15 Directors Who Should Buy Terminator

Earlier this month, Joss Whedon's tongue-in-cheek (we assume) open letter to "the Terminator owners" generated an intriguing mixture of hilarity, vitriol, black-slapping and raised eyebrows when it hit the blogosphere with a splash.

"I have heard through the 'grapevine'," wrote he, "that the Terminator franchise is for sale, and I am prepared to make a pre-emptive bid RIGHT NOW to wrap this dealio up. This is not a joke, this is not a scam, this is not available on TV. I will write a check TODAY for $10,000, and viola! Terminator off your hands."

Ahem. Yes, nice one Joss. Still, the minor furore got us thinking: which current helmers really ought to throw their movie-making hats in the ring? Well, here are 15 we came up with for starters...

The Director: Joss Whedon

Why He Should Buy It: Because his very bone marrow is 7/10ths sci-fi/fantasy stuff, obviously. But mostly just because it was his idea that started all this.

See where a ‘joke’ can get you, eh fella? That’ll be umpteen million dollars, thanks. And good luck.

How His Terminator Would Look: There’d probably be a slight over-reliance on romantic lens-flare and magical CGI glitter knocking around.

Skynet's hardware would look awesome, mind you; we're picturing great hulking beat-up warships adorned with parrot beak cockpits. And glitter.

Next: Tim Burton [page-break]

The Director: Tim Burton

Why He Should Buy It: Because Christopher Nolan has made us overly forgetful of what a great job Burton did, against (nearly) all the odds, with Batman Returns .

Yes, of course it was camped up to the max - but if Burton’s signature gothic vibe couldn’t inject some much-needed magic back into the Terminator franchise, what could?

How His Terminator Would Look: Like rival ant colonies scrapping over a black doily. Zoom in, and the aggressors are actually a marauding army of Johnny Depp clones.

Hey, at least that’s the entire female population of the world on board from day one...

Next: Danny Boyle [page-break]

The Director: Danny Boyle

Why He Should Buy It: Because he’s British, and instead of a fifth flippin’ instalment of Los Angeles, it’d make our wizened hearts swell with patriotic glee to see a battered vision of London up there on our screens.

Yes, even if it was being ground to sand before our very eyes. Probably more so, in fact.

On a more serious note, he showcased his post-apocalyptic dystopia credentials pretty effectively in 28 Days Later - we reckon he might be able to pull it off, just about.

How His Terminator Would Look: British! All the key players would have slightly worse teeth, slightly better hair, and discuss needlessly intricate plans for the next assault on Skynet over a proper cup of tea and a cherry Bakewell.

Next: David Cronenberg [page-break]

The Director: David Cronenberg

Why He Should Buy It: Because he’s the undisputed master of DIY body horror, and that could only be a good thing.

The Terminator franchise, for all its latter-day CGI bells and whistles, still has much to learn from the guru of gore.

How His Terminator Would Look: Pretty bloody hellacious, we'd assume. Shattered, plasma-leaking exoskeletons would scuttle nightmarishly up walls and down air vents, while shrieking, mangled survivors drag themselves in vain towards cover using only their grotesquely dislocated chins.

All shot in a curious, muted 1970s palette. Awesome.

Next: Kevin SmithTim Burton [page-break]

The Director: Kevin Smith

Why He Should Buy It: Because it’s precisely the sort of franchise that inspires serious fanboyism, and we all know Smith is, (not very) deep down, the thinking fanboy’s fanboy.

Eschewing much of the blasting action, Smith would show such intimate and considered knowledge of the complex political and ethical struggles taking place in the background, his would become a hilariously self-parodic version laden with endlessly repeatable quotes.

How His Terminator Would Look: Hmm, tricky. Our best guess is that there’d be lots of footage of Skynet droids nipping to the corner store for a jar of Cheez Whiz and 20 fags.

Jay and Silent Bob would obviously be in there somewhere, too, discussing the enemy and resolving to “smoke them out”, hur hur etc.

Next: Kathryn Bigelow [page-break]

The Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Why She Should Buy It: She’d probably do a chuffing good job of it, assuming we can use the gnarly triumph that was The Hurt Locker as our yardstick.

That film boasts precisely the right balance of gritty maturity and arse-cramping tension to drag the increasingly comic book-styled Terminator franchise back into the ‘serious movie’ fold.

How Her Terminator Would Look: Much the same as it has, really - The Hurt Locker proved that she’s more or less got the core landscape aesthetic down. By which we mean rubble, sweat, dust, rubble, explosions, rubble and shouting.

Next: Richard Linklater [page-break]

The Director: Richard Linklater

Why He Should Buy It: He’s another one who recently proved his near-future dystopia credentials - we know A Scanner Darkly blew hot and cold in places, but some heavyweight socio-political conspiracy ideas (and an edgy drugs theme) would slot in brilliantly to the Terminator series.

Actually, scratch all that. We just really want to see what a T-600 would look with the benefit of...

How His Terminator Would Look: ...rotoscoping! To be honest, if the film franchise is going to go any further than it already has done down the comic-book-on-screen path, it might as well finish the job. Linklater could even tweak the method slightly, and patent it as RoboScoping©. Neato.

Next: Harmony Korine [page-break]

The Director: Harmony Korine

Why He Should Buy It: Because we’re getting kinda bored of all this mega-budget blasting action, and we’re excited about Korine’s alarming-sounding Trash Humpers .

What John Connor and co really need is to be sent foraging through the waste bins of knackered LA, digging for magic mushrooms. And then fighting each other. And then taping bacon to the wall, and falling asleep in the bath.

