If you understand James Cameron, then you understand his use of inversions. Inversions simply mean to flip the same idea on its head. In music, You can invert a chord several times depending on how many notes are involved. I bring up the musical reference because you might think you can’t invert the terminator motifs because we’ve just seen their polar opposites in the second film. I’m intentionally contradicting myself by mixing apples with oranges: opposites and inversions do not mean the same thing, they are not on the same plain field, they are not in the same dimension. Avatar is his greatest inversion...regarding Aliens but I'm not here to talk about Avatar. I’m starting heavily with this in order to state the approach and the foundation that will keep any non-Cameron writer in the atmosphere and tone of Terminator.
Terminator 3 was Robocop 4 – a slapstick rock 'em sock 'em robots satire. T4 was…Captain Power…do not ask me to elaborate on that one. These are abominations…fanfics gone wild and given a Hollywood budget to disgrace the original generation that saw The Terminator and fool the newest generation as to what die hard means…this is simply blasphemy and it needs to stop…fucking now. I would probably need to say something concerning X-Men and Transformers but that is for another day under a different mind. T3 and T4 seem to have ruined any possibility for a comeback and would require the kind of 21st century remake that Marvel did for Hulk with Edward Norton. However, Cameron's semi-Bach genius of time travel allows for an alternate universe…hidden from idiot writers of the 3rd kind.
Several FAQs concerning Time travel in Terminator 2 have brought up many different issues and dynamics and even answers that I think even the famous Michio Kaku would hypothetically validate. Such issues include:
“Why doesn’t John Connor disappear after every possibility for judgment day is destroyed at the steel mill, preventing his father from traveling through time to meet his mother?” Simply because they still exist in their own universe. Kyle Reese might still exist in that future war in another universe regardless of their prevention of judgment day, but these actions won’t have any effect on each other because they exist in two different universes and not the same universe…my paraphrase is lacking…I know but hang with me here. Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future II refers to such drastic changes in history as a separate universe…not the same one with a different course or route. The point is, the concept that there are different worlds within worlds of reality allows the writer with understanding to…wait for it…ignore every stupid thing they put in T3 and T4!!!! I'm going to continue now by believing that someone used a time machine and killed Jonathan Mostow and McG....and I'm still waiting for the Third terminator film or at least the proper one...and so are you.
Another strange thing to fathom before I move on: In the original script of T2, the future war was supposed to be much longer such that you saw the actual fall of Skynet with John Connor's narration before he sends Kyle Reese back through time. One of the soldiers says, “that's it, lets blow the place to hell” John says “wait a minute”. They head to the terminator chamber where they find dozens of CSM101s (and remember that all T-800s have the same endoskeleton but they could look differently with the skin applied over it. Thus, only a CSM101 could look like Arnold and a CSM102 would look like someone else) and John stares into the face of an inactive CSM101 and remembers the past in 1995 (another tangent, T2 was set in 1995, John was born February 1985, making him 10-years-old (Cameron even stated in the shooting script that John was 10. T3 claims John was 13 when he was targeted for termination by the T-1000. Now, If he was 13…that would place the movie in 1998…Judgment Day was August 1997…so how in God's green earth could they have been trying to prevent Judgment Day when it apparently happened a year ago?!? Apparently, Some people have gotten their head ripped off and shat down their neck by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman and are still alive to work in this business. Whoever can hear let them hear: This is the reason T3 and T4 need to be cast into the fire and shunned from all history). This leads us to wonder…if we dare entertain it…if John remembered his friendship with the T-800 CSM101 after destroying Skynet…what made it continue? Judgment day was probably inevitable and what made it happen is an issue that we will have to put on the back burner for now since there is another narrative take to consider…
…what if we say it ends with T2? And the future war is more or less a prequel in the cycle of story telling? Let that settle in if you need to, we’ve come a long way already.
In algebra we work with givens. Our given is…actually I need to take a few steps back:
It is self evident that any film that undertakes the terminator universe from this point onward needs to take place in the “future” where there is no prevention of judgment day – The war judgment day is not the ending…it is the fucking beginning. 2. We do not want to start a third time with time travel…wait a minute am I being redundant? We’re in the future so that foundation should clearly state that there isn’t a need for time travel…well not really…just get fucking rid of it…no naked terminators or human soldiers trying to prevent something from happening - the shit hit the fan and the characters will just have to deal with this nightmare and our story fucking begins. 3…and probably the hardest one to deal with…how do you do a terminator film without Arnold? To give the story justice by skimming the surface, this movie should be and is about John Connor…it is and has always been about John Connor. Why after 3 decades have we not seen what is so badass about this machinefucker? John Connor would have to be so badass that he can carry the film over 2 hours before we are even given a hint of the CSM101 terminator. I’m not saying you can’t bring in Arnold…though…it would just make it easier for some jackass in the audience to say some shit like “Do they all look Arnold? Well certainly that ought to make them easy to spot! They are stupid! They are being infiltrated by the same guy.” Allright, lets deal with it…Arnold is Model 101…so there should be at least 100 more that look completely different, right? I almost sounded like Ripley in Aliens right there…it's still Cameron so its allowed.
