Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This Is What "Terminator: Genisys" Could've (Should've) Been.

I enjoyed Terminator: Genisys from a fan service standpoint. The return of Arnold and the old storyline was enough to make me happy. But overall, I was disappointed by what might have been. The most infuriating thing is that a better film is buried within Genisys. The core story could remain (they could even go the whole “Stop Judgment Day” route), but the focus would be quite different. Put shortly, I would make the T-800 (Pops in Genisys) the main character that we never leave. I’m not into writing screenplays, so I’ll just present my version of this film in a disjointed summary. So here it is, my plan for Terminator: Reset the Future. (I thought the tagline for Genisys was a much better title.)

The film would begin at the Connors’ cabin at the lake in the 1970s, when Pops arrives. Enough of this starting in the miserable future crap. The opening scene could be a nice, peaceful moment with Sarah and her family, and then the scene she describes in Genisys happens. But we don’t jump to 1984 after that. We stay with Pops and Sarah for at least the next twenty to thirty minutes. I’m not sure the exact scenes that would play out here, but there would definitely be a scene of Pops explaining things to young Sarah. There could be a vignette of moments showing Pops as a surrogate father (tying her shoes, getting her food, tending playground wounds, Sarah making drawings for him, etc.). There could also be some awkward comedy here and there. Can you imagine how Pops would react to and explain Sarah’s first period? Maybe that wouldn’t be that great of a scene, but it’s what I thought of when Sarah revealed that Pops had basically raised her.

The scenes between Sarah and Pops get progressively more militaristic as he teaches her combat skills and prepares her for 1984. Then we get to 1984, not showing Kyle Reese until he arrives in the timeline. Then the film plays out just like in Genisys. This would make some of those scenes a little too expository since the audience knows everything Kyle is told, but that could be fixed by simply showing them begin to talk as the focus goes to Pops working on something.

This is where the film would be drastically different. Instead of following Sarah and Kyle to 2017, the film stays with Pops in 1984. This segment would be at least thirty minutes long (although I think it would make a fairly interesting film on its own). A number of individual scenes track what Pops has been up to during the thirty-year wait. We see him setting up the new bunker, working at Cyberdyne, missing Sarah, listening to her tapes and looking at her drawings. Perhaps some more comedy could be implemented here. Some awkward interactions with co-workers. People picking up on the fact that he never eats or uses the bathroom, etc. This could play as a very somber portion of the film, but I think it would work better with a bit of humor.

Or if you wanted to go full-blown comedy, perhaps Pops could get a job that
that utilizes his natural ability to work well with children.
Pops would also take notice of John Connor’s arrival in 2014 at Cyberdyne and discover that John is now a Terminator. (I know we haven’t seen John yet, but he could easily be introduced as John Connor in front of Pops while he’s working.) Pops continues to spy and bide his time, then he lies in perfect wait for Sarah and Kyle so that they don’t get arrested this time. (I really don’t understand why he wasn’t able to handle this in Genisys. He obviously knew where they would appear, so why couldn’t he just be there in the road waiting? How hard would it be for him to cause a traffic disturbance at the exact location they would show up?)

Pops tells an unbelieving Sarah and Kyle about John, but they are eventually convinced in the same manner as in Genisys. Then the film could play out very much like Genisys, but with Pops showing much more command of the situation as he’s been able to sabotage Cyberdyne over the years through hacking their system and/or hiding weapons and explosives in key locations. I am truly not a big fan of them doing the same thing they did in T2 by destroying all the hardware and whatnot, but if they tweaked it a bit and acknowledged that they need to do more than just blow up a building it might work. Maybe go all Independence Day and have them give the program a virus or something?

Of course, this is a rough outline that needs some work. Issues that jump out at me mainly concern John Connor. How does he still exist? I didn’t think they answered this in a satisfactory matter at all in Genisys, but it’s forgivable since we’re dealing with a series in which a man sends his own father back in time to create himself. The main issue with what I’ve come up with is how does Pops detect John without John also detecting him? But since Pops said he worked at Cyberdyne in Genisys that means they may have crossed paths before and nothing happened, so if it’s an issue in Genisys it can be an issue in my made-up version too.
Another title could be; Terminator: Genisys (Now with Less Jai Courtney!)
So that’s it, my Pops-centric version of the latest Terminator. I just felt that Arnold was the strongest aspect of the film, but the least utilized. Why focus on Jai Courtney? Why introduce Matt Smith just as a connection for a sequel? Just leave how Connor became a Terminator open if you need sequel bait. You already have that with the mystery of who sent Pops back, so just go with it. This film used Arnold less than any other Terminator film (excluding Salvation, of course) and needed him the most. Of course, what’s done is done. Too bad the real world isn’t more like the world of Terminator. That way someone could be sent back to fix this. But then again, we would have to deal with Judgment Day… I think it’s worth it.


  1. I enjoyed reading this more than watching the actual movie. I loved your idea for the opening 20 mins set in 1973 this is genius and so much better than the awkward john\kyle scene in the actual movie. They could have played it similar to Leon the professional with sarah as Natalie Portmans character & the Terminator as the awkward Leon father figure. The 1984 Sarah was played completely wrong in the movie. If she had been raised by a machine I think she'd be much tougher by this point but Emilia Clarke played it too naive and cutesy. Kai Courtney was just horribly miscast

  2. Just watched it. I agree 100% Three questions: 1.Why even have Arnold in this movie if you don't make him the main story? 2. Is Jai Courtney just going to do 80's sequels? 3. Will we see a return of the Cannelton Critic? The movie world needs him.