Fan edits are kind of a big deal right now. Pretty much everybody has access to a pretty decent editing machine, and they love nothing more than to smash their favorite movies together and see what comes out. Predictably, most of them are bad, some are amusing, and a few are even good. You can even find people trying to stretch the fan-edit into its own art form (like this presumably misguided experiment).
Now we have Terminator Genisys. Yes, that’s actually how it’s spelled. I think.
The Terminator franchise has been struggling, and some people might almost have forgotten why the heck they even liked it in the first place. Skydance Productions seems to be setting out to fix that, by releasing a fan-edit of the first two Terminator movies into theatres. We’ll have to see how it goes, but it’s hard to deny that we’re seeing a ballsy way to rejuvenate interest in a flagging series, and a huge jump in the street cred a fan-edit can command.
Whoever cut this together took a pretty basic approach: Take the story from The Terminator, the action from Terminator 2, and then splice in a couple more recent shots of Old Arnold to spice it up a bit. We get a little bit of recycled Kyle Reese’s intro, and then BAM! They throw in that shot of the police van crashing through the face of the building, and we’re off to the races. This edit covers helicopter action, hidden gun vaults, exposed Terminator arms — everything.
Predictably, there’s a ton of the famed liquid-metal T-100 in this edit. That cool moment where his chest is shot up and metal craters explode across his torso? Check. Or that bit where his eye gets shot out and grows back together. Done. Or him surfing on that squad car. Yes. This stuff was freakin’ iconic back in 1991.
See, this is why people make fanedits in the first place. You get to cut back and forth from the original’s T-800 to the sequel’s T-100 as if they were in the same scene. Man, wouldn’t it be cool if we got a movie with those two guys going at it?
They even threw in that closing “nuclear armageddon” shot from Terminator 3.
Some people might think it’s strange to release a fan edit like this into theaters as if it’s an actual movie. They might point out that when Cameron tasked himself with making a sequel to the surprise-hit original, he struck out into new territory. Everything was twice as big and twice as bad. You thought the T-800 was badass? Try the T-1000. Liked Linda Hamilton’s quiet transformation and inner strength? She got straight ripped this time. Machine press? Molten steel. Etcetera.
It’s entirely possible that most of what made T2 movie so iconic was its insistence on only using the original as a springboard. Cameron kept much of the same grammar, sure, but then again he’s the same guy. Terminator 2 is a true evolution, a second installment so good that they still try to make it again from time to time.
But… I mean, how much do people care about imagination and forward progress in a franchise, really?
Well, all the more reason. If the second Terminator is the most financially successful, and the first is the most critically successful, what’s to be lost by simply releasing a mash-up into theaters?
Because here’s a little secret about filmmaking: Movie scenes don’t depend on context. At all. Of course, I’m sure that someone who thinks he’s got a so-called “directorial vision” might argue otherwise. He might arrogantly claim that the action scenes and crazy visuals don’t even matter a whole lot without some sort of creative, interesting story tying them together.
Take the series’ catchphrase, “Come with me if you want to live.” When the T-800 says that line in T2, Cameron’s doing something very specific. He’s putting the lines of the prior movie’s hero in the mouth of its villain. He uses these sorts of reversals constantly, reinforcing the idea that the whole world has gotten flipped upside down, and culminating with a thematic note that is the exact opposite of the one that ended the original.
There’s no reason, though, why moments like this — beats that originally built up tension, paid off setups, or simply gave a nice insight into a character — wouldn’t work just as well reshuffled like a pack of cards and sprinkled through a completely different movie.
F*** context. I cannot stress that enough.
Point is, I’m totally stoked to see all this stuff onscreen. Well, see it again, I should say.
And hey, all this talk has given me a great idea for the sure-to-be-coming Terminator Syx!