Genisys, where Terminators (killer robots) become aging men and Messianic men become Terminators, is the sci-fi for our cyborg generation – Boomers, Gen X, Gen Z, Millennials, all.
Already, our memories are downloaded in The Cloud. We are wired 24/7, residing online, life and thoughts freely shared in social networks, donning electronic wearables soon-to-be-implantables.
We have mechanical appendages for the disabled, camera replacements for damaged eyes, embedded devices, such as pacemakers, in our system and even subdermal micro-chips. Many expect that the next computer interphase will be in the human body. Surely, we’re getting there.
As a spectacle, the fifth of the Terminator franchise fascinates with its full assault on the senses – heart-stopping stunts, dizzying Golden Gate Bridge-hangers, smashing cars and helicopters, explosions to the high heavens, battles with indestructible, shape-shifting, devil-in-liquid-metal incarnates re-assembling themselves every time they’re blasted.
Yet, “Great science fiction is always more than just things blowing up,” stressed Genisys Producer Dana Goldberg. “I still remember watching ‘The Terminator’ circa 1984 with Arnold Schwarzenegger as this killer robot.”
“But to me, it’s a love story boiled down to one line: ‘I came across time for you, Sarah.’ In ‘Terminator 2’, my favorite part was Sarah Connor’s voiceover, where she talks about how the Terminator she hated so much would be the perfect father for her son. He’d never abandoned him, he’d never hurt him, he would always be there for him.”
“Terminator Genisys” opens with Kyle Reese as a child, talking about what had happened before he was born – humans getting complacent, allowing machines to take over the world. Then the machines decided humans were a threat. They seized control of missile defense systems and wiped out three-billion people. That was Judgment Day.
Flash forward to 2029, John Connor, leader of the underground resistance, and his right hand man, Kyle Reese, as they battled the machines.
They thought they’ve vanquished Skynet, the artificial intelligence system intent on killing them. But the machines have launched their version of a fail-safe to control both Past and Future. They sent a Terminator back in time to assassinate Sarah Connor, John’s mother.
This will prevent Connor from being born and eliminate him as the future savior of humankind. He sends Reese back to the Past to protect his mom.
However, “The 1984 that our characters travel back to has been altered since the original movie,” says Producer David Ellison.
“Those films were always set in present day, not in the future, not in the past. Ours bends that set-up. And so, through a series of events, our characters find themselves traveling forward to 2017 in an attempt to stop Judgment Day from ever happening.”
As psychics love to say, we’re allowed to see into the future so we can change it – but not with such impunity.
Nevertheless, Ellison insists ’Terminator Genisys’ is not a remake, it’s not a reboot, it’s not a sequel—it’s really a re-imagining. Viewers don’t have to be familiar with the previous films at all—this is definitely a stand-alone. Exploiting the inherent nature of time travel, we go off on a divergent timeline to take these characters that audiences and I grew up with in a completely new direction.”
The way I saw it, Genisys producers reset The Terminator to cater to audiences who loved the originals, at the same time, haul in an entirely new following.
They made the Future meddle with the Past to change undesirable outcomes. But of course, when you tamper with timelines, everything else changes, Past, Present and Future included.
Once the characters get thrown in the time machine blender, the plot became convoluted.
A glitch inside and outside the machine fractured the time lines and altered the fate of the characters. Now, Sarah knows Reese and his mission. Schwarzenegger’s Terminator becomes her surrogate dad, “Pops”. And they must all trust each other to stop Doomsday.
If you rack your brains long enough, allow for “quantum fields” and “nexus points” giving birth to multiple futures”, it makes sense. But when the adult Reese admonishes his younger self towards the end, it feels absurd – an overdose of dramatic license.
Of course, it won’t be the Terminator without the original cyborg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, reprising the role which made him famous aged 37. Today, at almost 70, he offers a new catch line. Yes, he’s “old but not obsolete”.
Quite a comeback it was too, for Schwarzenegger, as a teddy bear-toting grand-daddy still locked in his directive to protect Sarah Connor who has taken to calling him Pops and taught him how to parody a human grin, a la Cheshire cat.
After all is said and done, the “time fracture” conveniently allowed the Terminator to upgrade himself. And yet, the enemy has not been obliterated. The Terminator remains in the Past, Present and Future. The battle between creator and created never ends.
And it’s quite convenient. After all, Director Alan Taylor admitted that “Terminator Genisys” starts off a new trilogy. Even this early, the scriptwriters know how they want the rest of the story to play out.
So, nothing’s over, or for that matter, terminated.
“Terminator Genisys,” stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Guardian, Jason Clarke as John Connor, Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, J.K. Simmons as O’Brien, Matthew Smith as T-5000 and Byung-hun Lee as T-1000.
Terminator Genisys” is directed by Alan Taylor. It is written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier. It is produced by David Ellison and Dana Goldberg.
Photos Courtesy of United International Pictures.