The Terminator Franchise: The Definitive Ranking

35 Years Ago: Arnold Schwarzenegger Becomes 'The Terminator'

Ah, another franchise reviewed. Also ranked. May the Listicle gods grant me bounty for this list.

This is a case study in a studio led franchise that’s designed to simply earn money. From a surprise beginning with a tiny-budget of a first film through giant behemoths of productions, the different production companies (that almost all went bankrupt shortly afterwards for some reason) were pursuing box office numbers. They got lucky with the first couple of sequels, driven by James Cameron’s sheer talent for entry number 2 and a better than it deserves to be script for number 3, but it’s fumbled all over the place ever since.

After a good idea gone bad, it’s been nothing but retreads since, none able to stand on their own two feet as entertainments, and all failures as continuations of stories that really should have never been continued in the first place.

Amazon.com: Terminator Genisys Movie Poster 2 Sided Original Version B  27x40 Emilia Clarke: Posters & Prints

6. Terminator Genisys

“Then the movie gets really dumb.”

Amazon.com: Movie Posters Terminator: Salvation - 11 x 17: Posters & Prints

5. Terminator Salvation

“I’m not of mixed mind on this. Salvation is not a good film. It’s a bad film. However, it does have some interesting things about it. The pushing of the setting to the future after Judgment Day was a good choice.”

Amazon.com: newhorizon Terminator Dark Fate Movie Poster 14'' x 21'' NOT A  DVD: Posters & Prints

4. Terminator Dark Fate

“Ultimately, this movie is really hobbled by the fact that it tries to tell two stories at once and never really connects them that well. Both have the potential to fill a movie completely on their own, but together they clash.”

Amazon.com: Terminator 2 Poster 24 x 36in: Posters & Prints

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

“The movie really is an action spectacular when it finally gets around to it. The first act isn’t really bad, but it’s kind of plodding and jagged in design. I think it’s enough to keep the film from actual greatness, but the rest of it really is great.”

Amazon.com: (24x36) Terminator Movie Arnold Schwarzenegger with Gun 80s  Poster Print: Posters & Prints

2. The Terminator

“This is a testament to the power of craft in building a movie.”

Amazon.com: Terminator 3 Rise of The Machines Movie Poster 1 Sided Original  Mini 17x25: Posters & Prints

1. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

“Unpopular movie opinion: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the best Terminator movie.”


8 thoughts on “The Terminator Franchise: The Definitive Ranking”

  1. I still think the first one is the best, lean and to the point, and the following films are just pale shadows trying for a share of the glory. But that’s the great thing about the internet.


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