Terminator, with brief fanfic

May 23, 2009

Part 1:

I’ve had a couple of scenes of what amount to fanfiction living in my brain for going on 15 or so years.  One of them is what I wanted to see in Alien 3:  Newt, all grown up, getting corralled by the Company into “consulting” for the weaponized alien program, because if she didn’t do it they’d corral Ripley and Hicks, who are retired and trying to live quietly in a basket weaving commune (or whatever, you know).  So adult Newt has to face all her childhood trauma and things go horribly wrong, etc.  That didn’t happen, and I’ve learned to live with it.

The other is the “John Conner in the future battling terminators” movie.  It seemed so obvious.  We got the flashbacks (flashforwards?).  We got so many hints.  We never got the story of how the resistance actually captured a terminator, reprogrammed it, captured the time travel facility, and so on.  Maybe it would be best if we never got that story.  But there’s one scene that I always, always wanted to see:

This wasn’t how his mother said it would be.

She only gave him the broad strokes, never the details.  She always talked about John Conner, leader of the resistance.  Never the stories about how, by leading the resistance, he would be sending people to their deaths.  There were so few of them left, every death was a new tragedy, adding to his sense of failure.  His sense of doom, that this would never end.  His suspicion that his mother had it all wrong, that he wouldn’t save humanity.  She hadn’t had the whole story.  How could she know how it would end?


John turned away from the blasted landscape, the valley that used to hold a city but now was only desert, their only buffer zone against encroaching machines.  The man standing in front of him was young — just a kid, really.  Clean-faced, wiry.  A fighter, clearly, but too young to be here.  John wished he could send him away, but he needed everyone who could hold a gun.

“Yes?” John said.

“I was told you need a volunteer.  To set the charges on the next raid.  I’d like to volunteer, sir.”

Ah yes.  Another suicide mission.  And why did he keep sending these kids out to die, when they were fighting to protect human life?  When human life had become rare and precious?  He smiled sadly.  “Yes, of course.  What’s your name, son?”

“Kyle Reese, sir.”

And something snapped, like the last piece of a puzzle falling into place.  This was it, full circle.  Both the beginning and the end of the story, right here.  John’s face lit, his eyes shining.  His smile turned wry.  Sarah Conner had been right about everything.

“Kyle Reese.  I think I have a different mission in mind for you.”

And the rest of the story is about capturing the terminator and the time machine, killing Skynet, and so on.


Now, I knew I wasn’t going to get that scene.  My sense of story seems to go in a different direction than a lot of people’s, which is both good and bad (good when it produces stuff like Kitty, bad when it produces stuff that no one knows what the hell I’m talking about).  I tried to go into the movie without expectation, to take whatever it wanted to throw at me, and maybe even have a good time.

I didn’t have a good time.

Okay, where to start?  This movie is to the Terminator series what Episode I is to the Star Wars series.  We have our Qui Gon in Marcus (you know, the who the hell is this guy?  Yoda trained Obi Wan, not some dude we’ve never heard of before).  Our Jar Jar Binks in the completely purposeless adorable small child (when she showed up I knew we were in deep, deep trouble).  Every single scene with Blair made my teeth itch (“I’m cold, let’s cuddle, oooh your heart is so strong!”  Oh, gawd, please.)  And when Michael Ironside shows up in a movie you pretty much know what’s going to happen:  he’ll turn into the stupid asshole commander who doesn’t listen to the hero and as a result dies a stupid asshole death.  When the actor you cast foreshadows the plot, you’re in trouble.  And can I just say I think Christian Bale totally phoned this one in?  I liked Marcus a whole lot better than John Conner.  I liked CGI Arnold a whole lot better than John Conner.  And dude, when you’re rooting for the machines in a terminator movie, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.  And why don’t the machines just squish Kyle Reese as soon as they catch him if he’s at the top of their kill list?  Then there’s the scene where I leaned over to my friend and said, “This is where we get the holographic talking head who’s going to explain everything to us.”  And lo, the floating head of Helena Bonham Carter did appear. And is she monologuing?  Yes, she’s totally monologuing!

