Friday, May 18, 2012

What should happen next in the Terminator franchise.

Like death and taxes another Terminator film is basically inevitable. It's a recognizable brand, and we all know Hollywood likes recognizable brand names. Rumors have spread across the internet about the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the franchise since the end of his governorship. This comes out after the proverbial car wreck that was Terminator Salvation, which I consider to be the worst film at least Terminator 3 was funny. However, as Hollywood continues to drill into wells that have been practically dried up for years, I've grown to acknowledge the fact that remakes and sequels aren't just inevitable they can be valid as well. Take the new Spider-Man film, for instance, it has been 5 years since Spider-Man 3 came out which isn't a long time, yet as I see more of the revamped story they're pushing the more I feel like it could actually tell a genuinely original story. After all, we let comic books get away with it. However, until seeing the new Spidey film I will keep hoping this will be true.

Back to the subject of the Terminator, it's not surprising that many say this franchise has nothing new to show us, we've seen everything that needs to be seen. This is true, what was needed to be seen was pretty much what we saw in Terminators 1 and 2. But that doesn't mean there isn't more to the story. After all, most movies imply they exist in a fully realized universe, the Terminator movies more so than most. Add time travel to the mix and you can pretty much come up with any story you wanted to tell, and that is where the new vein can be tapped. We need to see something new from this world, no more focusing on John Connor's destiny or his purpose, we've covered that, instead focus on a realm that hasn't entirely been tread upon: Skynet. If there's one character that is as ominous, and mythical, as John Connor it's Skynet. In the first Terminator both Connor and Skynet are merely talked about, John more than Skynet, but both are key characters in the Terminator mythos. Kyle Reese talks about John Connor being the savior of mankind who helped them rise up against the machines. John is made out to be this great military leader, and in the sequel we finally get to meet John, as a kid. Even though I find his portrayal in Terminator 2 to be, lacking, you still can believe that John feels like he has the world on his shoulders. He wants to stop Judgement Day because he is afraid of his own destiny, this drives him to try and change the future and it seems to succeed at the end of Terminator 2.

But even though Terminator 2 has a hopeful ending, which is totally fine, it contradicts the ideas in Terminator. Terminator can be seen as being about the inevitability of Judgement Day. It can't be stopped, like the Terminator, and simply running away from it won't help. You have to accept it and fight through it. The fact that both John and Skynet are directly created due to time travel further solidifies this idea of inevitability. Without the future's meddling in the past none of this is possible, a paradox would ensue, thus Judgement Day is inevitable because it MUST happen otherwise the universe may implode. This is one of the few things I actually like about Terminator 3, it's consistent with the first film's theme of inevitability. As Arnold says in the film "Judgement Day is unavoidable."

So why am I saying all of this? Because this would make for a great motivation for Skynet. We've seen the human side of this war, a side driven by human emotions and human drives. John Connor and his mother don't truly want the war to happen, this is why they try to change the future. They do so because of irrational fear and a desire to survive. This is a driving point for most of their actions. Skynet, however, has always been handwaved as being a typical genocidal artificial intelligence. It becomes self aware and realizes mankind is its greatest threat so it makes a preemptive nuclear strike against them? This may sound like a logical decision that a computerized intelligence would make but think about it for a second. Skynet is an artificial intelligence that is considered to be smarter than mankind, sans all the irrational emotions. There are literally billions of alternatives Skynet could've considered and just might have, yet it chose an action that is actually rather irrational if you take it at face value. It sees humans as a potential threat, one may even say it is afraid, and in an act of self preservation, fear, decides to wage nuclear war on humanity. Again, a non-human artificial intelligence would think of billions of other possible solutions yet it chose this one. Why? Because it knew it HAD to.

What I'm suggesting here is that Skynet isn't driven by a cold and calculated antipathy for humanity. Instead, it simply knows what must be done in order to keep the universe from falling apart or risking the possibility of having itself wiped out from history altogether. Terminator suggests Skynet is trying to change history. At face value this is a clear goal for an antagonist, it wants to kill the leader of humanity through retroactive abortion. However, what if Skynet was merely ENSURING the future? Think about it for a moment. Skynet, as told in Terminator 2, is said to be based off of the remnants of the first Terminator, the one that came from the future. It is logical to assume that Skynet knows this fact, after all Arnold is able to tell Sarah Connor about Skynet's creation in T2. It then makes sense that this super-intelligent machine could then piece together the events of Terminator 1 and know that not only is it the product of time travel but that John Connor is as well. If the goal all along was to kill John the best move Skynet could've done was do nothing, but it doesn't.  I believe it's because Skynet truly isn't a malevolent entity, it is merely ensuring that things play out the way they're supposed to.

I also believe that this idea should be part of any future film they make because it could not only add so many new ideas into a franchise that sorely needs new ideas, but also show Skynet in a new light. This could provide a great shift in focus from the dated fear of nuclear war to more modern ideals that actually embrace technology and ponder on the motivations of artificial intelligence. While still delivering on spectacular Arnold-isms and mind blowing action and special effects.

Of course, that is just my opinion. If you have your own thoughts please share them in the comments or on my twitter. 

No comments:

Post a Comment