Hollywood will attempt to breathe some life back into the Terminator franchise next month with the release of Terminator Genisys, which brings Arnold Schwarzenegger back for the first time since 2003’s disappointing Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. That was followed by the Fox TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (canceled too soon after just two seasons) and the 2009 abomination Terminator Salvation, which has been disowned by just about everybody involved. Good luck trying to find anything resembling a cohesive storyline between all of these works, or even the same actor playing John Connor more than once.
The main problem with everything after the second movie is the complete absence of James Cameron, who dreamed up the franchise and wrote and directed the first two pictures. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is, without any doubt, one of the greatest sequels in film history. It’s been nearly a quarter-century since it hit theaters, and the special effects still manage to look impressive. It’s a tragedy that Cameron has committed himself to four Avatar movies, but he walked away from his mightiest creation after just two, leaving it to be nearly destroyed by others.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day ends with Arnold’s T-101 character killing himself after defeating the T-1000, and Sarah Connor looking to the future with hope. They actually filmed that utopian, Terminator-free future for an epilogue to the movie, ultimately leaving it on the cutting room floor. The scene shows Sarah 30 years after the supposed judgement day of August 29th, 1997. She’s sitting in a park watching John, who is now a senator, pushing her grandchild on a swing. “The luxury of hope was given to me by the Terminator,” she says into a recorder. “Because if a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.” It revealed the origin of all the voiceovers you hear throughout the film, but was a little cheesy and Cameron probably made a wise call in cutting it.