Remember the last two Terminator movies, Rise of the Machines and Salvation? Well, James Cameron, who directed and co-wrote the first two Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classics, is fine if you pretend the latter installments never existed.
After an early screening of Terminator Genisys, the three-time Oscar winner has officially endorsed the upcoming series reboot with Arnie reprising his role as a cyborg from the future.
In the exclusive video above provided by Genisys’ studio Paramount Pictures, Cameron calls himself a “fanboy,” pointing out he didn’t have any creative input in Genisys, technically the fifth Terminator movie. (Alan Taylor, who helmed Thor: The Dark World, directed, and Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier co-wrote). But when Cameron saw the movie — also starring Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, and Jason Clarke as John Connor — he felt like “the franchise has been reinvigorated.”
The Titanic and Avatar director then takes it a step further, explicitly stating (at the 1:17 mark) that “in my mind I think of [Genisys] as the third film.”
Cameron let it slip in a Reddit AMA last year that he was none too pleased with T3, starring Schwarzenegger and Nick Stahl, and T4 with Christian Bale and Sam Worthington. “I’m not big fans of the films,” he wrote. “I think that [they had] the big ideas of the first movies. I didn’t make the second film until I had an idea as big as the first film, and it had to do with the moral complexity of the story, and asking the audience by the end of the film to cry for a Terminator. I don’t think that the third or fourth film lived up to that potential… I’m hopeful that the new films, which are being made right now as a reboot, but still involving Arnold, will be good. From what I’ve seen from afar, it looks like they will be quite good.”
So what did Cameron like so much about Genisys? “It’s being very respectful of the first two films,” he says in the above video, “and then all of a sudden it swerves and now I’m going on a journey.” Indeed, Genysis recalibrates characters and time-space, creating an alternate reality in which the Terminator (Schwarzenegger) is now virtuous, working on the side of Sarah Connor (Clarke) instead of trying to kill her (as in the 1984 original).
Like his original Terminator director, Schwarzenegger is happy with Genisys. But it looks like he’d like to squeeze the third T-flick, Rise of the Machines, into the franchise’s canon of respected movies. “If you have seen Terminator 1, or 2, or 3, I mean those movies are really good examples of what this is going be,” the actor says in the film’s press notes. “Except now, because of the visual effects that you can do, and because of the technology that’s available, you can tell that story even better, and you can do things that you have never been able to do in the past.”
Regardless of the ranking of the Terminator canon, Schwarzenegger still doesn’t quite believe that he’s made it this far: “Thirty years ago we started with the franchise, and I did not think when we did the first Terminator that ever there will be a sequel. But now, all of a sudden, here’s the fifth.”
Terminator Genisys opens in theaters July 1.