This summer brings us the fifth installment of my all time favorite movie franchise, The Terminator. Over the years, the true fans of this universe have had to endure emotional ups and downs ever since the release of T3 when we received our first installment without the direction of the amazing James Cameron. It was a long time coming for fans like myself who grew up watching the franchise as it was just starting.
I was very young the first time I saw The Terminator, and I wasn't even supposed to be watching it. By the time T2 came around I was 7 and lucky for me, I had a mother who always encouraged my absolute passion for movies. For lack of a more in depth explanation, or maybe just because this really does some everything I felt up into one short sentence: It blew my mind. The first two Terminators were the ultimate 1/2 punch and they accomplished cinematic history. Here you had one of the greatest modern day story lines of all time, and a Director/Writer who managed to take an iconic villain (and after 7 years without a sequel, he was just that: iconic and memorable) and turn him into the hero of the film. And with that, James Cameron ventured on to other things and it seemed Terminator would go the way of Ghotbusters as a franchise that needed no more than two tries to accomplish what they wanted.
Fast forward 12 years to 2003. The day of Spec. Script in Hollywood has long died out and we find ourselves in the age of recreating the greatest things to ever go through Tensile Town. I personally refer to it as The Writer's Cock-Block from Hollywood. I consistently quote Hollywood as saying, "Originality is overrated." Because that's what the producers and executives have shown they believe through their actions and desperate attempts to make money off of other peoples creativity. If you want to make it these days, just take someone else's idea and aimless assault and shame it into a summer movie. That is exactly what we received with with T3.
Don't get me wrong, there were some great elements to the story that make what we will see this summer in Genisys more easy to swallow (like the organic skin of a T-800) but over all it was a swing and a miss. Nick Stahl as John Connor was definitely a wrong casting choice regardless of the fact that he played the angst we saw in T2 well as an adult. However, I expected our John Connor to be less of a Joe Everyman and more of a Joe Onlyman. He is the savior of human kind for Christ sakes. Claire Danes...does not belong in a Terminator movie. Remake a John Hughes movie in the early 2000's and she's your girl, hands down. But keep that shit out of my action/horror films. (we'll go over this in a minute)
I've had the arguments, and regardless of the banter I receive, ("did you even watch the movie?" Sadly, about 20 times now because I love the universe that much) I still know disappointment when it's staring me in the eyes begging me to love it. Bringing Arnold back was crucial, but they misused him. There were endless reaches and desperate attempts to turn the franchise into a family blockbuster. The only problem with that is we get scenes such as the iconic Gotta Get My New Clothes scenes where we get to see our T-800 put on sparkly, star shaped sunglasses that a homosexual dancer stereo-typically had on him while entertaining. Do we really need that? Is it pertinent to the story?
Here in lies the problem with T3, it was a hack job meant to make money. It had nothing to do with the fans and that was blatantly obvious. Kudos to Arnold for making it work and being just as awesome as he has always been at everything he has ever done.
A+ TAKEAWAYS: John Connor was assassinated by a T-800 in the future. The T-800 has organic skin to allow it to infiltrate the human resistance and gather information over time. Judgement Day finally happens and could never be stopped, only postponed.
Now let us jump 6 years later to 2009. Arnold is out of the picture off running the state of California and it seems that if we are ever going to get another installment it will be titled: The Governator. That is until Christian Bale brings his acting chops to the table to revive yet another dying franchise. Then the announcement come that this will be set in a post Judgement Day world which audiences had never seen before. There's a casting announcement of Kyle Reese. Excitement builds and with Bruce Wayne signed on to John Connor our face off, it seemed that there may just be light at the end of the tunnel.
A great cast, a storyline we had been waiting for, a world we longed to see as fans...how could this possibly go wrong? Remember how Arnold couldn't revive his role? Well due to the technological advancement in machines, (oh bitter irony) the impossible became possible. We get Arnold...without any of the personality.
I will give them this: they didn't overuse it. You see Arnold for all of maybe 40 seconds before his face is blown off and it is just the T-800. I want to make it clear that I did not hate Salvation. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed being in that world. Seeing post Judgement Day for the first time really paid off cinematically.
We get to see John Connor as a drunk, struggling to figure out his worth to the human race he is destined to save. A man who knows where he is going, but is completely lost on how to get there. And Bruce Wayne nails it. I am completely honest when I say he is possibly the best John Connor, although Edward Furlong's Connor would have turned out differently in my opinion. (I am still waiting to see that version of Connor)
You really get a chance to connect to his story in Salvation. That was the essence of The Terminator as opposed to all the others, including T2. The original was focused on the human elements to the story. It had the deepest connection to the audience of any of the films. T2 still connected, but it was far different from the original is several ways. The first was a Sci-Fi/Horror film about a machine hunting a human. T2 was a Sci-Fi/Action film about a machine protecting humans from another machine. Two completely different films both done perfectly for what they were supposed to be. (Credit to James Cameron when credit is due to James Cameron)
I'd say the twist to Salvation is that it spends half its story line following Marcus, a robot I'm not sure really even needs to exist or that I really fully even understand. A criminal who wakes up in the future and tries to walk among the Saints. He plays some crucial parts in the story, but I feel like had the writers removed him it would have strengthened what they could have done at the conclusion. (Maybe John Connor has to become part machine in order to infiltrate Skynet? Would have played into Skynets plan to trap him giving them full control over him.) Marcus runs into a teenage Kyle Reese and helps him along the way to find his son, a military leader 20+ years his senior.
