What is wrong with filmmaker James Cameron? The producer/director recently mused that he might do another series of Terminator films. Seriously? The first film (1984) was awesome. The second film (1991) was arguably better. But then the movies just started to wander into the sequel wilderness—lost in search of something fresh to say—and became object lessons in how more CGI can’t substitute for good filmmaking. Sure, the original series gave us some really cool moments, but it is time to bring this to an end.
The sad truth is that the Terminator has run its course. The concept behind the films no longer has the capacity to grab the public’s imagination.
Here are four serious reasons why the Terminator’s prospects are seriously terminal:
4. AI is old hat
When the first Terminator film came out, autonomous weapons and the concept of artificial intelligence were pretty much the stuff of science fiction. While today, DARPA can’t build a terminator, they are into stuff that is pretty wild. The prospects for autonomous weapons are so real that there are already people trying to ban them. Once science fiction becomes real science, moviegoers lose their sense of wonder. Let’s face it, the driving concept behind the films was this relentless killing machine that could think but could not be “reasoned with.” Now that this notion is not so novel, neither is the film series.
3. Time travel is tired
The trope of jumping back and forth in time to create new storylines is pretty standard and unable by itself to sustain interesting new plots. Some filmmakers like Chris Nolan are skilled at playing with time, like in his movies Momento (2000) and Dunkirk (2017). Unless Nolan is going to make the next Terminator movie, it is unlikely that time will be on the film’s side.
2. Nuclear nightmares are back
The whole film series revolves around a nuclear war started by Skynet that almost wipes out the human race. That was a fun concept to play with after the Cold War had ended. Today, with the proliferation of nuclear weapons and unstable actors like Russia, North Korea, and Iran, the notion of nuclear conflict is no longer good, clean fun. Obama promised us a world without atomic bombs. It doesn’t look like that is going to happen anytime soon. What we need is more missile defense, not more movies.
1. Hasta la vista, baby
Terminator movies without Arnold Schwarzenegger are just not Terminator movies. Maybe they can get his son to suit up as the robot. He is pretty buff. Otherwise, it is time to just move on.