30 July 2011

FWS Broken Promises: the TERMINATOR sequels

In 1984, one of the most groundbreaking science-fiction films came to the silver screen, and surprised audiences with its depth and darkness. Since the original Terminator premiered 27 years ago, filmmakers, comic-book writers, authors, and TV producers have trying to reproduce the magic of those first  film...and doing a damn shitty job at it. In this new series on FWS, we will be documenting the failure of certain science fiction works that possess great ideas, but could not delivery them...the first installment of series is the failure of the Terminator sequel films and spin off projects.

The Promise of Terminator
If one was to breakdown the concept of the original film, time-traveling robot comes back to killer the leader of the human race's resistance before he is born, one would think of it as a B-movie and/or pulp 1950's comic novel. Terminator borrowed the machine vs. human struggle from the classic RUR play, and unlike may works before or even after, Terminator showed us all a dark fairy tale of machines that burned the war, trying to remake it in their own image.
But there in the ruins of our world was a few brave souls, fighting the machines under the post-apocalyptic messiah of John Conner.This DNA of Terminator was more than the sum of its parts, rising to the level of cultural touchstone, and the sequel is one of the best followups to an hit film...then came the rein of dogshit that as haunted us real fans for years. I have a special place in my heart for the Terminator films, not to mention that the original date Judgement Day, August 29, 1997 was my 21st birthday. It breaks my heart to witness the promise of the Terminator concept be ruined by people that possess no originality or creativity in their entire weak-minded bodies. Nothing is worse that watering down or dumbing down true original art...it is a crime.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
In 2003, the next Terminator movie came as unwelcomed as stepping in fresh dogshit while barefoot. The movie was going to show the rise of Skynet and the end of our world...but what we were left was what would have Terminator 2 been like without the talent, energy, imagination that made it a classic? We have an answer: Terminator 3: Rise of the (dipshit) Machines.There only four things I liked about this film: the scene with Arnold coming to the stripclub, Kristanna Loken, the nuclear bombs falling, and the plot element were Conner was killed by a Terminator with the same appearance his boyhood protector.
That is it. The entire effort of all those people that made and funded, was simply wasted on a film that one was of the most illogical pieces of shit that shamelessly recycled the T2 plot. This film added serious dents to the Terminator name and creating the framework for this blogpost....not only breaking, but shattering the promise of the first two films, the pissed on it. If it were a dog, I would have spanked it with a newspaper. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is heartbreakingly bad, illogically, and stupid at levels. After my first and only viewing, I was left feeling like I should been refunded the hours of my life that spend watching it.

Terminator 4: Salvation 
Okay, the forth film is nothing close to the used tampon that the third was. On its good points, it was completely set in the dark future of 2018, had John Conner played by one of the best actors working today, Christian Bale...however the plot leaves a lot to be desired. I am not quite sure what the point was for this film, nothing really was answered or given to overall Terminator story. This could be to concept that T:S was to be the vanguard of a new trilogy.The worst parts of this film was how little thought the filmmakers and writers gave to the internal logic of the film.
For example, a human heart powering an Terminator combat exoskeleton? An entire airbase complete with the best tankburster aircraft in the world are just untouched by the big bad Skynet....I think not. Not mention the tools, parts, technical skills to fly and maintenance the bird just happened to exist in a world were three billion are dead? Simple bullet-firing assault rifles can take on Terminators? Since when? Kyle Reese even mentioned that in the first film. Where are the plasma rifles? Then the resistance base lighting up all creation when Marcus escapes, and no metal shows up? These break in logic, doom the forth movie to be a missed opportunity at best, at worst, the death nail in the Terminator films (however, it did make money).  

Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles

For us Terminator fans, T:TSCC was the best we could have hoped for in a live-action Terminator series. It had the backing of a major network (for a while anyways), talented writers that actually knew something about the mythology behind the films and comics, and the actors worked hard to create their characters. I was shocked at how good the performances of Summer Glau, Shirley Manson, and Lena Headey were, adding a depth to the tired characters of a protector-Terminator, a scheming T-1000, and Sarah Conner. When it came to the dark future, the show entered the 2020's with near the level of darkness we saw in the first two films, and even added layers of complexity to the war against the machines. The series made a bold choice in the dual characters of Allison Young and the reprogrammed Terminator Cameron that was protecting John Conner.
The series bridged the two timelines again with mining the comic book idea of the Resistance and Skynet fighting a hidden war in the past to control the future via sleeper cells. Of course, this added the dumb idea that the Resistance had their own TDE system and the power to run it...yeah, like Skynet wouldn't see that! The downside to T:TSCC was that the series bogged itself down with topics beyond the scope of the original concept, at times making the series more like Gossip Girl than Terminator. Also, the all-too-familiar plot device of Skynet sending terminators back through time is heavily explored in this two-season show. But the broken promise was that FOX, ended the series during its second season, however FOX did allow the series time to wrap their storylines, and even injecting a semi-cool twist ending.  