The point is that those are the issues and any terminator fan or any person with a brain knows it and you know they know it. This is not a guesstimation…Cameron has left a blue print in his work and despite how complex Terminator is due to time travel, Cameron, like Kubrick, is clean, simple, and bold. Addressing these points and sticking within the motifs mentioned above will lead to a very satisfied audience and the biggest motherfucking blockbuster since Avatar. Now that might sound like a stretch but any 12-year-old would’ve thought that T3 should’ve been T2: battle across time stretched to a 3 hour film in 3D. Just stay away from lines like buckethead and my college roomate...humor that isn't exactly within the aesthetic dimension of Terminator - lines such as "you told me to", "he'll live" and "trust me" are more matter-of-fact lines that end up being funny because of the context that they are put into and not vice versa.
One more thing that is completely important not to leave out…what out of anti-christ technology would the newest humanoid terminator be? I say humanoid because the past films were centered around humanoid terminators…not that I wouldn’t give HKs their due spot light…they would be the texture for a good bulk of the film. And how do you ask could you have a more advanced terminator when we have t-800s at the peak of a 3 decade war? T-800s came in the near end of the war. Kyle was twenty something and was familiar with them…he called them the “newest”. Ambiguity aside, he did say “terminators were the newest, the worst” not 800s, but the line “600s had rubber skin, we spotted them easy” would imply that he was referring to T-800s as being the worst. Kyle was recruited under Perry from 2021-2027. Somewhere in that time frame T-800s emerge.
The peak of the war takes place in 2029 where skynet is about to be defeated and you don’t see any T-1000s killing anybody in the open battlefield. Why? T-1000 was a hidden card in Skynets hand for no one to see but John Connor was the only with that insider information due to his childhood. Just like the T 1million in T2: Battle Across Time, it stays near Skynet’s super computer. I’d like to think of the T-1000 as a hidden security guard that hides in the floor and walls of the pyramid structure…you ain’t gonna see it comin’. Anyway, back to the point of a more advanced terminator amongst t-800s. Its apparent that it would be difficult to conjure up something that is going to be impressive, be advanced, and make narrative sense in Skynets upgrades of mechanical killers. Need not be stupid to mention that dominatrix that gave herself bigger breasts for no reason: it's a mockery of strong female characters...a trademark of Cameron's films. Nonetheless, Lets first follow the physical elements of the terminators in the past two films:
The first terminator was a solid…as in a form of matter. The second was a liquid form of matter (it could take solid form if it wanted to or if it was forced to by extreme weather conditions but it is primarily a more flexible terminator). The third is…should…ought…obviously is…well we have solids, liquids and gases…I know what you’re thinking “A gas terminator? LMAO, you’re fucking nuts.” Allright, truth be told, I don’t know how that would work but a T1000 doesn't make nearly half as much sense as a cyborg - if there is no traceable microprocessor in that liquid how does skynet program something that is nothing but metal and retain a liquid state under normal weather conditions? Mindfucks aside, the logic states the obvious: the third terminator would have to be something more haunting, more elusive than even the T-1000. The only thing that could do that is something damn near invisible in its absolute form if not stealth personified. More importantly, to avoid silly upgrades…what if skynet itself is this terminator, taking this form right before and after it is defeated? Furthermore, what tactical skills does this kind of terminator possess that even the T-1000 itself would envy?
Following what we've seen and read in other science fiction, lets entertain the hologram. A hologram terminator, skynet's image, wouldn’t be too far off...let's call it the T-Holo. The T-Holo could appear in any place at any time as long as there is an electronic device at the end point for it to appear. The T-Holo could transfer an overwhelming amount of voltage to electrocute and kill you. This would require the end of all technology in order to trap it and kill it. There's paranoia for thought. Following Cameron's physics...the newest terminator should actually consist of a metallic vapor...appearing even more without form and void. This metallic beast could infiltrate the humans themselves through their pores. Thus, despite how you interrogate, despite how you might test the blood of your allies such as in the film “The Thing” its still the same person and they bleed. This is the answer to how the T-1000 blends in by copying people (though still liquid metal, as opposed to flesh and blood) and how the T-800 does the same by mimicking their voice over the telephone. It would be impossible to tell the difference between your allies and your allies possessed by Skynet. This brings us back to that realm of Hitchcock that Gale Anne Hurd brought to the first two films. With this regard, this level of deception is obligatory to stay within the tone of Terminator.
