SKYNET ISN'T COMING...It's Already Here.
I haven't been here long, but in my short time, I've shown my inner nerd for the Terminator franchise and all its glory. I accept the good and the bad, and I watch them all repeatedly. It is this vast encyclopedia of knowledge from that universe that allowed me to relive one of the best movie experiences of my life.
The other night MoviePilot graciously invited me to an early screening of Terminator Genisys...in RealD 3D showing at that. What followed was a journey down memory lane to places I haven't been in quite some time. Like seeing an old friend, we laughed and reminisced on days gone by as I learned where they had been and everything that happened while I was away. Then, right before we parted ways, they told me something that changed everything from here on out.
If you haven't seen the film and you don't want SPOILERS, then leave now because what follows is a breakdown of every single thing I can think of that ties Genisys back to the original franchise.
1: KYLE'S BACKSTORY: True To Character
"I grew up after. In the ruins. Starving. Hiding from H-K's... Hunter Killers." - Kyle Reese; The Terminator
When we start off the film we are listening to a voice over about things to come as we watch it play out. Buildings crumble and bridges fall as clouds climb high into the sky burning up the atmosphere as millions are disintegrated in a nuclear fallout. Judgement Day has arrived.
As we come into the future we meet a young Kyle Reese, realizing that it is him telling the story. He is alone in the underbelly of the world, traveling the sewers to keep away from H-K's. If you don't know what a Hunter Killer is, they fly and do serious damage to things that are alive. We follow Kyle as he travels through the dark finding himself cornered. Behind him, a Terminator approaches. It says something to him, the exact words I can not recollect, before raising his gun to mow him down. Of course, this is stopped as John Connor swoops down to save him.
This ties back to what Kyle tells Sarah in the original movie about growing up in the ruins starving and hiding. In that same scene he shows her the marked barcode on his arm from the future, which we see in Genysis as we come into Kyle being an adult fighting in the resistance along side Connor. In the original Kyle talks of how he'd die for Connor. Courtney might just play the character better than Salvation or the original...although I'm still a fan of Beihn's frantic approach to playing Reese.
2: Other Terminators With Advanced Living Tissue:
Another thing I enjoyed about this is the use of a different terminator. The terminator in the sewers with young Kyle is not Arnold's likeness, however, he does not have the fake skin shown in Salvation on earlier models. It appeared that it looked like a regular, body building man. The only reason I noted this was that there is another terminator in the original that has the organic living tissue, but is a completely different actor. I always took it that there were probably T-700's with human likeness or possibly other T-800's that looked like other actors. That would make sense seeing as the T-800's were invented as infiltration devices. Twins is one thing but I think it would be a bit obvious if there were thousands of Arnolds hanging around in the resistance.
In the original Terminator movie there is a flash back of Reese in the resistance camp as he tells Sarah of how the Terminators infiltrate using human-like robots. In that scene (about an hour and fifteen minutes into the film) there is another huge guy (not Arnold) who comes into the camp with a line of refugees and then pulls out a laser gatling gun and begins to mow people down. He makes his way through the camp shooting everyone including the women, children, and even the dogs that alert of the robots. Reese fights back but is pinned down, dropping his photo of Sarah into the fire where it burns away. When he looks up he sees the silhouette of a man holding a gun, two bright red eyes glowing in the darkness.
No other Terminator film has acknowledged this, not even Salvation which gave us great looks into previous models of endoskeletons. For some reason, and I'm not quite sure why, but that scene always stuck with me growing up. We never get to see the outcome of that scene as it ends with Sarah waking up from a dream. "I was dreaming about dogs" she tells Kyle. "We used them to spot Terminators" Kyle replies.
I've often wondered wether or not it would ever be brought up again, and have even toyed with trying to write something out myself that does it justice. Instead I just let it be what it was: the fate of Sarah's photo, which was practically a supporting cast member in the series.
3: THE FINAL BATTLE: Skynet Falls
The original film starts off with the arrival of the T-800 in 1984, followed by Reese. We find out after Reese meets Sarah that the final battle happened that same night, 45 years in the future. He tells her how Connor made the final march and they watched Skynet fall to the ground. It was over. The war was won. That's why Skynet sent a T-800 back before the resistance arrived. It knew it was defeated. Killing Connor then would make no difference...or so we thought.
