relationship between Sarah and Kyle is incredibly well handled as the film explores just how much Sarah can trust Kyle and believe his story.
 If you met a man who told you that he was sent back in time from an apocalyptic future would you believe him?

Flesh and Steel. (The Terminator: Part I)
The role of the Terminator is Arnold Schwarzenegger's most iconic character ever, and his performance in the first outing is the 'purest' Terminator in the series, most devoid of any sense of emotion or feeling, 
His performance in 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' is arguably his best since the character is given the time and focus to grow and develop but here the focus needed to be on portraying the notion that Schwarzenegger character is not a man but rather a machine with a single purpose - Killing.

The casting of Arnold as the killing machine is almost ironical as he comes across very much as a Machine imitating a Man, appearing human while obviously not if you are purposely looking for a machine disguised as a man due to his impressive size and strength.
its the lack of a human connection that makes Arnie's Machine so imposing is the fact that you can look at it and have no idea what is thinking or planning (It certainly isn't feeling) beyond its primary function to kill Sarah Connor. 

"Your clothes, Give Them To Me."
The Machine design and effects are created by legendary effects designer Stan Winston (The man behind the 'Predator', the Dinosaurs from 'Jurassic Park' and many of the effects and designs from 'Aliens') and the design for the Terminator is undoubtedly one of his greatest creations.
both internally (The Endoskeleton - the delicious machine center) and the damaged inflicted upon the human-esc exterior allowing the machinery to show through the damaged flesh. 

Although Arnie is the actor people most associate with this movie the film is very much an ensemble piece with each of it's three main actors carrying a very specific part of the movie
  • Sarah Connor is the audiences viewpoint, as we experience the events alongside her, learning things as she does.
  • Kyle Reese is the window to the future providing the exposition about the war and the machine.
  • The T-800 is driving force of the film constantly keeping the story moving. 
Cyborgs Don't Feel Pain. I Do. (The Action Sequences)
The film boasts incredible action sequences chief amongst them a car chase from a multistory car park down a busy freeway tunnel as Sarah and Kyle attempt to flee from the pursuing Terminator as well as a almost entirely one sided shootout in a police station as the unfortunate cops fail to realize just how out classed they are. 

Technoir. (The Time Travel: Part I)
In a strange twist by destroying the Terminator at the end of this film leads to the machines creation in future installments with its parts being salvaged and reverse engineered to create the Cyberdyne Systems (A Cosmic Own-Goal Really);
This is also mirrored on the machines side as the need to send a Terminator back in time in order to prevent the birth of John Connor actually lead to his conception as The Resistance is forced to send Kyle Reese (John's Farther) back as well in order to protect his creation - This is called a Predestination Paradox or Causality Loop in which the user to time travel actually creates history rather than alters it (It also hurts to think about). 

Tech-No. (Soundtrack.)
The majority of the films soundtrack is written by Brad Fiedel who created a score that while emotional and powerful but also conveys techno elements that firmly set the score in the 80's, with the films main theme being the standout song that would go on to become the main theme for the entire saga, albeit with the techno element reduced and the theme more dramatized in future installments.

A Storm Is Coming. (Conclusion Part I.)
The Terminator is a perfect example of how a film can subtly suggest themes to an audience without drowning the audience in the concept, with The Terminator embodying the theme of persecution throughout the film as Sarah is hunted by both the machine and the police with nowhere to turn and only having Kyle Reese to rely on.
T2 also explores this concept subtly as Sarah, John and the T-800 are on the run from both the T-1000 and the police (more directly this time) again but T2 sees the trio go on the attack rather than simply running - 
  • Breaking Sarah out of the asylum.
  • Attacking Dyson at home.
  • Directly assaulting Cyberdine's headquarters.
If the first installment is about Flight
Then the second is about Fight.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

- Fight For The Future.

No Fate But What We Make.
A Self Fulfilling Future. (An Introduction: Part II)
Following the success of 'The Terminator' which met with both surprising box office figures and great reviews, Awing critics and fans alike and with the studio now willing to place substantially more faith in James Cameron the films budget leaped from Terminator's 6.4 million to a staggering estimated 102 million, over ten times what Cameron had to spend first time around!
This allowed for Cameron's more visceral and costly ideas that he could not afford to implement previously including a machine comprised entirely of liquid metal. 

