The Big Issue : Edition 487
14 THE BIG ISSUE 26 JUNE – 9 JULY 2015 COVER STORY » BY ANTHONY MORRIS IT’S A DARK night in Los Angeles, 1984. A glowing ball of light fades to reveal a being more beefcake than man. Slowly, this naked figure stands and surveys the city, before turning to stride menacingly towards a collection of punks getting drunk nearby. Then, suddenly, a version of himself clearly 30 years older turns up and blows him away. That’s right, viewers of the trailer to Terminator: Genisys, this clearly is NOT your parent’s time travel love-story action movie about a killer robot from the future. As Hollywood increasingly concentrates on reviving old ideas rather than exploring new ones, the return of old favourites to the big screen has become commonplace. This year alone, movie dynasties from Mad Max to Poltergeist have already made a comeback, with the heaviest hitter of them all – Star Wars – set to return in time for Christmas. But Terminator: Genisys is different (and not just because of its blatant disregard for traditional spelling). Hollywood sequels usually try to disguise the fact they’re cannibalising the original: with Terminator: Genisys, that’s actually the big selling point. The paradoxes of time travel have always been at the heart of the Terminator films, the first of which appeared in 1984. In the first film, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is a LA waitress who suddenly finds herself targeted for termination by a sinister hulking figure (Arnold Schwarzenegger) remorselessly killing his way through the ‘Sarah Connor’ section of the phone book. Her only hope is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who rescues her from an attack and then reveals the backstory: both he and the Terminator (model T-800) have been sent back from the future as part of a war raging there between the remains of humanity and the evil computer network Skynet. The Terminator is meant to kill her before she can give birth to the leader of the resistance; Reese is meant to keep her alive. And when it turns out that he’s the father of the aforementioned resistance leader... Well, as Sarah herself says, “You could go crazy thinking about this stuff”. But if the numerous spoiler-heavy trailers for Genisys are any guide, all that’s about to be turned on its head. Ironically, having the marketing give away large chunks of the story before the film is released is a Terminator tradition. If you watch the first film carefully, the reveal that Schwarzenegger is playing a killer robot is clearly meant to be a shock twist; likewise, the second Terminator film (1991) works hard to make it seem like Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is once again going to be the bad guy until the shock reveal of an updated killbot (Robert Patrick’s shape-shifting liquid metal T-1000 model). In Genisys, what initially seems like a standard Hollywood reboot – telling the same story again for a new generation – quickly goes off the rails. The trailers feature scenes from the original film – Reese (now played by Jai Courtney) getting his clothes, Schwarzenegger arriving back in time – that suddenly take new and strange turns. Wouldn’t it be cool to have Reese attacked by a T-1000? What if an older T-800 was waiting for the T-800 from the original film? And what if the original T-800 still looked like Schwarzenegger circa 1984, but all the other original characters were played by IF THE NEW TERMINATOR MOVIE SEEMS LIKE ITS PREDECESSORS, WELL, THAT’S THE POINT. MEANWHILE, ARNIE’S ACTING RANGE HASN’T BEEN STRETCHED. WHICH IS EXACTLY HOW HIS FANS LIKE IT.