Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines dir. Jonathan Mostow (2003) A not-terrible pastiche of the original two films. Claire Danes and Nick Stahl nail the human element, but while the plot leans gratifyingly towards simple pursuit, the competing Terminators have become nigh indestructible, turning the action scenes into a bore-fest of destruction.
The Terminator dir. James Cameron (1984) Though irrevocably lodged in the 1980s, the original Terminator nevertheless stands up well as a nightmarish SF thriller. The final effects are a bit ropey but Hamilton, Biehn and Schwarzenegger nail their roles, allowing James Cameron’s straightforward plot to carry the day.
Terminator: Dark Fate dir. Tim Miller (2019) Scripted by committee and rife with pointless action. If James Cameron, David Goyer and the rest of the fast food brains trust had collaborated with Warner Bros. to make Terminator versus Road Runner, the result could hardly have been any less tense.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season 1 created by Josh Friedman (2008) Although cut short by the writers guild strike of 2007-2008, season one of The Sarah Connor Chronicles tackled Terminator with a truth lacking in most of the feature films. Starring Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau, with music by Bear McCreary.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines by David Hagberg (Tom Doherty, 2003) A simply written novelisation. Although Hagberg is something of a pulp hack—to the point of cutting and pasting trite similes from one chapter to the next—some of the overblown action scenes work better in print than on the big screen.
Terminator Genisys dir. Alan Taylor (2015) Conceptually, the first two Terminator films were perfect, leaving no room for escalation. (Instalments three and four thus nose-dived pointlessly.) Terminator Genisys tries something different, retrofitting the franchise with less menace but more humour. Though not a classic, it’s at least enjoyable.