Saturday, April 23, 2016

Terminator Genisys

Year 8, Day 114 - 4/23/16 - Movie #2,314

BEFORE: Today is Earth Day (wait is that right?  Maybe it was yesterday...) and I don't usually mark that occasion with a movie, but how about one where people are trying to save the world?  Yes, it's time for time travel again, I had two films on that topic in February, and I have four more I'll get to later this year, but since I had a J.K. Simmons chain of three movies planned, it's no problem to drop in a fourth, which also has the benefit of pushing my Mother's Day film to the exact day - no need to take a day off now to make that line up.  

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Terminator Salvation" (Movie #486)

THE PLOT:  When John Connor, leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline.

AFTER: I began this film with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation, because the film got such horrible reviews last year.  Plus they spoiled the film's biggest twist in the trailer (and the poster), and I'm still not sure if that was an incredibly dumb move, or an act of desperation - as in "look how far we're going to change the storyline you know, to try and convince you that our old franchise is new again!"  Still, I tried to put both of those things aside and watch the film with an open mind.  

I get it, everyone's trying to reboot their franchises - there are probably meetings all over Hollywood where people go up and down lists of the greatest films, trying to rework them.  "Hey, does anyone have a fresh take on "Jaws"?  Is it time to remake "E.T." yet?  What about "Smokey and the Bandit", who's got the rights to that?"  Think about it, in the last few years, Hollywood has re-booted or revised everything from James Bond to "The Wizard of Oz" to Robocop.  Not to mention "The Man from U.N.C.L.E", "Star Trek", "Planet of the Apes", Godzilla, "Jurassic Park" and "The Pink Panther", obviously because it must be cheaper and easier to revamp and re-tool than come up with a new, original idea.  A franchise film is closer to a sure thing, because it's already got name recognition, and could sell itself. 

But sometimes the franchise gets treated like it's made of Lego bricks, and the feeling is, let's tear down what we've built, put the pieces back together in a new way, and we'll have a new product to sell.  But that fits in nicely with time travel, because if you go back and change the past, that could create a new future, and then technically you CAN tell a new story, and ignore what came before.  That's what they did with the "X-Men" films, people kept pointing out that there were discrepancies among the first three films and the ones that came later - err, before, like "X-Men: First Class" and "X-Men: Origins - Wolverine".  Simple solution, have Wolverine mind-travel back to the 1970's, and change the past, therefore creating a new future that any stories can be told in.  

That's a bit like what happens here with the "Terminator" storyline.  We all know the story from the first film, future John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to save Sarah Connor, while the evil robots send the Arnold-bot back to kill her.  Kyle meeting Sarah leads to the conception of John Connor, and with the destruction of the robot, the time-loop is closed.  But the franchise started messing with its own concept in the 2nd film, the Arnold-Bot then came back to SAVE John Connor, not kill him, and again lots of stuff blowed up and the world was saved again from Skynet.  

But here's the thing if you've got a working time machine, especially if you're a bunch of immortal, indestructible robots - you've got an infinite amount of time, and therefore an infinite of tries to get the result that you want.  So after the attempts to kill adult Sarah Connor failed, at some point Skynet targeted her as a child, while another Arnold-bot ("Pops") appeared on the scene to save her.  This changed the timeline to one where Sarah was raised by a Terminator, and grew up as a much tougher woman.  SO this time when Kyle Reese appears on the scene in 1984, she doesn't need as much saving, and she and her Terminator already have a plan in place to save the future. 

I still don't know exactly what the problem was that the fans had with these changes, unless it's the twist that was in the trailer that people didn't like.  Hey, man, that's time travel, you can't have characters bouncing around the timeline trying to fix things, and still be resistant to change.  OK, so you're not going to like ALL of the changes in the timeline, don't you like some of them?   You can't have it both ways, after all.  

That said, if I've got any NITPICK POINTS tonight, they'd probably stem from the fact that characters all seem to know things they're not supposed to know - like being aware that their timeline has changed.  No one would know this, because they'd have no frame of reference (that new reality?  You're soaking in it...).  Like you wouldn't realize it if everything in the universe suddenly got smaller, because all of the rulers would have shrunk, along with everything else.   The reality that you're in is the one you know, and if it changes, you change with it, unless you're the time traveler who's outside of time.   

I bet there are other big plotholes I can find if I think more, like who sent the Guardian back in time?  And why did Skynet send anyone back to ensure its existence?  Doesn't its continued existence prove that doing so is unnecessary?  That would be like writing a note to remind yourself to eat dinner, but doing it right after you finished the meal.  I bet there are a lot more things like that, but I'm too tired to try and think of them.  

Also starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (last seen in "Escape Plan"), Jason Clarke (last seen in "White House Down"), Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney (last seen in "A Good Day to Die Hard"), Matt Smith (last seen in "In Bruges"), Dayo Okeniyi, Courtney B. Vance (last seen in "Dangerous Minds"), Byung-hun Lee, Michael Gladis, Sandrine Holt, Otto Sanchez. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 paradoxes

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