Neil Calloway argues that only the series creator can breathe life back into the franchise…
This week we got the inevitable news that The Terminator franchise is being lowered into the molten steel one final time, and all but the most ardent member of the resistance against the machines breathed a sigh of relief at its slow demise.
Which is your favourite Terminator movie? I doubt anyone would say Salvation, Genisys or the Rise of the Machines, and by that I mean if you can find someone who prefers those films in the series, I’ll bet good money they’re someone who hasn’t seen the first two.
There was hope in the announcement that Paramount are no longer planning films in the series, and that is that the rights to the films revert to James Cameron in 2019. Unusually, I come not to bury the man who foisted the execrable Avatar upon the world, but to praise him.
The thing is, Cameron made The Terminator; when his involvement ended, the films declined considerably, turning from a sparse cat and mouse chase series into a laughable vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the exception of the flawed (but at least original) Terminator: Salvation, finishing with the ignominy of Genisys, a film that tied itself in multiple knots just to allow for the presence of the ageing Schwarzenegger.
The sad fact is that Cameron seems determined to spend the next decade coming up with more instalments of the appalling Avatar films, rather than nursing his one real contribution to the film world back to health. Avatar made billions at the box office but it was as forgettable as an England friendly, whereas I bet you can still quote Terminator more than thirty years since the first one was released. Here’s an example; I just had to look up what the planet in Avatar was called, but I can still name, without thinking, the club in the original Terminator and the shopping mall in the second film, and I bet I’m not alone in that.
Where Salvation worked, and Genisys didn’t, was that it largely ignored Arnie but told a story that was both a sequel and a prequel, and explored the universe that had only been hinted at in previous films. It was by no means a great movie, but it at least did something interesting with the series rather than the nonsense that was Genisys.
James Cameron returning would give the series a new energy,; if this man can come up with ideas for where to take the Avatar story, then surely he can come up with something involving Skynet, the resistance and Los Angeles. It’s easy to forget what a great director Cameron was in the 80s and early 90s, but he was the master of action oriented science fiction for a while, and he could easily be the same again.
Help us James Cameron, you’re our only hope. Sorry, wrong franchise.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.