The Terminator Franchise is a cult favourite, but has taken a critical beating for its recent releases. After Terminator Salvation's lukewarm reception, Paramount decided to go back to basics with Terminator Genisys, reseting the story with a new cast of old characters, and providing ample plot opportunities for future films. Whether this gamble paid off remains to be seen.
Terminator Genisys was not a bad film, but it had its share of problems. Personally, it's my third favourite Terminator film (after T1 and Judgement Day of course). Yet the general fan reception of Genisys has not been positive, leading to its disappointing $89 million take at the domestic box office. This won't necessarily doom the film however, as the international response has been favourable, with the Chinese market finally pushing Terminator 5 over a $440 million total.
Paramount are still staying quiet on the subsequent two films they had planned, but after Genisys set up a new timeline, Terminator 6 has the potential to be a great film that restores fan faith in the franchise. How? We think we have some ideas on that front...
Humanity's Last Hope
The choice to turn John Connor into a villain was Genisys' biggest gambit, and it was pretty counter-productive.
It's a clever move: take the legendary hero that 4 movies have spent explaining the importance of, and turn him into the bad guy. The idea actually makes a lot of sense - instead of trying to kill John Connor, or prevent his existence, why not tease him over to the side of the Machines? The short lived TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles also played with this notion in interesting ways.
But as intriguing as this idea is, baddie John Connor did not resonate with most fans. There are two ways that Terminator 5 could have avoided the fan backlash. Firstly, by spending more time on John's role reversal in the film (it does just kinda happen), and secondly, by not revealing this in the trailer. The pre-release reveal certainly wasn't the plan of the writers though...
Laeta Kalogridis: When you’re writing it, you imagine that people will experience it without that knowledge.
Patrick Lussier: Yes, and it’s very much crafted that way. So, how do you feel about [the trailer reveal]? Well, it is what it is.
You gotta feel bad for them, really. So how can Terminator 6 fix this? Crucially, give John some motivation!
Even actor Jason Clarke wants this to happen in Terminator 6, and he's already been coming with ideas for whether John was corrupted or convinced...
"Why should I [John] keep trying to save the world when the world just wants to invite technology back in? So here I am, I’m free, I’m alive, I’m not just a total machine. I’m part human here. This is inevitable. Think of what we can achieve!"
This is clearly what we need to see explored in T6, and please please writers, give John and Sarah more than a brief conversation with each other! If Judgement Day proved nothing else it's that the relationship between the two big heroes of the story has the power to drive a story. And while we're at it, why not give John a chance at redemption? Have him and Sarah in a situation where they're forced to work together, giving us a glimpse into his mindset and the hope that someday they can be a family.
Oh, and speaking of family, how about some more exploration of the idea of pre-destined romance, and the fact that unless Sarah is pregnant at the end of Genisys, this timeline WON'T actually have a John Connor...
Hmm, awkward. That's definitely a tricky issue for T6 to solve, so moving on.
Fresh Perspectives & Complex Plots
Time travel plots pretty much revolve around repetition, and this is especially true of the Terminator movies, and Genisys in particular. Terminator 5 managed to pay homage to the original films while pushing the plot forward into a new era, but we definitely need more from this story. How about some new characters in the fight against the machines? Other soldiers from the future running missions to the past, who got trapped by the reset and have to face the fact that in this timeline their friends aren't just dead, but might never be born...
I'm getting carried away, but you get my point. Terminator Salvation did attempt to shake things up a bit, but their new characters failed to really chime with fans. It's a challenge to introduce newbies with stories as compelling as Sarah Connor's, but it's something that definitely needs to be in Terminator 6 to prevent the franchise from getting stale. Or how about developing existing characters, like Miles Dyson's son, Danny?
It would be great to see Danny's story parallel his father's in T2, as he realises how destructive their creation creation can be.
Another issue that Terminator 6 needs to solve is the problem of convoluted plotlines. There were so many plot seeds planted in Genisys, which makes it a good starting point for a new trilogy, but this also left fans frustrated. The major unanswered questions are...
- Who sent Pops back to the future (sorry, past)?
- If Matt Smith's Skynet is from another timeline, how can he hop between alternate dimensions?
- Why would Skynet send the T-800 back to the 80s if they already had other plans in place?
- Why not just go back even further in time and kill John Connor's great great great grandmother?
Ok, the last one's a bit silly and has been asked since the first film. The answer is probably something along the lines of "because that would be no fun, dumbass!" But there are still plenty of mysteries for Terminator 6 to solve.
So what would you like to see happen in T6? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!