Then there’s the part where the story effing lied to us.  “If we blow up the Skynet base the war is over!  It’s all over!  This is it!  We throw everything at this and if we don’t win we’re done for!”  And I’m thinking, cool, right on, this is tense.  But then Skynet never invents time travel and Kyle Reese never goes back and John Conner never gets born and…  But then we get the voice over at the end saying, “Oh yeah, and the war’s actually still going on because Skynet’s, you know, global and all, and we have to be able to do sequels.  Neener neener.  The End!”  Oh bloody hell.  Dear writers:  Frak you too, assholes.

The A-10’s were the sexiest thing in the movie, but I can’t think of a single A-10 pilot in existence who wait for his commander to tell him to take evasive action, like these did.

Oh, and I can just see the writers sitting around their conference table, beating this script into submission:  “Uh, guys?  Doesn’t this seem a little, I don’t know, deus ex. . .oh.  Oh yeah.”

19 Responses to “Terminator, with brief fanfic”

  1. Markysan Says:

    Wow. That’s another $9.00 you’ve saved me, Carrie. (and, more important, 90 minutes of my life) I love your reviews. With the money I’ve saved in the last 2 months alone, I can afford to buy your next five books, easy.

    Ironside was over-the-top awesome in Scanners. Aside from that, you’re right… he’s pretty much the same guy in every film.

    Have you ever considered screenwriting? Clearly they need you.

  2. Max Says:

    Since we’re in Spoilers Land (more ahead)

    How ’bout the part where the Marcusator shut off all of the external defenses and then (perhaps caught up in the monologue-ing) the floating head of Marla Thomas forgot to turn them back on … thus letting all that Air Support through?

    How about the helicopter that could outrun a nuclear blast?

    How ’bout the through-the-whole-film emphasis in how the Marcusator has a beating human heart, and the stupid idiot noble sacrifice thing at the end… “Oh, Connor’s heart is giving out? Take mine.” Lucky they had the same blood type, eh? And too bad that even though the rest of the guy is a robot they couldn’t figure out some kind of pump mechanism to keep his blood flowing… even though their field hospital there had good enough tech for an outdoor impromptu heart transplant.

    How ’bout the part where the Marcusator rips a chip out of his own brain without somehow dying in the process? I mean… if he lobotomized himself while talking to the floating head of Marla Thomas, what was he thinking with for that last fight? Or was the chip on the outside, where the rebels could have found/removed/analyzed it when they first caught him?

    Where were the dogs? In the human enclave, I mean. Weren’t there supposed to be dogs?

    How is it that the humans had the tech to keep A-10s in the air but couldn’t manage an airport metal detector at their doors?

    Why was the COMMAND CENTRAL submarine broadcasting the “send as loud as you can” shutdown signal… from underwater? Why weren’t they broadcasting it from some kind of antenna high in the air? Maybe one of those faster-than-a-nuclear-shockwave helicopters?

    I am still reeling from the amount of stupid that bounced off that poor abused silver screen tonight.

  3. Brandy P Says:

    Aww, man, and I was looking forward to this movie 😦 Now I’ll just wait til it comes out on DVD and get it from Blockbuster online. I’ll have to make sure to stock plenty of windex though from all the popcorn I’ll throwing at my TV screen.

    And I agree Carrie, you should do screenplays, but only if it doesn’t hold back more Kitty 😀

  4. Chris Says:

    Hmmm….makes this sound pretty good:


    I knew there was something wrong with this movie when I first heard about this ‘Marcus’ being the main character until they cast Christian Bale as John Connor and decided to expand his role. I mean, we’ve been teased Connor-as-leader for three movies and a (short-lived, it seems) TV series and when they finally decided to do the future-war movie he was only going to be a minor character? WTF??

  5. carriev Says:

    I’d have actually been okay with a movie about Marcus, with John Conner as a kind of epic larger than life character who pops in and out like some kind of oracle. Instead, we got two hackneyed stories clumsily spliced together. Grrr.