We come into Genisys that same night. Only this time instead of being May 12th, 1984, it's 2029 and John is mentally preparing his troop for war against Skynet. They know where the heart is, and they are going to cut it out. We finally get to see what was only talked about before. At the same time, we see the T-800 being processed for time travel by Skynet. As the resistance marches upon the headquarters, Arnold is stepping up to the plate and getting into his Mr. Universe, Thinking Man pose...that's how you know it's about to go down.
By the time the resistance arrives it is too late. Skynet has fallen, but one of the T-800's has already made it out of production and is well on it's way to 1984. John knows what's up, given his past and explains everything to his following. "They've went back in time, to kill my mother before I am born."...pretty life changing stuff. You get a chance to see how loyal his followers are as he has multiple volunteers for the job. Ultimately he picks his closest ally, and father, Kyle Reese.
4: JOHN AND KYLE'S SCARS:
In T2: Judgement Day we saw our first glimpses of a future John. It's only a few seconds of the film, but the imagery leaves you knowing that this is a hardened man who has been through events and taken through places. One of the interesting things was the scaring on his face. They never gave explanation to it, but they didn't have to. It was about that imagery.
In Salvation they brought this around in a way that I thoroughly enjoyed having the scars come from the very robot that was suppose to go back and kill his mother. However, we are forgetting T3 and Salvation because this story line does so I'm not sure if that still applies. In Genisys they paid homage by matching Connor's scars up almost verbatim.
Kyle also got the scar touch up having burns and lacerations on his chest, shoulders and arms. This obviously ties in with the original film where he is trapped in a car in 2029 and it catches on fire. When Reese is being bandaged by Sarah you can clearly see his scars. I thought small things like this were a nice touch to really make the payoff of nostalgia work in favor of the film.
5: JOHN'S SPEECH TO HIS MOTHER:
In the original Terminator film, Kyle is shot when fleeing the police station with Sarah. They escape and find refuge under an overpass where Sarah bandages his wound. She asks him to tell her about her son. As he does she becomes irritated and denounces the entire situation. "I don't want this. I never wanted any of this." At this point Kyle tells her that her son sent a message to her. He made him memorize it.
"Thank you for your courage through the dark years. I can't help you with what you must soon face, except to say the future is not set. You must be stronger than you imagine you can be. You must survive or I will never exist."
1984 is the last time any film paid notion to that. I was pleasantly surprised when they brought that around full circle in Genisys. After Kyle volunteers to go back in time (which he also states in the original film) he and John share a moment as he de-robes. Remember, only living things can travel through the time portal. At one point Kyle asks, "What do I say to her?" John takes a moment before delivering the very same message Michael Biehn gave to Sarah back in 1984.
6: SARAH'S PHOTO:
There were no photos to be found online, and due to piracy, there were absolutely no chances of getting a snap in theatre, but they recreated the photo of Sarah Connor with Emilia Clarke. The hair, head band, jeep, dog and even polaroid all recreated to a pretty exact replication. They even put the smudges and tattered you see when Kyle pulls it out of his pocket in Terminator. When you see it, you immediately appreciate the tie in.
As far as recreating Sarah Connor, they really landed a good replacement in Clarke. She does a great job at playing the leader and being a strong female lead, but at the same time she still plays the role with a little bit of that untainted innocence we came to know from Linda Hamilton before she went Rambo in T2. The way Genisys is written it called for that one two punch and in my opinion they found the perfect actress. If they follow up with this film and Clarke reprises her role, I expect to see an even softer Sarah as she is left to chose her own path this time around.
7: THE 1984 ARRIVAL OF THE T-800:
When you first cut to the overlook you're not quite sure where you are. It isn't until you see the garbage truck and its driver, both completely fitting to the original scene from the first film. From the lightning clear down to the rolling trash and debris when the time portal opens, they made sure to capture that original scene almost entirely to the opening of The Terminator.
We don't stay here, as we dart back and forth between Arnold and Kyle's arrival, but the way that it plays out takes us right up the road from the observatory where we meet the three punks. The one thing that changed, and it really wasn't a big deal by any means unless you're a lady with a crush on Arnold, was that they shadowed out the buttocks. If you recall in the original Arnold and Michael Beihn bared all, multiple times. However that was an R rated film and all new Terminator films get the PG-13 treatment. I could still swear that I heard the F bomb, but after reading the reviews I apparently am just remember the original film instead.