This metallic vapor terminator could create multiple dimensions of deception. The art of war is all about deception. How can we journey through a 3-hour film about an advanced war without deception? But its a war so isn't it all about blowing shit up? If you like Michael Bay, don't answer that. The answer is no: 1) Die Hard action requires a boldness that only comes across in unprecedented circumstances: blowing up an elevator shaft and driving a motorcycle through a building towards a hovering helicopter...rude and abrupt actions taken because the story pushes them there. 2) To win a war, you don't fight fire with fire, you fool the enemy. 3) The impact a film makes...no matter what it is about is dependent upon its content (including characters you actually end up caring about) and how conflict is resolved and whether or not the leads in the story point us in the right direction or the direction we think the film is going.
Yes, the 3rd film should feel like the future war in T2...however, a story should have its dynamics like any masterpiece in music. There should be moments that are not fast paced and loud. It does not necessarily need the same surreal solace we saw in the desert suite from T2. The metallic vapor terminator can keep even non-explosive scenes intense though looking more or less non-threatening and neutral. This concept alone allows the film to be interesting enough to keep audiences mentally fucked up for the next 30 years alone. You wouldn’t need a lot of action and 3 hours of SFX to keep audiences attentive. It could carry the story through like Aliens did over a long period of screen time (where "nothing" happens) and keep things beyond the point of interesting such that everyone would be pissing in their pants. The writer with understanding for the proper 3rd terminator installment must make people piss in their pants. Not doing so does not give people a reason to runaway from their parents homes on a school night to see a film – I think you know what I mean. The psychological rollercoaster writing of a gas/hologram terminator…maybe even both, would force most people to see it at least 3 times because they will be arguing with their friends after the film as to what the fuck was going on. Why? The third installment needs to be more complex and these more spiritual aspects require abstractions concerning identity, existence in time and space, with psycho-thriller material. T2 was a complete boost from its predecessor with more depth, more feeling, and more story. Therefore, what follows it needs to outperform T2 on those same levels and can without seeming like a bad remake of T2 if given the proper foe.
This demonic possession would create another challenge that John couldn’t foresee. It creates a trust game…and probably allows the line “trust me” to have another meaning in this film. It is quite possible that this could take place after they defeat skynet. Note that Kyle Reese never said they ‘destroyed skynet’ – they defeated it. Its defense grid was smashed. Skynet, could be such a sore loser misanthrope that it wants to kill the entire human race on its own even after all of its pawns, bishops, and other chess pieces have been destroyed. If you’ve read “I have no mouth and I must scream” it would take a similar turn where skynet pits the humans against themselves, killing themselves, terminating each other. Human terminators…a term that I’ll bring up in another paragraph later on. Last but not least, according to the Cameron terminator films, when you think it is over…it isn’t…Aliens was no different. This film would have to be the most epic extension ever fucking written.
That is food for thought. Now…what about Arnold? This leads us back to deception. For those of us who were old enough to see T2 in theaters back in 1991, we were all wondering if he was the good guy or bad guy - we were never told publicly prior to its release. The so-called 3rd terminator film ignored the idea of keeping you guessing and lost a zest of hype by doing that. I propose not to have you guess as to whether or not he is a good/bad terminator in this film…but to guess if he is…human. Isn’t it possible that Arnold is such a badass motherfucker like he was in Predator that he is a high ranking soldier leading the human resistance and pissing Skynet off to the point that it wants his face in order to infiltrate the resistance and make them question each other, breaking their army apart? With this regard, concerning this hypothetical story, when John sees him, he is afraid of him, like his mother was (a homage to t2) except that he is a human being. Then...when John sees him again he is a terminator...I’m fucking with the audience now. And at that point the human Arnold is dead or if he is alive, his body parts have been put back together by skynet after getting blown up...just like in one of the older Terminator comic books. I see the later possibility that way because I can’t imagine that Skynet would copy you without first making sure that it could keep you in its back pocket or dead for that matter.
