For years we have waited for the Terminator film that would take us back to the promise land. 24 years we've waited, patiently while Hollywood took ill timed swings with almost no precision in an attempt to make money when what they should have been doing was trying to stay true to the fans and more importantly the universe.
The only way to do that and make it worthy, was to bring changes that didn't take away from what it was like to experience a Terminator film. In this latest installment we get a formula that doesn't just propel this film into being the rightful third place finisher, it also opens the door for more stories in one of our favorite cinematic universes to ever exist.
If you haven't seen Genisys yet LEAVE NOW.
ALSO: 17 WAY GENYSIS TIED IN THE TERMINATOR AND T2
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
...you've been warned.
1: T-1000 UPGRADES:
The T-100 is back in action this summer and much like before he's pretty terrifying. Byung Lee brings us another stone cold, soulless rendition of the cop that hunts down humans. In Genisys they showcase some of those same classic abilities such as the arm swords and the hooks that pry open doors, but also bring in some upgrades to the model.
The cool thing about this is that they don't necessarily upgrade the model. They simply add onto the original premise of the T-100's abilities. The first thing they added was a tracking device. Something that would have been very useful in T2 when the Connors were fleeing Pescadero Hospital. Instead of showing some advanced new way of tracking they do the audience a solid and keep it simple having a piece of the T-1000 fuse the armored vehicle his prey is driving.
As they make their getaway Arnold looks back, his robot vision picking up the robot matter. He shoots it off with his trusty shotgun and looks to Sarah and Kyle. "It knows where we are." Within minutes the T-1000 comes barreling up on them in a cop car. Sarah shoots through the windshield nailing him and shattering the glass. The T-100 reacts by being a badass and crawling through the windshield as a liquid metal blob. He takes form on the hood then gazelle leaps at his victims, ready to kill...classic liquid cop style.
The other really cool thing they did to upgrade the T-1000 was added the ability to control other robots CPU's. One of my favorite parts in Genisys is after they've destroyed the original robot from 1984 only to have the 1000 literally drop a piece of himself into the eye of the T-800 reactivating its mother board. What follows is that classic Kyle vs the T-800 from the original only this time he doesn't have to die to defeat it. (Sorry, couldn't find ANY photos.)
2: SKYNET IS THERE THE NIGHT KYLE COMES BACK:
Leading up to Genisys I'm sure most of you realized the absence of Matt Smith in all the trailers along with his characters name on IMDB. All promotional footage showed Smith as one of the members of the resistance fighting alongside Connor. When you see the film, that is exactly what you received. A quiet soldier going through the motions. That is up to the point when Kyle enters the time portal to take his journey only to see Smith's character step forward... and assassinate Connor. For you see, Matt Smith IS Skynet.
The reason I liked this so much is it gave reason for everything that follows. The way the movie is written, you know that original night Kyle came back, Skynet was not here. If it would have been then he wouldn't have told Sarah, "We had won. The war was over. Skynet knew that." The moment Reese sees Skynet step forward and attack John is the first time in the movie that you know things are all about to change.
3: SKYNET UPGRADES:
With every Terminator movie you know you will be receiving a new, even deadlier robot than before and Genisys is no different. In this latest installment we get a human-robot hybrid. Now, I know what you're thinking: Isn't Arnold a human-robot hybrid? Not really. The T-800 is fully a machine with organic skin grown on top to make it appear human. The key word there is appear human.
This new model, which I don't believe has a name at all, is something far different, yet still the same in the elements it brings to the table. What we have here is cellular replication of the human DNA code. Skynet has figured out a way to mend with a human host, killing them and taking over the body. This cellular replication has kind of been done before with T-1000 which has the ability to shape shift into any thing of equal size or any human it touches.
The biggest difference being that this new robot isn't liquid metal. Instead, it's more along the lines of flaking matter. The cells can pull away and return giving off the appearance of a metallic dust. Now, whether or not you can melt this sucker is up in the air because they don't really try that at all. I imagine you probably would not. Even if you threw it into a fire, all that would need to escape are a few cells which could then replicate creating a whole new body.