8: THE PUNKS:
The scene with the three punks is a fan favorite for the ages. I don't know who can forget the first time we saw the T-800 interact with a human being in the past, but it went something like this: Robot meets man. Man makes fun of Robot. Robot demands clothes. Man objects. Robot punches a hole in Man's stomach.
It was a touch of violence that wasn't just there because it looked cool. It showed the audience that this thing was not a normal man. There was something different. Plus, he had to get clothes somewhere. Why not tie the two together to keep the story moving? That's what James Cameron does.
We pretty much get virtually the same punks with little alterations to their characters. One has a large Mohawk, but wears the same clothes. The one on the far left dawns the classic Tech Noir outfit famous from the original, but loses the red eye make-up... The third one looks like a well fed Sid Vicious. Not sure why he's the only one who is pretty much completely different. Maybe something to do with the likeness of a celebrity like Paxton?
Either way, if you were hoping to see the beat down recreated on the punks you're in for a let down. At the same time, you get picked right back up as you watch Old Arnold fight 1984 Arnold. On paper this sounds like a campy, horrible idea but the CGI is so good that this scene actually plays out really well and is a whole lot of fun to watch. Which brings me to my next point...
9: THE ORIGINAL LOOK OF ARNOLD:
Maybe it was the hype in the theatre. Maybe it was the fact that I saw it in 3D. MAYBE it just really is that on point. I don't know exactly, but from what I saw the CGI in this film is off the charts. Is it perfect? Almost. It makes the trash we saw for 45 seconds in Salvation look the part it actually plays.
One of the keys to bringing us back to that night was recreating Arnold. You can make the set perfect, but if the effects aren't there then it's not believable. And if it's not believable then you shouldn't do it. In the past, using CGI to do an actors likeness was always a horrible call. (Arnold in Salvation, The Rock in Scorpion King) When they announced they would be doing the same in this film my heart stopped a little bit. The idea was awesome, but could they pull it off?
Yep. It was 100% believable. After what they've accomplished on Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes franchises there were high hopes of this being more than possible. The mastery came in the form of using an actual body double actor and facial recognition technology to transfer Arnold's face onto the body. So what you get is not Arnold fights the air in front of him. You get Arnold going toe to toe with someone who is the same size of our man in his prime.
Due to the advances in special effects we are given a throwback that actually works. Seeing how far we've come has got me excited for the future of movie making and the possibilities of next level technology.
10: THE 1984 ARRIVAL OF KYLE REESE:
Reese arrives to a bright light, falling to the ground from a few feet up. Just like the original. The alley way may have even been the same one from 1984, but the article I read that in had no citations for the source so...Reese assesses the situation then turns the homeless man who slightly resembles the original actor.
The homeless man delivers his classic line: "Hey buddy. Did you see a real bright light?" followed by the audience howling with laughter. I'm not sure if it is because they remembered it from the original, or because they thought it was a genuinely funny line. In my opinion, the way it was delivered in 1984 was better as the man appeared drunk off his rocker. After this the police show up and give chase to Reese.
This entire scene is almost spot on. It's far closer than I thought it would be. Even though the buildings look a little different everything else lines up. The shoes he acquires, the way he gets his coat clear down to the pulling of the velcro strap on the Nike's is practically a shot for shot remake that helps put your suspension of disbelief in the right place for believing you've just traveled through time with them.
The only thing different in this scene is the cop that chases Reese. In 1984 it was a black guy in his 30's. This time the cop is Asian (Byung-Hun Lee) giving you the first heads up that not everything is like it was before. When Reese delivers that classic line:
"What day is it? What year?"
The cop responds in a calculated, put together demeanor ending with the reveal that he knows Reese is from the future. After a couple of gunshots to the face and torso we realize that things are way different than they were the first time around. This time a T-1000 is in 1984. And it's waiting for Reese...
11: THE RETURN OF THE T-100:
The T-1000 is one of my all time favorite villains of any film ever. When I was a kid, Robert Patrick's portrayal had me slightly terrified of cops in general, especially if they were calm. The way he shape shifted and took on anyone's likeness was new. He could be your mother or your best friend, and you would never know. Those closest to me got paranoid looks for quite some time.
The liquid metal look changed the game of film making. For 1991 it was groundbreaking. Here was a new robot all together and it seemed that there was no way to destroy it. What do you do when bullets don't work? Sure, now looking back we know how to kill it off, but when it was first released and you went into it as an audience it seemed like you were up against an unstoppable force, even for the Terminator.
