When the first Terminator movie came out, it depicted a bleak future where robots had taken over the world. The year 2029 seemed to be a distant future back in 1984 when the movie was released. But now that we are only 10 years from the Terminator’s future, it seems like it’s going to be just like Back to the Future II’s predictions of 2015 and it will just another year that’ll come and go without the predictions a movie made.
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October 21, 2015 was a little bit of a let-down in terms of what Back to the Future II predicted. We didn’t have self-tying shoes, flying cars or hover boards. And, thankfully, our fashion in 2015 was better than wearing two ties at the same time. In terms of the Terminator, we should be grateful we are nowhere near the 2029 depicted in the movie. We aren’t on the path of robot’s controlling our world within the next 10 years – or are we?
In 2019, most households have some form of artificial intelligence – whether it’s a robot vacuum cleaner, voice-activated speaker (Alexa), or home security system. Many of these robots are collecting data and tracking specifics about you and your family.
The robot vacuum cleaners learn the layout of your house in order to clean every inch of flooring. Voice-activated speakers have been known to listen in on conversations beyond the times they’ve been summoned. And some home security systems track every step you or someone else makes in and around your home.
We’ve come to rely on robots. And, even if your household doesn’t have any robotic devices, the chances are you’re coming in close contact with some form of robotics every single day. There are now self-driven cars, self-check outs, and robots that perform surgeries. And if I learned anything from Ex Machina, it was that highly-advanced humanoid A.I. beings could be walking alongside us right now.
The first Terminator movie introduced us to Sarah Connor, a simple woman just trying to survive her everyday life. She’s relatable to so many people. She’s struggling with romance, her job sucks, and she has a roommate who seems to have it all. Sarah’s life by all means is fairly normal until a T-800 cyborg assassin from 2029 travels to 1984 and has one mission – to terminate Sarah Connor’s life.
Luckily, another man, Kyle Reese, has also traveled back in time to help Sarah Connor. He was sent by John, Sarah’s future son, who in 2029 leads a resistance movement against the machine-controlled world. Sarah learns about the bleak future where a nuclear holocaust has been started by an artificial intelligence defense network that becomes self-aware. Are you also now thinking twice about that Alexa or crime-fighting police robot? The good news is, just like my dog barks at the Roomba, dogs are used to detect humanoid cyborgs, helping to alert the humans.
Throughout Sarah and Kyle’s journey to escape the Terminator, they find time to bond and fall in love. Unfortunately, their love is short-lived and Kyle dies in a climatic, explosive fight scene. Months later, a very pregnant Sarah records audio tapes to give to her son John.
By far, the best in the Terminator franchise, Terminator 2: Judgment Day shows a very different Sarah Connor. Now that she’s aware of the future and what Skynet will become, she spends her life fighting the system and preparing her son John to be able to lead the resistance movement. The Sarah in T2 has been hardened by life. She’s no longer the carefree woman struggling to make ends meet. Now, she has a plan and will do whatever it takes to carry it out.
The T-800 Terminator returns as a reprogrammed protector and is sent back to 1995 by the future John Connor. A new, updated liquid metal T-1000 cyborg has been sent to terminate 10-year-old John Connor. The new Terminator has the ability to take different form and can transform him arms into blades.
In order to change history and stop Skynet before it gets too powerful, Sarah wants to take out the man responsible for the technology behind Skynet. But punishing a person before they’ve actually committed a crime is the whole basis of Minority Report and is something Sarah is unable to do. Instead, they learn that the new cyborg was conceived based on research that was reverse engineered from the T-800 Terminator remains who was killed in 1984. They set out to destroy the T-800 remains instead.
T2 doesn’t disappoint with its action scenes and with much-improved special effects, the climax of the movie far exceeds the first Terminator. After the T-1000 is destroyed, along with the T-800 remains, the reprogramed Terminator insists he, too, must be destroyed in order to keep the world safe. His change and understanding of human life, gives Sarah hope, “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”
The next three Terminator movies move forward without James Cameron as director or one of the screenwriters. In the Rise of the Machines, it is discovered that John and Sarah only postponed Judgment Day. A T-X cyborg is sent back in time terminate as many of the future resistance leaders as possible, including John Connor’s future wife, Kate Brewster. Of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger is also sent back to help protect Kate and John.
Terminator Salvation makes it harder to distinguish between machine and human. It blurs the lines and asks the question, who is human and what does it mean to be human? And in Terminator Genysis, we’re brought back to an alternate 1984 where Sarah Connor is not a waitress. She’s a soldier who’s been waiting and preparing for Kyle Reese’s arrival.
Terminator: Dark Fate is set as a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It ignores the timeline and three films that did not include James Cameron. Linda Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also back. Sarah and the Terminator, along with a cyborg who believes herself to be human, help protect a young girl from a hybrid terminator.
While the Terminator storyline appears to be overdone, it will be interesting to see how it plays out in our current world where robots and machines are all around us. How much of that will be included into how Skynet potentially becomes self-aware. Like with Ex Machina, will it turn into a dark thriller/horror movie that leaves you with chills?
For the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying my robot vacuum and voice-activated speaker system. But, just to be safe, maybe I’ll think twice when I hear a dog barking.
The Rest of the Terminator Franchise
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