TERMINATOR GENESYS: I’LL BE BACK?

By Dr. Craig D. Reid

Smiling Terminator ArnoldThe major problem with the $170 million budgeted Terminator Genisys are the trailers…all the important twists and plot points are as visible as James Cameron and Linda Hamilton not being involved in any Terminator project since The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Basically the cool, unexpected twists that can make a film unique are revealed in each trailer, so at the end of the day, there are no surprises in Genisys, thus the film plays like a reboot revival movie used to stimulate a franchise, not unlike what we have seen with the Batman, Spiderman and Superman films. We also already know that Genisys won’t have a real ending since lead Arnold Schwarzenegger, the onscreen glue of the franchise, has loudly said, “I’ll be back and I want J.J. Watt (NFL’s current top defensive player) to be a terminator, ” and Terminator Genisys 2 is already slated for a May 19, 2017 release.

terminator_genisys-1984 ArnoldScanning the theater like a T-800, yep, I’m a senior film critic, not one of those young, ADD writers that are more interested in their cell phones than soaking in the ambience of the audience about to see the re-birth of a classic film that has a solid fan base from folks who saw the first two installments not on TV. If Arnold ever plays Jesus Christ, he’s already armed with the perfect final piece of dialogue, “I’ll be baaaack.” In his case, um, Arnold’s case not Jesus’s, no religious discussion to follow, Genisys is his fourth time back, and to hear him say the classic line in the context of arguably his most iconic role, is pure joy.

The problem with sci-fi films, and it’s overly abundant in Genisys, is they try to justify the reality of the fiction by creating pseudo-plausible reasons and explanations why things are the way they are in the film, i.e., all the time travel blarney. As a trained scientist, these things don’t impress me because 99% of the time, they’re dead wrong. Star Trek and Star Wars have never tried to justify their worlds with believability because we already know they aren’t…thus we love these franchises. However, I would add that the neuroscience premises behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) were sound.

Sarah and ReeseGenisys begins with a more detailed presentation of Judgment Day, the rise of the machines, John Connor and Kyle Reese, and then how the humans finally defeat Skynet. The snag of course is that the humans fall short of stopping a terminator from using a highfalutin time machine and being sent back on his merry way to 1984 Los Angeles to kill Sarah Connor to prevent John from being born.

BTW, if the humans all get wiped out, what will Skynet and the terminator warbots do next? Take over the universe, destroy the sun…it’s never been discussed. I wonder what Cameron’s alternative ending of Skynet winning would create.

T1000-GenisysAs Reese volunteers to chase the terminator back to 1984, before he poofs back into the future, he witnesses something that seemingly goes awry, but we don’t know if this is part of the “normal” space-time continuum or it’s a spanner (wrench) in the engine.

Now we’re in 1984 and the film has fun rehashing familiar scenes from The Terminator, which we quickly learn that whatever happened in the future has changed the past…ooooh, there’s a neat twist. Apart from already having a T-1000 around, one of the main changes that the trailer also clearly points out is Emilia Clarke, who is already a supposed “strong-from-the-get go” Sarah, doesn’t hold a candle to Linda Hamilton’s presence and charisma. Furthermore, her story arc, where she mostly whines  about mating with Reese in order to have baby John who will lead the resistance in the future, is rather sophomoric.

Old Arnold in troubleAlthough Schwarzenegger isn’t the lead character, he leads the film with his usual, required stoic, emotionless terminator delivery. Yet over time, like the real Arnold, Terminator Arnold has aged, has robot arthritis, and continues to utter new one liners that he picks up from his interactions protecting Sarah and of course there’s, “I’ll be back.”

I’m surprised the filmmakers didn’t attempt to justify that with this new past, that could explain why Sarah, Reese and John also look different…thus the new actors. I mean after all, the original terminator had to kill all the Sarah Connors in LA in 1984…so while you’re at it, since they act differently, why not switch to a different Sarah being the surviving Sarah who has different skill sets.

I get 15% from the next Genisys film for the idea if this is what they actually do. You first read it here, June 30, 2015.

old arnold meanMeanwhile, the next 85% of this Genisys film is pretty much predictable as we have the good guys, the bad guys, the explosions, chases, action, robot against robot fights and disbelieving humans that Earth is doomed by the most fantastic app created by man that is about to take over more than the iCloud in 2017. Hey, that’s in two years, so everyone out there, be careful what you download onto your computers and iPhones…you’re being watched and it’s not by our government.

On the entertainment meter, I thoroughly enjoyed Genisys and from what I’ve read, most critics are lambasting it. Yet there’s a stronger hidden fan base out there than these critics are not giving due to.

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