Film Trailers

Confused By the Terminator: Geniysis Super Bowl Ad? Allow Me to Explain

In their reaction to the new Terminator: Geniysis Super Bowl ad, Vulture pleaded, “Can someone explain to us what exactly is happening in this trailer for the new Terminator? Arnold’s back, we get that, but why are there so many of him? And why are some old (silver-fox Arnold!) while others are young and others are bare-chested? Can’t wait to hear them say ‘We’ll be back’ in unison.”  What?  How on Earth are you confused?  Don’t you guys get paid to obsessively track the news related to big movies like this and not have to turn to your comments section for free research?  Of course, then I watch the actual Super Bowl ad, and, yeah, it’s probably going to confuse people:

It works a lot better if you’ve already seen the slightly more informative full trailer which debuted last month:

The SuperBowl ad presents some new footage, and teases a new threat, something not quite completely metal or man and definitely not liquid metal:

t-g-3Yeah, I have no idea what that is (a T-800 with fire-resistant skin, maybe?).  That’s totally new to me, too.  But as for why there are more than one Arnold’s running around in the trailer, well, I’ve got hat covered.  The plot details were first officially discussed in an Entertainment Weekly’s cover story, which has now found its way to Wikipedia:

In 2029, John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the Resistance, continues the war against the machines.  On the verge of winning the war, John is notified that Skynet will attack him from two fronts, past and future, and will ultimately change warfare forever.

Connor sends his trusted lieutenant Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back through time to save his mother’s life and ensure his own existence. However, Kyle finds the original past changed.  In the new timeline, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) was orphaned at age nine by a T-800 sent to kill her when she was young.  She’s been raised by another Terminator T-800 (Arnold) programmed to protect her and train her to face her destiny, which she adamantly tries to reject. Now, Kyle, Sarah, and the old T-800 have to escape the new Terminators sent by Skynet to kill them.

This idea was partially keyed off of the fact that no one involved with Genisys could envision making a new Terminator movie without Arnold Schwarzenegger, an obvious problem since he’s much older now. Terminator 1 & 2 writer-director James Cameron, who’s not officially involved with the new movie, pointed out that the living flesh over metal endoskeleton nature of the terminators meant that the living flesh would appear to age just as it would in a normal human being.  To put it another, if Arnold’s Terminator from Terminator 2 had not self-terminated much to young John Connor’s dismay, and instead stuck around to help Sarah raise John he would now look roughly like present-day Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’d also be a fairly bad dad:

The screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) took Cameron’s idea, and steered things toward a J.J. Abrams Star Trek-like alternate timeline scenario which can re-start the franchise without necessarily canceling out anything that came before. Except the break isn’t going to be nearly as clean as it was in Star Trek.  Instead, they’re actually going to revisit key scenes from the first two Terminator film.  So, you have Kyle Reese’s arrival in 1984 starting off exactly the same before Sarah Connor suddenly shows up to change everything. You also have the older T-800 Terminator carrying a shotgun and walking with a purpose toward the younger T-800 right after it arrives in 1984. They did that last part by creating what they’re calling a “digital actor,” allowing modern day Arnold to appear to interact with a 1984 version.  This is supposed to kick off a new trilogy of films, and I’m guessing the sequels will be less concerned with revisiting the prior films.

It all has the potential to go very wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey on us, as Doctor Who would put it, and sort of presents Genisys as the Back to the Future 2 of the Terminator franchise, i.e., the one that has the most fun with time travel, possibly to its detriment (e.g., they can’t change the timeline too severely because if Kyle and Sarah don’t have sex then John Connor won’t be born, and then he won’t have ever sent Kyle into the past to begin with and….).  As a result, this movie may have a hard time winning over new fans, and the trailers mostly pretend like we’ve all already seen the first Terminator movies anyway.  However, even older fans might immediately look at the trailers to this point and decide that Jason Clarke is totally wrong for John Connor.  At the very least, Emilia Clarke, not related to Jason Clarke btw, makes for a surprisingly bad-ass Sarah Connor, not quite Linda Hamilton in T2 strong, but not Linda Hamilton in T1 weak either.  It’s awesome that it’s the girl telling the guy, “Come with me if you want to live” this time.

This may end up being a Terminator movie that is just a little bit too much about itself, but I love Terminator.  I watched the first Terminator well before I was actually old enough for it, and I was there opening day for Terminator 2, again technically too young to actually be there.  Despite my wiser impulses, I was there opening weekend for both Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation, and I will be there opening weekend for Terminator: Geniysis when it arrives July 1, 2015.

What about you?  Are you still confused?  Do you just want to know when we’re going to see Matt Smith in this thing?  His role will apparently be major, but in terms of screen time much bigger in the sequels, should they get made.  Are you confused why they’re calling it Geniysis instead of “Genesis”?  We all are!  What ever happened to that concurrent TV show they were talking about doing?  Nothing, last I checked.  Any other questions?  Let me know in the comments.

Terminator: Geniysis is due out July 1, 2015, from director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World).  Should it be successful, they will shoot the sequels back-to-back, and put them out May 19, 2017 and June 29, 2018.


  1. I didn’t really pay attention to Terminator 5 and was not confused at all by the trailer.

    Colour me interested. Which surprises me. But I always thought that the biggest mistake of movie 4 was that it wasn’t about Reese. It would have been the perfect conclusion after the first movie was about Sarah, the second about the Terminator and the third about John. So if I now finally get a movie which focusses on Reese, I’m at least tentatively on board.

    Plus, I always thought that I would have a way too hard time to see another actress as Sarah Connor, but they sold me on this one. I agree, it is great that a female is allowed to utter the line this time around.