Eleven years after the events of 'The Terminator' John Connor is Ten years old and living with a foster family after his mother Sarah Connor has been institutionalized following an attempt to blow up a computer factory. 
But once again a machine is sent back through time in order to murder John Connor and once again a protector is sent back to aid John.

John Connor? (The Cast: Part II)
The film once again stars Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, who has become a far stronger version of the character since her last encounter with the murderous machines and yet her strength hides an emotional fragility created by the trauma of her battle against the Terminator and the separation from her son John whom she (correctly) believes to be in danger.

While the extended cut of T2 plays Sarah's mental state more ambiguously than the Theatrical release in which she is locked away in an institution due to her knowledge regarding the apocalyptic future (Which she is completely right about, making her perfectly sane - if not a little volatile) whereas in the extended cut her sanity is called into question a little more as she hold imaginary conversations with the deceased Kyle Reese.

Sane or nor Sarah has emotionally distanced herself from the world in a sense becoming as emotionless as the Terminator himself and this has greatly impacted upon her relationship with her son as she shows no real emotion towards John, adopting a military style of parenting towards him.

Liquid Metal. (The Terminators: Part II)
Arnies BACK! and now he's the good guy! 
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the T-800 (but a different model from the one seen in the previous installment) which has been captured by The Resistance reprogrammed and sent back in time to protect John Connor rather than kill him.

It has never been unusual for villains to have a more lasting impact on screen than the heroes who fight them, the most memorable performance from 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs was without a doubt Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector despite the fact that his screen time is a little more than 16 minutes in a 118 minute long film. 

I understand the logic in the T-800 being mass produced so Schwarzenegger can reappear even after his character was killed at the end of the first movie, but also doesn't mass producing the flesh design so they all look like Arnold Schwarzenegger limited their use as an infiltration unit? 
Although we did see a different variation of the T-800 in Kyle's flashback from 'The Terminator' played by body builder Franco Columbo so they don't all look like Schwarzenegger (just the time traveling ones).

The film also explores an concept in that the T-800 is the closest thing John has ever had to a father figure as Sarah has taken on a string of relationship with individuals she can learn key skills from in order to develop John in the man he is destined to become before moving onto the next male leaving John with no real sense of attachment to anyone.
So his new found bond gives the T-800 his own character with the film exploring his understanding of human emotion.

Facing off against Arnie's Mean Machine is Robert Patrick's T-1000 a machine comprised entirely of liquid metal able to change it's appearance to take on the disguise of other people and change it's body parts into basic stabbing weapons.
T2 boasts some of the franchises most visually interesting moments thanks to the T-1000's liquid metal transformations with sequences in which it is able to blend into environment such as the floor, pass through impassible spaces and take substantial damage and literally have holes blown clean through it before morphing back into human shape,
Making it a terrifying and surreal enemy and Robert Patrick is able to convey the same emotionless state as Arnie to hide any display of humanity and while he does not carry the same physical presence as Schwarzenegger he still comes across as more than a match for the big man.

Look To The Future. (The Time Travel: Part II)
By all rights should Terminator 2 even exist? 
Was the first Terminator not sent back in time at the end of the war?
With the time travel facility being destroyed after Kyle Reese was sent back in pursuit?
So how were a further four Terminators sent back in time as well?

Maybe I missed a line or something.
In T2 the characters look to break the cycle created by the use of Time Travel during the first installment by destroying the rapidly advancing technology before it can cause the destruction it will inflict in the future.
The phrase "The future is not set. There is no fate, but what we make for ourselves" (Which originates from a deleted scene from the previous installment) becomes a recurring theme in the series from this installment onward but its at it's strongest here as the Connor's decide that they will chose their own future rather than be prisoners to fate.

Let's ignore the obvious time paradoxes that this creates as if the machines never exist they can never send a machine back in time leading to their creation which negates there destruction which leads them to send a machine which.....never mind.

