Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Terminator - Gritty, Futuristic Fairy Tale

I'm a big fan of the Terminator movies which made California governor, ex-Mr Universe and Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger a major star.

Read all about them here. Thanks, Wikipedia.

The Terminator

The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction/action film directed and co-written by James Cameron. It features Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. The film was followed by three sequels.

The film takes place in 1984, introducing the concept of a "terminator", specifically the titular character (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a seemingly unstoppable cyborg assassin who has been sent back from the year 2029 by a race of artificially intelligent computer-controlled machines bent on the extermination of the human race. The Terminator's mission is to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) whose future son, John Connor, leads a resistance against the machines. A human, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), is also sent back from the future by John Connor himself to protect her.

The film opens in the ruins of Los Angeles in 2029, showing that the world has been devastated by nuclear war. Intelligent machines control the post-apocalyptic Earth, and are determined to exterminate the human race. The action then shifts from the future to May 12, 1984. Two men appear in Los Angeles in separate locations, manifesting in sudden, blinding flash-storms of electricity. One is heavily muscular, and appears unscathed by his journey; the other man, slim and wiry, seems to have been weakened by his journey, though he regains his strength fairly quickly. Both men are naked. The mysterious muscular man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) obtains clothes and weapons and begins hunting down all women named "Sarah Connor", using a phone book to track his targets. He successfully kills the first two of the three listed women. When he attempts to kill the last Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), he is stopped by the other man, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who has also been gathering weapons and equipment. It transpires that Reese has been sent back in time to protect her.

While hiding from their assailant in a parking garage, Reese explains that the man hunting Sarah is actually a cyborg assassin called a "Terminator", built by Skynet, an artificial intelligence network created by Cyberdyne Systems. In the near future, Reese explains, Skynet will gain self-awareness, initiate a global takeover of military hardware, and launch a nuclear war against humanity. Skynet will then order that a scant number of humans be kept alive in order to be used as slave labour. John Connor, Sarah's son, will rally the remaining humans and lead a resistance movement against the machines. After a grinding campaign, the human resistance will be on the verge of victory, and in a last-ditch effort, Skynet will send the Terminator back in time to kill Sarah before John was born, preventing the resistance from ever being founded and (presumably) allowing the machines to take over the world without opposition. Reese comes from this future, and volunteered to follow the Terminator back in time to protect Sarah; after his use of the time transportation equipment, it was to be destroyed by the resistance in order to prevent further Terminators from going back in time.

The Terminator feels no pain, has no emotions, and will stop at nothing to accomplish its mission. The time travel process developed by the machines can only send living tissue or an object covered with such living tissue, preventing Reese and the Terminator from bringing any advanced weaponry. Reese is skeptical of the stopping power provided by 20th century small arms; the Terminator is protected by an alloyed metal endoskeleton, although the living tissue covering the endoskeleton (referred to as a "combat chassis" by Reese) makes the Terminator indistinguishable from a human being, unlike previous models.

After Kyle finishes his story, he and Sarah are attacked by the Terminator again, resulting in a chase that leads to the police stopping and arresting Reese and Sarah; the Terminator crashes its vehicle, but disappears from the wreckage. At the West Highland Police Station, Sarah is told by Lieutenant Ed Traxler (Paul Winfield) and Detective Hal Vukovich (Lance Henriksen) that Reese is crazy. Reese is questioned by psychologist Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen). Reese explains his mission to Silberman, who concludes that the story is a paranoid delusion, constructed in such a way that it requires no evidence, thus preventing anyone from refuting it. The Terminator arrives at the police station and asks to see Sarah, but the desk sergeant denies access. After examining the police station and uttering the infamous catch phrase "I'll be back", the Terminator leaves, but returns seconds later by plowing a car through the front of the building. The Terminator then goes on a rampage through the building, killing 16 police officers. Reese manages to escape and rescue Sarah. They hide in a motel, where Reese teaches Sarah to make pipe bombs from household supplies. Sarah asks Reese whether he is disappointed in her, and whether he has ever been in love. After replying "no" to both questions, he confesses that he is in love with her. They kiss and fall into bed together.

Later that night, the Terminator tracks them down and, during the chase that follows, wounds Reese. Sarah knocks the Terminator off its motorcycle. A tanker truck then runs over the Terminator. The damaged cyborg commandeers the tanker truck and drives it at them. Reese uses one of their last bombs to blow up the truck, causing the Terminator to collapse in a burnt heap. Reese and Sarah embrace, thinking that the Terminator has been destroyed; but the metal endoskeleton is still functional and pursues them into a factory. In the ensuing chase, Reese jams a pipe bomb into the Terminator's abdomen, shattering it and killing himself. The Terminator, still partially functional, drags itself by its remaining hand to pursue Sarah, until she finally crushes it in a hydraulic press, destroying it.