    My only worry is that they create time paradox after time paradox and that it might end up confusing. And I am not really sold that they went from “preparing for apocalypse” to “avoiding it” to “not being able to avoid it” to the movie which shall not be named and now they are back to avoiding it. That might get kind of old.

    1. The full trailer itself shouldn’t be confusing for anyone who’s ever seen time travel sci-fi movies before (or maybe just Back to the Future 2), but I think the action-heavy, plot-less Super Bowl ad could confuse some people.

      “I always thought that the biggest mistake of movie 4 was that it wasn’t about Reese.”

      It’s funny you’d say that. If memory serves, Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reese is little more than a mansel in distress in that film, but I would have much rather seen a story about him than Christian Bale’s John Connor. Instead, that movie is like half about the Terminator that thinks it’s human and half about John Connor.

      “So if I now finally get a movie which focuses on Reese, I’m at least tentatively on board.”

      I’m getting the impression that Sarah Connor is going to be the real force in the story, but with the role reversal going on Kyle Reese would probably be the one actually granted any kind of dynamic character arc, progressing through the story while Sarah starts out a badass and ends it as a badass.

      “Plus, I always thought that I would have a way too hard time to see another actress as Sarah Connor, but they sold me on this one.”

      I simply could not see it when they first cast Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, even though I know she’s actually a natural brunette and only looks like the blonde Danaerys when she’s on Game of Thrones. However, the second she runs over the T-1000 in the trailer, and fires off two classic Terminator lines, “Come with me if you want to live!” and “On your feet, soldier!” I was instantly converted to, “Oh, she’s totally Sarah Connor.”

      “My only worry is that they create time paradox after time paradox and that it might end up confusing.”

      Same here. It seems like unless you really know your Terminator lore this quasi-reboot is going to be lost on you, and even if you do they might dig themselves too deep into time travel paradoxes that you’ll need an Austin Powers like moment of the characters turning to the screen and pleading with us to stop trying to figure it out and just go with it.

      “And I am not really sold that they went from “preparing for apocalypse” to “avoiding it” to “not being able to avoid it” to the movie which shall not be named and now they are back to avoiding it. That might get kind of old.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      1. Well, I watched the Superbowl thing first and because it made me interested I watched the full trailor. I can see that some people might get confused, but I think a lot of people will simply be interested.

      2. And if they’re interested and watch the full trailer after the Super Bowl ad it’ll clear up some of confusion they might have. That’s probably exactly what Paramount is aiming for, e.g., Super Bowl Ad – This looks like a fun Terminator movie, but what’s actually going on with the plot? Trailer – Oh, I think I got it now.

  2. I liked the actual trailer better because it was more understandable. The spot still has that stupid bus flip that annoys me.

    I wonder if there has been significant debate about Terminator skin aging and regeneration.
    My understanding of human aging is that throughout our lives, skin cells die by the millions and are replacing by new ones and through hormone changes we turn out old AND cranky. The Terminators don’t eat and don’t have stomachs (but Cameron in Sarah Connor Chronicles at a potato chip to demonstrate how well she could pretend to be human) Thus, they have no source of nutrients for repairing damaged tissue even dying skin cells – but they do have a power cell that can allow them to operate for 120 years . Is the power cell able to convert chemical/nuclear energy to matter?
    It just seems so flakey. It’s not as bad as James Cameron saying “a wizard did it”

    Maybe this living tissue was designed to age naturally but really, that isn’t very plausible that Cyberdyne or Skynet would spend resources researching the aging process for artificial tissue when the T-800s are just disposable foot soldiers and can just replace the skin with a fresh set.

    I guess my next question goes back to Terminator 2 director’s cut, why bother to put in such a massive power cell for a disposable foot soldier? Why would they expect that such a unit would last so long during a period of war? It’s kind of handy since we got the TSCC episode “Self-Made Man” with a T-888 accidentally being sent back to 1920. In T3, the power cell provides a massive explosion but it’s easy to access.

    I am curious about the “new threat”. I wonder if it is the same character as the policeman T-1000. From the new spot, the “new threat” just looks like a normal T-1000 but better defined pectorials etc added in. I wonder if ILM is working on this.

    1. At this point, that bus flip is clearly their big money shot for the action in the film.

      As for the Terminator skin, I’m not really aware of whether or not there has been any intense debate about this among the hardcore fans, although I’m sure that someone somewhere has thought all of this through and come up with answers to all of your questions about the actual practicality of this. That person is not me, though, because you do seem to be on to something, e.g., Sure, it’s living skin, but doesn’t it need nutrients? And why would Skynet bother with it considering that the T-800s were more foot soldiers than anything else. I think it’s ultimately something James Cameron thought up to help out his old bud Arnold, but if it doesn’t totally add up he has the great out clause of, “Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t make the movie. It was their job to make the idea totally work.”

      “I am curious about the “new threat”. I wonder if it is the same character as the policeman T-1000. From the new spot, the “new threat” just looks like a normal T-1000 but better defined pectorials etc added in. I wonder if ILM is working on this.”

      When I first saw it there was a part of me that thought maybe it was just a modern day special effects update of the part in T2 where the T-1000 walks out of the fire after its truck blows up. Not literally the same scene, of course, but the same general concept of the T-1000 emerging from fire and reforming its human-like veneer. Then I looked at it again and thought that it actually kind of looked like Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which has no bearing anything really. This could turn out to be a slightly misleading ad in that the “new threat” is not an actual new robot but instead Skynet’s new strategy of attacking both the future and the past, with the attack on the future presumably waiting until the sequels. I’m not really sure, but if it turns out that “new threat” shot in the ad is really just the Asian T-1000 it’ll be a bit disappointing. I don’t actually think it is. I am guessing that is something different, but I don’t really know for sure.

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