Three extra sequels, a fourth in production, plus one ill-fated TV series, and yet no creative team has quite managed to hone the fluid excellence of James Cameron's original The Terminator and its first tightly-woven sequel. Even the later Terminator movies re-casting Arnie and endorsed by Cameron himself didn't meet that same standard of borderline perfection.
That's not to say there hasn't been some sterling effort, and credit to all who tried. T3: Rise of the Machines had some great action, Terminator: Salvation had a nice setting, some emotional storytelling, and interesting characters.
And Terminator: Genisys, had many a great thing going for it. But instead it all turned into a bit of a weird mess. Even 2008's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles showed a promising start, but swiftly fell in on itself by the second season and was put to bed for its own good.
There is a marked difference between decent and outstanding, and the path to the latter was never quite reached because the following points were overlooked. Perhaps if heeded, the next alleged trilogy will reignite the fire of excellence. But with consideration to the final point on this list, it already isn’t looking all that promising.
5. Colour Coding
The cyberpunk-esque red and black of 1984's The Terminator, and the ice cold silver and blue of 1991's T2: Judgement Day were recurring palettes across both films, used in scenery, backgrounds and especially on the villainous terminators themselves. This was kind of typical of James Cameron's bewildering attention to detail. It made the visual style a through-and-through hypnotic and addictive experience.
Colour themes were touched on mildly in the sandy and ragged look of Terminator: Salvation, but otherwise overlooked, making for an ultimately duller visual experience in the later incarnations.
Colour coding makes perfect sense for a story about innocent goodies on the run from ruthless heels. In Terminator 2 the blue, silver and white of almost everything filmed at night time resembled the glossy tones of the T-1000 in his liquid metal form. It projected the impression of never being safe, of being marked by the killer sent to catch the protagonists no matter whereabouts they might be hiding.
And the genius in this technique is that it often has an effect on the viewer without the person even consciously realising.