All Terminator Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

Before going into the article, let me give you a heads up, I’m neither a fan, nor a hater of ‘The Terminator’ franchise. And it goes without saying, your views may not overlap with mine. So, let’s begin.

If some of you forgot how many Terminator movies are there, the answer is five. ‘The Terminator’ franchise started with a low-budget thriller film that introduced a very interesting and compelling story about a woman who is a target of a ruthless man from the future that turns up to be a cyborg. It was a simple yet good story and a good piece of science fiction. Why was it a good film? Well, for starters, the bad guy, i.e the terminator, according to Kyle Reese, doesn’t feel pain or pity, can’t be reasoned with, can’t be bargained with. It was the perfect killer, and almost invincible. So there you got all the elements of a good story.

Thereafter, things started spiraling down a bit. The following couple of movies managed the franchise from totally losing it’s plot, at least in my opinion. However, after the next couple of movies, according to certain fans and several of audience believe that the potential of the franchise is left unfulfilled. If you don’t mind me giving away the spoiler, it’s not a surprise that the first movie of the franchise will stand first if we rank all the movies. But where will the other movies stand? Read on to find out.


5. Terminator Salvation (2009)

While giant explosions and wildly intense action scenes are eclipsed by even larger sequences of mass destruction, the story of Terminator Salvation remains timidly simple. No tricky time travel finds its way into the plot, but perhaps such complexities are exactly what’s missing – the loss of interaction between something completely alien and the familiar conventions of our world coupled with the contrast of futuristic terror and the limited resources of present day leave a premise dull by comparison. Though it may be nearly impossible to match the integrity of the first two entries in the franchise, Salvation should realize that bigger sizes and quantities of killer robots doesn’t necessarily make them scarier.


4. Terminator Genisys (2015)

There is really nothing to say about this film besides that it’s a complete slap in the face to anyone who is a fan of the Terminator franchise. The plot is very tedious and the script is poorly written throughout. I complained about the plot of ‘Salvation’ being too simple, without any time travel stuff, but unfortunately, for a time travel story it is incredibly illogical. In a world where time travel is possible, I am sure that time can be re-written in a way, but you got to have logic. This “time travel” movie defies logic in every possible way. I’ll not get into details and spoil it to a few who haven’t watched it yet.

The film is also horribly miscast. Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, and Jason Clarke did not play their roles very well and they can barely act. Arnold Schwarzenegger, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith and the kid who played young Kyle Reese are the only cast members who could act and were not completely miscast. If the makers will have to come up with something brilliant to save the franchise after this one.


3. Terminator 3: Rise of Machines (2003)

Many fans and movie buffs argue that this film is where the charm of the franchise started diminishing. Of course, the third part of any successful franchise is always meant to be a big marketed and a to-be blockbuster affair. Keeping away the fame and box office of the franchise, let’s talk about in film-making terms. The film of is undoubtedly technically sound, but the script is flat and lifeless. It seems that James Cameron’s part in producing the script must have been very small or he’s lost the plot. Add in second rate music (the first two movies have fine music) and the result is all gloss and no substance. Sure this type of film is all about action but it does need a good script to work well. Just adding in bigger explosions and more carnage just ain’t the way to do it.


2. The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator is considered a breakthrough among the movies of its genre and it’s undeniable that James Cameron has changed how the action movies were made at that time with this film. The intensity of the screenplay as the terminator is getting closer to his objective, is the driving force of the movie. And as he movie goes on, it only gets better. The visual effects, particularly the makeup used on Arnold Schwarzenegger to reveal some parts of the robotic skeleton beneath the human-tissue, are surprisingly good. The CGI, despite being from the 80’s, and you can rapidly notice when the chroma key is being used, work fine to me. Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn succeed in giving such remarkable performances, that until now they have influence on other actors who portray these characters in the recent movies.


1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Attempting a sequel may appear to be a safe game in the onset. But the toughest task in film production, and I say production because I mean for every aspect of the film, is living up to a prequel. Let´s face it. This movie is packed with some of the greatest action scenes around, but that´s really about it. The “Terminator” movies are one of the greatest action series of films around, along with the “Die Hard” series.

While the special effects look a bit dated, the action scenes are still incredible. In fact, ‘Terminator II’ stands among one of the best movies, in terms of pure action. Apart from that, it blends thrills and compassion brilliantly. Obviously the terminators deal with most of the rough stuff but Linda Hamilton is a revelation. She is fiery, powerful and loving. The balance of action with human themes of faith, endurance, and sacrifice is almost perfect.

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