Friday, June 26, 2015

A Shot-by-Shot Breakdown of the Terminator: Genisys Trailer

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a really big Terminator fan. As a result, I was pretty psyched when I learned that a full trailer was out for the newest movie in the franchise. I don't know if this movie will be any good or not, and I think the name is stupid, but By God, this trailer was COOL. There's a shot-for-shot breakdown on a major internet site (it rhymes with die glow mime) and while I enjoy that site, I didn't think their breakdown was very good. Rather than complain about it, I said why the hell not do my own if I think I can do better?

Come with me if you want to live.

HK Aerials flying over Future Hollywood. It's good to see that they're going for the heavily-overcast future of the early movies (and the show) instead of the bright, sunny future of Terminator Salvation.

Our first glimpse of John Connor. Hopefully no terminators got into this gathering. This movie better have one scene with an infiltrator doing major damage to a human settlement; that was one of the most chilling scenes in the original movie. I suspect that all the future terminators will be endos, but I hope I'm wrong. If they really want to capture the scary Terminator 1 vibe, one of the things they need to do is drive home the element of mistrust that would be spread by an enemy that can look like us.

 John Connor looks weathered and beaten, but steadfast and determined nonetheless. The guy we saw for five seconds in Terminator 2 is still the best version of Adult John Connor, but this guy is already in second-place. 

I wasn't crazy about Bale (Terminator Salvation) or Stahl (Terminator 3). The former acted more like a gruff Batman than the gravitas-filled, somber leader that Connor should be, while the latter looked like a hobbit in his one future war scene.

We get our first glimpse of Kyle Reese. The jury is out on this guy. He's way too buff for my liking; Kyle should be a wiry, somewhat malnourished, and haunted soldier. Not a Buff Call of Duty Marine.

John Connor mans a plasma-cannon, swinging it around to fire at an unseen assailant. This immediately gives us a callback to Salvation where he had to swing a helicopter turret around to blast a half-T600 that was crawling towards him. Clearly technology has evolved since then (Salvation is 2018, while this is likely 2029).

We get a glimpse of a wider-scale battle, with a lot of plasma beams firing back and forth between the resistance and the machines. Where are the HK Tanks? They were a huge part of the flash-forwards in T2. And the resistance having helicopters is also something I'm not entirely on-board with. In the original movies, I'm pretty sure they didn't have any military technology anymore aside from whatever weapons they could reverse-engineer from the machines. And pickup trucks. Giving helicopters and airplanes to the resistance was a Salvation creation that, along with the sunlight, took something away from the future war as it was previously portrayed.

Resistance fighters utilizing some sweet weaponry. The sheer variety of weapons on display in these shots is impressive. They could have just given everyone identical plasma rifles.

John and Kyle running through a battlefield. Weird to see them charging out in the open like this from a tactical standpoint, but maybe they have a good reason for it. Looks like they're not getting any kind of cover fire, though, and that's pretty weird.

 They run right into an HK-Centurion, finally making a movie debut. This thing was supposed to be in T2, but it was one of the Future War elements that was cut for budget reasons. This gives me hope that we'll see HK Tanks make their long-awaited return (the previous two movies threw them under the bus). As for the Centurion, when I was a kid, I really wanted to see this thing in action. Now, through some luck, I've lived long enough for it to happen.

 Both guys just kinda stand there, and Kyle looks pissed and/or frightened. If I were them I'd start shooting.

T-800 endo. That grin doesn't look right...maybe the teeth are too white, or maybe the smile is too pronounced. I can't say for sure. Terminators have always grinned by default, but it's a malevolent, reaper-like grin. This grin is way too friendly.

It BLASTS THE SCREEN without hesitation. Nice callback to the endo in T2 that shot up the screen.

Shot of what is likely Judgment Day. Hard to tell what part of the world this is supposed to be.

Connor continues to rally the troops, and we get a good look at his semi-iconic scars. They did a better job replicating the T2 scars here than either of the other movies did. Those movies missed the second scar over the mouth, which this one has.

Side note: Take away his hair, and this guy would play a good Sigma in a Mega Man X movie.

Shot of a Terminator storage refrigerator, where one terminator is thawed and ready for action. I've always wondered why Skynet didn't just thaw a bunch of them and send them all through at once. Come to think of it, in Salvation the machines just sent one T-800 to get Connor in the final act, when we could clearly see other Arnolds standing around in the background in dormant states. Weird.

The terminator steps up to the Time Displacement Chamber, which generates a wormhole. I like how pristine and alien this room looks, though I prefer the T2 concept art version of the room (another shot that, like the Centurion, was cut for budget).

