Terminator: Genisys Trailer Detailed Analysis

So Terminator: Genisys released its first trailer this week, and while it's not getting quite [...]

So Terminator: Genisys released its first trailer this week, and while it's not getting quite the same level of love that the Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers are...well, it's still a nostalgic, genre product and the trailer itself is pretty awesome.

Here's what we saw in it:

The future soon

Since everyone's already talked it to death since JJ Abrams opened with a person of color in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, we won't spend too much time on how important the first shot is in establishing the world of a film. It's the first thing many or maybe even most viewers will see from your movie.

The trailer starts out emphasizing the science-fiction elements right off, with its establishing shot featuring a futuristic plane or rocket and the demolished landscape of the post-Skynet future.

Time-travel and science fiction are built into the concept of Terminator, of course, but the first two films focused primarily on the action elements. In what's being branded as kind of a soft reboot, it seems likely they're hoping to infuse a bit more of that into the film, although to what end isn't yet clear. Maybe it's just to sell toys. Maybe it's to cleanse the collective audience palate for the sci-fi elements of the franchise after Salvation and Rise of the Machines left a bitter taste.

It's something that carries through the first minute or so of the trailer, as it focuses on the war in the future.

In any event, it's trailed by two more craft just like it.

Oh, and yes: The Hollywood sign appeared in Terminator: Salvation.

John Connor

Next, we're treated to a rah-rah speech from John Connor, giving the troops motivation to give 'em hell in their ongoing battle with their robot overlords. It leads us into a battle sequence where the plane-things appear to be working for Skynet since it appears as though this ED-209-looking thing drops out of one as it cruises over the battlefield and stops before two men (Reese and Connor?) before we see a T-1000 firing off a burst of shots. Is it taking the men down after they're cornered? Rescuing them from the other robot? Or maybe just from another shot in the battle, or elsewhere in the film? It's hard to say.

In fact, that's a HK-Centurionwhich has never appeared onscreen before but we can recognize it from Terminator 2: Judgment Day concept art.

World War

What isn't so hard to say: This is the Big One. The battle is seen from space here, with contrails indicating that there's some serious s--t going on all over this part of the world.

"This is the end of the war"

We see here the decision to send back Kyle Reese, who in the original film turned out to be Connor's father, to stop the Terminator sent to kill Connor's mother. In the first film, of course, they didn't spend time in the future and we were merely told that he was sent back to stop this, but apparently this time out we'll get to see a bit of how Connor and his revolutionaries react to the news.

That he says "What you're doing here -- this is the end of the war" is arguably the most interesting element. Does he plan to send Reese back to change history? In the original, Reese went back primarily to keep history on track so that Skynet could be defeated...but in this film, could he have a secondary mission to alert people of the danger?

I Love the '80s

As has been widely reported, we see here that they haven't updated the setting much and that Reese is still sent back to the 1980s. This should give the film not only a sense of authenticity with the fans but also a look and feel that's different from other similar films in the theaters.

All while taking advantage of the chocolate-and-peanut-butter blend of nostalgia and science fiction popularized by Guardians of the Galaxy this year.

Come with me if you want to live

We get a fun inversion of the "Come with me if you want to live" line here, especially when you see it juxtaposed next to Connor's comments about his mom being scared and weak.

We also get a performance out of Clarke that should help put many fans' fears at ease: In spite of being small and skinny, she's fully capable of Linda Hamilton levels of badassery output.

Whoops, I did it again

Apparently, much like The New 52: Futures End's plan to save the world from Brother Eye by sending Batman Beyond back in time five years too late to help, Terminator: Genisys alters the history of the first film primarily by saying that there was some additional time-travel necessary...

...and an old Arnold takes out his younger self moments after he arrives, rendering the whole first movie non-canonical.

Advancements in techology

The time John Connor sent Kyle Reese to, no longer exists. Everything has changed, including a massive leap forward in Terminator technology, so that they're facing a liquid metal Terminator unit in the '80s, rather than the '90s.

Days of future past

Apparently, as a result of somebody tinkering with time-travel, they will actually invent time-travel in the '80s instead of in the future. We see what certainly appears to be somebody in the timeframe of the movie's main plot throwing a switch, and a facsimile of the time machine from the beginning of the trailer juxtaposed with appliances and furniture from the past.

Also, who knew that the Terminators traveled through time courtesy the Autobot Matrix of Leadership? We're guessing that the design similarities (and those with the ED-209 from RoboCop) might actually be a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers to create something that feels definitively '80s.

Or we're overthinking it. It's one of the two.

Sarah, Sarah...

Lest anybody think that we're restricting essential pieces of plot to just two time periods and sets of actors, the image above certainly seems to show a younger version of the Arnold "bodyguard Terminator" with a little girl we're guessing is the young Sarah Connor.

There's...uhh...probably an ointment for that.

We also see this image of the older Arnold-bot with a hand that's been stripped clean of the flesh that keeps him looking like Arnold. We can't see much for context, as there's a lot of rain and smoke and darkness around him, but could this be him getting too close to a time-travel experiment? Or is it from the third act and this is real battle damage?

A liquid metal Terminator on the hood of a moving police car

Your argument is invalid.

"We can stop Judgment Day from happening."

Honestly, I'd rather they stopped Rise of the Machines from happening, but that's just me.

On a more serious note, this goes back to my earlier speculation that they'll now try to end the war by simply making sure Skynet never rises. If they succeed, that'll mean a happier ending for all...and presumably no more sequels, so it's unlikely that'll happen.


Just as a Terminator is hassling Sarah and Kyle, she tells him to "run!" That's matched with a cut back to the future, where a barrage of T-800s are taking it to the rebels.

Could there be a pair of dueling plots intercut throughout the movie, mirroring and playing off one another (a la how Arrow often uses its flashbacks)? Or is this just a creative choices to cut back and see more explosions just then?

If the former -- why is Reese suddenly important enough for Sarah to stay back and protect? That seems...counterintuitive.

Bus stop

I have no further analysis for  this action beat, but I just really liked the over-the-top, ridiculous bus flip.

"I'll be back"

I bet somebody was really excited to put that line in the script.

That said, the stunt that follows is pretty cool. He takes one of the cooler tricks from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and ups the ante with the fact that he's a metal monstrosity that can do all kinds of stuff even an enhanced human like Cap couldn't.