When I was a young girl in high school collecting Terminator trading cards and working Terminator analogies into all of my grade ten English class assignments, I had a dream. It was a dream that involved cyborgs and judgment days. Self-aware computers and human resistances. I had a dream of seeing a scarred, war-hardened leader look into the eyes of the man who would become his father, and send him back through time to his death.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles gave me a whole new kind of vision of that apocalyptic future, working from the idea presented in the otherwise flawed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. No matter how much you try to change the past, the future will find a way — but dammit if we humans don’t keep on trying anyway. I wasn’t even upset by the cancellation of TSCC, because its cliff hanger ending gave me so many possibilities. So many more dreams for my overactive imagination to frolic and play with.
But all my dreams exploded, crashed, burned, fizzled, and died the day Terminator: Salvation tore out my soul by giving me a John Conner that couldn’t even recognize a terminator. I couldn’t even pretend that horrendous movie didn’t exist like I do with those prequels, that so-called fourth Indiana Jones movie, and what do you mean there was more than one Matrix movie? That’s crazy talk.
When I heard about the latest Terminator reboot last year, I rolled my eyes. Then they started announcing the cast, trying to play on my Game of Thrones love by offering me the mother of dragons as the new mother of destiny. I shrugged it off. You won’t hurt me again, Hollywood.
Oh who am I kidding. The truth is that I crawled under the covers and sobbed my little heart out. Hollywood has been pillaging and torturing my 1980s nostalgia for too long with reboots and remakes I never asked for. But Terminator? That’s my 80s baby. Donchu touch my precious apocalyptic cyborg baby!
Then my friend sent me the link to the new Terminator: Genisys trailer. Our subsequent conversation went something like this:
Him: New Terminator is awesome.
Me: …. what kind of awesome? Like… explosion awesome? Or rolling on the floor in my TSCC feels awesome?
Him: That last one.
Me: You understand that I would have Skynet’s cyborg babies if they get this right… don’t tease me…
Him: Seriously, I could not imagine how this could look any better. I went from not caring about it to DO WANT. I look forward to your squeals.
Me: I wonder if anyone will ever give me the scene I wanted from the Terminator novelization where John sends Kyle back.
Him: Um. Watch trailer.
Me: I was hoping you would/wouldn’t say that…
And so it was with great, gut-wrenching trepidation that I clicked. And saw this:
Okay, so maybe some nekkid white dude having a manly moment with some fully clothed white dude doesn’t do it for you, but for me?
Almost two decades! Two decades since first reading that scene in the only movie novelization I have ever read because I’m a book snob and novelizations suck! My dream of a cyborg future is finally coming true. And then the trailer just kept getting better and better when Sarah Connor, whom Kyle has been sent back to save, tells him that they’ve already been there done that. They? Oh you mean Sarah and Old Arnold. And so, the future has changed yet again.
I know some people might be tired of the messed up timeline concept, but I’m a huge fan of inconclusive endings and infinite possibilities. The Terminator saga is fueled by the belief that you can simply fix the past or future by manipulating the outcomes, but even the tiniest and/or seemingly benign change can have drastic effects — none of which can be predicted, even by Skynet. Time is a dangerous plot device, I know, but TSCC did a great job of exploring the flaws of our arrogant belief that humans can change the past and future to our advantage, not simply by destroying or saving people, but by altering them at the emotional and psychological level.
Don’t worry, Terminator: Salvation left me jaded enough that I am not totally over the moon with this trailer. As much as I am pleased with any opportunity to see Byung-hun Lee, I am skeptical about the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the requisite car chases, blazing guns, and big explosions. But the twist in time has me intrigued enough to wonder if this reboot will dig a little deeper, the way TSCC did, and will give us more than just special effects and nostalgic one liners. But I have to cling to the hope that they will get it right. I mean, Michael Bay isn’t directing it, so that’s already a big positive…