RogerBW's Blog

Terminator Genisys Trailer 11 December 2014

Some people may review the new Star Wars trailer. I find this one more interesting.

I'm writing specifically about the version found here. (This post is going to different places in different formats, and I have never seen the virtue of embedding rather than linking anyway.)

Trailers are odd things. My hypothesis is that they aim to build awareness of a particular title, but also to reassure viewers that it's something familiar: a rom-com, a sci-fi action film, etc. Anything unusual about a film, and particularly anything that's likely to require thought on the part of the viewer, tends to be downplayed.

So what do we have in this 2½-minute advertisement?

We open with the soundtrack from a resistance meeting. Old John Connor, played by Jason Clarke looking like a cut-price Bill Murray, says inspiring things to the crowd, while footage of battle plays. It's mostly the universal "bad stuff is happening" blue tint, though there's an occasional orange spotlight or trash-can fire. The Huey-style transport helicopters with fighters piling out of them are an obvious Vietnam reference; there seems to be a new sort of land-based killer robot, tri- or quadrupedal, about twice human height.

The second part introduces the "sending Terminators back in time" concept, and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney trying to look like someone who's suffered hardship) volunteering to take the trip. (Is it really better that we can now see the origin point of the time travel? Eh, not intrinsically; only if something interesting is done with it, rather than making it an effects-fest.)

Kyle Reese arrives in the past, looks for clothes, is hunted by this film's T-1000: Lee Byung-Hun. And then the subversion starts, almost exactly at the half-way mark: Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) is driving the truck that smashes into the shop and knocks the Terminator out of the way, and she shouts to Reese the traditional line "Come with me if you want to live".

It seems that Sarah has already met and in some way dealt with the original T-800, and now has a T-800 on her side. (Man, Arnie's looking old now. I mean, fair enough, the man's 67, he deserves to look old if he wants to, but why would anyone build a killer robot to look like that?) Maybe the big nuclear war can be stopped from happening at all.

And, just in case the audience were worried they'd have to think, it's straight into the action. Car/truck chase, time travel machinery, motorcycle on a train, lots of running about and shooting, highly implausible aerobatics by a school bus, and an unusual way of taking down a helicopter (though not as amusing as the version in Machete Kills).

The script writers don't have much of a track record, and both they and the director have mostly worked in television rather than film; that's where most of the good visual storytelling is happening these days, with mainstream film increasingly unwilling to take any sort of risk, but one doesn't know how well they will have been able to cope with pressure from the money men.

We've had two pretty poor films, the titular misspelling is just silly, and commercial pressures will make sure the film is restricted to a PG-13 rating. It's an entirely new team apart from Schwarzenegger, but so were the last two films (endless legal fighting about just who has the rights to make sequels hasn't helped matters). On the other hand, comparing this with the trailer for Salvation, there's less of a suggestion that it's trying to be a knock-off of the Transformers series and more focus on a small team fighting against a remorseless and near-invincible killer, which is what's generally made these films work when they have. With both Kyle Reese and the T-800 along to handle the fighting, I hope Sarah Connor manages to stay an active combatant rather than being something for the big strong men to protect (which unfortunately is her natural role in this scenario).

I'm cautiously optimistic.

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  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:00pm on 11 December 2014

    I'm not sure I even watched all of Salvation, it certainly didn't grab my attention.

    This sounds like another loop round time, with it getting more knotted. And yes I worry about Sarah Conner being someone to protect, her being an active combatant was one of the things that made Terminator 2 and Sarah Conner Chronicles good.

  2. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 03:08pm on 11 December 2014

    The link goes to In The Heart Of The Sea Official International Teaser Trailer #1, which I don't think was your intention.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 03:19pm on 11 December 2014

    Not any more it doesn't. Thanks.

  4. Posted by Dr Bob at 02:53pm on 12 December 2014

    Why wouldn't you build a terminator that looks old? The human skin over the top of the robot body was meant to be a disguise, and an old person is as good a disguise as a young person!

    I can't really judge action/SF movies on the basis of the trailers any more, because all they show you is the explosions and stunts. I suppose that's better than telling you all the plot twists and that the butler did it, but it is not much use in deciding whether to go see it or not.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 03:23pm on 12 December 2014

    If you want it to blend in, you probably don't build it to look like Arnie in the first place. (It is part of my head-canon for the Reign of Steel setting that, somewhere in what used to be California, a near-centenarian ex-Governor tries to stir up resistance against the robots but is entirely unable to work out why nobody trusts him.)

    The first half of this trailer was not all about explosions and stunts. :-)

  6. Posted by Dr Bob at 01:19pm on 13 December 2014

    I suppose I should have said "NEARLY all they show you" :-) The Mad Max Fury Road trailer being a good example of the explosions genre of trailer.

    That's different from the "explosions and lying to you" genre of trailer. Such as The General's Daughter, where the trailer made it look like a war movie/action movie, when in fact it is a police procedural set on an army base...

    Most bizarre of all was the first trailer I saw for Battleship, which lacked any explosions and any aliens and was trying to make it seem like it was An Officer And A Gentleman. To lure in the unsuspecting romance fans???

  7. Posted by RogerBW at 01:49pm on 13 December 2014

    Yeah, I think that trailers these days are aimed at people who don't get any information about films from other sources. The basic message seems to be "here is the sort of thing that you have liked before", to get the bums on seats, rather than to help people make any sort of informed choice.

    Which seems to me self-defeating, because if you're misled by one trailer you may stop being sucked in by them thereafter, but apparently that's not a consideration to the people who make them.

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