Essentially a robot that can not be killed. I'm not 100% positive on the science behind it, which is why I really want to see it again. There's just too much going on to take in every little thing the first time. Plus a movie should have layers in order to having staying power and this film is like a pan of lasagna. What I did pick up is that every time Skynet has fused with a human the host died. This time though, the human was too strong willed for even Skynet.
In Genisys you will see that Skynet is less of the bad guy and more so an instigator of what is to come. What they have done in this film is taken our true hero, John Connor, the savior of the human race, and turned him into the bad guy. In case you missed any of the trailers for the film, Connor is a robot-human hybrid. While Skynet was able to kill others easily, John survived, instead honing his new skills into unstoppable powers that make his enemies obsolete.
After gaining the abilities of Skynet, Connor becomes drunk with power and mad with confliction as he travels back in time to ensure the creation of his new maker. In a way, Connor is working with Skynet, but from what I gathered, it was only so that he could control it once it went live. If Skynet doesn't exist, then Connor will never have that power and therefor cease to exist in that form. The MAN that was John Connor died the minute he was able to remove the scar from his face. (After transformation he heals all wounds) From that point on it is all about control.
That being said, he is still human technically. At least I took it to be that way due to how it was written. One thing they highlight is the relationship between Connor and Reese. Father and Son who first bonded as friends. A heavy, mutual respect for one another. There are many times in the film where Reese pleads with his former mentor and father figure/son telling him that he doesn't have to be this way, that he can fight it. If they wrote in the attempt to appeal to the human inside, then I take it to be more so of a permanent possession. You can never go back to what you once were, but you're always down inside of there...somewhere.
4: SARAH WALKING JOHN'S PATH:
One new element that they added that I absolutely loved was the change to Sarah Connor's storyline while keeping it exactly the same. When we meet her in Genisys she is already a trained warrior. She's been through some things and is well aware of everything going on. However, we come to find out that Skynet sent a T-1000 back to 1973 to assassinate her as a child. There she was, weak and afraid, the only people she knew and loved being killed. That is exactly what was going to happen. It just came to fruition 11 years prior.
The big difference is that when the T-800 shows up, it's there to save her instead of murder her in cold blood. He takes care of her and tells her of the future. In the film she talks about he was always there for her. The perfect father. Her constant struggle is that she's never had a choice. She's always known what the future will bring and had to live her life knowing she had to stop it by surviving
If any of this sounds familiar, it should. That is the exact path her son was walking in T2. The leader growing up knowing he was going to play a part in saving the world even if he didn't want to. But not wanting to is killing everyone. The burden of baring that your entire youth while becoming a warrior. The path laid out for her son was now her own life.
Another similarity is the kinship she forms with the T-800. Much like John in 1991, she bonds with the machine and even names it Pops. In T2 John named his terminator Uncle Bob. In that same film Sarah gives a monologue about how she doesn't trust the machine, but that she is starting to see that he is the best thing for her son. The father he never had. The part being played by one of the very same machines that took the life of Kyle Reese. She says he will never hit John or yell at him. He'll never leave him or come home drunk...the perfect role model.
In this alternate timeline Sarah has a completely different view on the machine. Remember, previously Sarah HATED terminators. She had every right to. The first time she met one it tried to rip her face off. In the second film she was tolerating the T-800, but she never trusted it and even tried to kill it at one point before John stops her. In Genisys Sarah loves her robot. After her parents died he was like a father or grandfather, hence Pops. Another similarity to John there as she loves a robot even though her parents were murdered by one.
It's a big change to the character, but it works. The story supports the change and Emilia Clarke is nothing short of fantastic is replacing Linda Hamilton. She has that sweet side that Hamilton had in The Terminator, but can be tough like Sarah was in T2. Although even Clarke doesn't bring it to level that Hamilton hit in T2. That woman was an absolute BEAST in that film.
