MindFood: Is it Time to Forget The Terminator?

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Universal is rumored to be keen on getting into the Terminator game now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is no longer the Governor of California. They also need a new, on-a-platter, high profile project they can attach one of their favorite commercial directors to and thus we have the news that Universal wants Justin Lin to direct a new Terminator movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. And there is nothing about that sentence that sounds even remotely like a good idea.

The TerminatorBefore even addressing the 63-year old Schwarzenegger, let’s talk about Justin Lin. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s good at what he does (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is a guilty pleasure of mine), but does anyone really want to see a new Terminator movie from yet another broad, cover-all-bases commercial director after seeing what happened the last time a broad, cover-all-bases commercial director made a Terminator movie? I didn’t even hate Terminator: Salvation. There’s a lot I like about it, particularly how McG nailed the look and feel of a post-apocalyptic world, but as far as content and style go, when you hire someone like McG or Justin Lin, you’re getting all flash and substance.

Again, that’s not a knock against either filmmaker. They do great with fast cars, pretty women and cameras that movie really fast around pretty women, but no Terminator movie should require such a skill set. The Terminator is a franchise about mankind battling it’s own creation, Artificial Intelligence; it’s about fate and inevitability and moving an immovable object. Yes, one expects guns and explosions and kick-ass shots of robots beating the hell out of robots, but as a story and as a franchise, The Terminator relies on depth of character more than anything else. And that’s just not something someone like Lin does well.

And where would Universal even take the Terminator story, anyway? Terminator 3 already showed us a 20-something John Connor, Terminator: Salvation already gave us a gruff, futuristic John Connor and TV’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” already gave us the further adventures of momma Connor. When you’ve got that many “already”s in your franchise, you should probably take it as a sign that there’s no need to return. There’s also no need to re-invent for that matter, so Universal damn well better not be thinking about doing a prequel of any kind.

The TerminatorFortunately, the studio must not be thinking prequel if their whole motivation for doing this is to sell tickets based on seeing 63-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator once more. But that only begs the question does anyone want to see Schwarzenegger as a T-800 once more? It was a cool gimmick in McG’s flick, but his inclusion was over almost right away. Can you imagine another feature length film with Schwarzenegger moving like a robot? I can’t. The guy looked tired nearly ten years ago when T3: Rise of the Machines came out. I shudder at the thought of him trying to relive the Terminator glory days in the year 2011.

That’s not to say I think Schwarzenegger should give up acting entirely. If he wants to throw his hat back in the ring, by all means he should find the right project. But the right project is flat out not a new entry in a franchise that’s had every ounce of marrow squeezed from its bones by four films and a TV show (that’s not even counting video games and books). The right project is something age appropriate, like comedy; not a big budget action extravaganza directed by the guy who made three of the five Fast and the Furious movies. Hell, I would flip the f out if Kindergarten Cop 2: No Child Left Behind went into production and I’d bet good money I wouldn’t be on my own.