Paramount's long-awaited Terminator Genisys hit theaters this past week, taking in a modest $28.7 million over the three-day holiday, and $44.1 million since opening on July 1. It did considerably better overseas, taking in $85.5 million for a worldwide haul of $129.6 million. It seems the overseas tally may ensure that the already-announced Untitled Terminator 2 (May 19, 2017) and Untitled Terminator 3 (June 29, 2018) go forward as planned, despite a spate of negative movie reviews. Whether you love it or hate it, Terminator Genisys presents a number of different changes to the franchise that many fans will be talking about for quite some time. Be warned, if you haven't seen Terminator Genisys yet, there will be tons of SPOILERS below, so read on at your own risk.
Much like the original 1984 classic The Terminator, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back to the year 1984 by John Connor (Jason Clarke), to protect John's mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke). As it turns out, the 1984 timeline Kyle goes back to is much different than he expects, with Sarah already knowing everything about the past, present and future, thanks to her "Guardian" (Arnold Schwarzenegger), an aging Terminator who has been protecting her since she was a child, after yet another Terminator was sent back to the year 1973 to kill Sarah and her parents. Terminator Genisys explores much more of the future war John Connor is waging against the machines in 2029. And we finally see how people and machines are sent back through time. We even visit old and new timelines alike in the years 1997 and 2017. So, how do these changes affect the franchise? And where can it go from here? We try to break down all of these alterations and examine where the franchise is headed.
More than any other movie in the series, Terminator Genisys drastically alters events that have previously been established, introducing fans to several alternate universes and a new version of "Skynet" who takes shape in the form of a character named Alex, played by Matt Smith. Just moments before Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984, Alex grabs John Connor, turning him into a cyborg, as hundreds of tiny robots enter his body. When this happens, it creates a different timeline, which explains why the 1984 that Reese is sent back to doesn't match up with what he was told. In an interview with Crave Online, writers Patrick Lussier and Laeta Kalogridis explain that Alex is from an alternate universe in the multiverse.
"He's not from this timeline. He's from an alternate universe, in the multiverse, another of the many universes that exist. That Skynet is not from that timeline. This Skynet has been to this universe, and this universe, and this universe. That's why he says, 'I came a very long way to stop you.' He's not from here. So he's watched it. He's watched it happen a bunch of different times, and each time he's seen it there is a different result but the same result."
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though as this movie and its rather complex plot pose a number of questions for us to ponder, as we wait for Untitled Terminator 2 and Untitled Terminator 3 to answer these burning questions, including the intriguing end credit scene, how John Connor was altered, how J.K. Simmons' character fits into the story, the new timelines and much, much more.
1 John Connor's Lineage and Robotic Upgrade
Many fans were surprised when Paramount released a trailer revealing Terminator Genisys's big twist, that John Connor has been turned into a cyborg by Alex/Skynet, just before Kyle Reese is sent back to the year 1984. As we know from the original 1984 classic The Terminator, Kyle Reese is also John Connor's father, after making love to Sarah in 1984. Oddly enough, while the film does take us to 1984, Sarah and Kyle never mate, so how does John even exist in the movie itself? John Connor dies in 2029 when Alex gets his hands on him. However, since Connor did travel back in time to the year 2017, time travellers' are protected by a temporal wake that preserves their memories and existence, meaning John can still exist, in theory, because both he and Skynet/Alex traveled through time to the year 2017, knowing they both exist in another timeline. With that being said, it remains to be seen how John Connor's existence will be addressed in the subsequent sequels set for 2017 and 2019. One thing is clear, though, Terminator Genisys only tells part of this new story, and we will likely need to see the sequels to find out how the rest of this story unfolds.