5: T-800 SHOWS IT'S AGE:
Another thing that made its way into the script that I loved was the T-800 showing its age. People have asked the question over and over again about Arnold playing the T-800. They had the right to. The writers weren't acknowledging what was really happening and just using the organic skin to silence the nay sayers.
What I love in Genisys is they literally write through Arnold's aging. They don't just acknowledge it in passing, they wrote the plot line to have him age perfectly over time so that it was believable and MORE IMPORTANTLY didn't hurt the story to do it. It actually improved it. Drastically.
Beyond the story, they touch base on the wear and tare of the machine. In the 1984 fight with the T-1000, Sarah and Pops have set a trap using acid to melt the robot. As the T-1000 washes away it attempts to escape the trap. Pops holds him place until the deed is done. That is when you see the classic bare hand endoskeleton pictured above. For the duration of the film Pops has trouble with his hand.
I thought it worked because it gave the T-800 a struggle in the story line that WORKED. In T2 Arnold was learning how to feel for humans which honestly, I still am only 87% behind. Here you have a robot who is losing its functionality. It is literally programmed to care about that. "Old but not obsolete." People are giving that line a lot of shit, but they're wrong. Maybe it was over used, but that is the first BELIEVABLE struggle for Arnold to have in any of these films. (Besides the obvious struggle in Terminator to find and kill Sarah Connor) It was also fitting because as we all know, the T-800 seems to have issues with the forearm and hands in all of the films...Skynet should issue a recall.
6: FORWARD TIME TRAVEL:
In every Terminator film, including the two that we're actually excluding, Time travel has always worked one way. Only organic material and you can't go back. Even though it was never stated, we also only ever saw backwards travel. Now this was obviously due to the fact that there are no time machines in the past, and they hadn't created a device to bring with you...although with the covering of the T-800 in organic skin I'm sure that they could have covered a device in the same way, it just would have looked and smelt weird.
Due to the knowledge of the T-800 and the passage of time from the 70's to the 80's, Pop's and Sarah are able to build their own time machine, which is waiting when Kyle shows up. The plan is to travel to 1997 and stop Judgement Day in its tracks. However Kyle sees it differently having knowledge that Judgement Day has changed.
Oh yeah, I forgot. They added implanted memories in this script. Not from Skynet or anything like that. From the universe. Which makes sense given everything that changed when Skynet assassinated John Connor. Once that happens Kyle is sent through the Time Portal and while he's passing through, the timeline he is traveling to is altered causing different outcomes. Different outcomes mean different events which led to different childhood memories for him. All of which hit him as he is traveling back to that fateful night in May, 1984.
After explaining that, in a way, to Sarah and Pops he convinces the to instead travel to 2017 where Judgement Day has been delayed to, 10 years later than it originally happened.... Judgement Day can not be stopped, only delayed.
7: OFFICER O'BRIEN:
This isn't necessarily a change to the story, more so the addition of a good character. I'm not usually a staunch supporter of adding characters for comedic relief, but if you write that character well, stay true to the story, and cast the role flawlessly, then yeah it's going to work. And that's exactly what they did.
When Kyle shows up in 1984 he is chased by the T-1000 into the department store where more cops show up to the call just like in the original. Only this time it's the cops vs Kyle vs the T-1000. I think it is obvious who wins out. As the 1000 offs one of the officers, Kyle manages to distract it as he and the other officer, Officer O'Brien, take cover. The T-1000 zeros in on Kyle as the wall explodes and in comes Sarah in an armored truck. "Come with me if you want to live." The two escape, the villain taking chase and Officer O'Brien being forgotten and left behind...safe.
Fast forward to 2017 when they arrive in the middle of a freeway and are immediately arrested by the police. As they are being questioned we meet Simmons for the first time as he bursts in with an ipad, playing footage from the overpass to the officers in charge. They pay him little attention. The lead officer asking, "You been drinking today?" A silence follows. It is blatantly obvious that no one respects him.
