Terminator Genisys Rating
Over a week later than was rumored the second trailer for Paramount Pictures fifth installment in the long running Terminator franchise has finally been released, featuring lots of new footage and unveiling some franchise shattering revelations, some of which correspond with the recent leaked plot details that Paramount Pictures were quick to shut down. Let us take an in depth look at the trailer, what it tells us about the movie and the movies place within the already established franchise.
# A Flat Future
In the first two instalments of the franchise creator, writer and director James Cameron filmed scenes in a darkened, crumbling future with fields of human skulls crushing underfoot from the sheer weight of the Terminators and Hunter-Killers patrolling the scorched Earth. The eerie and iconic landscape Cameron created was a multi-contoured battlefield in which human resistance soldiers scurried between the shadows, avoiding death from the flying machines that dominated the blackened skies. The second movie showed the same varied landscape, with mankind fighting back against the machines under the guidance and watchful eyes of their prophecized leader; John Connor.
Unfortunately what we see in the new, and previous Terminator Genisys trailer is a future war battle that looks as though it was filmed on an airfield, and probably was (remember the EW exclusive a while back). The terrain is flat and smooth with not a skull nor a burnt out car in sight. The last strike against the machines was depicted as mankind’s last ditch attempt to destroy Skynet with the few ground forces we had left; Even the non-canon Sarah Connor Chronicles respected this vision of mankind on the verge of extinction fighting for our survival, our very existence. But what we see in the Terminator Genisys trailers so far ignores the iconic vision of the future war Cameron created (on a much smaller budget) and which the fans wanted to see.
# Wet, Wet, Wet
In 1991 Terminator creator James Cameron changed the movie making industry with the revelation of the T-1000 and the jaw dropping special effects which saw actor Robert Patrick walk out a wall of flames, rise from the floor and morph into a security guard, walk through a barred door and drip into a helicopter seat. These and the many other tricks the T-1000 performed were thanks to the fact that it was composed entirely of a mimetic poly-alloy; a liquid metal. This special effect technique was first tested in Cameron’s previous movie, 1989’s The Abyss, for the movies famous ‘water-snake’ scene. However the ‘water-snake’ being composed of water was less viscous than the T-1000, which had a slightly thicker consistency.
The T-1000 returns in Terminator Genisys portrayed by Lee Byung-Hun, though appearing earlier in the franchises timeline, for reasons not yet apparent. Eagle eyed fans have already commented upon the inferior feel of the visual effects used for the character compared to 1991’s Terminator 2, and the trailer compounds those complaints as shown in the picture above, with this new T-1000 (middle) looking decidedly wetter in viscosity than its previous incarnation (bottom), looking more like a chrome water-snake (top).
Terminator Genisys has been confirmed to take place in three distinct points in time – 1984, 2017 and 2029. The opening of the movie as with the first three instalments is set in 2029 and will show John Connor seize control of Skynet, with the first part of the movie taking place in and rewriting the events of the first movie in 1984. The remainder of the movie will be set in the year 2017. 2017 is portrayed as being very similar to our world today, as in pre-judgment day, which unfortunately for Terminator Genisys is impossible.
Those following the trailers and the news for Terminator Genisys will know that the Guardian Terminator faces off against and destroys the younger looking Terminator sent to 1984, thus effectively retconning the two classic original movies. The problem is this – the events of The Terminator, and by extension Terminator 2 have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the events of Terminator 3. Cyber Research Systems developed their software AI and the Skynet Defence Network independently of the events depicted in the first two instalments, which means regardless of whatever changes are made to the time line in 1984, the events depicted in Terminator 3 will still occur, meaning that on July 24th 2004 Skynet will launch its nuclear attack triggering Judgment Day, making Terminator Genisys’ version of 2017 impossible.
Also at the beginning of the new trailer we see Sarah meeting with her son (approximately 12 years old, pictured above) in 2017 (the grey aired Guardian Terminator can be seen in the distance in the same scene). This opens up a whole can of worms…
- How can John be there when Sarah and Kyle have yet to conceive him?
- His age in this scene would suggest John was born at the turn of the millennium, but Sarah and Kyle travel to 2017 from 1984, missing out the nineties and the noughties.
- 2029 John Connor, portrayed by Jason Clarke whom is 45, matches the original, canon birth date of John in 1985, further contradicting young Johns existence in 2017.
- According to canon, in 2017 John Connor be in his mid thirties, as shown in Terminator Salvation with Christian Bale, which was set in 2018.