Even though the Marcus story line wasn't very strong, the film still did itself justice. Not only do we get an apocalyptic Terminator world, we also get to see the prior models from Skynet such as the T-700 and T-600. We get to see inside of Skynet and have a front row seat to the assembly line of the T-800. Regardless of my dislike for CGI Arnold, I even loved how they brought the scars on Connor's face full circle to him stopping the very machine that was supposed to kill his mother. To me, Salvation, unlike T3, was a movie that earns its own respect in Cameron's universe.
So if I actually respect the film, why do I have so much beef with it? Because that choice at the end to CGI Arnold's likeness, those 40 seconds, weren't worth sacrificing the future of this franchise. The movie was done well. The actors were strong. (*Kyle Reese in my opinion was miscast) There was a chance to let go and move on. Arnold can't be in every film. He isn't actually a T-800...
Which brings me to the meat of this article:
WHY I BELIEVE GENISYS REALLY CAN RESET THE FUTURE: You Can't Move on From Arnold without Arnold
I've already heard the complaints flooding in about Arnold's age. People are concerned about a robot that ages. But like I have previously noted in this article The skin is organic which allows the T-800 to assassinate by infiltrating. The point was to appear as human as possible. It bleeds, why wouldn't it age? Also, when the T-800 is gathering information over time it would appear suspicious to the resistance if the machine didn't appear to be aging.
James Cameron has previously said, multiple times in fact over the years, that the T-800 was always meant to age. Mind you, Cameron created the Terminator universe in the early 80's. It's his world. Essentially, as far as Terminator goes, Cameron is God. The entire franchise takes suspension of disbelief to really enjoy the experience. The same can be said for the franchises of Alien, Predator, Friday the 13th, Robocop, and several more.
Do you mean to tell me that you can believe that a robot built by other robots can travel through time to assassinate the mother of a future leader, and that said robot is covered in organic skin making it appear human, but you can't possibly fathom that the skin could actually age? That's crazy. And if you're really that bothered by it then you need to chill out. If Fast and Furious 7 can happen, this isn't really that far fetched by any means at all.
Once you move past that small detail you really get to appreciate what Genisys can be. We know that it will move between 2029 and 1984. There has also been talk that we will get to step into the 90's in this installment. We know that Sarah Connor is going to be younger than John and that Kyle Reese is in this one. (Only this time we get a Kyle Reese that looks like he could handle the fight.) There are two actors who've been cast but their roles have not been announced. Douglas Smith who I feel will be playing a late teens/early 20's Connor (90's?), and Sandrine Holt whom I'm not quite sure she'll be. (More than likely an older Sarah Connor?)
The more information that gets released the more complex the story line becomes. The only problem is that sometimes you find out things that you didn't want to know....like--
John Connor is actually a bad guy and already a fucking robot working for Skynet? I'm not sure what's really going on because I am actually trying to learn as little information as I possibly can so that I can actually enjoy my experience seeing the film, but it was revealed in the latest trailer that released. (And who the hell would think they'd spoil shit in their own trailers?)
Now, the fact that they tell us this leads me to believe that there is WAY more to the story than we even know. The possibilities are endless as to what the story is with Connor, obviously, but I feel that it will more than likely go in 1 of 2 directions. 1) John Connor is alive and being held captive at Skynet. Or 2) John Connor is dead and has been for some time. He was put in place long ago and, thanks to that organic, aging skin, was able to help Skynet gain control over the Resistance.
The latter is more likely because I can't imagine a scenario where Skynet keeps Connor alive. If Connor has been replaced, then it would still make sense to go back and kill Sarah. More than likely a previous John, or even his wife, sent the T-800 back to stop the cyborg John from winning...These are all just theories based upon information I've read online. The fact that the T-1000 is there is hard to explain because there are better versions out there, but I'm beyond happy that he showed up in this one.
The T-100 is absolutely terrifying as far as machines are concerned. It was ground breaking visual effects for the early 90's so we know that we will get a more intense version of it this time around. Considering the fact that the T-1000 is present, I think it is also important to remember that 'Robot John Connor' could possibly be the T-1000 later in the film. If we have learned anything from this story line so far it is that anything is possible and that we have no clue what's really going on.
This movie has every element needed to what has to be done which is move on from Arnold. There is throwback and nostalgia galore in this film. There is time travel, new/old characters, mystery, action, and overall the possibility of epicness. Did I mention that at one point Arnold fights Arnold? Because that happens and it looks awesome.
If we are going to see more Terminator movies in the future we need a new face of the franchise. Or maybe even better, no new face at all. And When I say more films, I mean good films, not just a dead horse that's been whipped to death. There are graphic novels out there that have proven that the universe provides an important background to amazing story lines that are more than relevant in this technological age we live in. There are more stories to be told, however they must be told in moderation and we must learn to move on from our attachments. We just have to let go the right way.
You can't send him off with shit like T3. (Look at him up there. He won't have it.)...Genisys is a chance to give him a proper send off that he rightfully deserve. James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger accomplished movie perfection by giving us a character and making us emotionally connected. They made us fall in love with something that never existed. Letting go feels like losing a friend or family member, but it must be done.
So for all the hoping that this film fails. For all the complaining that they need to leave well enough alone, let us remember that T3 and Salvation didn't leave well enough alone. This is a chance to sweeten the bad taste that has been left in our mouths. Our last ride with machine that doesn't feel fear, that doesn't quit. And hopefully, this time, when all is said and done, He won't be back. And we should be okay with that.
And if you just can't get on board, there's still a little piece of me that understands. You are a forward thinker who for some reason, despite your knowledge of science and logic, still loves the franchise and will see it regardless of the hate that won;t leave your heart. I get it...and this is for you.