Any doubt that this figure was Arnold is quickly dispelled. This is the evil Arnold from the first movie, setting out to carry out his mission. This instantly puts this movie before the first. If Salvation was Terminator Zero, this is Terminator Zero 2.

Sarah Connah.

I had my doubts about this casting, but they're gone. Just gone. That IS Sarah Connor, no doubt in my mind. I'd say this version is more gorgeous than the original, even.

Walder Frey: "I'd travel back in time and die fifty times to save that."

Kyle volunteers to go back and save Sarah. Wonder if they'll bring the photograph into this, since Kyle carried it around with him for a time. This particular shot has been much-thrashed on the internet since it looks like Kyle is nude. I didn't even think about that when I first saw this trailer, so people need to get their heads out of the gutter.

Question is, does Connor know that he's sending his father to die? Does he even know that Kyle is his father, in this timeline? If so, this has to be a painful moment for him.

The humans have taken over the Time-Displacement Chamber, so it appears that they won the war as scheduled. Chances are that the battle we saw earlier was the final battle of the war. If so, odd that it appeared to be in a city rather than the Cheyenne Mountain complex where the time machine and Skynet's mainframe were supposed to be kept in all of the series lore. Maybe they're not considering that canon anymore.

Kyle walks around the machine, clearly wearing pants or shorts of some kind. ...come on, people.

Kyle gets sent back in time. The resistance fighters are dressed very accurately to the T1 lore. The armor and outfits are very reminiscent of Aliens as well, another James Cameron creation. Everyone is suitably filthy, a far cry from the beautiful people and army outfits of Terminator Salvation. This movie seems to get the future stuff a lot more right than that movie did, in retrospect.

Kyle gets warped back in time. THIS IS SO COOL. We hear John Connor's voiceover saying that the Sarah Connor of the past will be scared and weak, and that Kyle will need to be prepared for that.

He appears in an alleyway in (presumably) 1984, and it is here where the movie begins. So far, this looks like a really cool remake.

 Kyle has a rough landing, clearly in a lot of pain. It just occurred to me that we've never actually seen him being sent back on film before, at least before the warp.

After presumably stealing hobo pants (if they had his pants go back in time with him just to avoid nudity, I'll be unimpressed), Kyle is spotted by the LAPD. Luckily, he's white, so they don't immediately shoot him.

A lithe, wiry cop gives chase. Doesn't look at all like the cop from the original movie, but no big deal.

Kyle runs into a clothing store. I'm starting to feel better about this actor, because he absolutely NAILS OG Kyle's running animation with his arms out to the sides a bit for balance. He even does the same slide along the floor when he comes to a stop, due to being barefoot.

The cop follows him inside calmly. Huh, not only does this cop look different, he sure is acting different.

And just like that, REMAKE NOTIONS DISPELLED. A truck crashes into the store and knocks the cop out of the way. What is going on here?

Whoa, hello Daniel Bryan. We can see from the gunshots in the wall that the cop has already opened fire on him.

A desert eagle brandishing Sarah Connor is driving the truck, and she drops "Come with me if you want to live". This is a humongous reveal, and I think giving it away in the trailer might have been a mistake. Then again, maybe not. It sets the stage for everything to come.

The cop SPROUTS BLADE ARMS OH MY GOD HE'S A T-1000. Given that cops are the top heel in America this year, it figures that the villain would be another cop-terminator.

Sarah shoots him a bunch of times, but he quickly heals back up.

When I was a kid, I used to wonder what would happen if a T-1000 went back to the T1 time instead. How would Kyle fare against such a foe? Looks like we'll find out.

Next shot has Kyle and Sarah going into some sort of arms storage garage. I hope Kyle picks up a particular weapon and Sarah goes "it's definitely you". Just pile the fanservice on, that's all I ask.

 Kyle says what the audience is thinking. "I was supposed to save YOU, what's going on here?"

This is brilliant, because it takes all of the audience apprehension about the timeline reboot and makes it a part of the story. Our uncertainty is embodied in Kyle, bringing us into the plot right from the get-go. As he finds out what's going on, so do we.

But what of the T1 Arnold that was supposed to show up? We see a shot of Griffith Observatory in L.A. next.

Sure enough, Arnold has landed. The only problem is...

 ::record scratching:: ...ANOTHER Arnold is also here.

