With the release of Terminator Salvation (aka Terminator With Batman and Transformers!) we'd like to take a closer look at the franchise that has explored such pressing issues as our dependence on machines, what it means to be human and how utterly incredible it would be if Robert Patrick could turn his arm into a fucking knife.
However, in our exploration of this series, we have come across a few gaps in logic, which we felt compelled to share with you. Why? Because we don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and we absolutely will not stop, ever, until every movie you have ever loved is ruined.
If you've found your way to this article, odds are you remember The Terminator, but let's refresh some key plot points. In the mysterious and distant future--1997, to be exact--Skynet, a highly-advanced artificial intelligence, is introduced to the world. Humans decide to hand over all military control to this system because in the Terminator universe the people have not seen The Terminator.
Decades later, the humans are at war with the robots and a brave warrior named John Connor takes charge and turns the tide. The machines strike back by sending the Governor of California back to the 80s to kill Connor's mom before he's born. The humans send Michael Biehn back to protect her.
Along the way, he makes it part of his mission to protect her vagina from not having his penis in it. And that, readers, is where everything in the space-time continuum gets "iffy."
As it turns out, when Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton sleep together, they conceive John Connor. And, as we learn in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when the Terminator is destroyed in the first film, the microchip in its skull survives, falls into the hands of computer company Cyberdyne Systems, and allows for the creation of Skynet in the first place.
Therefore, the only reason either John Connor or the machines exist is because the Terminator went back in time, and the only reason the Terminator went back in time is because the machines and John Connor exist. Get it?
"I have to protect your unborn child, but first let's go ahead and get you pregnant."
Oh, and John Connor and our heroes spend the last act of the second movie trying to prevent said war, meaning John Connor is trying to prevent his own existence, by eliminating the reason for his dad to travel back in time to conceive him. And, if he does prevent his own existence, well, he certainly won't be around to prevent the war thus prevent his existence and...
Well, you get the idea.
So, we've established that the first Terminator failed and was in fact killed by a waitress. Consider how embarrassing that must have been for it.
But neither Skynet or Hollywood give up on good ideas, they merely try them again when the technology improves. Hence Terminator 2, in which a highly-advanced liquid metal Terminator is sent back again, only this time it's the 90s and the target, being young John Connor, can barely tie his shoes.
Luckily, the original T-800, his balls now safely removed, is sent back to protect John after being reprogrammed by him in the future. They meet up with Linda Hamilton and once again, our heroes thwart the bad guy, despite his obvious technological advantage. Did we mention he can turn his arm into a knife? C'mon.
The third time around, Skynet throws a little something called the T-X John Connor's way.
The T-X has a liquid metal substance for skin, futuristic weapons built into its endoskeleton, and can make its breasts grow at will. Yet, once again an outdated T-800, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes defeat this wonderful creation. Is your disbelief still suspended?
If so, answer this for us: Can't Skynet just keep on trying until it gets John Connor?
We highly doubt that the time machine has an "only three assassination attempts per user" rule. And anyway, why do they keep on trying to attack John Connor at different periods in his existence anyway? Couldn't they send the T-X back to the 80s to deal with Linda Hamilton again?
Or even earlier? After all, why lose the element of surprise by traveling to a time when the targets know what they're up against? It'd make a lot more sense to send the Terminators to earlier in the character's lives, when they were still oblivious to the threat. Get Sarah Connor as an infant, damnit. Hell, even if it was just one day earlier than the first movie, it would still make all the difference in the world.
Honestly, who programmed this shit?
The Terminator series really only establishes two rules for its futuristic technology:
1. The robots cannot show emotion;
2. The time machine can't transport non-living matter.
First, the emotion thing. This one seems pretty easy to nail down, right (they're fucking robots)? And it's stated right in the second movie when Arnold says, "I know now why you cry, but it's something I can never do" (though some students of the franchise speculate that was just Schwarzenegger thinking out loud on the set and the microphone happened to be on).
So why then, at the end of that very film, does the T-1000 give us the world's greatest "oh shit" face just moments before his destruction:
Pictured: The clinical, calm detachment of a robot.
And he's not the only one. When the T-X discovers that she is on the trail of her main target John Connor, she displays an odd mix of excitement and what appears to be arousal, because hunting down the savior of mankind must be so damn hot.
Come on, lady, your one job in this movie was to not act.
And then there's the non-living matter time machine issue. As Kyle Reese explains in the first film, no advanced weaponry can be brought back from the future because the time machine can only transmit living tissue. That's why we had to tolerate naked Schwarzenegger ass for two films before somebody finally remembered to put a hot woman in the role.
Now, technically, the first Terminator is a machine with living tissue layered over its endoskeleton, so it gets a pass, we guess. Enter the T-1000, the second film's liquid metal Terminator that can take nearly any shape and recover from nearly any wound. Oh, and it can turn its arm into a knife.
The problem is, this Terminator is composed entirely of liquid metal. No living tissue, no flesh, just 100% mimetic-poly alloy (thank you, James Cameron). That means, according to the rules clearly established in the first movie, it cannot travel back in time.
But, it does. Same goes for the T-X in the third movie. That Terminator is liquid metal on top of a heavily armored endoskeleton. It shouldn't be able to venture to the past either.
Now, the whole point of adding that rule in the first movie was that it closed the "why don't they just send back a nuclear bomb?" plot hole. Fine. But just to further piss all over that logic, we find out in the third film that, in fact, the T-800 has the equivalent of little nukes stored in its abdomen. That's how he ultimately defeats the lady Terminator. So... why didn't he use those against Sarah Connor in the first movie?