Take that robot back 7 years earlier to 1984 and he becomes even more terrifying as technology is even further behind. At times I wished I wouldn't have watched any of the trailers so that I wouldn't have know who he was going to be. The reveal would have landed in such an exciting way.
If you were expecting the T-1000 to be the lead bad guy in this film, don't. His presence is short lived. We maybe see 25 minutes of this guy, but don't worry, it's a 25 minutes that stick with you. They also add some cool new features that aren't actually new features that I really enjoyed. One of those beautiful little things where you take the original idea and take it somewhere without really changing anything. You can read about that in my other article: 10 Changes Genisys Made That WORKED.
Everything they do with the T-1000 in this film is pretty awesome and I really love how Byung-Hu Lee captured the essence of the character, playing him in that same calm, terrifyingly unshakable way that made Robert Patrick actually scary. I will say this though, I find the T-1000 to be a more watchable and worthy film enemy than the one we actually got.
12: THE ARNOLD SMILE:
You may see this and say to yourself, "What are they doing? Why would they have him do that? This is horrible new direction." Others may see it and think it's pulled from T3 where the film was littered with corny jokes and cheesy one liners. If you did think that, you'd be wrong. It's actually a throwback to a scene from T2: Judgement Day.
Over an hour into the film John and Sarah find themselves on the run with the T-800 after escaping Pescadero Hospital. They rendezvous with Sarah's old friends allowing them safe sleep and more weapons than they can handle, like the infamous gatling gun. It is on their way to this location where John starts to show his new friend the ropes of acting like a real human so that he doesn't come off as a robot...or an illegal immigrant.
He starts with some speech upgrades in the car like, "Chill" and "Hasta La Vista, Baby". His second lesson is in smiling. I'm not sure if this is in the original theatrical run or just the Director's cut, but either way, it's from the second film. If it's not in the theatrical run then I'd be shocked seeing as it comes off as something written just for the sake of a laugh more than the sake of the story.
This also follows my point home that the cheesy jokes that are scattered throughout Genisys are not reminiscent of T3, but actually T2. James Cameron was aiming to appeal to a wide audience, please the studios and make money all while remaining true to the story. The ultimate collaborator making one of the ultimate summer films.
13: MILES AND DANNY DYSON:
If you watched T2 then you obviously remember Miles Dyson, the genius who is destined to invent Skynet using technological ideas from the the remaining pieces of the T-800 from the first film. Just a little refresher: His company covered up what happened so that they could create something bigger. In return Sarah Connor is deemed insane and locked away from her son and everyone else.
Once her son comes to bust her out with his brand new T-800, she is free to defend and raise the future leader of the human race. Needless to say however, she is obviously a little pissed at said company that caused her years of confinement. So she decides to let off a little steam...by shooting up his home with some kind of automatic sniper rifle hybrid. Miles is wounded and his wife and children are afraid for their lives. One of his children in particular is vaguely highlighted in the film. That son being Danny Dyson.
After the T-800 reveals he is a robot and tells Dyson of what is to come, Miles joins up with them and they enter Cyberdyne with the intent to sabotage everything that could possibly lead to the birth of Skynet. A showdown with police and a SWAT team lead to Miles being shot. He later bleeds out and dies, setting off a detonator that blows up the building as he passes.
In the Genisys the timeline of the original films is reset and with that, Miles Dyson is alive and well again in an alternate timeline. However, as we learned in Judgement Day, if it was suppose to be, it will always be. This rings true in the new film as Genisys is actually a computer program application that ties all technology together. Just like smartphone applications of today, humans willingly buy into the entity that wills itself to control and destroy them. The app is created by none other than Danny Dyson, working along side his father Miles and.... John Connor.
They don't take up a great deal of screen time, but they are essential elements to the story line progressing. If you are a true fan like myself, you'll find yourself approvingly nodding your head when they are introduced to the film and be even more pleased when you see that they are used correctly within the story line.
This was the building that held everything that would ever be Skynet. Much like the Dyson bloodline, CyberDyne will always be a part of Skynet. This time around, it is further advanced than before as we find ourselves in 2017 having judgement day postponed 10 years due to the altering events of the past.
The new location and look are fitting for a more modern day look and feel. The story line once again has us heading towards a finale only this time it really is in the Cyberdyne buildings. They tie it all together giving us the modern day headquarters, the manufacturing of the robots of the future (you get to see the T-1000's in production), and the final showdown all in one location.