    I actually have thought about writing screenplays. But I would need the time to learn a whole new kind of writing, then I would need to the time to write it. I don’t have time. Sigh.

  6. Amie Stuart Says:

    Brandy it was good but it could have been SO MUCH BETTER!! Yes, Bale totally phoned it in. There was no depth of character–except for Marcus (and WTH?!) and I”m laughing my butt off at all the stuff Max picked up/mentioned above!

    As much as I enjoyed Star Trek, so far none of this summer’s blockbusters have left my jaw dragging the floor.

  7. Jakk Says:

    I was disapointed with this movie from the momment i heard about it and what it was about. The more i heard about it,this felt like the movie to miss for me this summer.

    As for Micheal Ironside,i enjoyed him in the two V mini-series, but not much else besides that and as someone mentioned Scanners.

    We really did not need a fourth Terminator movie. Let this franchise go.

  8. […] For an expanded point of view, better articulated then mine (LOL), go read this: […]

  9. Elliott Says:

    Every Terminator property w/out Sarah in it (i.e. just macho guys), has sucked. It’s simple. Sarah is the heart of the story.

  10. Ty Says:

    It’s all about writing. The writers of T4 are complete hacks. No matter how much money you spend on explosions, if the writing sucks, no one will care about your movie.

    When will Hollywood learn this simple fact?

  11. Bradford Says:

    Carrie, your bit of fanfic was better than the movie.
    You pointed out much that was wrong with the film, and Max did a good job supplementing that. I think the worst thing about the movie, which you illustrated quite well, was the utter lack of likability of John Conner. If ever a movie pointed out the importance of having some likability of the main character, this was it.

    Though I have to admit that CGI Arnold was excellent.

  12. Nozomi Says:

    I think CG Arnie was better than everyone. I personally hated that Christian Bale was chosen for John Connor. He wasn’t whiney enough to me. I thought John Connor needed to be a slightly whiney. Only a tiny bit.

    Your fanfic was amazing. I was so upset that there wasn’t any REAL moment between young Kyle Reese and John Connor in the movie.

    They pretty much used every trick in the book–a mute kid, the lame one-day “romance,” ugh.

  13. carriev Says:

    Conner needed to be vulnerable. He needed to be insecure. In this, he was more of a terminator than the terminator…

  14. A.R.Yngve Says:

    You know what the real trouble is with California’s movie industry?


    We know that the creative inbreeding has been going on for a while, but the problem is getting even worse. “Terminator Salvation” is merely a symptom.

    Notice how almost all the directors are starting to look the same… the same vacant, shit-eating stares… the same strange, disjointed faces patched up by cosmetic surgery… they’re inbreds, I tell you! Surgery may have removed the facial deformities, but you can’t fix the decay in their brains.

    Any moment now, you’ll find Michael Bay and McG sitting on a porch playing dueling banjos…


  15. Anthony Says:

    This is my personal opinion and this is because I am a diehard Terminator fan… yes, they could’ve done a lot better with the film, yes, they could’ve done a better job with the casting and the feel of the movie.. but for heaven’s sake, I’m thankful they /made/ the film. I’ve been waiting for the Future to come and this isn’t everything I hoped for, but at least they made it. 🙂 And I’m hoping the sequels do better. I wanna see some phased plasma rifles in the 40-watt range! 🙂

  16. Robert Says:

    Have you seen the alternative ending they didn’t use for Terminator? They wanted to have an even suckier ending.


    Good luck producing a sequal after doing this. LOL

  17. carriev Says:

    Have to admit, I’m not sure I would have known what to do with that ending. The thing is, the rest of the movie would have had to back up an ending like that, and it’s not the ending I’m complaining about. The whole movie had spaghetti legs — nothing to stand on.

  18. Bradford Says:

    Not only would they have to change the whole film to support the alternate ending, as Carrie suggests, but they might want to rename the film “Terminator Bummer.”

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