For anyone hoping that Cameron was going to return to this franchise one day, or perhaps after the assured failure of this latest installment, they should have their heads evacuated like the Augean Stables. Never heard of them? Then Google it. We’ve come full circle here. The mortar has set and the last brick has been laid, hiding a corpse behind the wall.
Did this film have to be made? No. Should it have been made? Well that’s not up to you, or me. And to be honest no film is sacred. The other Terminator films were seemingly made a lifetime ago. And surely we need a new interpretation, right? After all, they did it with Total Recall and that was just smashing. Just smashing! Cheerio!
Moving through the original territories of the first film would be a great money-saving feature for a TV show, however here it’s one of creative starvation. We see background plot being filled in as the timeline intersects just like as if someone had dared to go back in time and graft Jabba the Hutt onto an old skin so he could interact with Han Solo, filling in our imaginations. Who does that? What does the time-traveling gizmo look like anyway? And why are they nude? The jump-point is 1984 all over again and while the faces of the young punks are different and a younger Arnold is handled by Skynet’s finest plastic surgeons. The older Arnold intercepts the clothes thief killer to change everything. Everything’s the same…well almost.
Time travel used to be so easy. But as a series goes on and questions have to be answered it can get pretty murky and having to rely on a firm scientific foundation for a universe that is just a metaphor for human hubris can be its undoing. Of course if the filmmakers had to actually explain the science behind the creation of a time-machine or a flux capacitor, and couldn’t proceed without it, well we would have theaters but no films. I think if Skynet even pondered for too long how Kyle Reese had to go back in time to give birth to the guy who is his best friend and standing right in front of him, he would blow up. Just like computers used to blow-up in old shows like Star Trek when presented with illogical conundrums. It’s a quantum loop and never ends, the tail of the past gives birth to a future. Holy crap we have an Ouroboros – a snake eating its own tail!
But does it really matter if there are plot holes? No, not as long as the film is engaging and the characters transcend any of the weighty material. Unfortunately we have none of that here.
This film’s template is a gift-bag. One that caters to the nostalgia centers of your brain. Its familiar score erupts like a volcano pressuring the inside of school lockers ready to throw something at you that we’ve seen before but should be excited to see again. A line, a scene, the liquid Terminator. A step up in effects? No. Why would it be, this is all cut and paste. In and out of the theater, remember? I’d like to say the people in this film look glad to be there, but they don’t. The camera is not particularly dynamic nor is the dialog anything but insulation foam. Had they shot this in a helium filled chamber it might have brought some animation to the set.
I suppose Arnold’s grin is one redeeming quality to it all, but it’s overused and it was a resounding feature of T2. That is Terminator evolution. He might seem like he’s progressed but Skynet’s still an idiot. The bastard actually accuses humans of ‘always trying to kill what they don’t understand first’. Well, he’s right but considering that he doesn’t understand humans it’s kind of a lofty statement. He’s a hypocrite. And we can accuse him of all that but he’d still try to kill us in the end. When a film like this has a weak framework and is going through the motions I can’t attribute any intelligence to what I’m watching. Yes, they finally gave him a body, the missing component that was going to wrap it all up into a nice neat little package. But will it be the last film out of the gate? Probably. At least for another twenty years. And Arnold is done here as a leading man, returning to the film that made him and now ironically a graveyard.
I don’t really care if they remake any films to tell you the truth. Or at least most anyway. As long as they cut the cord to the original. No need to dance in between generations because the filmmakers making the new ones try to conquer them and make it their own in some way. Or is it because they don’t make it their own that’s the problem? Like eating the heart of their enemy they gain their powers. They might have feasted on their enemies genitalia with this one. I guess you can’t expect much on a studio leash.
Now I wouldn’t mind seeing a new Back to the Future or Beetlejuice and especially a new Forbidden Planet. And even a few Kubrick’s are up for grabs. And if I can handle Kubrick being remade, all else is irrelevant. His operational force is set in stone. His films imprinted on me will always be there and can never be detracted from. They are in no way diminished by any new attempts. So you can’t expect me to get worked up about something that was part of someone’s childhood that they think they own and the hell with anyone else.
We might have inscribed our own eulogies with these films, for an industry that I can’t even be sure will be around for another half century. They are dug up constantly to feed people who are on the life support of the past, trying to entice new people to a funeral. I’m not sure trying to reignite excitement by tracing over our memories is even possible. But I am sure time-traveling isn’t. Especially when it tries to put us in the theater seat as if we were watching it for the first time all over again.