In this the first of what may ultimately become a regular feature (that may or may not approximate this format), we’ll be taking a look at the debut trailer for Terminator: Genisys, the fifth movie in the Terminator franchise. Although yes, we’re aware that most fans would like to ignore outings three and four.
To start, James Cameron’s Terminator and Terminator II are cinematic icons that at once helped to define and yet transcended the genre to which they belong. Not many films get to do that, and the start to this franchise did. So yes, we’re contending with fan reverence and maybe some unduly high expectations. And although I don’t feel a particular fandom for Terminator the way I do for Star Wars, we have a new trailer for both now, don’t we? So I can sympathize. But if this is the Terminator: Genisys we’re getting, let’s not be afraid to call the franchise (remember, there are at least two other films supposed to follow this one) for what it is.
It’s the sci-fi Fast & Furious.
No, I’m serious. If all you saw was that bus flipping end over end through the air, what movie franchise would you think it’s from? Either something to do with the Avengers (excusable) or F&F.
What we have here is a familial cast of characters (sympathetic terminator included) embarking on a plot because of reasons, and they’re going to do some cool-looking-if-empty dumb shit along the way. We even have our wooden Paul Walker stand-in with Jai Courtney! And let’s not even get into which characters are going to be retroactively killed/revived with the craziness going on in this timeline. (Remember, John Connor is supposed to be the child of Kyle Reese, who is supposed to woo Sarah Connor by saving her from the first terminator, which no longer happens because old Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently kills new Arnold Schwarzenegger. [Or is it the other way around? Semantics get tricky when you’re dealing with a younger-looking character in an older movie and an older-looking character in a newer movie.]) The similarities continue. I see lots of people jumping from car to car. And in car chases. And jumping motorcycles onto cars.
And none of this is an explicitly bad thing! No, this may not be the transcendent franchise of your youth (if you are, in fact, old enough for such things; this is a franchise that’s been in existence for 30 years now, after all), but it’s not like you can conclude a nosedive based on this trailer alone. It’s a franchise reinventing itself, just like F&F: After a vastly different entry in the franchise (Tokyo Drift) it went back to its roots, abandoned the self-serious tone of its first two entries, and embraces whatever batshit crazy shenanigans its writers could come up with. Terminator had its Tokyo Drift in Terminator: Salvation and now it’s time for its Fast & Furious. Just imagine what the Terminator version of the FF6 runway might be when we get there a few films from now!