On Wednesday, Terminator: Genisys will try for the third time in 12 years to take James Cameron’s two-part sci-fi masterpiece The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and make a new, balls-to-the-wall summer action franchise out of it. The Terminator is a seminal work that served as one of the primary the inspirations for the cyberpunk movement, and without which other great films of the era like RoboCop, and The Matrix might not exist. T2 took the story, visual effects, and Cameron’s own directorial ambitions to the next level, while still being stylistically and substantively in line with the original. It remains an example that strongly argues that a sequel can surpass the original in creative and commercial goals.
Cameron said the story was done so far as he was concerned at the end of Judgment Day, and while a lot of series filmmakers change with every film, with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation, something else changed: Terminator was not the movie series it could have been, or should have been. Did the Terminator series flounder because James Cameron moved on to different things? Were the talents of the filmmakers subsequent to Cameron just not up to his caliber on even a basic level? Or did Cameron’s departure mark something more fundamental? Have all those other writers, producers and directors lost touch with what kind of movie The Terminator really is? (more…)