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VISIONARY FILMMAKERS NEED NOT APPLY
One thing is clear in all this: Cameron is a tough act to follow. Yet the biggest problem with the Terminator franchise will always be that it lacked attracting the type of filmmakers that could've nurtured and elevated the franchise to great heights.
Jonathan Mostow, the director behind 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, faired best. His previous films, 1997's Hitchockian Breakdown and 2000's WWII submarine thriller U-571, proved he had a strong sense of pacing and a great handle on suspense. Thanks to him, the film moves at a breakneck pace and includes a stunning chase sequence midway through, easily the best set piece of the post-Cameron films. However, Mostow, at best, is a skilled hired hand and T3 lacks the grand ideas evident in the first two films, often playing like a B-movie version of T2.
Even with Arnold retiring his cyborg stripes to become the "Governator" of California in a historic recall that same year, the franchise refused to end. 2009's Arnie-less (save for a CGI-enhanced cameo) Terminator: Salvation focused on John Connor's attempts to destroy Skynet in a post-Judgement Day world. The director this time was McG (his name is McG!!!), whose credits directing a pair of Charlie's Angels movies shouldn't qualify him to helm a Terminator flick. Once you get past a pretty awful first act, Salvation settles into an okay post-apocalyptic adventure but falls short of its aspirations and will forever be known as that film where Christian Bale (cast as Connor) had his on-set meltdown leaked to the press. (Bale later admitted that McG wasn't up to the challenge and that he "won't be working with him again, but I wish him very well. OK?")
The producers of Genisys tapped Alan Taylor to take the helm. Taylor came from television, having directed several episodes of Game of Thrones. But his feature film directing debut was Thor: The Dark World, the second weakest film in the Marvel canon. Taylor takes a straightforward approach to action, never really peppering the fight scenes and chases with anything special. That lack of oomph sinks Genisys during its big set pieces.
The producers should've taken nothing less than young, hungry talent from the independent film world for the director's chair. Look what it did to the Jurassic Park franchise when Safety Not Guaranteed's Colin Tevorrrow was hired to helm Jurassic World. Imagine what Duncan Jones (Moon), Shane Carruth (Primer), or Rian Johnson (Looper) could've done with this series.