I don't know what to call Terminator Genisys; primarily because "Genisis? Gynisys?" but also because of it's confused and convoluted place in the established canon. I'm almost impressed that the series has gone so long, having five different actors play it's hero, and jumped around in its timeline so much without rebooting.
It's not surprising that no one knows what Terminator 5 really is, not even the people making it. What we do know is that, if this movie performs well, Paramount will be sure to make it an anchor to another thrust of the Terminator franchise. Us fans should ask, then, does Terminator Genisys really have what it takes to carry on the series, or does it call for a reboot?
That's a pretty weighty trailer, full of huge details in the plot and iconography of Terminator 5. Yet, I still don't have a clue what this trailer is trying to tell me. Is this a successor to the older films? A wry commentary on them? Or something else entirely? Why is Terminator 5 exhibiting such a lack of commitment to any new vision?
Terminator Genisys is terrified of itself
Remember when brand dedication simply involved naming something? It seems now the staples of what people understand as Terminator need to make a return. I'm not saying that just because Arnold is back (although he helps) but the trailer goes through a visual checklist to make sure people know this still is Terminator. You can't help but get the impression that the filmmakers aren't sure what made Terminator so popular in the first place, and are just shooting for every option possible.
Just look at this fan effort to assemble the newest trailer only out of footage from Terminator 1 and 2. So recyclable is the imagery from this series that films within it can be used as stand ins for each other. That doesn't bode well for a franchise that wishes to continue into the future. A full on revamping may be in order for Terminator's aesthetic. What other reasons could there be to restart the series?
Arnold Schwarzenegger won't be around forever
There's being brought back for a role you consider yourself way too old to play, and then there's being Arnold Schwarzenegger. He must be the only actor not only having to reprise an old role, but having to act against his CGI younger self who the producers would likely much prefer. Yes, the organic skin is a logical explanation for the T-100 being old. Yes, interesting things can still be done with action actors who don't fit the young and virile model films lean on so much. But if these movies ever want to live on without Arnold, they will have to find a new hook, and no, Terminator Salvation isn't good enough.
I can only imagine that direction on set for Terminator 5 went along the lines of "Say 'I'll be back', Arnold. Say it... just SAY IT!" When a series leans on a crutch that hard, I should imagine it's pretty scared of what happens when someone kicks it.
At Least Terminator Genisys is trying
I definitely don't approve of the trailer giving away such copious details. The reveal of this film's John Connor being part machine would have made for a fantastic twist, but nope, we can't risk even for a second that this audience won't go see the film! This detail is at least a creative one that adds to the Terminator imagery and complicates character relations, and it will be interesting to see John Connor as some kind of villain. Rather than feeling genuinely inspired, this cool idea still feels like tweaking, as if Terminator is being changed just enough to be new, without having to reinvent itself. There are only so many little tweaks this series can make before it loses track of what it is.
So should Terminator be rebooted after Genisys? Well, I remember being in school, and painting a picture of a dog. It didn't look quite right, so I added to it. It still wasn't right, so I added and added and added to it until it eventually looked much more like a bear. Terminator 5 is that bear, and while I had the luxury of lying to my teacher and saying I meant to draw a bear from the start, the Terminator series has been watched closely since the 80s. Maybe it deserves a black canvas.