What you come to realize is that for the past 30 years he's been chasing a ghost. Relentlessly attempting to solve a case that can't be solved and desperately seeking answers as to what he actually saw that night. When Connor and Reese show up on the freeway, he immediately takes note of the time travel bubble. He knows it's connected.
When he finally gets a chance to speak with our heroes he tells them he was there that night. He thanks them for saving them. You can see in his eyes how thankful he is for his life, but also the joy in finally knowing you aren't insane. No one believes him, but that doesn't matter. Simmons flushes the character out in all the right ways. And mind you, he's comedic relief.
Throughout the film there are sprinkles of cheesy one liners and puns that could easily fit in other films, but there is one line in particular that landed with everyone in the entire audience, and I'm not sure if it was even scripted. He is trying to help our lead characters and prove himself sane, so he makes several attempts at collecting evidence. All of which fail.
At one point O'Brien walks into a security room to find it destroyed. Computers ripped off the wall, screens smashed, wiring all to hell...He looks around the room and takes it all in. As he exits he mutters to himself something along the lines of: "Goddamn time traveling robots always covering their tracks."
It was subtle and completely natural. The entire audience laughed, myself included. There were a lot of smiles and nods through out the film, but that one moment was the only one that really got me. I genuinely laughed out loud, stopped, thought about it again, and then laughed out loud again. By then I was the only one laughing. I think that shows what Simmons brings to the table...though I'm a bit bias. He's one of my favorite actors.
He doesn't take up a lot of screen time maybe totaling a half an hour all together, if that, but his performance is lasting. He may have never been a leading man, but Simmons is downright one of the best supporting actors out there working today. His role is Genisys was well acted and the way he played it was very much appreciated by this writer in particular.
8: JOHN CONNOR NEVER BORN:
This is a HUGE change. I want to first assure you that John Connor is very much a centrical part of this film and plot line. He takes up a lot of screen time and by the end he's our main villain. But everything about his path in this film doesn't bode well for his future what so ever.
First of all, John was conceived in 1984 in a hotel room after Sarah foolishly calls her mother to tell her she's okay. This is the same scene that we find out the T-800 has voice changing capabilities. Obviously in Genisys this all goes bust as Skynet sent a T-1000 back to assassinate Kyle.
There's too much happening for the two of them to "mate" as Arnold says multiple times in the film. Considering the fact that they are both on the run from the police, and that Sarah has been patiently waiting for over a decade, they time hop to 2017. So if John is going to happen, the oldest he could possibly be in 2029 is 11..... So there goes your leader of the free world. For now.
The other thing that is working against John is the fact that in this film Sarah doesn't really care about him. Not like before. In T2 Cameron established that she would die for John. At the end of The Terminator she is pregnant with a handgun showing that she is willing to kill to have him. This time around she is less focused on her son and more focused on stopping Skynet all together, even if it means that John will never be born.
Add that state of mind to the fact that when she meets her son in 2017, and he's older than her, she doesn't take a liking to him. Once they figure out he's in bed with Skynet she really starts to hate him. At one point she tells Kyle, who obviously sees his son as a father figure and best friend, that he is not that John Connor anymore. She drives the point home in asking, "If that's what he becomes, if that is always what he becomes, then do we even want to have him?"
Pardon my french, but that is fucking mind blowing. His mother just gave up on him. I didn't show it in the theatre because I'm a man and I'm slightly terrified at being human in public, but when Sarah said that I was bargaining with her inside my head: "No, no, no don't give up on him. He's your son. You can stop that from happening. Sarah Connor would NEVER give up on John." But this is not that Sarah Connor and this is not that John...I guess.
When the film finally ties together Sarah is free to choose her own destiny and she does so with Kyle at her side. They kiss one another and we know that they will be together in what ever future is to come...but still, they don't procreate. I'm still thinking about what she said. Do they still have a baby? And if so, do they name it John or given the circumstance of the pain of having to kill your own son after he becomes a murderous tyrant, do you try to avoid it by raising him differently?