The end of the film shows a pregnant Sarah traveling in Mexico on November 10, 1984. She records audio tapes which she intends to play for her son, John, at some point in his life. She reveals to the tape that John is Reese's son, conceived from their one night stand at the motel six months earlier, although she expresses doubt as to whether or not she will reveal to John the identity of his father. While Sarah's car is being refueled, a young Mexican boy takes a picture of her, which John will give to Reese decades in the future. The boy shouts a warning about the approaching weather in Spanish, which the gas station's owner translates as "a storm is coming". Sarah wistfully responds, "I know", pulls out of the gas station, and drives into the distance where storm clouds are approaching over mountains.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, commonly abbreviated as T2, is a 1991 action-science fiction film directed, co-written and co-produced by James Cameron. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong (who is of Native American and Russian ancestry) and Robert Patrick. It picks up around 10 years after the events of The Terminator and follows Sarah Connor, her 10-year-old son John and a protector from the future (as in the first film), as they try to prevent Judgment Day, a day in the future when machines will begin to exterminate the human race.

T2 was a significant box office and critical success. It had an impact on popular culture, and is considered by many to be hugely influential in the genres of action and science fiction. The film's visual effects include many breakthroughs in computer-generated effects, marking the first use of natural human motion for a CG character and the first computer-generated main character. The film won several awards including four Academy Awards for makeup, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.

Ten years after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) destroyed the original Terminator that was programmed to kill her, two Terminators arrive in Los Angeles in the year 1995. The first is a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) identical to the one that Sarah first encountered, while the second (Robert Patrick) is a new model known to be the T-1000, which assumes the identity of a police officer. John Connor (Edward Furlong) is now a 10-year-old living with foster parents. He has had an unusual childhood, with his mother Sarah constantly preparing him to fulfil his destiny as the leader of the future human resistance. Sarah's experiences have made her tougher and more vigilant, but also desperate to warn humanity about the coming apocalypse. After attempting to bomb a computer factory, Sarah is arrested and remanded to the Pescadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane under the supervision of Dr. Silberman.

Meanwhile, the Terminators locate John Connor in a mall. The Terminator orders John to "get down" after the T-1000 tried to shoot at him. After John is rescued, a chase through the L.A. storm drain channels ensues and the original Terminator escapes with John on his motorcycle. The Terminator explains that he is reprogrammed by the future John Connor to protect and obey John's younger self. The other Terminator is a T-1000, an advanced new prototype programmed to kill John. It is made of "a mimetic polyalloy", a liquid metal that allows it to take the shape and appearance of anything it touches of equivalent size, except guns, explosives and machines that have chemicals or moving parts. It can, however, shape parts of itself into knives and stabbing weapons.

Upon learning that the T-1000 will likely kill Sarah and then mimic her to lure John, John orders the Terminator to help free her. While making her own escape attempt, Sarah encounters her son and the Terminator. Initially Sarah is terrified by the cyborg, and tries to run away, and is captured by the guards of the prison, but the Terminator frees her. After being chased by the T-1000, Sarah accepts that the Terminator is there to help. As they escape the city, the Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet, the sentient computer system that will nearly wipe out humanity in an apocalyptic nuclear attack on "Judgment Day", and create the cyborgs that would take control of Earth. However, Sarah learns that the man most directly responsible for Skynet is Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton), a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet.

Sarah, John and the Terminator eventually arrive in the desert at the camp of Enrique Salceda, Sarah's old friend, who has preserved an underground weapons cache in case of war. Sarah plans to take John and flee into Mexico. While at this camp, the Terminator begins to learn about human emotions as it bonds more closely with John. Sarah once again then has a horrific nightmare of a nuclear explosion and wakes up with strengthened resolve. After she leaves abruptly, John and the Terminator see the words "No Fate" (from the phrase "The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves" Kyle Reese taught her in the first movie), carved into a table earlier by Sarah, and deduce that she is planning to change the future by killing Dyson. At Dyson's home, Sarah shoots Dyson in the arm but finds herself unable to kill him in front of his family. After John and the Terminator arrive, they inform Dyson of the consequences of his research and convince him that they must destroy everything related to his chip design, including the CPU and arm from the previous Terminator.

