It’s very interesting how the original “The Terminator” was envisioned as a precursor to “The Matrix.” Long before the Wachowskis, we had James Cameron, who envisioned a world controlled by a sentient technology, and robotic drones that attempted to destroy humanity. Only certain human survivors dared to stand up against the machines, with a few of their rebels using technology to try to change their current reality. Author Ian Nathan who brought us the wonderful “Alien Vault,” is back with a treasure trove fit for fans of James Cameron, Science Fiction, or The Terminator series.
Not only does he chronicle the making of Terminator, but also features a large portion of the book to T2. There are also some interesting looks at the novels, comic books, sequels, and the short lived television show. James Cameron began his career working for Roger Corman and New World Pictures, and eventually found himself directing “Piranha 2” for the sake of assuring himself that he could make it as a director. Being stuck with a Russian producer who had a penchant for firing his directors, and who also used Cameron’s rising clout to fuel his own studio, Cameron fought a personal artistic battle that would fuel his love for filmmaking. And eventually help bring “The Terminator” to life. With full color photos featuring stills from the films, head shots of the performers, and stills of the film’s special effects, “The Terminator Vault” is filled with a lion’s share of unique anecdotes about the origins of the first two “Terminator” movies, and how Cameron subtly used his cinematic influences to help form his narrative.
Author Nathan explores how Cameron’s love for Isaac Asimov helped create the robots for the story, and how the finale to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” helped Cameron build Sarah Conner’s dilemma in “T2.” There’s also the development of the CGI for “The Abyss” that would become the template for the iconic T-1000 we saw in “T2,” as well as a full index of every model of Terminator unit from “The Terminator” right down to “Salvation.” There’s also some explanation about time paradoxes and how the entire time stream in the films can be confusing but incredible. Cameron even talks of a cut scene in “Terminator” where Sarah fighting the Terminator, and destroying it, caused the time stream to continue with the random discovery of its chip setting the basis for the creation of Skynet, thus setting her path to the future machine wars.
There are looks at the casting considerations for the major roles in the “Terminator” movies, as well as a large chapter devoted to Arnold Schwarzenneger and how he dealt with the role of the T-800. Initially the role was meant for Lance Henriksen, but Cameron simply couldn’t help but attach the rising movie star to the role. As Schwarzenneger expresses in the foreword, the one liner “I’ll Be Back” has become a signature of the man and his career, and he loves repeating it for people who beg him to recite it for them. Only because it makes them happy. “The Terminator Vault” is filled with incredible behind the scenes stills, excellent stories about filming, and how Cameron’s previous films acted as templates for his next hits, and so on. Attached to the book, there are pouches for fans, including an iron on patch, film cells, copies of letters, and concept sketches for collectors. “The Terminator Vault” is yet another valuable collectible for the film lover, and fans of the series will enjoy the royal treatment Nathan pays to the influential science fiction series.