9: ORIGINAL TIMELINE ERASED:
Those three pictures are the best I could do at showing you what happens. At this point, the original two films are fully out the window. There will be no murdering of the other Sarah's. There will be no Tech Noir showdown. No police station assault or 90's highway chase scenes. Once The time line is altered we are heading in a completely new direction.
This allows us to move forward. In the first article I ever did, Terminator Re-Genisys, I talked about the fact that if we wanted the franchise to continue on, we needed to figure out a way to let go of the originals and start off a new in todays highly advanced technological world. That is exactly what they did by erasing the original timeline. From here on out what happened in the first two films doesn't matter. Which makes forgetting the third and fourth installments all the more easy.
Even though everything has changed, there are still little hints that everything may just play out the way it always was suppose to. For instance, when Old Arnold and Sarah capture the new T-800 they bring it with them in order to destroy the evidence and keep Skynet from being built. When that T-800 crosses paths with the T-1000 it comes back to battle Kyle one last time. Like I previously stated, Kyle wins which is a different outcome, but he was always meant to fight that robot, and he did. I believe he even blows it up.
This changes Sarah Connor permanently. She will never become that hard ass woman from T2. That was all brought on by watching the father of her child die and having to realize she was all alone and it was up to her to kill it. That molded her. When we meet her she is a lowly waitress who gets stood up on a Friday night and then goes to the movies all by herself. Then she meets a man falls in love and he is murdered so that she can have a son. Fate was always telling her that was only allowed to have one man in her life. John Connor.
The new Sarah, though already tough, had Pops with her the whole time. Even though she can roll with the punches, she doesn't find herself in situations alone enough. In the future of this relaunch I would hope that we see her go through more, although it's nice to see Kyle alive and well. It feels good to know Sarah won't have to sleep alone any longer.
10: T-800 OFFICIALLY UPGRADED:
Another thing I had mentioned in that previous article was the need to move on from Arnold. This had nothing to do with the actor and everything to do with father time. Arnold will not be around forever. Eventually he will be too old to remember lines and we can't just keep CGI'ing his likeness on body builders and hoping the audience will be cool with that. Not to mention the fact that the T-800 is simp'y obsolete to the new and improved robots. Each battle he becomes more and more defenseless.
In Genisys it seemed that they were going to follow my advice as the T-800 holds off Connor in the time displacement field while Kyle and Sarah flee. The final battle taking place in the Cyberdyne lab where they test robotic parts and liquid metal. Arnold is no match for the new version of Skynet and we sadly watch as his head is severed off of his body, landing in a vat of liquid metal.
Kyle and Sarah hide as an explosion destroys Cyberdyne, bringing it to the ground in ashes. Their celebration of living through it is cut short as we see the sword arm of a T-1000 cut through the steel doors, ripping it from the hinges. The tension breaks as Arnold is revealed to be standing there, fully healed in his new, more than likely permanent, white haired look.
We now know that the chances of Arnold reprising his role again are extremely high. It now makes sense to have him fighting future robots because he has all the attributes of a T-1000 now. They didn't explain how this changes him as this all happens as the film wraps, but I'm sure they will cover that in the next film.
Yes, the next film. IF the numbers aren't horrible, and I'm crossing my fingers all this bad press doesn't kill it for the true fans who would gladly pay to see it, then they will bring Arnold back and we will probably see two more films before he finally tosses in the towel and bids farewell to his dearest fans.
As far as future films go? I welcome them. The writing was fantastic, even after studio re-writes which can sometimes mean the death of the writers credit. The casting was almost impeccable giving us actors that we want to watch and fit the bill...except for Jason Clarke. Great actor. Not fitting for John Connor at all. On another high note, they've even managed to make Arnold's character relevant and believable again.
Genisys may not be perfect, but it is a true gift to the fans who have waited so long for a worthy conclusion. Even if they chose to end it here, it went out on a good note. Sarah is happy, Kyle lived and they managed to erase everything that ever happened. So the real ending of Terminator is that it never even happened.
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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 are ONLY available at RealD 3D showings. They 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