Another possibility, and it just occurred to me, and it is creepy, if Arnold is so badass...what if he is John Connor? Solving the only narrative obstacle: Kyle Reese would’ve never told Sarah Connor, out of respect for her, that her son was going to look like the motherfucker that was going to kill her. 2) It is possible in the narratives given by Jim Cameron that John Connors face was scarred before Kyle Reese had met him, rendering him slightly unrecognizable without the scar having met him that way. At the same time, this is still very Cameron. Its Cameron squared: The T-1000 was originally supposed to look like Kyle Reese, appearing as John Connors Father and Sarahs lover and keeping this drama all in the family…at least by appearances. It would also be another inversion that no one fucking saw coming. Audiences would also not question what makes John Connor the badass legend that he is supposed to be…because he is actually Arnold Schwarzenegger. However...I would have to put everything IMDB posts on hold (particularly castings) to avoid spoiling the narrative prior to release...it wouldn't be something that you would want to just give away. Anyway…it is something to think about. I’m not saying it is imperative. Writers come up with genius ideas that they may never use but this is a part of the thinking process.
The narrative repeat that I’m entertaining is the idea that Robert Patrick comes back to play a human solider like Schwarzenegger and is one of the leading officers…most likely Perry (who had Kyle Reese under his wing). Anyway, I’d like to bring Robert Patrick back and have him do some bad ass shit. Following Camerons inversions, Robert Patrick should appear as the good guy this time anyway...am I right or not? Would it not work? It would change everything like T2 did for T1.
A good third of the film should be about how John Connor and his growing team figure out what exactly Skynet is, where it is, what they would have to do to break in, stay alive and destroy it. This objective is imperative so that the direction of the film can't lead us astray. In order to make sense of this dead terrain and wasteland, the narrative should have some kind of military procedure or treatment similar to Full Metal Jacket (not Saving Private Ryan which copied Full Metal Jacket because Speilberg was probably the shadow of Kubricks ass) and Aliens in order for us, as an audience, to make sense of it all. War movies are hard to write because they are easy to get lost concerning the geography that is confused in the midst of divide and conquer. And it is easy to not care or remember any of the characters who are usually only referred to as private. For this matter, John McTiernan and Schwarzenegger did a pretty good job to avoid this when they were making behind-the-scenes decisions for Predator. In this story, we can’t exactly be anywhere in the world because the entire north hemisphere has been eradicated of all life and resources…I guess.
Should this alternate universe be one where Judgment day was on August 1997? Was it delayed? I’m not sure. I’m up for an argument concerning that. If it was delayed…Cyberdyne found the T-800s arm in the steel mill (that wheel that the T-1000 threw the terminator into) and perhaps…(I’m punching myself) Skynet went back in time (Argh, I said back in time) as a ghost/holographic image…software…something to help cyberdyne get back up to speed. Entertaining this hypothesis, Cyberdyne doesn’t question the source of this intelligence because they are too greedy and arrogant to make billions of cash in state taxes. Skynet makes itself look like a leaked piece of information from a high-tech and potentially warbound country….lets say North Korea, and the Americans are in a hurry to catch up like we did to create the atomic bomb before the Nazis…and look where that got us. That is the only fucking possibility that judgment day could’ve been delayed with an interesting comeback that doesn't make the T-800 CSM101 in T2 look like an idiot…judgment day may be inevitable but it needs more backbone. We really didn’t get an explanation in T3. Oh yeah…if Skynet goes back in time, it doesn’t go naked, it goes as a gas/hologram/software…or just plain electricity for that matter....a 666 algorithm...something hard to calculate and trace.
Considering the Shakespearean school of thought where the written word of the monologues, soliloquies, and dialogues alone direct the actors without Shakespeare having to be posthumously present since there aren't any directors notes, this shouldn't be impossible. There is no excuse not to find what is the proper follow up to the third terminator installment according to what Jim Cameron left behind in his writing. To forget the past as Terminator Salvation suggests is another way of saying I don't know what I'm doing and I don't give a shit how it impacts you people. T3 and T4 should be ignored as if "she'll be back" wasn't enough of an insult. Audiences may not be movie makers but most of them know the difference between good and bullshit when they see it. I doubt if there weren't many others who anticipated what T3 should've been like according to their back-in-their-day experiences of T1 and T2 and were decimated of all hope in 2003. When you create something as good as Aliens or Terminator 2, it becomes a work of art in addition to being a product. Treating it like another popcorn, bubblegum, non-seasoned tactile experience is toxic to the soul. I'm not saying that I'm the smartest person and only person worthy of writing a sequel to Terminator (personally, I'm a music composer anyway if you didn't guess already) but, according to what I've seen this past decade, I know I could do a much better job.