Film News

Rumor Analysis: Is Terminator: Genesis About to Go All Back to the Future 2 On Us?

Paramount is releasing Terminator: Genesis just in time for 2015 Fourth of July holiday.  Their announced intent is begin a new film trilogy as well as a companion TV show existing in the same continuity (ala Agents of SHIELD for Marvel).  Thor: The Dark World‘s Alan Taylor is set to direct.  The primary cast consists of Arnold Schwarzenegger, back as the Terminator, along with Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor (originally played by Linda Hamilton), Jason Clarke as John Connor (previously played by Edward Furlong, Nick Stahl, Thomas Dekker, Christian Bale), and Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese (originally Michael Biehn).  

So, is this a remake?  A reboot?  What can we expect?  To this point, it was thought they were going to mimic the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot methodology whereby you use one original cast member to bridge the gap between before and now, honoring the before by contextualizing the new material as existing in an alternate timeline.  So, Schwarzenegger would be to Genesis what Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was to Abrams’ Star Trek.  A new rumor suggests it goes deeper than that.  They might be going straight up Back to the Future 2 on us by using the alternate timeline concept and the series’ inherent time travel mechanism to actually recreate key events from Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).

Terminator Genesis

RUMOR: 

“Firstly, the ‘Terminator’ from the future will arrive on earth, attack some punks (keen to see who they get to play Bill Paxton), and then slaughter his way through a bunch of Sarah Connors until he finds the correct target.  All the characters that appeared in the Cameron original, like Detective Hal Vukovich (originally played by Lance Henriksen), Lieutenant Ed Traxler (originally played by Paul Winfield), Sarah’s roomie Ginger (originally Bess Motta) and, yep, even Pugsley the Iguana, return. We’ll likely get to see Schwarzenegger back in the leather jacket and cool sunglasses he wore in the original. Of course, Kyle Reese (Courtney) volunteers to go back to 1984 and save Sarah – just as he did first time around. But don’t expect everything to work out like it did in the original.. something is going to play out different.

Secondly, the scene where the T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 : Judgment Day), posing as a cop, visiting John Connor’s home, where he meets – and subsequently kills – foster parents Todd (Xander Berkeley) and Janelle (Jenette Goldstein), is in there. As are several other key T2 moments.

Lastly, we’ll be going back to moments we haven’t seen on film before – such as scenes with young Sarah and her parents.

As is usually the case with a film using the alternate timeline device, obviously something hasn’t gone right (maybe the Terminator succeeds in killing Sarah this time, around? I don’t know – just guessing) or something that happened in the past has greatly changed the future, meaning Connor’s resistance crew from the future have to go back again.”

So, basically, if the people making Genesis had been behind Abrams’ Star Trek instead of using an entirely original plot to establish an alternate timeline as he did they would have simply recreated the events of a famous Star Trek episode or film but with new actors and something at a crucial point going very differently than it had before.

The rumor does not actually specify whether for the original roles they’ll cast the same actors where possible or simply use the same characters played by completely different actors.   Due to the simple fact of 30 years having passed since the first Terminator, one would assume they’d need to cast new actors, e.g., shouldn’t Sarah Connor’s roommate be young and lively and not a woman now in her 40s/50s?

SOURCE: MovieHole.com, who cite an unnamed insider “who is in the position – stress the word ‘position’ – to know” and has given them reliable information in the past

ARE THEY RELIABLE SOURCE?: Maybe; I can’t lie – this is the first I’ve heard of MovieHole, although based on their website they’re a legit source of movie news, reviews, and interviews who are right as often as they’re wrong about rumors.

OUR REACTION: Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the first film I remember seeing in theaters (I was way too young to even be there), and I walked away from it wanting my own pet terminator ala the one Edward Furlong got to boss around in Judgment Day.  Ever since then, I’ve been a lifelong Terminator fan (saw the sequels in theater opening day, regrettably watched every episode of the TV show).  This theme music still fills me with nostalgic joy:

So, I am the type of fan who Paramount knows will be there opening weekend, although to be honest isn’t Schwarzenegger too old to play the Terminator again? If you’re Skynet do you design your killing machine monster T-800 model to look like this:

images (4)
Arnold with the best possible kind of man boobs in the original Terminator

Or this:

arnold_schwarzenegger_october_2013_muscle_fitness
Arnold from Muscle Fitness Magazine last October

Hold on a second.  Maybe this isn’t quite as simple as I thought.  Arnold had let himself go during his Governator days, at least according to some unflattering beach photos, but dang that dude looks good now, especially for a 66-year-old man.  However, even Arnold’s newly regenerated muscles can’t hide the wrinkles in his face (which are very apparent in the trailer for Sabotage) meaning Skynet will still have created a very muscular old man as the model for the T-800s.  Dwayne Johnson is a better choice for the role.

However, this movie is being made because of its brand recognition, and also because they have to make a new one or else the franchise rights revert back to James Cameron after 2015.  Arnold is Terminator.  The one film they did without him (beyond a CGI cameo) is the franchise’s lowest grossing sequel, and the Sarah Connor Chronicles proved the limits on how far you can stretch the Terminator brand.

So, they want Arnold involved, but wouldn’t this rumored plot serve to greatly highlight his advanced age by inviting comparisons to the original?  They should probably just do a straight remake with a clean slate, but that didn’t work out so well for Total Recall or RoboCop (at least domestically).  The strategy the rumor describes seems aimed to pull in legacy viewers with the promise of the familiar but with new twists.  However, if done incorrectly it could generate a “you need to have seen the originals to get it” mentality which would alienate new viewers.  Plus, you should also never fuck with the original, and that’s very well what they could be doing by giving longtime fans familiar scenes and characters played out by different actors to slightly different results.   We might just walk away wanting to go home and re-watch T2 where everything went down exactly as it was supposed to.

VERDICT: The storyline implications of this rumor aren’t entirely clear.  If Genesis is establishing an alternate timeline which characters will actually know that?  For example, if something goes differently than before will Schwarzenegger’s Terminator actually notice the change?  Or will this simply be a remake which to feel fresh and give audiences something new takes some liberties with the original story?  That last part feels most true – that Genesis will feature a similar but uniquely different plot than the original films.  However, given our honest lack of familiarity with MovieHole we can’t completely get behind this rumor or dismiss it at this point.  For now, file it away, and come back to it once they’re further along in production.  At last update, they are scheduled to start their 4-month filming schedule in New Orleans next month.

How Terminator Should Have Ended:

Terminator: Genesis is currently due out in the US and Canada on July 1, 2015.

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