This one is Good Arnold, who has evidently aged due to arriving way way WAY earlier than he was supposed to. People want to poo-poo this movie because Arnold looks old and "terminators don't age", but it's completely believable that a terminator's skin would degrade over time. People poo-pooed Salvation for not having Arnold. Well, Arnold is old now. If you want Arnold back, this is the Arnold you'll get. Stop poo-pooing. it's time for me to do just that. This shot looks AWFUL. Definitely the weakest part of the whole trailer. Arnold's contrast is much lower than his surroundings, and it looks fake and superimposed. Hopefully this is still in post-production, but if it isn't ready for prime-time it shouldn't be in the trailer. The CGI Arnold in Salvation looked much better than this.

Good Arnold proceeds to open fire on Evil Arnold. When I was a kid, I always wondered what would happen if T2 Arnold fought T1 Arnold. I figured the evil version would win since it had more of a killer instinct. Well, it looks like now I'll get to see yet another thing I wondered about as a kid. I'm stoked.

Speaking of potential, they really need to have a Bill Paxton cameo as Good Arnold is walking away from the battle. Even just Paxton's voice yelling something as we see the three punks from behind would be a great callback to the original movie.

I love this Sarah already. She has all of the feminine cuteness of T1 Sarah and all of the take-no-guff of T2 Sarah.

One of the coolest shots of the trailer has the T-1000 forming a lance, breaking it off, and...

....HURLING it like a javelin. This is a new and awesome idea, instantly transforming the T-1000 from a primary melee threat to one that can also strike at range without weapons. Scary stuff.

Another time-displacement wormhole, this one in what appears to be some kind of subway tunnel laboratory. This worries me, as bringing further time travel into the story could run the risk of trivializing the whole thing (or worse, convoluting it beyond repair).

Flashback shot. A little girl is being carried away from a wrecked structure by a terminator. Presumably, this is the Good Arnold rescuing Sarah as a child. Who did he rescue her from? It would appear that Skynet sent something back to get John Connor's grandparents; I've always wondered why Skynet never tried that.

The movie would do well to establish that the TD can only go back so far (say, the 60's) or else we could be doing this forever.

Good casting on the little girl, even she looks like Sarah.

An odd shot of Arnold standing in the rain. It's odd because the arm just doesn't look right. Like it's too thin, or something. I can't quite put my finger on it.

T-1000 riding on the hood of a car. The car is sparking a lot, which may be from gunfire. I'm curious as to how the T-1000 is controlling the car, because there's no one driving it. Does it have some kind of ability to control machinery remotely, or did it leave a piece of itself to push the accelerator? While the Robert Patrick T-1000 seemed to like to keep itself together at all times, we've already seen that this T-1000 is aware of the usefulness of separating pieces of itself.

T-1000 makes a leap for the truck. Presumably this is right after the clothing store, so we still may be in the first half hour or so of the movie. We've gone from T1 territory to T2 territory.

Sarah says that they might be able to stop Judgment Day. Next shot is them in a place that looks way too advanced for 1984. Did they jump forward in time to destroy Cyberdyne Systems? How would Cyberdyne Systems exist without the T-800 remains from their factory? A lot of questions are raised by this. The big screen in front of them ominously winks out as they approach, and the place seems oddly deserted.

Something slams into a metal door while trying to get to our heroes. The slam has such force that it shakes the whole roof above them. Whatever this thing is... it's quite strong. Doesn't seem like something a T-1000 would be capable of. This is likely also in the Cyberdyne building, since they're wearing the same outfits. I would guess that this and the previous shot are from much later in the movie than the rest of the trailer. Also, the lack of Arnold in these shots is curious.

In what looks like an earlier scene based on their outfits, Sarah yells at Kyle to run while she opens fire on an unknown foe. A consistent theme of this trailer seems to be that Sarah is in no need of protection; on the contrary, she knows how to fire a gun and deal with threats, putting her on more equal footing with Reese. Interesting. The #GamerGate crowd is gonna love this.

Sarah opens fire on the ceiling, and we can see that Arnold is here too. Again, Sarah is the one taking the initiative while Arnold hesitates (likely assessing the situation) and Kyle gets out of the way.

Judging from the tracks in the ground, this is the subway/sewer where we saw a time-wormhole in an earlier shot. Perhaps something unstoppable is coming to get them, and their only escape is to go through the wormhole. Is it the T-1000, or something new and more malevolent?

More future war. We get some battlefield endos in action here. They're CGI and don't look as good as the animatronic miniature models of the T2 flash-forwards; those terminators didn't need to share the screen with real people, though, and wouldn't really be usable here.

This looks like quite a battle sequence. One issue is that the plasma beams sound wrong. They sound more like regular gunfire than the booming, futuristic beams of the T2 flash-forwards. Still, they look great visually.