Sarah, John, the Terminator and Dyson break into the Cyberdyne Systems building and retrieve the parts from the first Terminator. While preparing explosives to destroy all of Dyson's research, security alerts the police, who show up in force. The Terminator manages to destroy most of the police vehicles without breaking an earlier promise to John to refrain from killing. The SWAT team mortally wounds Dyson, who stays behind to trigger the detonator. Sarah, John and the Terminator escape in a SWAT van with the T-1000 in pursuit, first in a helicopter and then in a liquid nitrogen truck. The truck crashes into a steel mill, causing the tank to rupture and spill liquid nitrogen everywhere, freezing the T-1000. The Terminator shatters him, whereupon the pieces thaw and reassemble. The three split up as Sarah and the Terminator try to lead the T-1000 away from John, but the T-1000 catches and threatens to kill Sarah unless she calls to John; she is saved when the Model 101 intervenes. The Terminators fight hand-to-hand, with the T-1000 stabbing the Model 101 through the power cell with a metal pole, deactivating him. The T-1000, now disguised as Sarah, goes to hunt John but is revealed when the real Sarah shoots him. The Terminator reactivates itself using an alternate power source and arrives on a rotating gear. It fires the last grenade into the T-1000, causing it to deform and fall into the molten steel below, where it is destroyed.

Having destroyed the T-1000, John throws the parts from the first Terminator into the steel; but the Terminator says that he too must be destroyed to prevent his technology from being used to create Skynet. Since the Terminator cannot self-terminate, Sarah must lower him into the steel using a winch. As the Terminator says goodbye, Sarah shakes his hand in a gesture of respect, and John tearfully orders him to stay. The Terminator reveals a newfound understanding of human emotions but insists that he must be destroyed. As he sinks into the molten steel, he gives a "thumbs up" signal which John had earlier taught him. The film ends with a voice-over from Sarah: "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."

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, commonly abbreviated as T3, is a 2003 action film directed by Jonathan Mostow and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken. It is the second sequel to The Terminator (1984). The film was released in the United States on July 2, 2003. It was released under the Warner Brothers label, as the studios that produced the first two Terminator films (Orion Pictures and Carolco Pictures) had gone out of business by that point.

After the failure of Skynet to kill Sarah Connor before her son is born and to kill John himself as a child, it sends back another Terminator, the T-X, in a last attempt just on Judgment Day to wipe out as many Tech-Com resistance officers as possible. This includes John's future wife, but not John himself as his whereabouts are unknown to Skynet. Yet, as the story unfolds, the T-X coincidentally finds a trace of the resistance leader-to-be.

Despite the prevention of the events shown in the previous film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, from occurring in 1997 as originally predicted, John Connor (Nick Stahl), does not believe the prophesied war has been averted. Living "off-the-grid" in Los Angeles, California with no permanent residence, credit card, or mobile phone, John works freelance to prevent anyone from tracking him. Skynet sends another Terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Loken), back to July 24, 2004, Judgment Day, to kill the human resistance's future lieutenants, thereby preventing the future organisation of Tech-Com. In order to avoid the non-living tissue restriction of time travel, Skynet designs the T-X, dubbed the "Terminatrix" by John Connor, to carry all weapons internally. Armed with a full arsenal of advanced weaponry from the future, including the ability to remotely control most machines, the T-X is far more dangerous than any of the previous Terminators sent by Skynet.

As in the previous film, a reprogrammed Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent back to counter the T-X. Similar in design and programming to the Terminators from the previous films, this particular Terminator is revealed to have killed John in 2032 before being reprogrammed by John's future wife, Katherine Brewster (Claire Danes) and sent to protect the couple. After rescuing John and Kate from an initial attack by the T-X, the Terminator leads them to the grave of Sarah Connor (Sarah having died of leukaemia some years beforehand). Inside the grave, they find a weapons cache set up by Sarah's friends in the event that Judgment Day was not prevented. The T-X and the police arrive, but John, Katherine and the Terminator escape with the weapons in a hearse.

Following the destruction of Cyberdyne Systems in T2, the US Air Force took over the Skynet project as part of its Cyber Research Systems division, headed by Lieutenant General Robert Brewster (David Andrews), Kate's father. In an attempt to stop the spread of a computer supervirus, Brewster activates Skynet, allowing it to invade all of the division's systems. Arriving too late to prevent Skynet's activation and subsequent propagation, John, Kate and the Terminator's situation is further complicated with the arrival of the T-X. The T-1 Terminators, under control of the T-X, begin killing office personnel in an attempt to find and eliminate John and Kate. Believing that Judgment Day can still be stopped, John asks Brewster for the location of the Skynet system core. Just before General Brewster dies, he tells John and Kate to go to Crystal Peak, a military base built into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

As they are boarding an airplane to leave, John and Kate are attacked by the Terminator, which was reprogrammed by the T-X to kill them. However, the Terminator is able to override its programming enough to shut itself down and avoid killing John. Upon their arrival at Crystal Peak, John and Kate are once again attacked by the T-X; however the fight is soon interrupted by the arrival of the Terminator. Having rebooted itself, the Terminator traps the T-X under a helicopter announcing, "I'm back!" The T-X detaches its legs to free itself from the helicopter and crawls after John and Kate. The Terminator catches hold of the T-X before it reaches John and Kate, and tells John that they will meet again one day before telling them to leave immediately. The Terminator then exclaims, "You are terminated!" (the line uttered by Sarah Connor before she killed the first Model 101 in the first film), as it detonates its last remaining hydrogen fuel cell in the T-X's mouth, destroying them both in the process.