2 The Liquid Metal T-1000 Showing Up in the Year 1984
In the beginning of the film, shortly after Reese arrives in 1984, several events from The Terminator are revisited, but given a new twist. The younger T-800 Terminator sent back by Skynet arrives in L.A. at the Griffith Observatory, where he encounters a group of young punks and asks them to give for their clothes, just like in the first movie. The twist comes, though, when the aging Terminator, known as "The Guardian" or "Pops", arrives to take out this Terminator. Shortly after, Sarah fires the killshot that takes out the "younger" android. The filmmakers present yet another twist, with Sarah driving through the department store to save Kyle from the liquid-metal T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee), stealing Arnold Schwarzenegger's classic line "Come with me if you want to live." But wait, how is the T-1000 even here, since he wasn't introduced until 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, with a much different appearance to boot? In both The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Skynet focused its efforts on killing John Connor. But since both of those plans failed, the machine try a new approach, going after Sarah Connor, sending the T-1000 back to 1973 to kill her when she was just a child. Which is where the aging Terminator "Pops" comes in to save her. Skynet's decision to send the T-1000 to 1984 probably happened right after it failed in 1991.
3 Pops Surfacing in 1973
With John Connor turning into a cyborg right as Kyle Reese is sent to 1984, it created a new timeline, and we see that Kyle instantly starts having new memories from this timeline, which are all paid off by the end of the movie. One of the biggest burning questions Terminator Genisys poses is how was the Guardian even sent back to the year 1973 in the first place? It's possible that either Kyle Reese or Sarah Connor reprograms Pops and sends him back to 1973, creating an "Ontological Paradox" or a "Bootstrap Paradox," where, "items or information are passed from the future to the past, which in turn become the same items or information that are subsequently passed from the past to the future - this creates a circularity of cause." They know to send Pops/Guardian back to 1973 in the future, because they met him in both the past and the future, and know they need to send him back in time.
4 The Skynet-Sent T-800 Appearing In 1984
After the timeline was altered by John Connor turning into a cyborg, there is already a reprogrammed Pops protecting Sarah and the T-1000 pursuing them. So why, then, does Skynet also send back the "younger" version of the T-800? Of course, from a story standpoint, it's a clever way to reference the original classic while giving fans a new twist on these iconic scenes, but from a logistical standpoint, it seems like overkill. Of course, this younger T-800 doesn't get too far, since he is taken out by The Guardian and Sarah. But Skynet likely did this in case their plan from 1973 failed, and it could have also been done to give Sarah and the Guardian a false sense of security. Regardless of why it happened, it's still a great nod to the original film with some convincing CGI of the 1984 version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
5J.K. Simmons' Detective O'Brien Character
One of the most intriguing additions to the cast and the story is J.K. Simmons' Detective O'Brien, who shows up in 2017 when Sarah and Kyle travel forward in time from 1984. When Kyle gets into a shootout with the T-1000 in 1984, Kyle saves the life of this young cop during the battle. After seeing the liquid-metal T-1000, he became obsessed with the Terminators and time travel for years, with other cops in his department believing he's some sort of crazed crackpot with his insane theories. When Sarah, Kyle and Pops show up in 2017, looking exactly like they did in 1984, O'Brien's theories are essentially proven, and he even tags along to help Sarah, Kyle and Pops as they try to stop the new app dubbed Genisys, which is essentially the new version of Skynet that is set to launch. In the previous Terminator movies, no one believes Sarah's theories about Judgment Day, Terminators, time travel and more, but O'Brien's presence and his knowledge of the Terminators could be an interesting notion to play with in subsequent sequels.
6 The Post-Credits Scene That Sets Up Another Sequel
Much like Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the ending of Terminator Genisys features the destruction of Cyberdyne, albeit in the year 2017, and, what we believe is the destruction of Skynet. However, a post-credits scene shows that Skynet actually survived the explosion. How is this possible? Skynet can see all versions of these various timelines in the multiverse, meaning Skynet/Alex knew all along that Cyberdyne would be destroyed, creating a chamber for his mind to survive.
That wraps it up for our breakdown of how Terminator Genisys changes the entire franchise. Is there anything we left out? What did you think of this movie, and are you looking forward to these subsequent sequels? Chime in with your thoughts below.