Jul 10, 2007

[Movies] A Tribute to the Terminator Series

Flickr: hanzkainz - terminator

I was feeling particularly geeky this week, perhaps it's because I'm sick or maybe it's a side-effect of the meds I'm taking - who knows really. Anyway, because of this heightened feeling of geekyness, I found myself watching Terminator 3 over on HBO, for lack of anything better to watch.

While watching the ridiculous explosions and special effects, I started replaying the classic story of the rise of Skynet and so on and so forth and one geeky thought led to another until *BAMF* - the reason for this entry.

So today I'm paying tribute to the entire Terminator series. Oh joy!

First, why this series, right? It's not just because of my lifelong obsession with all things cybernetic (hence my love for the Transformers, eh?) but more because of the role it played in developing science fiction movies and the entire post-apocalyptic genre, at least in my opinion.

I'm not saying that the Terminator movies started the post-apocalyptic nightmare - this sort of thing had been going on for some times in books and to a limited extent in other movies. This one made it look very believable (kudos to James Cameron for executing that vision) and accessible to a greater audience. Let's face it - not everyone reads science fiction as compared to how many people are willing to watch movies about it, hehe.

The movie also helped bring to fore another idea that had been toyed around with time and time again - the dangers of artificial intelligence and the possibility of a machine rebellion (something all you Matrix fans might find somehow familiar, hehe). Again, nothing new, but since it was done in such a grand and Hollywood-esque way, it worked and more people began to think about it.

The first two Terminator movies really did something for me. They were wicked cool and as a kid I thought they were pretty scary to boot and I suppose it didn't hurt that seeing Michael Beihn in various states of undress helped awake certain queer stirrings in my head, haha. The joys of queer theory in science fiction stories, haha.

I think what remains to be most notable in everyone's minds would have to be how disturbing the T-800 series of Terminators looked - like walking skeletons with massive machine guns and laser weapons. Ouchies - definitely the stuff of nightmares. They upped the ante even further with the liquid metal T-1000 that really scared the pants off me - I get goosebumps whenever I hear him say the words, "Have you seen this boy?" Few things scarier than the thought of an evil killer robot from the future running after you as a kid because of things you might possibly do in the future.

That brings me to another thing - time travel. While the Back to the Future trilogy was a bit more comical in addressing the same subject, the Terminator films were a lot more deliberate, involving direct attempts to alter the future by making significant changes in the past. What more, evidence of these time travel incidents (i.e. leftover pieces from the first Terminator) actually assured their creation in the future somehow - paradox! Whether or not this was the direct intent of the creators, it certainly helped us all think about the nature of time travel and the implications of paradox.

Furthermore, it helped push forward the theory that somethings are just "meant" to happen - in other words some events are so significant, that it would take more than a few alterations to the past to change the future as was postulated in the films in terms of the inevitability of Skynet becoming self-aware and Judgment Day occurring. Yes, that remains to be one of the few things of value provided by Terminator 3, hahaha.

So for me, the Terminator movies certainly helped me start thinking about a lot of things (despite a few sleepless nights here and there) like what robots could become, the nature of paradox, the possibility of artificial intelligence going the wrong way, etc. Sure, it's a very Hollywood way of presenting these topics, themes and ideas but sometimes you need these kinds of long mileage events in science fiction to increase awareness and really get the ball rolling.

There's something to think about the next time you catch Arnold doing what he does best - act like a robot.

Photo linked from Flickr user hanzkainz's photostream.


  1. what i like about the terminator series are the heroines. if you observe carefully it demonstrates the strength, diligence, and intelligence of real women without sacrificing their femininity. its not obvious as it might alienate the dumb public who are all caught up with their machismo.

  2. you make an excellent point! then again, James Cameron does has a knack for strong heroines given he also did a tremendous job with Ripley in Aliens, hehe.

    thanks for commenting!