15: 1973 ARNOLD:
I know that this is years prior to the originals and if you haven't seen Genisys you're thinking to yourself: "What the hell are you talking about? What's wrong with you?" It's not so much the event more so than the look of the T-800 as it walks across the docks with what I can only assume is a rocket launcher. Alright, you're confused. Let me explain...
In Genisys Sarah tells us that they sent a robot back to murder her. She was outside when she watched the cabin explode, killing her parents. Then she saw liquid metal. The last thing her father told her was to "Swim a straight line, and don't look back." So she did. She swam to the other side where Arnold shows up to save her dressed in the same outfit from the Police Station Assault scene in the Terminator. Only this time his hair wasn't burnt off.
Now that I think of it, it doesn't really make much sense for him to be wearing the same stuff. But it still looked awesome and made your brain replay a couple quick scenes in your head from memory. It was well placed.
16: IT MOVES QUICKLY:
One thing that set the first two Terminator movies apart from the rest, and something that James Cameron is very, very good at is moving the story along without feeling rushed. This is a key element to mimicking the first installments. If you are trying to catch a James Cameron then you need to think like a James Cameron.
In The Terminator you start off right away with the arrival of the villain and the hero back to back. The first two Sarah Connors are dead in the first 15 minutes and by 30 minutes in the T-800 is approaching Sarah in the Tech Noir Night club, Kyle is pulling out his shotgun and the audience is about to find out that this thing isn't human at all.
T2 is the same. The T-800 arrives followed by who you assume is the hero. You meet John and find out where Sarah is and 25 minutes into the film Furlong is cornered in the mall hallway and the audience gets that huge reveal that this time around, Arnold is the good guy. That's the pace of a good Terminator film. Big reveals in small doses. Consistently. Treat the audience like the soda filled sugar-speed freaks they are.
Just like the original, Genisys takes off fast and aside from the romantic panning to Sarah and Kyle's seemingly fleeting relationship, doesn't stop until the end. You see Skynet fall, the T-800 gear up, Kyle Reese time travel and have Arnold fighting Arnold within the first 25 minutes of the film. It's that same old fashioned, 90's fast paced action filled formula that we saw in T2. And if you love that, then you'll at least really like this film.
17: JOHN CONNOR quotes Kyle Reese:
"That Terminator is out there...It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop ever...until you are dead."
These are the words Kyle Reese screams to Sarah as she attempts to flee the car after he saves her from being murdered in the Tech Noir club. They are iconic not only as a quote from Reese, but also as a tagline for the movie in its marketing. Fans of the film know the words anywhere so it wasn't a huge surprise when they showed up in the film...twice I believe.
Similar, in Genisys, John utters a variance of the same words saying, "I can't be bargained with. I can't be reasoned with. I don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear...and I absolutely will not stop, ever, until Skynet rules this world." This isn't really a tie in so to speak, but due to the phrase being synonymous with The Terminator franchise in every way I find it fitting.
UPDATE: If you've seen the movie then you know that there is a lot to take in. I was remembering incorrectly as it was actually John Connor who says that line to Kyle Reese.
Thank you Danny Ballard for the shout out.
So there you have it. All the things that I can remember that seem relevant. I'm sure I missed a few things. I wasn't really able to take notes and the film was so jammed packed that I'm sure there is more. "It's layered like that." If you don't like summer blockbusters and were expecting something worthy of the first film, then don't bother watching this film. If you loved what Cameron did with T2 and expected Genisys to be on the same playing field as Judgement Day, it's not, but you should definitely go see this film anyway.
Genisys is ripe with nostalgia and an honest effort by film makers to try and give their fans something they can truly be proud of. THE James Cameron even raved about how this film was the third Terminator film. I don't think I need to remind you that James Cameron does not tell lies.
!!!!!!! B O N U S !!!!!!!
Be sure to make it out opening weekend for your chance to get a SPECIAL SERIES LIMITED EDITION COLLECTIBLE created by RealD, Paramount Pictures and Skydance. These will be available to moviegoers who see the film in RealD 3D beginning opening night, June 30. The items are available at participating RealD 3D showings at AMC Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Marcus Theatres and Regal Cinemas across the U.S. while supplies last.
These 5 rare collectible theatre posters can be seen on the RealD facebook page.
Terminator: Genisys opens in theaters and RealD 3D on July 1st, 2015. Early showings begin June 30. Tickets are on sale now. To reserve tickets in RealD 3D, just visit www.fandango.com and www.movietickets.com