The film also explores the nature of our decisions and whether or not we would make the same decision twice if we fully understood the ultimate consequences,
This is explored through the character of Miles Dyson (Joe Morton) who attempts to rewrite the future he is responsible for creating by destroying the work he has contributed towards the creation of Skynet, in a sense adopting Skynet's own strategy in using time travel to fix the problem before it's created.

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003)

- Manifest Destiny. 

Machines Will Rise, Man Will Fall.
End of Days. (An Introduction: Part III)
By all accounts there shouldn't even be a Terminator 3 as T2 seemingly resolved the story, destroyed Cyberdyne and prevented Judgment Day, but alas the future is inevitable and so was a sequel to such a successful follow up as T2 which due to being both critically praised and financially successful was still hot property but Cameron happy with his conclusion to the story decided not to continue involvement. 

So the whole "The future is not set" thing turns out to be a massive lie as it is revealed that Judgment Day is inevitable and the events of T2 only managed to delay it.

Recently I have begun using the expression "They've Taken 2'd it" by which I mean that a film has become more restrained in its action and violence in order to lower the age rating and attract a larger (and younger) audience at the cost of the films quality, but maybe I should have simply said that Taken 2 'Terminator 3'd it', since it is an earlier example of the same process as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines drops the age rating down to a 12 with significantly less violence, gore and swearing a shame considering both the first and second installments originally being rated an 18 upon release.

Want to make the film better? Add more of this!

Katherine Brewster? (The Cast: Part III)
The film once again stars John Connor who is once again played by a different actor this time Nick Stahl who following Judgment Day failing to come to fruition and the death of his mother has become a drifter in hopes of remaining off the radar as a precaution in the event that his previous attempt to alter the future proved unsuccessful and the machines come looking for him again.

Guess What?... It was!  And they do!

John's fatherhood issues towards the Terminator are briefly readdressed in this installment although in truth this main theme of the last installment is largely glazed over here, rather than being addressed it is instead limited to two lines that seemingly come out of nowhere, lacking place and subtly (Basically yelling "HERE IS AN ISSUE FROM THE LAST FILM!!!!) before being completely forgotten for the rest of the movie. 

So Sarah Connor is dead.....Seriously?!!! 
I mean: yes, I can see the reasoning: the previous films mentioned that she would die before Judgment Day occurs and the third installment sees the action finally shift on to John's shoulders this would have been fine if Nick Stahl had any kind of impact on screen but he is bland and forgettable, making the way in which the film effortlessly glosses over Sarah Connor's death all the more frustrating.

John Connor learns that from the Terminator that he will be killed in the future, after deciding that he doesn't want to know how it happens Katherine Brewster proceed to ask the Terminator anyway (completely ignoring his wishes).

The biggest problem this faces is just how bland the main cast is, 
Arnie comes across a little better than the others in this respect due to the fact that as a cyborg he is excused from displaying emotion. But Nick Stahl (That Yellow Bastard! - Sin City) and Claire Danes are not compelling leads coming across as whiny and uninteresting.
which causes the film in to suffer as these characters are the faces of the world they are trying to save, and if the audience doesn't care whether or not the lead characters live or die they are not going to care about the rest of the world either.

She'll Be Back! (The Terminators: Part III)
In 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' the T-1000's liquid metal design allowed it to take on the appearance of anyone, it continued to return to the appearance of the Police Officer due to the privileges that such an appearance allowed such as gaining access to restricted areas and making it easier to gain information from people, 
In 'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines' the T-X believes that by simply taking on the appearance of an attractive woman it will gain even greater privileges.

Not that I have a problem with the notion of a female Terminator, Logically if the Terminator is an infiltration unit so it makes sense to replicate both genders as a greater way to avoid detection and the Liquid Metal design allows for the unit to switch between both genders and appearances (In the same way the T-1000 took on the appearance of John Connor's Step-Mother in T2), my issue arises when after being discovered by the T-X's intended target (John and Katherine) and having its cover blown the machine doesn't simply take on a new appearance to once again avoid suspicion. 

Now I understand that by returning to the same appearance it gives the film's audience a handle on the character in-order to prevent them becoming confused with who they are watching but without suggesting even a slim reason to return to that same appearance (Like the Police Privileges of Terminator 2) it just seems a illogical decision for what is essentially a machine that operates out of logic. 