How His Terminator Would Look: Like a bunch of homeless nutcases staggering around a rubbish dump wearing cardboard box robot suits. All filmed on Super-8 and VHS, and spliced together in heroically haphazard fashion. It, uh, might work.

Next: Terry Gilliam [page-break]

The Director: Terry Gilliam

Why He Should Buy It: Because of how amazingly well Brazil still stands up amongst the finest dystopian satires ever created. ( 12 Monkeys wasn’t too shabby an addition to the genre, either.) Gilliam might be just the man to defibrillate a franchise dying from terminal lack of imagination.


How His Terminator Would Look: Weird, but subtly so, with numerous trippy diversions that may or may not be dream sequences, and lush fantasy environments that feel faintly unsettling without it being immediately obvious why.

Of course, this is all assuming the leading man doesn’t explode on-set, no freak meteorites vaporise the catering van, and the events portrayed in the Terminator series don’t actually start to come true before shooting wraps.

Any of which would be relatively unsurprising with poor beleaguered ol' Tezza at the helm.

Next: Hideo Nakata [page-break]

The Director: Hideo Nakata

Why He Should Buy It: Because there’s one other way to go with rebooting our beloved Terminator, and that’s to make it properly shit us up again.

Remember how the first couple of films were actually dead scary in parts? Especially the T-1000 bits? Yipes. We want lovely creepy cat-and-mouse vibe back, and sharpish.

How His Terminator Would Look: There’d only be one robot to really worry about, and it would of course be female, with shower curtain hair and no shoes on.

And, thanks to Skynet’s eventual control of all home technology, she’d be able to get to you - yes, YOU - direct through your cinema or DVD screen. 3D specs at the ready, please...

Next: Paul Greengrass [page-break]

The Director: Paul Greengrass

Why He Should Buy It: Partly for the aforementioned injection of Britishness, and partly because events in the Bourne series aren't thematically dissimilar to some of those suggested by the early Terminator flicks back in the day.

More than either of these, though, he should buy it because he’d really work the human angle back into it, and draw our collective attention to the mindless horrors of war. Rather than, y’know, the impressive explosions of war.

How His Terminator Would Look: Real, in a word. We’d be right in there, experiencing the paralysing fear first hand à la United 93 , yet still sympathising with the protagonists’ reluctance (and in a Greengrass world, there would be a degree of reluctance to overcome) to pick up a weapon and start blasting back.

Next: David Fincher [page-break]

The Director: David Fincher

Why He Should Buy It: Because no matter how many times we see the camera track through Ed Norton’s keyhole, along his kitchen floor and behind his fridge in Fight Club - pilot light flicks on, cosy Ikea nest goes up in flames - it still just looks incredibly fresh and incredibly cool.

A whole Terminator movie of that sort of thing? We’d be sporting CGI stiffies for a month.

Also, it’s been ages since he did some proper sci-fi, and we ‘re hoping the critical reaction to Alien3 didn’t put him off less reality-grounded fare for ilfe. (And no, Benjamin Button wasn’t quite what we meant, Dave...)

How His Terminator Would Look: Dynamic, edgy and almost implausibly slick.

Expect lashings of high-speed dolly zooming, insane crane and tracking shots, and hours of post-production polish, all somehow coming together to make something that feels much less headache-inducing than it sounds on paper.

Next: Michael Haneke [page-break]

The Director: Michael Haneke

Why He Should Buy It: Definitely a wildcard, as his sci-fi credentials are admittedly patchy, but think about it - he's got a dark streak the width of an aircraft carrier, and clearly believes the remainder of human race does too.

At the very least, we’d end up seeing some deliciously dirty tactics deployed in our ongoing battle against the bots.

How His Terminator Would Look: Grimly claustrophobic, with a quietly understated sense of looming dread. Time Of The Wolf spiced with equal measures of Funny Games and Caché , if all goes to plan.

It’s not going to end up as another cheerfully macho destructo-fest, that much we can take as given.

Next: Edgar Wright [page-break]

The Director: Edgar Wright

Why He Should Buy It: The last of our nominations for a great British Terminator hope, Wright could represent the optimal fusion of Kevin Smith’s endearing fanboyisms and David Fincher’s pyrotechnic gloss. He’d also make it funny, which would either work, or...well, not.

How His Terminator Would Look: Probably quite decent, actually. His legions of murderous mecha-bastards might look a bit botched together (we can’t help thinking of Tim and Mike’s axe-wielding Robot Wars entry from Spaced ), but he’s liable to pep the action up with a bunch of nifty crash zooms and whip pans, at any rate.

He’d also make John Connor nervous, self deprecating and a bit paunchy, doing away with all that tedious, testosterone-drenched growling and giving us wheezing couch-surfers something to aspire to. Or at least raise another beer to.

Next: Uwe Boll [page-break]

The Director: Uwe Boll

Why He Should Buy It: Um...ok, we'll call this 'plan F'; a desperate lunge to be implemented only in a far-future situation where the Terminator series has utterly flatlined. Think of it as the directorial equivalent of Pulp Fiction ’s adrenaline shot to the heart, delivered by a man with anatomical amnesia and a violent bout of hiccups. On a mechanical bull. In the dark.

How His Terminator Would Look: Beyond ‘risibly macho’, it’s anyone’s guess - the mind boggles HARD. Probably quite a lot like a computer game that really shouldn’t ever have been made into a film in the first place. Still, at least the reviews would make for entertaining reading...

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