How does Dark Fate Arnie shape up to the Terminators of the past? Picture: Paramount Pictures
How does Dark Fate Arnie shape up to the Terminators of the past? Picture: Paramount Pictures

Every Terminator film reviewed and ranked

This week's much-anticipated release of the sci-fi action blockbuster Terminator: Dark Fate not only restores order to the Terminator universe.

It also opens the saga up to an exciting range of new possibilities in the future …

… so what better time is there than now to look at how all the Terminators blasted through our past?

From the bottom up, here are all six T-flicks, spanked and ranked to settle some old arguments, and perhaps start some new ones …

 

6. TERMINATOR: GENISYS (2015)

A Terminator movie so bad in every way that in the future, someone will send a cyborg back in time to stop it from ever being made.

Indicative of the debacle afoot is the dreadful treatment dished out to the great Arnold Schwarzenegger, reduced to playing a punchline-mulching pensioner-bot named Pops.

His main duties in Genisys are confined to that of a man-machine mascot, a walking, barely-talking reminder of the franchise's former glories.

Much of the heavy lifting in Genisys is handed over to new franchise recruits Emilia Clarke (cast principally to attract unwitting Game of Thrones tragics), Jason Clarke (no relation) and Jai Courtney (no hope).

 

Emilia Clarke is trapped in a two-hour debacle best wiped from history.
Emilia Clarke is trapped in a two-hour debacle best wiped from history.

This trio are left stranded inside a near-comically confusing plot that flips, flops and fudges all Terminator lore into something that would be laughed out of a Transformers movie.

Somehow, the whole thing lasts two hours before somebody finally thinks of a way to end it all.

WHERE TO WATCH: RENT via GOOGLE, iTunes

 

5. TERMINATOR: SALVATION (2009)

AKA the Terminator that ain't got no Ah-null in it whatsoever.

Yeah, sure, there's a CGI likeness of the Austrian anti-thespian seen fleetingly, but he was too busy to show up in person at the time of shooting due to Californian Governor duties.

Story comes a distant second to spectacle throughout Salvation. The special effects, the stunts and the explosions all certainly leave a lasting impression.

However, between bursts of shredding the senses like a heavy-metal guitar, the movie often slumps into a sulky mood. As if being forced against its will to continue a tale it does not really understand nor properly respect.

Christian Bale can’t drag Salvation above the stunts and spectacle.
Christian Bale can’t drag Salvation above the stunts and spectacle.

Christian Bale doesn't really click in the linchpin role of John Connor, who in the year 2018 is finally ready to step out of the shadow of the daunting prophesy he has lived with since childhood. Should he fail, the dominance of Skynet will be irreversible forevermore.

Notable only for displaying the biggest Terminator model on record, a five-storey-high unit with a machine gun for a head and little motorbike robots that launch from its boots.

WHERE TO WATCH: AMAZON

 

4. TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003)

Number three in the Terminator canon is prone to plenty of flat spots, but Arnold keeps stepping up with the right mix of menace and mirth to ensure standards don't dip for too long.

As the man himself is heard to utter here: "Levity is good. It relieves tension, and the fear of death."

 

He’s looking out for John Connor and trashing the streets of LA in T3.
He’s looking out for John Connor and trashing the streets of LA in T3.

Take one look at Arnie emerging from a cemetery crypt with a coffin on his shoulder and a bazooka on his hip, and there is simply no case to be argued.

As in Terminator 2, Schwarzenegger plays a model T-101 robot programmed to guarantee John Connor's absolute safety. However, the technologically superior T-X (Kristanna Loken) is hot on the pair's trail at all times.

With the looks of a supermodel and the demeanour of a Sherman tank, the T-X pursues her prey with a maniacal vengeance, setting the scene for a protracted chase that runs almost the entire length of the film.

Supermodel/robot assassin T-X (Kristanna Loken) hunts her prey.
Supermodel/robot assassin T-X (Kristanna Loken) hunts her prey.

The pulpy nature of the Terminator vs Terminatrix battle reaches its apex very early on, with the pair laying waste to the streets of Los Angeles in cartoonishly inspired fashion. Their respective choice of vehicles? He is swinging from the doors of a pet ambulance, while she is extending the arm of a monster mobile crane.

WHERE TO WATCH: RENT via GOOGLE, iTunes

 

3. TERMINATOR: DARK FATE (2019)

Let's keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

Linda Hamilton returns in Terminator: Dark Fate.
Linda Hamilton returns in Terminator: Dark Fate.

True Terminator fans are going to immediately recognise just how good this freshest effort can be when it truly hits its stride.

All the contradictions, paradoxes and clangers sounded out by many of the latter-day sequels are silenced once and for all here, with the story only really acknowledging the developments logged in the first two movies as relevant reference points.

The action sequences kick ass repeatedly, the new characters rock, and the old-school reunion of Terminator icons Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton - together again on screen for the first time in almost three decades - hits it right out of the park.

WHERE TO WATCH: In cinemas from tomorrow, Thursday October 31.

 

2. THE TERMINATOR (1984)

The foundation stone of all things Terminator is a big, fat concrete slab of futuristic mythology drawing much of its inspiration from the works of author Harlan Ellison.

The killer android’s first outing in the original Terminator. Picture: Orion Pictures.
The killer android’s first outing in the original Terminator. Picture: Orion Pictures.

The movie is unusual in that it plays just as strongly as a horror-thriller work as it does a highly efficient sci-fi actioner.

At the time of release, this was a breakthrough effort for Arnie, playing the archetypal 'bad' Terminator sent from the future to make sure Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) does not get a chance to spawn a resistance movement destined to be led by her son John.

Though the production design is a bit flimsy at times, both the big ideas at work and director James Cameron's brilliance as a proactive, inventive filmmaker generate a powerful flow that cannot help but sweep viewers totally away.

A movie that gets you in until there is no way out. Magnificent stuff.

WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX

 

1. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1990)

As Aliens is to Alien, Terminator 2 is that rare breed of movie animal - a sequel superior to the original.

T2 is still an incredible ride.
T2 is still an incredible ride.

You get Arnie in his absolute prime, not having to do much but crack a few timeless catchphrases, hit his marks, and keep a straight face. Genius.

You also get one of the great one-off villains of all-time in Robert Patrick, possibly the only actor in history to emote even less than Schwarzenegger while appearing in the same movie as the Austrian man-mountain.

And to cap it all off, you get a proper application of the Terminator myth that uses all of its elements (the time travel, the different models of 'bots, and the enduring threat posed by Skynet) absolutely perfectly.

To be frank, the special-effects do appear quite dated to the modern eye, but not to the detriment of the movie as a whole.

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Look at these images as you might a luxury antique sports car whooshing by, and T2 will still take you on the same great trip as always.

And what about the finale? Remember Arnie sinking into a vat of molten metal with his thumb aloft as a parting gesture.

Has a death scene ever been funnier and sadder at the very same time?

Sure, we always knew he'd be back. But what a way to leave.

WHERE TO WATCH: FOXTEL GO

 

it’s got special effects and explosions but no Arnie.
it’s got special effects and explosions but no Arnie.