I am past weary of endless tamperi–er, tinkering with old movies and TV shows. The ones I never liked to start with, I don’t care about now. At all. Anything I loved, I like to remember as if it’s been caught in amber, not rebooted, remade, or just plain ruined. As someone who loves writing feature length original screenplays, in a reboot everything old world, I mourn the dearth of original anything anymore and get irritated when Twitter blows up with excitement and raving over whatever’s old is new again…again.
So it was when Terminator Genisys reared its probably ugly head. Oh. No. Not. Again.
I actually love the Terminator franchise…s so much that I watch it all. I find something to love about whatever they do to it, but I’m pretty sure by now that I’ll never really get over the death of Linda Hamilton’s iconic, ripped, half (only half?) crazy, one handed shotgun wielding Sarah Connor, when she was a mere memory in Terminator 3. Sure it was fun watching Doctor Silberman jibbering over a Terminator again, but not as much as it would have been if he’d spotted the preapocalyptic warrior woman stalking toward him with the future in her haunted gaze. I tolerated Lena Headey, who actually did bring her own take to Sarah Connor that wasn’t bad at all. She just wasn’t the Sarah Connor I wanted to watch. Terminator Salvation wisely had no Sarah Connor at all, except as a memory briefly, and was better for it. Then Genisys comes roaring in, with a new, new Sarah Connor, who thankfully looks nothing like a certain dragon mother. Too much confusion is a bad thing, you know. Usually.
One thing Genisys accomplished right away was proving what a talented actress Emilia Clarke is. I still didn’t like there being yet another incarnation of Sarah Connor. In fact, I hated the first half hour of Terminator Genisys. It was seeming like a weird rehash mishmash of everything that had come before. I couldn’t understand why they were covering such familiar ground and in such a bizarre way.
Slowly…and I do mean slowly…I started to get it. Ideas and imagery and people started to emerge from the mishmash. Things started to coalesce from a whirlpool of confusion. Hey, this thing is a whole new movie!
And then Pops came on the scene and I started to fall in love with Terminator Genisys. I’ve always loved Schwarzenegger in all his Terminator versions, and Pops was no exception. He revealed himself to be the perfect bookend to his original relentless hunter killer cyborg. Extrapolated from the kinder, gentler, funnier fatherly version who shepherded John Connor through many a crisis, Pops was the grandpa terminator of every little girl’s dreams.
Well, maybe not, but he was a fine protector and family substitute for an orphaned child Sarah. Her fierce devotion to and faith in him was touching, in a sea of deceit and violence and pain.
Having Genisys be an operating system serving as a Trojan Horse for Skynet’s inception of a foothold toward world domination was chilling genius. Our uber connected, on all the time relationship with our beloved technology made it a creepily realistic possibility. Possibly even a probability. I just read a collection of Elon Musk’s concerns about how fast AI can learn and the dangers that may lurk within our thirst for knowledge, invention, and whiz bang coolness. The real life potential of what ifs when it comes to technology makes the premise of Skynet bursting forth from a decision to connect too many things at once downright scary. Something like that turns science fiction onto a science/science fiction/horror hybrid. In some small way it’s a new kind of movie, in keeping with new kinds of thoughts and things we can hardly keep up with.
Something the Terminator movies have always done is pit the minds and hearts and souls of ordinary human beings against the heartless soulless minds of machines that always have the fatal flaw that they are not us. Will they ever be? That’s the question that haunts the thinking person into his dreams and entertainment. Terminator Genisys turned out to be an exciting, terrifying and ultimately satisfying venture into territory both familiar and alien in its own particular brand of what ifs.
I think what ultimately saved Genisys for me was that it reinvented itself so thoroughly that it really was a new movie, but a new movie with an old friend in the form of Pops to tie it into what I wanted to at least be reminded of. Overall it really is a good reminder that a reboot can be a good thing, with the right mix of old and new.
Terminator Genisys Official International Trailer #1