Terminator Binge: Day Five and Series Reflections

In anticipation of a new Terminator movie coming out at the beginning of November, I’ve decided to binge the first five movies in the series for the first time. Click here for if you missed Day One, Day Two, Day Three, and Day Four of this binge.

Terminator: Genisys (2015)

I hate time travel. I hate it. STOP DOING TIME TRAVEL (for more, read my treatise in Terminator Binge Day Two). It’s annoying. Just stop.

This movie…it’s not great. It also might not be as bad as I was expecting. I”m kind of conflicted here. I think my biggest problem with it is how it messed with the rest of the series. But I’ll get to that.

Again, special effects take a step forward. The effects for the new terminator, which I’ll call J-100 were very good, but I have a problem with it that I’ll get into in the spoiler section. For the rest, standard explosions, car chases, time travel effects. You know what you’re getting with these.

As far as the acting goes, I thought it was pretty good Emilia Clarke as young Sarah Connor was good. Jai Courtney was good. Arnold was good. I thought Jason Clarke was a pretty good John Connor, definitely like him better in the role than Christian Bale (I’ll talk more about Jason Clarke below). Also J.K. Simmons is here and he’s always a win. 

Anything else? No? Okay Spoilers.

Okay this movie feels like an attempted reboot for the franchise. Right off the bat, before we see any characters and all we hear is narration, it messes with the timeline. The narration (from Kyle Reese) says that Judgement Day was August 29, 1997. Only someone who has binged these (like I have) would notice this, but this is the Judgement Day that was beaten back in Terminator 2. In Terminator 3, John says Sarah lived long enough to see that the world didn’t end on 8/29/97, and that T-800 tells him it was only delayed, to the early 2000s. This one line from Kyle implies that T2 never happened. Now maybe you could argue that this future is from the first timeline, and not the second. But I would argue that that’s stupid, and makes me think the writers of this one either havn’t seen the others, or just wanted to rewrite the entire story so they could do it the way they wanted. Either way, I guess we have to throw out what we knew about Sarah Connor’s story and sit and listen to this new one.

I wouldn’t have minded Sarah’s new back story, had they explained any of it; aside from learing that her parents were killed and Pops saved her and raised her, we get no explanation as to why the terminators were back in 1973. This is just something we have to accept? Okay, whatever you say.

Jason Clarke, for the little part at the beginning when he was actually John, was probably my favorite John. He wasn’t a little kid, a fearful guy, or a military guy I wouldn’t want to follow. This John had the charisma that I thought would make him a believable leader. Christian Bale was more the leader you followed because he was a badass and you wanted to survive. Jason Clarke was the leader you wanted to follow because he cared about you. That might just be because we saw him from Kyle’s perspective, which is obviously a relationship that’s unique (also John finding Kyle in this movie seems to throw out Salvation’s story, so apparently that was a waste of time…whatever).

Reflections on the Franchise

So I’m glad I’ve watched these. I now know where all those catchphrases come from. That being said, it’s probably not among my favorite franchises, just based on the fact that 3 out of 5 are not worth re-watching. At all. The first two are really great movies; I definitely plan on watching those again, and I totally understand why they’re considered classics. But once the timeline got all jumbled it really went off the rails, not to the point where the movies became unwatchable, but because it had a very straight forward story that they just completely mess up. And at this point, I don’t know which is the real timeline. Before Genisys, it was a pretty straight forward sequence of events (or as straight forward time-travel can be). But after Genisys, I have no idea what the story actually is. Some of this confusion comes from the trailer I’ve seen for Terminator: Dark Fate, which has (spoilers/speculation for Dark Fate based on the trailer) Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor; the problem with that is we were told she died in between T2 and T3. Now unless that was misinformation and she was actually alive, and then survived Judgement Day, they seem to be treating T3, Salvation, and Genisys as if they never happened, which I wouldn’t have a problem with, as long as that’s something we know going in. If I’m sitting in the theater not knowing where in the timeline we are, not knowing what actually happened and what didn’t, it’s going to detract from the movie overall. That’s the biggest problem with a franchise that’s been alive for this long and that has only really told one story (that being, the story of Sarah and John Connor). When you have a franchise that only tells one story over and over again, it limits the stories you can tell. If they decided the next Terminator movie would take place post-Judgement Day and would have nothing to do with John Connor, that would open up the story-telling possibilities. This is something that I think the Star Wars universe is doing well: telling new stories with new characters (most of which are found in the novels or will be in upcoming movies and Disney+ shows). Based on the trailer, Dark Fate seems to be branching out, so I’ll reserve judgement (ha, get it?) until it comes out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me for this binge!

I need a break…

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