The Terminator Is Jim Cameron’s Best Movie, He Will Never Top It – ManlyMovie

The Terminator Is Jim Cameron’s Best Movie, He Will Never Top It


The Terminator (1984) is Jim Cameron’s best movie.  He will never top it.  He came close two years later in 1986, with Aliens, but The Terminator is also better than that movie too.  Some argue that Terminator 2:  Judgement Day is better than The Terminator.  Hell, even Jim Cameron himself says this:

I’ve watched them both recently and I see The Terminator as a creature of its moment and, for me, it doesn’t hold up… it’s too rough.  It’s fine for where I was at the time.  It’s fine given the state the industry was in at the time, but crude by present standards.  Still… it’s a cracking good story.  Terminator 2 I can stand behind. Even now, it competes, visually, with anything that’s being done now.  I mean, the CG is a tiny, tiny bit dated, but it was basically done pretty well.  And so often imitated that it feels a little clichéd, you know?  I still think it holds up.  I feel more proud of the second film as a film.

I used to think so too.  Terminator 2 is so slick and polished, it’s a damned near perfect movie.  But in recent years, I have seen the light in recognizing just how masterful the first movie is.  Terminator 2 is a Manly Movie, but the original is in a whole ‘nother stratosphere of Mandom.  It’s colder.  It’s more efficient.  It just does not stop.  Terminator 2 is also practically a remake of The Terminator.  The same story was told in 1984.  And stories are always best when you first hear them.  And as good as Robert Patrick is, there is just no topping Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killing machine.  Case in point.  Robert Patrick’s T-1000 politely asks if John Connor is home.  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 arrives, destroying a toy under his car wheel and murders a woman on her own home.  No time for small talk and/or pointless questions.  None of this “he’s a good looking boy” bullshit.  Yes, the T-1000 is more advanced and able to manipulate emotion, but Schwarzenegger’s method’s were just plain brutal.  He was the superior villain.

As far as the rest of Cameron’s resume is concerned, nothing else came close.  Titanic?  Avatar?  Box office behemoths, but nowhere near Cameron at his best.  Not by a long shot.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems that Jim Cameron was at his best when forced outright to be creative.  The Terminator had limited funds, so Cameron, genius, had to fire on all cylinders.  None of his future movies will come close either.  Three more Avatars?  And some garbage called Battle Angel?  Sounds like we can rule out Cameron giving us something with some torque, something bold and edgy.  These aren’t pieces of art.  They’re giant, safe family-based enterprises.  The only thing that remains of the old Cameron in the Avatar franchise is his superior aesthetics and Stephen Lang’s badass villain.

But let’s not end this with complete doom and gloom.  In what could be interpreted as a glimmer of hope, or probably just fantasy… this year we learned that Cameron will regain the rights to the Terminator franchise in 2019.  Cameron, do the right thing.  Indulge in your Avatar slush then restore some dignity.


  1. Anonymous

    November 23, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is BETTER. James Cameron should hand the rights to Josh Friedman, who is working with him on the Avatars, so that JF can finish his vision (with much older actors) and wrap up the franchise. Do yourselves a favor and watch T:TSCC.

  2. avi lerner

    September 21, 2014 at 12:04 am

    2k settlement

  3. mucho macho

    September 21, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Jim Cameron is an amazing storyteller. A wonderful filmmaker.
    The Abyss
    Terminator 2
    True Lies
    Titanic ( different for him, but if u remember it was the movie that was supposed to sink him & the studio & he prove them wrong )
    …then he went away..developed new cameras, dove into the ocean, whatever. Then came
    Avatar- fine for what it was. But men do i wish he worked more as a director. Steven Soderbergh explores with different genres. Part of me wishes Cameron would 1 day say : look i want to make a low budget movie ala Terminator.not everything has to be a 300 million production. Just something with a bite , an edge if u will. Then go make ur Avatar movies. But after after Titanic he change somewhat. Not in a terrible way…we just wish for another gritty , sci-fi kick ass movie. That he has left behind.
    @ the very least he can co write , produce & have other direct them.
    its a compliment actually that we want more of his talent, thats all.

  4. JJR

    September 21, 2014 at 12:14 am

    anon What the fuck dude?! TSCC was a fuking choirboy compared to T1..A CHOIRBOY!! it dosnt even deserve to be compared to T3 or T4 LOL

    and yes T1 is the better movie. ive always thought that. dark, brutal, eerie. T1 is SF Horror (like the slasher movies Halloween etc but with a SF twist) T2 is SF Action (similar to Alien/Aliens. Alien is the better movie and Aliens is like the T2 version of Alien)

    also for many years T1 was rated 18 in the uk (cinema and vhs) although later wrongly downgraded to the more pussy 15 for dvd (like T2). T2 is like the themepark version of T1. its a great movie no doubt but T1 is the daddy

  5. mucho macho

    September 21, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Sometimes i tell women i am from the future..
    That i have been sent here to protect them cause our baby will be the leader of the resistance.
    That mankind will perish without our offspring.
    ..Killer Cyborgs will rule the earth if we dont start fucking right away.
    …Gotta hasnt worked yet..
    But just like Kyle Reese..i’ll keep on trying

  6. S93

    September 21, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Yes T1 is the superior film, and yes, both T1 and T2 are excellent films by their own right.

    Saying Cameron will never top it is a bit obvious though, akin to saying Scorsese will never top “Raging Bull”/”Taxi Driver”/”GoodFellas”. Or John McTiernan never topping “Die Hard 1”.

    “Titanic” and “Avatar” may be grossly overrated but they still feel like real movies, like you said due to Cameron’s aesthetics, which is more than I can say about fanboy crap fests like Transformers and The Avengers

  7. TheOldMcClane

    September 21, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I agree. T1 is right up there with Predator and Die Hard.

  8. Andymovieman

    September 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Terminator 1 and 2, true lies, aliens and the abyss are the best movies I’ve seen from Jim Cameron. Avatar was good but not as good as the rest of them. Titanic was fucking stupid and boring. I hated it and thought it was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. As much as I also like James Horner as a good composer, there are two boat sinking movies I hate that he composed for. 1. Titanic directed by Jim Cameron. 2. The perfect storm directed by Wolfgang Petersen. End of story.