We don’t know who’s going to end up holding onto the football which is the Terminator Franchise come February. However one thing I do know is that I am exceedingly tired of standing up for the shoddy screenwriting that has invaded my favorite series. Please bear in mind that I hold all four films in the highest regard, I’d give each and every one of them 8.0 or above on a out of 10 rating. However there are some huge issues that need to be addressed by whoever ends up with the rights.

The first thing is simply thisyes this should be a different future I have absolutely no problem with that idea. On the other hand there are certain things that are expected and any script but Terminator scripts especially.

1: Thematic Elements.

The Terminator series has a number of thematic elements that should not just be touched on in a perfunctory manner but should run throughout the entirety of whichever story you choose to tackle.

(A.) Strong human characters seeking to do what’s right.
(B.) The over-reliance on technology, building something because they could. Giving it power because they don’t want to get their hands dirty. (Since that is the essence behind the creation of the current Future War Problem).
(C.) The battle not just between man and machine but between man and man.
(D.) Undying hope in the ultimate outcome of victory.

Or here’s another hint, simply read the scripts to T1 and T2, or watch the films for that matter. By doing so you will find once again the core aspects of Terminator.

I really shouldn’t need to go over basics but apparently I need to especially after Terminator Salvation. In fact I’ll get right out and say it the script that was filmed as Salvation was far weaker than the early draft. (Bar Act 3) which was weak in its own way apart from act three.

Here are the major aspects that need improving on to get Terminator back in the good graces of even the most jaded and pissed off Terminator fan.

The story must have a good backbone.

I do not care who ends up writing the next Terminator film all I care about is that they watch the films, read the scripts that can be found, and start planning the story now. It seems that far too many scripts now are written over the time space of a month, and almost none are written using the stages of screenwriting.

What has happened to Outline…Treatment…First Draft….Third Draft….Fifth Draft?

It is the essentials that help assure a good script in the end. The outline is the backbone of the story, then more details in the treatment, and then on from there.

If you take the time in preparation than you shouldn’t have any of the issues that I’m going to cover later.

Create strong characters and character dynamics that we care about.

The only way the characters worked for me in Salvation was because I cared about the situation they were in. That’s not going to work again. The characters need to do more than growl lines and look either passionate or hard as nails.

These weren’t characters they were cyphers, we need characters that we can associate with. Characters that we side with, understand, that seem to be living breathing humans and not just poles holding up our script tent.

Strong Action can only be supported by a strong story.

We want war. We want hard action. We want no holding back. However in an action movie the story is especially important. It is not good enough 99 times out of 100 to have a script that relies on happenstance and then flood it with action set pieces.

As Terminator fans we EXPECT to get a good preferably great story to back up and compliment the action and vice versa. You can have some of the most creative, original and intense action sequences and have not much else…and you’ll loose the fan base.

Choose a story. Make it a good one. Script the hell out of it.

Then make sure you action is as good as your story.

Keep an eye out for stupid mistakes.

I should not have to say this but it seems I have to. Proofread your script carefully for stupid mistakes.

For instance in Salvation John is screaming to the escaping prisoners to get to the Transporter.

And we as the viewer are going What Transporter?

Ooops.

Now in all fairness Salvation ended up being rewritten on the set which Should be avoided at all costs. But that’s what having proofreaders is for. It eliminates stupid errors such as lines that produce date errors in T2, or nonsensical crap like the above example in Salvation.

One final hint.

Give us more information than you think we need.

Now as a screenwriter I like to leave some room for people to come up with their own conclusions. However Salvation was more than a little aerated, practically everything was up to the viewer to solve.

Please, please, and again please don’t treat us as if we know everything. Treat us as if we need to know major plot points. Like how Skynet knows about Kyle. Don’t make us have to be master screenwriting contortionists to explain lazy screenwriting.

I truly believe that the best is yet to come in the Terminator Universe. However in order to get there proper care must be taken, the level of authorship must be raised. Writing a good script should take MONTHS not WEEKS.

Don’t mess up again.

Yours in passionate hope,

Ross.

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