Two unknown figures crash through a wall into what appears to be a waiting room. It's hard to tell who they are. The one on the left is likely Arnold, but the one on the right is unidentifable. It isn't the cop, though he can obviously take other forms. One thing of particular note is that the person on the left has a smartphone. Yes, a smartphone. Unless they made one hell of a production error, this part isn't within the timeframe of the first two movies. Could this movie take us to a Judgment Day-less modern era, with Skynet on the defensive and trying to ensure the occurence of JD after it is successfully prevented?

A leather-clad figure on a bike lands on the roof of a school bus. Is that Arnold? Hard to say. This is San Francisco, which means the movie will extend out of Los Angeles.

We get a slightly-overlong shot of a school bus flying up into the air upside-down. This is specifically to wow the movie-goer crowd who might see this trailer, but it has little significance to the story.

This, however, has a lot of significance. Sarah extends a hand to catch Kyle as the bus falls, saving his life in yet another example of her being portrayed as the savior of the two. Glad she cares about this guy who was sent back to protect her so much, and I wonder how much she knows about their future / John's origin.

Question is..who is catching her? Looks like Arnold again.

The final shot has Arnold dropping "I'll be back" before leaping out of a helicopter. While "come with me if you want to live" was a huge spoiler that seemed a little necessary to give the trailer context, spoiling this - the most iconic line in the series - at the end of the trailer seems like a bad move. The audience would have been at the edge of their seats waiting for him to drop this line.

Sarah is puzzled, and continues driving the helicopter. Are they heading for Cyberdyne?

Arnold proceeds to fall through the air and crash into another helicopter. This may explain his absence in the earlier Cyberdyne shots. And that ends the trailer with a bang.

The only question is... where was Matt Smith in this trailer? While he was touted as Connor's right-hand man in various articles about the movie, his absence, as well as his character being unnamed in the cast list, leads me to believe that he may well be the real villain. A Salvation-style hybrid, perhaps? The presence of a hybrid in this movie has been rumored for some time. This would make the T-1000 as much of a red herring as the Evil Arnold. I'm expecting the unexpected.

All in all, this trailer was pretty awesome, and got me hyped. It has the potential to be incredibly cool for fans of the first two films. It goes the Abrams-Trek route of giving us a new timeline where all bets are off. I'd be willing to bet that this new trilogy will involve a cross-time chess game of sorts with Skynet trying to create new Judgment Days as the old ones are prevented.

Terminator Genisys comes out July 1st. I'll be looking at some old-school Terminator games around that time too.


  1. Wow, great write-up/synopsis. I was skeptical about this and not very interested before I saw the trailer, but now I'm very interested. You're right about the internet poo-pooing (lol) and I appreciate your positivity in the review. I like your theory at the end about this new trilogy having Skynet be on the defensive with Sarah Connor crew stopping JDs. I don't think that one Arnold shot looks that bad, but you're right that it could use more contrast. They're going to need to pull some special effects wizardry for this movie. The one thing I really dislike is the pearly whites on the endo, looks stupid. Besides that, stoked for this.

  2. The helicopter is likely an old helicopter that they managed to scavenge. Although I would imagine it would make for an extremely simple target for the machines.

    Sigma Connor, LOL

    It could be that for this movie they don't care about the years and 1984 is now the new present. Part of the original movie is that it takes places in the present, if they stick to the original timeline then it's taking place 30 years ago.

    Considering she had the terminator to tell her things, Sarah might know exactly who Kyle is and is making a point to protect HIM to make sure that John can exist.

  3. Trailers always spoil, y'know? They want to hook the audience in. It's like those blurbs on the back of book covers. Books that spoil JUST enough of the plot while giving a good summary actually sell more. Dropping "I'll be back", in my opinion, was actually a good move, because new fans who only know of the iconic line and may want to see this will go "OMG he says it I have to watch it" and old fans will be like "Fanservice, nice." Same with "Come with me if you want to live", it attracts viewers and it was an important part of the trailer (although you did bring that up when you said it "sets the stage.") Although I will admit that line is big selling point and some people may not see it because it's spoiled in the trailer, but really, if you're only seeing the movie for 1 or 2 lines I'd hardly call them a fan.
    For the Judgment day shot, the country off to the right looks like the USA, so that country in the middle is possibly Asia...maybe. You can kinda see Italy down there, which lends to my theory, and also you can see Russia sticking out.

  4. Great breakdown. This is gonna be more interesting than I expected! Hope this goes viral.
    This video seems more like a demo than a trailer btw.
    I'm glad they made a point to respect canon wrt scars and so on.