Terminator Machinima series
I've seen about three of the six episodes of this limited video series that uses the Terminator: Salvation game engine. It's not bad, the terminators seem terrifying again, and portions of the burned out LA are similar to the first movie, but the characters are still using M4's and not 40 watt plasma rifles. This machinima series seems to have borrowed too much from Salvation in order to have lived the promise.

Terminator books
There have been no less than seven Terminator books, not counting the novelization, have been published. And I've read none of them...mainly due to their plots being completely not even remotely interesting. Why would you not write about the war against the machines? Why focus on the recycled plot of time travel or the the years leading up to Judgement Day? Truly sad that trees and talented authors were used to create these.

The NOW Comics Terminator series (1988-1990)
In 1988, just four years after the original and three years before T2, NOW comics got the rights to publish a Terminator comic series, and surprise! It wasn't all about time-traveling cyborgs and Sarah Conner...it was set in 2031 in Florida with a resistance unit called Sarah's Slammers. The Slammers made contact with shot down members of forgotten Lunar base during one of their supply mission...and over the course of 17 issues, the Slammers were thrown across the blackened global and even meeting the legendary John "the Bear" Conner.
The art was okay, when they weren't "borrowing" art layouts from the Marvel The 'Nam, and the original promise of the series was ruined by issue ten, and the series got progressively more stupid and worn out.
The series ended when sales went down and NOW was in deep finical trouble, but it hung on long enough to create the best comic Terminator series: Terminator: The Burning Earth.

The NOW Comics Terminator: All My Future Past (1990)
Here was a two-part series about a resistance pilot that crashes into a small Californian village and his dying words were to delivery a data-tape into the hands of John Conner in LA. Two young and inexperienced boys are charged with making the journey. These two boys are then involved in the operation to secure the TDE complex and sent Kyle through time. Sounds good, huh? Well, it wasn't. The two-issue series changed art style, from bad more traditional art to watercolors, and it was lame to be honest, while the writing wasn't bad, the art and dialog was flat and unoriginal.

The NOW Comics Terminator: the Burning Earth (1990)
At the near end of NOW comics in 1990, they hired Alex Ross to painted the dark world of 2041 for their dark and edgy Burning Earth six part series. This comic showed a desperate Skynet re-using nukes, chemical warfare, to end the war, and thing were much better for John Conner and crew, he was thinking of committing suicide! The mood, art, and plot of Terminator: the Burning Earth would set apart from all works previous, and to this day, the Burning Earth reminds THE best and most dark vision of the post-Judgement Day world in comic form. In this case, the promise was kept to the original film, but no one as followed up...leaving this series to be a forgotten classic. FWS will be writing about this amazing comic series in the coming months. 

The Dark Horse Terminator series
I read very few of the Dark Horse Terminator series, but previewed them all, hoping for something worth spending my money on. The first Terminator series was called Tempest, portions of the story seemed to have been carried over to the T:SCC TV series, like resistance safe houses in the past, and the resistance mission to kill key members of the team that would create Skynet. The next Dark Horse series Second Objective was also mined for ideas for the T:SCC show, and was more of the same old shit, Terminator goes back in time...sigh.
Dark Horse did try with Terminator: Hunters and Killers and 2029 to set comic series in the future war, but all were too soft and weak when compared to the best comic ever done about the future war, NOW comics: Terminator: the Burned Earth.

The Terminator Video Games
To fuel my passion for the dark future world of 2029, I started playing the video games associated with the series in 1991 with the MS-DOS Terminator 2029 by Bethesda Software, and since then, most of them have not been any good. Following Terminator 2029, there were other shooters, then the in 2002 the consoles got a third-person shooter, Terminator: Dawn of Fate. This takes place before the events of the first movie, but once again, the writers got lazy, and so did the game designers...there was no dark future, and the plot was far from original. There was an attempt to have an online combat game, were the machines fought the humans in burned out LA...the game Terminator 3: War of the Machines,could have been good, but issues, little support, and buggy as hell caused this game to die quickly. The most recent video game Terminator Salvation was color-by-the-numbers shooter that lacked imagination and talent...it shall languish in Gamestops across the US...getting dusty. 

What should be done to save the series?
Terminator Salvation was a half-step in the right direction, but it still wasn't that good, and to save the series from becoming a fucking joke, drastic fucking action needs to be taken. It is time for the owners over the rights of Terminator to make the movie that should have been T3, the prelude to the story in the original Terminator. I want to see Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese fight with the human resistance to take over the TDE complex and be sent back in time. More over, it should be done in the style of the original dark future scenes in the first film. Then that should be it....no more Terminator films, just end it, and call all but Terminator, T2, and Terminator Prelude as bad dreams. If those Hollywood dumbfucks need a sequel to Terminator: Prelude than they could make NOW comics 1990 opus  Terminator: the Burning Earth set in 2041 into a movie...would make a damn fine film as well. With these films, great games need to be lovingly developed, and explore the war with the machines.Oh, and one more thing, hire Christoper Shields of the superior website Terminator:2029, as a consultant.

What NOT should be done!
McG, who directed Terminator: Salvation, spoke about the plot to the fifth film, and here is the quote:
"I strongly suspect the next movie is going to take place in a [pre-Judgment Day] 2011. John Connor is going to travel back in time and he's going to have to galvanize the militaries of the world for an impending Skynet invasion. They've figured out time travel to the degree where they can send more than one naked entity. So you're going to have hunter killers and transports and harvesters and everything arriving in our time and Connor fighting back with conventional military warfare, which I think is going to be fucking awesome. I also think he's going to meet a scientist that's going to look a lot like present-day Robert Patrick [who famously played the T-1000 in Terminator 2], talking about stem-cell research and how we can all live as idealized, younger versions of ourselves."
Are you fucking kidding me?! That's the best goddamn thing that those fucking morons in Hollywood could come up with?! Really?! That is the lamest damn plot I've heard of! Most self-respecting comics or fan-fiction wouldn't use that dogshit...despite the shit that NOW comics was given for their treatment of the Terminator comic, they never, I mean, never came to that caliber of lazyass writing. A goddamned T-1000 ought to be sent from the future and kill everyone that would make a movie like this. If they make T5 like that bullshit above, than I am fucking done, just done. Legions of Terminator fans should throw dirty diapers at the screen, and burn copies of the DVD. Don't think Hollywood could make such a bad plot into a movie? Well, some Mensa member greenlit the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes...man, have you seen that dogshit trailer? Did logic leave the entire rank of filmmakers? I weep for the cinema...

What I'm going to do about it (instead of just bitching on my blog)
After seeing T2 in 1991, I wrote a story about the prelude events of the original movie, I called it Terminator: Alpha and Omega. I found it recently while moving, and decided to finish it out and start development on a short-story serial.
Watch for it soon!


Hands down, the best Terminator website in all of the net!

His funny and dead-on reviews of T3, T4, and T:TSCC

The Terminator wiki site:

The stunning and in-depth Terminator files website:


  1. Hi, William!!

    I have not seen Terminator Salvation- and I don't think I will. I can tell Terminator Salvation totally breaks from Terminator canon, just by looking at the trailer. No Phased Plasma Rifles? M4's firing 5.56x45mm ammunition vs. Skynet's machine army? Give me a break!! Kyle Reese said that he didn't know if he could stop a single terminator with the weapons available to him in the past- bullet firing guns are next to useless against Terminators!

    According to Christopher Shield's web site, plasma gun technology was being developed by humans before Judgement Day, and there were prototypes well before Skynet took over- so where are they in Terminator Salvation? You can't say, "Oh, well, Skynet invented them later, and the humans stole some," since we know that Skynet stole most of the technology it used from us. Even the Terminators were our idea- then Skynet ran with it. We were developing robot soldiers, plasma weapons, and UAV's before the war. Skynet simply took over our own technology and used in against us. Skynet didn't invent the nuclear weapons it used against us, after all. Once the war was on, Skynet's R&D set to work on improving and developing new technologies to use against the humans.

    And if Skynet did build the first plasma guns, WHY WOULD IT DESIGN GUNS HUMANS COULD CARRY AND USE WITH EASE, LIKE KYLE REESE'S PLASMA RIFLE???? It does not make sense!!! They are taking this "bullets are always better" thing way too far, just to look cool!!! All the while ignoring the fact that you need a plasma rifle to terminate a terminator.

    I am looking forward to your Plasma Gun post- hope it is soon!! Check out the Wikipedia page on plasma weapons- Christopher Shield's site is good, but the Wikipedia page will give you a rundown on why we haven't made plasma guns yet, what the technical difficulties are to building a working plasma gun, and a list of different techniques to hold together the bolt- that should give you a rundown on all the different ideas on how to build plasma guns, instead of just Christopher Shield's ideas. His ideas are good, of course, but their are some other ones used in different SF- laser beam tunnels, the "plasma particle beam" approach, the ball lightning approach, the polymer case approach, etc.

    Plasma guns might not be as ridiculous as some would say- I found some scientists discussing the possibility that Star Wars blaster guns fire bolts of plasma on the TV show Star Wars Tech. They agree that plasma bullets would be extremely deadly, however they are stumped on how to contain a fast moving plasma. Plasmas tend to dissipate in the free air and relax their heat very rapidly. Without containment, the plasma will bloom and expand due its the high heat and pressure, becoming a cloud instead of a pulse or bolt. Additionally, the plasma will collide with air molecules and come to a rapid stop. All this would cause a plasma gun bolt to dissipate within 50cm of the gun, unless you could extend the range using magnetic bottles and laser induced plasma channels.

    Check out this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_weapon_(fiction)

    Christopher Phoenix

  2. As for now, judging by oncoming Terminator Reboot, everything is going to be FAR worse than HK's in the 2011. This series might be dead forever.