The trailer for Terminator: Genisys was probably doomed to mockery before it even hit the Internet, based on that title alone. The American consumer can tolerate some intentional misspelling—Inglourious Basterds, Pet Sematary, Bratz dolls—but Genisys makes not even a little bit of sense. It doesn’t help that public appetite for the Terminator series feels low after two terrible, forgettable films (2003’s Rise of the Machines and 2009’s Salvation) and a non-canonical TV series that never rose above cult status (The Sarah Connor Chronicles).
But even by those low standards, the Genisys preview manages the incredible feat of coming off as both uninspired and senselessly confusing. It’s adding another complicated layer to the already-twisty time-travel plot that’s been messed with for four movies now. It’s finding a way to bring 67-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger into the action while also featuring a digitally de-aged version of him, so that we can fondly recall the original 1984 film Genisys seeks to ruin. And it has found the umpteenth series of actors to play our human heroes: This time it’s Emilia Clarke as Sarah, Jason Clarke (no relation) as grown-up John Connor, and Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese.
We all fondly remember when Claire Danes, Christian Bale and Anton Yelchin were in those roles, right? Or Nick Stahl? No? Oh, that’s right, we don’t, because no matter how many times studios try to zap new life into this franchise, they keep forgetting that people only like the first two movies, the latter of which came out in 1991, and that no one will ever do as good a Sarah Connor as Linda Hamilton. Ever. I don’t care how flashy your time-travel device is, stop trying to change the past!