# Too Much Borrowed
One of the main dilemmas when making a sequel to a successful movie is how much of what made the original movie successful is reused, such as themes, lines, concepts, narrative structure. Take for example Terminator franchise staples such as “I’ll be back”, “Get out”, “Come with me if you want to live”, the use of car chases, the factory setting for the movies climax. While such elements can be reused, the quantity of such recycled material should be kept to a bare minimum; too much and the finished product will feel more like a parody and/or tribute than a continuation of the franchise. With each new Terminator Genisys trailer more and more ‘callbacks’ have become apparent, which combined with the movies reported comedic tone, which didn’t do Terminator 3 any favors, the movie is already feeling more and more like a parody than a sequel.
# The Salvation Argument
Recently while promoting the movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that he was glad that he didn’t appear in the previous instalment in the franchise; Terminator Salvation, stating he thought the movie ‘sucked’. Terminator Salvation had a troubled production, with many ideas being abandoned mid-production. These ideas were abandoned for being too far removed from the core themes present within the Terminator franchise.
The first idea, which explained more about Sam Worthington’s character Marcus Wright was known as ‘Project Angel’, in which Skynet was developing Hybrid Terminators, true cyborgs that were part man and part machine. Marcus was one of these Hybrids. Other actors were also cast as these Hybrids including Helena Bonham-Carter whose character Serena Kogan was resurrected by Skynet (pictured above). Another change made to Terminator Salvation was the ending of the movie, which went through two iterations before the ‘heart transplant’ ending that was in the theatrical release. In both of these previous endings John Connor died, but to keep his legend alive his skin was grafted onto Marcus’ endoskeleton. In one iteration it was inferred that this Connor Terminator, or Connor-nator went on to lead the human resistance, in the other iteration Skynet seized control of the Connor-nator, which then killed everyone present, most importantly Johns wife Kate and the young Kyle Reese. Test screenings of this ending were met with outrage and movie was re-cut. Yet despite this there are obvious parallels with the new Connor-nator seen in the new Terminator Genisys trailer.
Another well publicized element of Terminator Salvation was the use of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s likeness which was digitally composited onto the body of body double Roland Kickinger, using the mould taken of Arnold’s head in 1983 during production of the first movie (above left). This exact same technique has been repeated for Terminator Genisys, this time using body double Aaron Williamson, to allow Arnold to fight with his younger self as seen in the trailer (above right). But how do each compare to footage of arnod taen from the first movie (above centre).
If according to Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator Salvation ‘sucked’, what does that say about Terminator Genisys, which evidently uses quite a few of the ideas from Salvation including some that didn’t make it into the final, theatrical release of the movie.
# The Connor-nator
The biggest revelation in the latest Terminator trailer is that the new Terminator is in fact John Connor, portrayed by Jason Clarke. Infected with a nanobot virus, every cell in John Connors bod has become cybernetic and under the control Syknet. Essentially a nanobot hybrid of man and machine, John Connor is sent back in time to 2017 to ensure the advancement of technology available to and survival of the genocidal software.
The actual premise of a nanobot virus that can be used to take over a person, converting them into a hybrid Terminator is very close to James Cameron original vision of the Terminator as an infiltration unit. In Cameron’s original vision, when captured by the machines a resistance soldier would be taken to a facility not too dissimilar to that seen in Terminator Salvation, whereby they would be ‘processed’. Being processed involved having their anatomy scanned and their blood taken before being killed. A T-800 endoskeleton would then be produced to match the soldiers anatomy with their blood used to clone a human tissue sheath for the endoskeleton, in the visage of the now dead soldier. This perfectly disguised Terminator would then be set loose to ‘regroup’ with its human comrades and ‘return’ home to their hidden base. Franco Columbu portrayed one of these ‘doppleganger’ Terminators in the 1984 original. This new nanobot virus is a more speedily and efficient way of creating the same outcome, and it does feel like a chain of progression technologically to the T-1000.
Unfortunately to realise this new idea it seems the film-makers have turned to 20thCentury Fox’s X-Men franchise, with the visual effect used for the Connor-nator being very reminiscent of the visual effect used by Mystique when she adopts another’s form. Whereas the metal human skeleton looks reminiscent of the visual effect used to show fans the adamantium skeleton of everybody’s favorite mutant; Wolverine. Never mind the sheer blasphemy of turning the franchises hero and the character we are meant to associate with into the movies villain, which was met with outrage when McG attempted it back in 2009.
The more I see of this movie through the trailers, teasers, TV spots, plot leaks and the forthcoming featurettes, clips and interviews, the more and more I despair. All the Terminator franchise required was conclusion. Yet instead of said conclusion Paramount Pictures and Skydance productions have taken the franchise, ripped it apart and defecated all over it, all in the bid to turn it into a cash cow to recuperate the millions spent on obtaining the production rights that expire come 2018/19. As for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator Salvation may have sucked, but at least it respected the franchise and the movies that came before it, the same cannot be said for Terminator ‘Megadrive’ Genisys!
Watch the latest Terminator Genisys trailer: