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If TERMINATOR SALVATION is a reboot, what does this mean for the future of cinema? by COOP

Posted on May 18th, 2009
Posted on May 18th, 2009

With “Terminator Salvation” coming out this weekend, predictably the studio is ramping up its marketing campaign which incidentally shows more and more of the film (as is the usual M.O.).  I’ve read all the rumors about the big twist at the end, which many have spoken out against, but I think is kind of brilliant from the standpoint that the original Terminator mythology still has a few shocks to reveal in its cataclysmic bible.  I won’t discuss the twist here (mentioning spoilers is unofficially against my policy), but rather something else that’s bothering me from the trailer…

John Connor says, “I thought I knew were we were headed…  Something has changed…  and in this future, I don’t know if we can win this war.” He then hints throughout the rest of the trailer that the future has been altered due to constant meddling with time. 

Damn.

Do you see what this means?  “Terminator Salvation” is actually a reboot. 

This is probably old news to you but I’m not sure how I could’ve missed this until now.  It’s marketed as a sequel, but it negates the old Terminator cannon by using that old sci-fi crutch that “Star Trek” (read the review here) depended upon so heavily to reboot itself and start a new franchise.  Truth be told, I’ve come to dislike this often used and abused plot device, especially where “Star Trek” is concerned.  They can’t be bothered to stick with a plausible set of rules and their explanations often border on the ludicrous. 

I’m not gonna slam “First Contact” or anything, I’m simply making a point.  “Trek” has relied on time travel so heavily in the past, and it’s rumoured that after “Voyager,” Paramount nearly greenlighted a new “Trek” series based upon some sort of Starfleet time travel enforcement division.  Think of it, they could’ve used any already-built set on the lot and written a story around it (hey, it worked for the original series).  Lame.

As for “Terminator Salvation,” I’ve been patiently waiting for the series to reach the apocalypse so I could finally see a longer, expanded version of those amazing futuristic flash-forwards showing machines and humans blasting the hell out of each other with plasma cannons amidst the ashes of Los Angeles.  Sure, the time travel would play a part because they need to send people back to fulfill the original mythology, but I always imagined it would become a minor device in the larger scheme of things. 

Now, all bets are off.  With time travel screwing up the picture, they (the writers, directors, producers in charge) can turn the whole franchise into “Solarbabies: Part Deux” if their imagination lapsed for an instant.  Think it can’t happen (“Batman and Robin” lest we forget)?  I suppose it’s Director McG’s way of “owning” the continuation of the the franchise, but without it there was so much story to be told already.  Changing everything with meddling time travel is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  It’s not necessary and negates what came before.

The big argument FOR it will be that it keeps the franchise fresh, taking predictabily out of the equation.  I’ll argue that if McG and the powers that be were smarter, they could’ve done this without pulling a “Trek,” time-travel scenario where somehow things change but kinda remain the same as if destiny or the Gods are keeping things from getting too out of whack.  If you think about it, this also negates the grim-yet-brilliant message from the end of “Terminator 3” (and 1 & 2 if you want to get technical)…  the idea that you CAN’T change the future by going to the past.  You can only help what’s already happened run its course. 

But who cares when you can make up your own time travel rules on a whim?  It’s not like it exists or anything.  I just don’t like conflicting mythology.  It reeks of convenience and sloppy storytelling.

Perhaps I’m getting riled up over nothing.  I’ll know for sure in a few days when I see “Salvation,” but to be clear I’m bothered by two things here: 

1.  It’s a reboot.  Don’t try to fool us into thinking it’s a direct sequel.

2.  Whether “Terminator Salvation” is good or not, this unnecessary alteration to a beloved franchise signals that this trend will continue and eventually produce some horrid abominations of cinema.  Why am I so sure of this?  Because it’s what Hollywood does.  It sees a profitable trend, and runs it into the ground until its apparent that audience are screaming “No mas!” by avoiding the cineplexes. 

Think of what would happen if George Lucas got it into his head that using time travel could stretch out his unending meddling with the original “Star Wars” trilogy. 

The horror. 

Mega-long trailer below…

-C

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