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Dropping the Ball – The Terminator

The terminator was a cultural phenomenon that set tones for dark dystopic sci fi features to come. Though the initial entry into the franchise is not the strongest in the series, it still was filled with memorable moments, themes and lines that carried across the decade spanning series. All with the memorability that allowed the terminator to retain its relevancy even today. However, there is a caveat, and that is: technology.

In 1984, it was easy to explain experimental or even theoretical technology ranging from the AI destined to destroy humankind, to the tech that sends Arnie back in time. It could be littered with inconsistencies and gaps, but it would not matter because everything the Terminator had to offer was in plain sight.

Al’s comment: I am not saying that the movie is riddled with inconsistencies and plot-holes, I am just throwing food for thought there.

Even its sequel and successor that doubles down on the action of the horror-action-sci-fi trifecta of movies of that time (Alien being another example) is hailed as a perfect balance which is a rare occurrence (the only other example that comes to mind is Shrek 2). But the ball begins to fumble in the third installment.

The Terminator looking badass on a motorbike with John Connor, Source: Cinemablend

Al’s comment: Shareholder involvement in anything ruins it. So, fuck you all and stay out of the creative elements of anything since you are insanely incapable of producing anything good you bastards.

Now each installment does a great job of encapsulating the era that not only it was produced in but released in as well. It is also a neat benefit that there is substantial time between releases where the first two saw a five-year gap and the trilogy’s finale would not release for another 12 years. Only to be resumed/rebooted 6 years later with higher levels of mediocracy that followed.

The third installment (though it has its very solid scenes and moments) is muddled by obvious growing shareholder/corporate interests in Hollywood at the time. Characters dress like they are from that era, plot points and rules begin to be ignored to pursue options that are likelier to guarantee a profit. This was in tandem with the era of movies where action, sex and more action and sex were selling more, like the Fast and the Furious, or even Triple X.  The initial off-putting scene is where the TX increases its chest size to seduce the officer. Or even the Britney-Spears-esque red leather outfit.

The TX and the Terminator fighting it out, Source: Agony Booth.

Al’s comment: Holy fuck the early-mid 2000’s fashion scene was disgusting. Those jeans…

Beyond that the initial trilogy is filled with moments, lines and set pieces that remain memorable and unique even today. Even the series “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is a solid standalone piece with enough context and tie-ins to the mainline franchise that only enrich the franchise.

And then there’s Salvation.

Beyond Christian Bale’s freak-out, the movie was doomed to fail. By no means is it a bad or awful movie, just like every entry in the series there are moments and set pieces that retain themselves into the viewers memory. It is also neat to be able to see the war with the machines as it is constantly referred to and dreaded all that time before. Like an unseen threat or a looming disaster.  Though this does take the mystery away from the franchise, it still opens a large opportunity for storytelling. But it fumbles. This movie breaks all the rules the franchise sets and is filled with unaddressed inconsistencies that flat out annoy the viewer. Many elements feel too convenient or irrelevant, like how Star Wars uses the force to explain plot holes, except there is no force to explain them here. As a movie for what it is however it is enjoyable.

Look at that jawline, the older models were not fucking around, Source: Cinemablend.

Salvation is the opposite example of rebooting that Jon Favreau’s insulting Lion King was. It spread its ambition too far and was unable to hold it together to the source content, wherein the Lion King was just a misuse of talent, software, and creative minds to produce a piling piece of shit that foresaw the corporate monster Disney has become.  Though Genisys attempts to alleviate this, it…. It just does not completely.

Though it is good news to know that Salvation is not cannon due to the parent company auctioning off the rights to the franchise after declaring bankruptcy

Genisys starts off strong, very strong. A premise that Salvation should have took advantage of. The entire series always has the idea of an inevitable fate looming, even to the point where at the end of Terminator 3 (SPOLIER ALERT, but then again you had 17 years to watch it so…)  everything they had done could not stop fate, only delay it.

Genisys immediately establishes that their sacrifices paid off. Moving past the gross miscast for Sarah Connor (Another obvious shareholder choice to include Emilia Clarke during the rise of Game of Thrones), Genisys’s first half hour does something amazing. It remixes the original trilogy while providing insight on the future war reigniting that sense of mystery and acknowledging how time jumping can literally fuck up everything. It starts off solid, presenting new ideas, content and premises while retaining fan service moments and core elements true to the initial additions to the franchise. Then stumbles laughably.

Part of the very solid introduction to Terminator Genisys, Source: ABC News. 

The gross disconnect between the people making all the decisions for the movie and actual people is the biggest flaw in Genisys as the movie’s prevalent threat is an OS/AI that utilizes NFC/Bluetooth that becomes widely available. In reference to the earlier mention of how the initial entries benefited greatly from their era, Genisys did not. The movie depicted the Internet of Things as something revolutionary and decades ahead in 2015. From that point on, the ball kept rolling as Emilia Clarke did her best to be an action star and the remixes made to the original characters were just annoying at best. There is too far a line in changes to be made to a certain element where it may be better to just introduce a completely new element.

The point to be made is that after T3, the franchise slumped to a form of mediocrity, acting as a namesake to bring in actors and audiences who know what to expect. Frankly, that is fine, it is just the moments in between and what had devolved the franchise to this point that’s upsetting. The same way Rise of Skywalker was destroyed by interests of profit, was the same way the Terminator became just okay instead of remaining revolutionary.

Though I hear Dark Fate is a nice return to form….

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