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The Terminator Movie That Fans Agree Dropped The Ball For The Franchise

After close to 40 years, the "Terminator" film franchise has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. The first movie is a classic example of how you don't need a ton of money to create a memorable science-fiction action classic — just a lot of creativity and perhaps a little bit of luck. The film became an incredible success for a low-budget genre exercise by a little-known director named James Cameron, so much so that it eventually spawned a massively budgeted sequel, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

Also directed by Cameron, who by that point was well on his way to being the venerated Hollywood auteur he is now, "T2" is in many ways that standard by which all other Hollywood action-adventure franchise sequels are judged. Franchise fans may differ on whether they like "The Terminator" or its sequel better, but both are generally thought of as successful executions of Cameron's vision and worthy pieces of entertainment. After that, though, Cameron exited the franchise, and the quality control became a little less sterling.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was the first Terminator movie not directed by James Cameron

James Cameron intended "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" to be the end of his "Terminator" saga, and he wrapped it up in such a way that seemed to preclude any future installments. But in the world of sci-fi action-adventure, there's no story that can't be continued if market forces dictate that it be so, and in 2003, we saw the release of "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines."

Directed by sturdy action craftsman Jonathan Mostow, "T3" has some entertaining action sequences and a great turn from Kristanna Loken as the T-X. But fans on Reddit seem to agree that it was a step down from the majestic heights of "T2," and marked the beginning of the end for the franchise. "I saw terminator 3, then bailed from the franchise. I've skipped everything since, and feel comfortable that i've missed nothing of significance," wrote Redditor u/dbcanuck. "Terminator 3 was the first time i felt disappointed in a film," admitted u/EwanPorteous. "I had been so excited for this film just to be horribly let down." A third user, u/OB1_kenobi, commented that "T3" was a worthy entry overall in the franchise but needed to cut back on the comic relief.

"Terminator 3" has plenty of defenders, with many citing its chase sequence as being particularly exciting and worthy of the films that came before, and later "Terminator" movies such as "Dark Fate" and "Genisys" have even worse reputations. But it seems to be more or less consensus that "T3" was the first possible misstep for the series, regardless of any redeeming features it may have.