John and Kate discover that the base does not house Skynet's core as expected, but is rather a Cold War-era fallout shelter for government officers. General Brewster sent his daughter and John there to protect them from the impending nuclear holocaust. Here, they discover that Skynet is software in cyberspace, running on computers throughout the world, and effectively impossible to shut down: as such, Judgment Day is now inevitable. Skynet begins a series of nuclear attacks on various cities, commencing Judgment Day and initiating the war against humans. Amateur radio operators and confused military forces from Montana Civil Defense ask John for orders, foreshadowing his future leadership role in the Tech-Com resistance.

The film's last shots are of Skynet's nuclear weapons destroying cities around the world on Judgment Day; followed by a shot of the destroyed Terminator's skull. John delivers a final narration about Judgment Day happening just as the Terminator described. The narration ends with: "The battle has just begun."

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is a 2009 American science fiction film written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris and directed by McG (Joseph McGinty) of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle fame. It is the fourth film in the Terminator series, and stars Christian Bale as future Resistance leader John Connor and Sam Worthington as cyborg Marcus Wright. The film also introduces a young version of Kyle Reese, the protagonist from the original 1984 film, played by Anton Yelchin of Star Trek, as well as depicting the origin of the T-800 Model 101 Terminator. Terminator Salvation, set in 2018, focuses on the war between humanity and Skynet. The film was released on May 21, 2009 in the United States.

In 2003, Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) of Cyberdyne Systems convinces death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution by lethal injection. One year later, the Skynet system is activated, perceives humans as a threat to its own existence, and eradicates much of humanity in the event known as Judgment Day. In 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale) leads an attack by the Resistance on a Skynet base. John discovers human prisoners and the plans for the development of a new type of Terminator incorporating living tissue, but is the only apparent survivor of the attack after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion. However, Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base and proceeds on foot to Los Angeles.

John returns to the Resistance headquarters on board a nuclear submarine and tells General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) of his discovery. The Resistance has discovered a radio frequency capable of shutting down Skynet machines. They plan to launch an offensive against the Skynet base in San Francisco in four days, in response to an intercepted "kill list" indicating that Skynet plans to kill the Resistance's command staff in four days' time. John learns that his own name is second on the list, following Kyle Reese. The Resistance leaders are unaware of Kyle's importance to Skynet, but John knows that it is because Kyle will later become his father. John meets with his officer Barnes (Common or Lonnie Rashid Lynn) and wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) and sends radio broadcasts to Resistance members and surviving civilians around the world.

Arriving in the ruins of Los Angeles, Marcus is saved from a T-600 Terminator by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and his mute companion Star (Jadagrace Berry). Kyle relates to Marcus the events of Judgment Day and the ensuing war between humans and machines. Hearing John's radio broadcast, the three leave Los Angeles in search of the Resistance. They survive an attack by machines, but Kyle, Star and several other humans are taken prisoner, while a pair of Resistance A-10s are shot down. Marcus locates downed pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) and they make their way to John's base, but Marcus is wounded by a land mine. Attempting to save his life, the Resistance fighters discover that he is in fact a cyborg with human organs, a mechanical endoskeleton, circuitry and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. Marcus believes himself to be human, demanding to be released so that he can save Kyle from Skynet, but John orders his destruction. However, Blair releases him and helps him to escape from the base. During the resulting pursuit Marcus saves John's life from Skynet hydrobots and the two form an alliance — Marcus will enter Skynet's headquarters and attempt to disable its defenses so that John can rescue Kyle.

John demands that Ashdown delay the attack so that he can rescue Kyle and the other prisoners, but Ashdown refuses and relieves John of his command. However, John's soldiers remain loyal to him and he sends a radio broadcast asking the other Resistance fighters not to attack Skynet. Meanwhile, Marcus enters the Skynet base and interfaces with the computer, disabling the perimeter defenses and allowing John to infiltrate the cell block and release the human prisoners. The Resistance's disabling signal is revealed to be a ruse, and the command submarine with the resistance leaders aboard is destroyed by a Hunter-Killer.

Marcus discovers that he was created by Skynet and has unwittingly fulfilled his programmed mission to lure John into the base to be killed. He tears out the hardware linking him to Skynet and leaves to assist John in battling a T-800 Model 101 Terminator. John is mortally wounded during the fight, but succeeds in destroying the Skynet base by rigging several Terminator nuclear power cells to an explosive, detonating them as he, Marcus, Kyle, and Star are airlifted out. Kate attempts to save John's life, but his heart is too damaged. Marcus offers his heart for transplant, sacrificing himself to save John. Recovering, John radios to the other Resistance fighters that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.