Also doesn't a Terminator that is built with part components and part liquid metal seem like a step back from one built solely from liquid metal technology? the liquid metal allows the T-X to change its appearance just as the T-1000 did but being able to change appearances was just one of the advantages the liquid metal permitted it also made the T-1000 nearly indestructible, able to pass through otherwise impossible areas, able to camouflage itself and change into any simple weapon.
So what advantage is there in returning to a endoskeleton based design with limited liquid metal to allow changing in appearances? 

Well the T-X is the first terminator with built in weapons (other than stabbing-hands) such as flame-thrower and a plasma cannon, as well as having the ability to reprogram other machines to do her....(it's) bidding.

But the T-X's biggest problem: it misses the point in that it looks human but its not, Arnie managed to go the entirety of Terminator 1&2 without showing a single hint of emotion or humanity (it is what made the films rather far fetched idea seem believable), Robert Patrick's T-1000 also succeeded in this making his machine all the more creepy, while Kirsten Loken's TX shows a variety of emotion ranging from annoyance to surprise to fear (That's right the damn Terminator shows fear!)
In fact the TX seems at it's most robotic and lifeless when imitating Katherine's fiance, when it should be going out it's way to convince her she is human.   

Best scene of the film.....and no one dies!
Oh and Arnies BACK.....again.
All the character development Arnie's T-800 experienced in T2 is now undone as this is a newer more advanced model of the two previous incarnations the T-850.

T3 debuts the most battle damaged Arnie to date, as the series has progressed more of Arnies facial features have been stripped away by battle damaged in order to offer a slight peak at the machine underneath with T3 taking this to the extreme wheres as the previous installments damage has been minimum this time around just under half of the T-850's metal interior is exposed. 

A moment I really enjoy from the film is that when the T-850 is being controlled by the T-X John is able to help him regain control of himself not by persuading him that he is able to make his own choices but rather that as a machine he cannot and is in fact going against his main objective by attempting to kill him reinforcing the differences between man and machine

T3 also marks the first appearance of the T-1 the earliest design that will ultimately lead to the birth of the Terminators but at this point in this creation the machines are limited to what is essential a Mini-gun on Tank-Treads.

(Fuck my destiny. (The Time Travel: Part III)
An interesting question raised by Skynet's continued existence after team Connor fought so hard to alter the future is that if Judgment Day is truly unpreventable (their efforts only delayed it) and the previous attempts alter the timeline only created the events the time traveler were hoping to prevent how does the T-X systematic slaughter of John's future lieutenants effect the future? 
Does it have any impact at all? in Terminator: Salvation John Connor mentions that the future he now experiences is not the one his mother warned him about, but if anything they actually seem to be holding their own better against the machines due to John's in depth knowledge granted by this experience gained through the machines traveling through time. 

No Fate But What We Make. (Conclusion: Part III)
Perhaps I am being a little harsh on T3. Its not as if it is without its own standout moments, such as Helicopter Crashing One-Up-Manship, Arnie Swinging from a Crane as the T3 drives through everything in her path, or paramedics attempting to lift an unconscious/rebooting Arnie only to find that he weighs a little more than he should (So how is it the motor bike supports him so easily in the next scene?....Never mind.) 

But as a sequel to two of the greatest Science Fiction Movies of all time the film already had higher expectations set upon it and was never going to be able to get away with being simply mediocre, especially since the sequel was unnecessary in the first place, as the story was effectively resolved back in T2.
But the biggest problem this film encounters is just how bland it is.
  • Bland Story
  • Bland Characters
  • Bland Violence 
  • Bland Machines
  • Bland Sci-Fi
The film only really serves in order to allow the story  to reach it's apocalypse stage and what comes next which is a shame as Judgment Day had been built up so effectively by the previous installments that now we are finally able to see it comes across as more of a whimper than a bang. The Human Race nearly ends in the fires of Judgment Day, Three billion lives vanish in an instant and no one really seems to care.

Terminator Salvation (2009)

- Aftermath.

