James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day was a $102 million sequel to the director’s semi-cult 1984 sci-fi/horror film; it proved to be an unabashed success, drawing critical raves for its mix of intelligence, popcorn entertainment and cutting-edge CGI effects – with a half-billion dollar worldwide gross and four Oscars to show for its efforts. T2 set a benchmark for the franchise that subsequent installments have simply been unable to reach (financially and/or critically), though in 2015 the series will be rebooted – in the hope of either bucking that trend or, at the very least, revitalizing the brand.
Filming on the Terminator reboot – currently known by the placeholder title Terminator: Genesis – begins in New Orleans next month, with a cast that is composed primarily of newcomers to the series. That is, with the obvious exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is back reprising his career-defining role as an unstoppable killing machine (over ten years after his last time in the saddle, on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines).
Schwarzenegger’s next starring vehicle, Sabotage, opens in theaters at the end of this month, so at that film’s press day he addressed some questions about Genesis. Concrete plot details – crafted by Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) – are still being kept under lock and key. However, the addition of fan-favorite character actor J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) to the Terminator reboot’s cast may’ve shed more light on the film’s story – including, how the movie accounts for Schwarzenegger’s robotic character being significantly older-looking now.
Arnold, for his money, is just happy to still be playing his Terminator role some 30 years after the original installment was released, judging by comments he made while being interviewed by Collider (at the press day for Sabotage):
“I think that it’s just so wild to have a franchise that has been around for that long, and then after 30 years, to get asked again to be the only character in a movie that is the same character is unheard of, in movie history. You always switch out, like with James Bond and Batman. They have new characters there. But, not here. That, to me, is an extraordinary situation and a great opportunity. Of course, I was honored when I was asked to come back and play the character with Sarah Connor…”
A lot has changed in the pop culture landscape since Arnold’s heyday in the 1980s and first half of the ’90s, though – as he reminded Collider – Terminator is just one of three popular intellectual properties from that time period that he’s lined up to revisit in the new few years. That’s in addition to the developing Twins sequel Triplets and the long-awaited third Conan installment, The Legend of Conan. (Assuming you don’t count the 2011 Conan the Barbarian reboot – because, really, why would you?)
Nowadays, expensive tentpole installments tend to veer away from the grisly violence that pervaded in action movies during the 1980s and early ’90s – whether we’re talking about Indiana Jones‘ PG-13 Rated antics or Arnold’s tendency for killing baddies in an R-Rated fashion, back then. Hence, Schwarzenegger couldn’t promise Collider that Genesis will be Rated R, nor that it will be released under its current title (you may recall that Sabotage was originally titled Ten, then Breacher during pre-production).
That said, Arnold did promise that the Terminator reboot will feel like a chip off the same block as T2:
“…But [the Terminator reboot] is going to have the exact same feel. The way it reads, it has the same feel of Terminator 2. It’s big. There’s hardcore action and it has some really great visual effects in there, but not over the top. It’s not a Thor type of movie, even though it’s the same director. It has good special effects, but just enough to say, “Wow, where did that come from? How did they do that?”
Indeed, as Arnold pointed out, Genesis director Alan Taylor made his name in the world of blockbusters last year by directing Thor: The Dark World, which is very much a big and shiny adventure that’s geared more towards general audiences. The hope is that with the Terminator reboot, Taylor will combine his newly-gained understanding of large-budget moviemaking with the more adult tone of his past TV directorial work – on HBO shows like Deadwood, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones – in order to craft a genre tentpole/reboot that falls closer to being a T2 kind of beast.
What’s your outlook for Terminator: Genesis, at this stage? Are you hopeful that this reboot could, in fact, be a return to form for the franchise?
Terminator: Genesis opens in U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2015.