The Terminator series has had a profound effect on modern science-fiction and action films, to say the least. The first two entries are considered to be amongst the greatest in the history of either genre, while also holding the distinction of having launched the acting career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose name is now synonymous with the franchise. The other name most intimately connected with the series is its creator James Cameron, the Canadian filmmaker who was without question its most influential creative force (arguably seconded by the special effects team).
The series is known for relatively long gaps between its films, with 7 years between the first two films, and then a further 12 years before the third film was released. It is with this third film, though, that a gradual-but-noticeable decline in quality begins to set in. That is not to say I didn’t personally enjoy 2003’s Rise of the Machines, but it was a flawed experience that paled in comparison to the first two masterpieces for one simple reason: the absence of James Cameron.
Say what you will about the man, but Cameron is amongst the most talented and experienced cinematic visionaries in the world (a fact which Cameron himself is all too aware of), and time has proven him to be an indispensable contributor to the franchise’s development. You need only look at the two most recent entries, Salvation and Genysis, to realise that the Terminator series is now in something of a creative tailspin.
Thankfully all of this is (hopefully) set to change, as Cameron has reobtained the rights to the series with the intention of rebooting it. In a recent interview, Cameron further expressed his desire for the reboot to make relevant commentary on the state of technology today, which is especially interesting considering that some of the technologies which the Cameron-era films alluded to are now reality, while the debate over the potential dangers of artificial intelligence rages on. At the very least, this all adds an admirably artistic foundation to Cameron’s intentions, versus the hollow, blockbuster-fueled spectacle of the more recent films.
Another reassuring aspect of Cameron’s reboot is his enlisting of Tim Miller to direct, known for his work on last year’s smash hit Deadpool, which was also his directorial debut. More recent Terminator films have tried to inject moments of comedy as a way to offset the action and drama, though more often than not it came off as awkward and misplaced, which is one of the main reasons why Miller is such a smart choice of director by Cameron. With Deadpool, he has more than proven his ability to move fluidly between action and comedy, or even combining the two in ways that please both critics and audiences alike. Of course, it will still require a heavier hand than was needed in Deadpool, as the subject matter of the Terminator series is more serious, and the stakes greater, but I think Miller is more than up to the task.
As if all of this was not enough, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself has announced his involvement. This might worry a number of fans, due to Genysis’ failure to properly reintegrate Schwarzenegger into the series. This time, however, reports suggest that the film will deal with why the Terminator looks like Schwarzenegger, which means he could very well be playing a human this time around, if not a Terminator also.
Though I am sure many fans will still take everything with a grain of salt, given the disappointments the series has delivered with its more recent entries, I find it hard not to be excited about the potential here. With the franchise in the rightful hands of James Cameron, as well as Tim Miller’s sure-handed direction and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s presence the star, the future is bright…ironic as it is for a film series that essentially deals with the eventual downfall of humanity to machines.
Image Courtesy of Steven Bowler from Wikimedia Commons.