What Remains.
The Future Was Hours Ago. (An Introduction: Part IV)
After years of waiting (and at one point never actually expecting to see it) the Terminator narrative moves beyond the impending Judgment Day and audiences are finally treated to War we were promised so long ago. 
Although due to the constant screwing around with the time-line the future we get differs a little from the version we had so often seen in flashbacks (flash forwards?) and dreams, 
The future landscape is more of a baron wasteland than the skull ridden ruins previously seen (someone went around and gathered up all the skulls) and the machines armory is more modern than the futuristic versions that originally shown (where the hell are my plasma lasers?!!!) 

These changes were obviously made to give the film more of a realistic feel but at the cost of the hopeless post-apocalyptic vibe the previous installments were able to create as endless hordes of chrome bodied skeletons swarmed across the battlefield (one of the few things that Terminator 3 was able to depict well).
Thinking back until this installments all depictions of the post apocalyptic wasteland were always portrayed after dark (or this could have something to do with the nuclear fallout)  

It is possible (likely even) that the conditions of the war and will continue to deteriorate into the bleak futuristic version previously seen as the war rages on for years (With Terminator: Salvation being set in the early years) this idea is further reinforced by the fact that Salvation was intended to be the start of a new Terminator Trilogy before future Terminator development was halted due to legal trouble and rights issues.

Flesh-less T-800 - Not Stop Motion Anymore.
The film features multiple reference to past Terminator Movies such as:
  • Sarah Connor's Audio Tapes from the end of 'The Terminator' being played.
  • John Connor's struggle against a battle damaged T-600 is styled after the finale confrontation in the original movie.
  • Kyle Reese's Rope Alteration to the Shotgun in 'The Terminator' is explained.
  • The origin of John Connors facial scar seen in glimpses of the future in previous Terminator films is explained.
  • A skull get crushed underfoot by the T-600 in homage to the recurring nightmare.
  • John Connor listens to 'Could You Be Mine' by Guns and Roses just as he does in T2.
  • John Connor also displays the hacking skills he used as a kid in T2.
  • The finale battle once again takes place in a factory where once again factory noises are used to distract the Terminator.
  • The classic quotes "I'll be back" and "Come with me if you want to live" make their appearances.

It is nice to see that the film is made by people with a real love for the franchise.

Kyle Reese? (The Cast: Part IV)
This the most current installment once again stars John Connor, who is once again recast this time played by The Dark Knight himself Christian Bale. Bale is a brilliant actor due the length he is willing to go to immerse himself in a role (his weight and muscle fluctuation  for roles like The Machinist, The Dark Knight Trilogy and American Hustle is utterly staggering.) 
It's strange to think that after three films of characters praising the man who John Connor will become (Leader of the Resistance, Destroyer of the Machines) we finally get to see the man in action (albeit in his early days).

Kyle Reese returns although much younger than in previous installment this time played my actor Anton Yelchin, the return to the character even under the portrayal of a different actor is welcome as we get to learn a little more about Kyle and his development into the version we were familiar with, such as why he tied the shotgun to the rope in the first installment and from who he learnt it.

But this installments standout star goes to Sam Worthington fresh from his success in Avatar as Marcus Wright a death row convict from 2003 who after his "execution" wakes to find himself in 2018 following the destruction of Judgment Day with no memory of what happened between the two events.
Unfortunately advertising for the film gave away the major revelation regarding this character undermining a pretty strong plot twist   

The Architects Of Our Own Destruction. (The Time Travel: Part IV)
Terminator Salvation is the first installment of the franchise not to feature Time Travel albeit
directly as the film does raise some concerning issue such as the machines themselves knowing of the time travel exploits that have not yet occurred. But their knowledge of the fact that if they do not send a machine back in time to kill Sarah and prevent John's birth and in doing so will necessitate John to send Kyle back in pursuit which will directly lead to johns birth, meaning that the machines are thus responsible for their own defeat will still inevitably force them to send the very first Terminator back as it becomes the blueprint that the machines will ultimately be built on.

If they send a machine back in time - they create their own worst enemy and lose the war.
If they do not send a machine back in time - they will never even exist.

It's this linking mind-melting paradox that makes time travel films such a Sci-Fi mine field with very few films able to tread it safely.

