For a film that's set to come out next summer, we've heard precious little about 'Terminator: Genisys.' The latest attempt to resurrect a franchise that was, at one time, one of the coolest film series in the world, the fifth 'Terminator' film surrounds original star Arnold Schwarzenegger with a bunch of people you really like, puts a nerd-friendly guy in the director's chair and crosses its fingers an hopes for the best. Now, we have our first look at the new cast members and the vague outline of a plot, which sounds pretty crazy.

The film is the subject of Entertainment Weekly's next cover story and the magazine is offering two separate covers. The first features the dependably awesome Jason Clarke as John Connor, the man whose future resistance to SkyNet's robotic uprising fuels the entire series, and former 'Doctor Who' Matt Smith as one of John's "mysterious allies." Do we smell some kind of plot twist coming with that character? The second cover features Emilia Clarke, AKA, Daenerys Targaryen from 'Game of Thrones,' as the new Sarah Connor and Jai Courtney, AKA, that boring guy from 'Live Free or Die Hard,' as the new Kyle Reese. They may look nothing like Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, but hey, we'll give them a chance. Courtney in particular is bound to accidentally impress one of these days.

The covers are typical EW stuff (i.e., they're pretty lousy and lame and over-lit), but it's the accompanying preview text that should grab your interest. It turns out that 'Terminator: Genisys' begins where 1984's 'The Terminator' began: with John Connor sending Kyle Reese back in time to save his mother from a time-traveling cyborg ... but something is different:

The beginning of Terminator: Genisys, the first of three planned films that Paramount hopes will relaunch the beloved sci-fi franchise, is set in 2029, when the Future War is raging and a group of human rebels has the evil artificial-intelligence system Skynet on the ropes. John Connor (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke) is the leader of the resistance, and Kyle Reese (Divergent‘s Jai Courtney) is his loyal soldier, raised in the ruins of post apocalyptic California. As in the original film, Connor sends Reese back to 1984 to save Connor’s mother, Sarah (Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator programmed to kill her so that she won’t ever give birth to John. But what Reese finds on the other side is nothing like he expected.

What's different this time around? Well, it's pretty wacky, so brace yourself:

Twist No. 1? Sarah Connor isn’t the innocent she was when Linda Hamilton first sported feathered hair and acid-washed jeans in the role. Nor is she Hamilton’s steely zero body-fat warrior in 1991’s T2. Rather, the mother of humanity’s messiah was orphaned by a Terminator at age 9. Since then, she’s been raised by (brace yourself) Schwarzenegger’s Terminator—an older T-800 she calls “Pops”—who is programmed to guard rather than to kill. As a result, Sarah is a highly trained antisocial recluse who’s great with a sniper rifle but not so skilled at the nuances of human emotion.

We knew that 'Terminator: Genisys' was going to use time travel to jump all over the franchise's history and rewrite/reboot the series in the process, but that's even nuttier than expected. The idea that Reese goes back in time to involve himself in the events of 'The Terminator' only to find that those events have been wiped out of existence by other time travel meddlers is just bonkers. And that's before we get to the part about the aging Terminator who acts as Sarah's surrogate father.

Does this mean we'll get to see old Arnold Schwarzenegger battle a young version of himself over the life of Sarah Connor? We have no freakin' idea. This movie, man.

'Terminator: Genisys' is directed by Alan Taylor and will open on July 1, 2015.

Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly