In 1984, when Arnold Schwarzenegger uttered the immortal line ‘I’ll Be Back’ in the first Terminator film, few would imagine how prophetic it was.
He has been back five times as the Terminator in various films. It was revealed on the Block Buster podcast that Arnie wanted the line dropping as it didn’t fit with his Germanic accent, but director James Cameron insisted it stays in. The rest, as they say, is history.
Indeed, the original film has gone down in history, spawning one of the most successful franchises of all time. The Terminator character has become synonymous with the legendary Hollywood actor. It’s not only driven by five sequels but also the mass of digital media that accompanies each release. The first video game based on the series came out on DOS in 1991, around the same time as the film Terminator 2. The second movie sparked a video game frenzy with Ocean Software’s Terminator 2. Today, fans of the cyborg sent from the future to save or destroy us, depending on the film, can get their fix almost anywhere. There are two games amongst the Ladbrokes online slot collection, Terminator Genisys and The Terminator: I’ll Be Back, which borrow from the films heavily. Perhaps the best game for fans is Terminator: Dark Fate – The Game, the latest release connected to the films.
Whilst those games prove the series popularity, the real excitement comes when watching the action served up on the screen. There have been six Terminator films, but which are the best? Which are the ones you should go back to watch, and which are best left in the past?
Terminator: Genisys (2015)
Terminator Genisys was meant to be the reset of the series, featuring Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame as a fresh-faced Sarah Connor. The outcome is a horrible mish-mash of nostalgia and not much else. Even Arnie’s appearance couldn’t save this turkey from immediate termination.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Terminator Salvation tried something different, taking the setting to the post-apocalyptic hell we’d seen in some previous movies. It was sound enough, but the future wasn’t almost as frightening as we’d seen back in 1991, even with the special effects. It does keep the Terminator canon slightly relevant, and Christian Bale turns in a solid performance.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Sadly, outside of the first two films, there isn’t a solid-gold follow-up that the T-100 deserved. That makes the digital media even more relevant because it props up the thirty-year-old franchise, not solid sequels. Kristanna Loken is great as the T-1000, but the character feels like a parody of what has gone before, not a progression.
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
Whilst critics panned the latest release, we felt that the 2019 movie came as close to replicating the originals as any previous ones. It is a direct sequel to the first two films, which means original faces such as Linda Hamilton finally get the exposure they deserve. It isn’t for everyone; there’s a scene between the protagonists of Terminator 2, which essentially renders the whole film inconsequential, but that aside, Dark Fate isn’t all that bad.
The Terminator (1984)
The effects are dated, but the original has a certain charm that you can’t capture in a sequel. It was made without knowing how popular it could be, making it the most honest of all the films. A relatively unknown Arnie stalks the streets like a silent predator in what was a horror sci-fi effort with nothing to live up to. The weight of expectation doesn’t drag the original down quite as much as everything post-1991.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
It’s a narrow victory for Terminator 2 in the list, but only just. With a bigger budget and a plot to develop, it managed to create the perfect blockbuster from what had been a cult idea. It hit the perfect blend between action and dialogue and broke new ground with the effects around Robert Patrick’s T-1000. It’s a must-see film, and if the only two you watch are the first two, you really won’t be missing all that much.