You're 10 Years Too Early. (The Terminators: Part IV)
Now that we have finally reached the future and the war we were promised all those years ago the variety of the Machines is really allowed to flourish with the movie introducing (and occasionally reintroducing) us to
  • Improved versions of the T-1's first seen in  'Terminator 3'. 
  • The rubber skinned T-600's mentioned by Kyle Reese in the very first Terminator film. 
  • The T-700's the machines primary combat units.
  • The flying Hunter-Killers originally seen in Kyle's nightmare in 'The Terminator'.
  • The Hunter-Killer-Tank that was also first glimpsed in Reese's nightmares makes a Cameo appearance.
  • The snake-like Hydrobots
  • The flying scouts Areostats .
  • Bike-like Moto-Terminators.
  • The gigantic human gathering Harvester.
  • Transport Ship.
  • And a Hybrid Infiltrator that I wont go into on account of the plot.
  • Oh and Arnies BACK..... again...... sort of... The T-800 Arnie's Model from the original movie returns in Prototype form played by Roland Kickinger with Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance digitally overlaid with CGI.
The sheer variety of designs show just how well established and developed this franchise has been until this point as the studio is finally able to bring all the ideas that until this point have only been mentioned to the big screen.
The Harvester Says Hello.
The final confrontation between Marcus, John and a Prototype T-800 (Lovingly dubbed T-RIP) is a strong action sequence but its biggest weakness it is that it descends into ANOTHER Terminator fight in a factory as seen in both the first and second installments.

Hasta La Vista Baby (Conclusions: Final) 
The Terminator franchise has always been a key film series in my development into the film lover that I am today, I can still remember the first time that I watched each of the Terminator Movies, 
  1. The Terminator: When I was just a kid (The age eludes me) at my Grandparents house, they let me stay up and watch it for some reason, I still clearly remembered sitting in that armchair watching Arnie cut out his own eye for the first time.
  2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day: I remember me (only a little older than when I had seen the first one) and my Two Brothers sat upstairs at a friends house watching Judgment Day whilst our respective parents gossiped downstairs.
  3. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: Buying the VHS with money that I had received as a Christmas gift, immediately settled down to watch it the moment we arrived home.
  4. Terminator: Salvation: In Shewsbury Cinema (But since that was only in 2009 i'm not sure if it counts) and loving every minute of it, A few days later me and some friends traveled to London and came across this guy.
Myself and friends Martyn Price and Alan Walker with a model of the rubber skinned T-600 - 27th June 2009
So it should come as no surprise that I credit this series is being massively influential to my love of Science-Fiction an Action films. The only other movies series that come close to having such an impact are the 'Die Hard', 'Alien' and 'Predator' franchises. 

It could be said that each movie represents the filming conventions of a particular decade 
The Terminator - The 80's
Terminator 2: Judgment Day - The 90's
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - The 2000's
Terminator: Salvation - Early 2010 (Technically 2009 but displays many conventions of films from 2010.

An Action Movie With Ideas Above It's Station.
It is important to remember that Time Travel raises issues in almost all movies where it is featured and even movies renowned for its use such as 'Back to the Future' and 'Looper' are not without flaws raised by the complexities and effects of time travel ( I think that 2002's 'The Time Machine' is able to avoid the worst of these problems as the plot actually explores the constraints of time travel, i.e after traveling back in time Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) is unable to prevent the death of his childhood sweetheart due to the fact that it was her death that drove him to create the time machine in the first place - intricate no?).
Your enjoyment of ANY film that delves into time travel depends upon ability to look beyond these issues and not over think things (Like I have been doing for this entire review - and now my brain is melting). 

At its core The Terminator Series has always been more than just a tale of Man vs. Machine,
It is one of cinemas most iconic science fiction series thanks to its strong story line, impressive visual effects dramatic soundtrack and heart stopping action sequences.
It can also be held largely responsible for launching Arnie's action career (Think of all the fantastic films and terrible puns we could have missed out on).  
It explores mans ability to make his own future and the danger that our technological progression could inflict if we advance too fast.

But on the outside it's a kick-ass series about Arnie Killing Robots and like the machines themselves this franchise just keeps on going.

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