Batman verus Terminator

I had a couple of long crowded journeys recently on noisy trains and I ended up watching:

  • Terminator: Genysis
  • Lego Batman

Both movies passed the time away quite nicely but neither really generated much to say in terms of review. They can be summed up fairly easily:

  • Terminator; Genysis – I don’t know why they bothered but if you lower your expectations sufficiently it is an OK movie about fighting robots.
  • Lego Batman – gloriously silly but like the Lego Movie somewhat sentimental.

With Terminator, I think I already said the important things awhile ago. The franchise had nowhere left to go after Terminator 2 and for reasons unknown, they also gave away the main plot twist for Terminator: Genysis in the trailer. The best parts of the film was they sort of got how absurd the time-travel messed-up timelines of the Terminator franchise are now. Early in the film there are some reprises of earlier films but with various kinds of terminators turning up in anticipation of time travels from earlier iterations turning up.

But the film can’t go where it needed to go which would be to embrace the absurdity even further. This is a problem that Lego Batman had zero issues with.

Sitting safely in is own mini-frachise of Lego films and ring-fenced by being a film for children, the film could do anything it liked. Best of all it could be about ALL the Batmans whether camp or brooding. The story has a mandatory Batman-comes-to-understand-the-importance-of-family but even then manages to subvert it by having the Joker motivated by Batman’s refusal to commit to their relationship of mutual hatred.

A trip to the Phantom Zone for the Joker allows him to recruit a team of super villains beyond the classic ones including Lord Voldermort, Sauron (as the glowing eye on to of Barad-Dur), King Kong, The Wicked Witch of Oz, her flying monkeys, the 1980s Gremlins, velociraptors and Daleks (aka “British robots, ask your nerd friends”).

Both films, for adult audiences at least, are trading on fannish viewers knowing the franchise history and enjoying the call-outs and references. Yet Terminator takes pains to explain things that have occurred before whereas Lego Batman trusts the intelligence of its audience – which is revealing. Notably, of all the Batman movie iterations, Lego Batman does NOT reprise his origin story – maybe because having his parents shot is too dark for a film where guns literally go “pew pew” but maybe because the whole film assumes you already know who Batman is and why he’d be sad when he looks at pictures of his parents.

Anyway…you maybe wondering where I’m heading with this. I’ve suggested that there really shouldn’t have been anymore Terminator films after T2:Judgement Day. The third movie just tried to redo T2 with an even more Terminating Terminator. The fourth tried to do a story about the human-robot war but discovered that isn’t why people watch Terminator films. This fifth movie at least understood that the central character of the films is Sarah Connor and brought back Arnie (who has plenty of fun and seems to be the one person who gets that there is fun to be had). So the franchise is done, over-cooked, over-tired and nowhere left to go…unless…

…unless…they make Lego: Terminator. Now, probably won’t happen as Terminator is a franchise aimed at adults and not really in-tune with the Lego product line but…it would be sort of awesome.

  1. The time travel paradoxes that now plague any attempt to turn the films into an over-arching narrative are comedy gold.
  2. Arnold Scwharzenegger is 70 and probably less keen on action roles but that would be no impediment to playing a lego terminator – also he does have good comic timing.
  3. The Lego movies play so well with genres and fandoms.

So, I think there is space for just one more Terminator film.

 

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3 comments

  1. Matt Y

    I believe Lego has a strong stance on not making content based on movies rated higher than PG 13, which is strange because Gremlins freaked me out far more as a kid than Terminator and it’s a set in Lego Dimensions. I’d love a Terminator version though.
    The Lego writers do a great job with being self aware of flaws of the series they work with while also getting what’s loved about it, and they get to play with it. They should almost be asked to consult on some series that have expanded so much that they’ve lost any unique identity.

    My nephews have grown up on Lego Batman, and are old enough that my bro-in-law has started showing them the Animated Series, but the only Batman they know is Lego Batman so they keep calling him Lego Batman. He’s been trying to instruct them that TAS Batman is just regular Batman…so now they call him Lego Batman Regular. Might be a mouthful for badguys to say.

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