I’m going to assume that 99.9% of us have seen at least The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, if not Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines as well. If you have not, and you’re planning on seeing Terminator Salvation this week, then Geeks of Doom is your place to make sure you at least have some kind of an idea of what the hell is going on.
Keep in mind — I can absolutely promise you that Salvation and any others ever made will not be anywhere near as good as the first two, and I strongly urge you to see them first; but if you just don’t have time and have to get you some Christian Bale action now, hopefully this will help out a little.
Before you continue here, be sure to check out our own BAADASSSSS!’s in-depth and thoughtful retrospect of 1984’s The Terminator — A Look Back At James Cameron’s ‘The Terminator’. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
OK, now that you’ve read up on the first movie, here’s the promised quick recaps of both T2 and T3 so that you can complete the Zelda tri-force and be fully prepared to see Terminator Salvation!
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Purists will always love the original movie the best, but come on now, we all know that the king of this hellish and metallic threat to all of humanity is Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
In the sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s T-800 cybernetic life form returns again to the past from the future — only this time, instead of being sent back to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), he’s there to protect her son John Connor. At this point in time, John Connor is just a 10-year-old pain-in-the-ass kid (played by Edward Furlong) who likes to cause trouble with his friends. Also sent back, is the new, top-of-the-line T-1000 (Robert Patrick), which is more deadly than any Terminator before it, and utilizes a sick liquid metal body that can fuse with and replicate pretty much any non-mechanical objects equal to its size, as well as form deadly knives and other metal weapons. It’s the T-1000 and his impressive tricks who finds John Connor first, but luckily, the T-800 shows up in time to fight it off and save Connor. From there, they go to rescue Sarah Connor from a mental institution, and as you might imagine, she takes a little re-assuring before believing that this, the thing that tried so hard to kill her, was now here to help. The rest of the movie is spent trying to find out why John Connor is so special, and eluding the dangerous T-1000.
The second film uses a unique strategy by taking the first film’s villain — a relentless killing machine that scared the hell out of us when we saw him — and made him the hero. That risky maneuver alone is only symbolic of how amazing this movie is, even to this day while quickly approaching the horribly depressing two-decade old mark. How old do you feel right now? I’m going to go get an Ensure, want one?
It’s the tone of this movie that sets it higher than the others. While some scenes are violent, some of the most violent scenes aren’t even really shown to us. Just the way that time seems to slow down preceding someone’s inevitable doom, paired with that music that horrified us to no end — that’s what it’s all about.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is pretty universally disliked by Terminator fans. But while it may not be nearly as good as the first two classics, and though it is riddled with painfully cheesy one-liners, it really could have been a hell of a lot worse, says this humble bystander.
The movie finds John Connor (Nick Stahl) much older now and still not convinced that their efforts have stopped the much-feared war between man and machine. Because of this fear, he’s living in hiding, doing simple jobs to make enough to live on and stay completely off of the radar of Skynet, in case they decide to send another killer robot back. Unfortunately, what he didn’t count on was that they did know where Connor’s future wife, Kate Brewster (Claire Danes [“That’s right, Claire Danes.”]), was and sent back the lethal female T-X (Kristanna Loken) to kill her. The T-X again one-ups their last deadly model — this time she’s a hybrid who also terminates Terminators who have been reprogrammed. Built with the solid metal endoskeleton of a T-800, and then covered Wolverine-style with the T-1000’s liquid metal technology making it both incredibly strong and able to replicate other human appearances, she’s also able to store high-power weapons inside of her (something other ‘bots weren’t able to do) and control other machines remotely. To try and help, a reprogrammed T-800 (Schwarzenegger) is again sent back to help John Connor protect the wife he didn’t even know he was going to have, which of course means the T-X is also gunning for him.
In the end, it all comes to a showdown between Kate and John against the T-X and T-800, who was taken over by the T-X and reset to kill John Connor. Thankfully, he’s able to fight off the attempted reprogramming and help John Connor fight the deadly robot.
That’s where we last left off in the franchise. Hopefully this quick recap was a decent refresher for your brain, and a helpful guide to those who have yet to see any Terminator films (I’m talking to you 13-year-olds).
Now the only thing left to do is to see what this week’s release of Terminator Salvation has in store for us.