By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Sometimes it’s hard not to groan at news of some beloved part of my young geekhood getting remade. I’m not entirely sold on Terminator Genisys just yet. Is it supposed to be a continuation, sequel, reboot or what? The producers are saying this movie is going to reinvent the wheel and I can see it in the latest trailer — this film is going to revisit the first two films from a different perspective. Just what Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) experiences is not what original fans are going to see. He will be meeting Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) under very different circumstances.
Although this full on trailer looks good with its hints of story to come ala X-Men: Days of Future Past, a sequence borrowed from The Dark Knight (flipped bus) and a ninja that’s evolved from the T-1000 mold (from Terminator 2), I find that the issue of jumping around time as a plot device problematical. Just the thought alone is enough to make the Doctor Who fan in me cringe. Matt Smith has an important role in this trilogy and no one is talking about what it is. I suspect that he may be a tech prodigy who created this new version of Skynet and he will be pivotal to how this artificial intelligence will finally go down by the end of these new three films.
I can easily scream, “Great Scott!” at knowing that a lot from the original two films are going to be retconned. Just why on Earth would writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier mess with pure James Cameron gold? Okay, I loved Kalogridis’ Shutter Island for its dark edge but honestly, I really did not care for Lussier’s Dracula 2000 and Jason X. Did they write the screenplay together or work independently on assigned acts? That’s what I like to know.
Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future (namely the second film) may well be tearing his hair out at this point because in how I’m reading this trailer, another T800 terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) went further back in time to protect a young Sarah Connor. That version stayed with her and aged (so the real Schwarzenegger can play this version). Any other models will most likely be killing machines. Of course, that begs the question of the other T800 sent to watch over young John in Terminator 2. Does that universe still exist?
I have to wonder: will audiences be seeing an older Linda Hamilton since this movie will not necessarily stick to one particular year? Fans have been given teases of computer rendered and naked young Arnold Schwarzenegger. And the trailer has already shown a child and young adult version of Sarah. Is an elderly version in store somewhere? And will wisdom be imparted in a franchise that’s mostly about loving the fights that goes on?
Existentialism was mildly debated in young John Connor’s attempt to make his Terminator guardian more human. I do not think any of that will play in Genisys. I suspect this title is purposely misspelled so that a biblical insinuation can be made more so than anything else implied by the goofball subtitle.
I generally stopped caring about this franchise when I learned that writer/creator James Cameron sold the rights away. He revealed to Slashfilm that he’s somewhat involved on an advisory level, but that kind of weight will hardly impact what the producers have planned for this remake that so far makes no allusion to the TV series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The writers in this small screen version had time to meditate on what predestiny means. In the few seasons that were made, audiences got to care for the characters much like they did in Cameron’s films. There was a vulnerable Connor in one film and a tough-as-nails soldier in another. To jump to the latter in Genisys removes any emotional transformation that can happen to any of the characters. Thus, I can’t say I’m behind this remake all the way.
The way the original two films looked at how predestiny can be changed is at the heart of why I really enjoyed Cameron’s Terminator movies. I ignored the later films simply because the studio’s team of hack writers spat in this director’s face by saying destiny can never be altered, only delayed. If that’s true, then when is Jesus going to return to Earth? Judgement day in the biblical sense is about Hell on Earth and the eventual return of the messiah — is John ready to be looked up to as a saviour? The trailer suggests that he’s more like a person to rally behind. Unless he dies, thus making him a saint, he may never achieve divine status. That’s something Skynet can never wipe away from cultural history as more people will take up the cause in his name to reclaim their planet. Should that be the course for this new set of films, then just maybe, the studios will have a hit on their hands and I will get up off my seat to applaud. Until then, the jury is still out.