Terminator Genisys Movie Review
THE TERMINATOR (1984), T2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991), T3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003), TERMINATOR SALVATION (2009), and now TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015) – I list these out just to display the huge year differences between each sequel. It has been over thirty years since the inventive, original James Cameron science fiction action movie that main streamed audiences to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The sequel came out seven years later and was a ground breaking achievement in visual effects. It was the action movie of the 90’s that can still be quoted verbatim by my generation. T3 came and went to forgettable fair and the fourth one likewise failed to leave much of an impression. So how does TERMINATOR GENISYS stand against the rest? Marginally more entertaining than the third and fourth films but still decades away from Cameron’s first two.
TERMINATOR GENISYS begins with a lot of promise, picking up with that moment in the future right before John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney replacing Michael Biehn) to the past to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke replacing Linda Hamilton), from a Terminator (young CGI Arnold Schwarzenegger) also sent back in time. Recreating the energetic scenes from the first TERMINATOR, we see the original T-800 about to destroy a group of young punk rock hooligans (sorry, no Bill Paxton), and Kyle Reese taking a pair of pants from a homeless man. But somehow the past has already changed, which creates an exciting 1984 world where a liquid metal T-1000 is already on the chase, a young Sarah Connor is equipped with the knowledge and strength to fight the possible future, and an older Terminator model (an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger), nicknamed Pops, has been raising Sarah since she was nine years old. Oh, and the internet, similar to google cloud, is going to destroy the world. If you want more of a synopsis, watch the trailer or any other promotion, which foolishly divulges far too much information.
The main problem with TERMINATOR GENISYS, is that it often stands around explaining how everyone is related. The exposition involving time travel will make your head spin, sometimes with unnecessary information yet somehow missing key components to a major plot point. Thankfully, the action sequences swoop in to save the day, but even those aren’t quite as entertaining as the sequel that came out 24 years prior. While the comic relief through one-liners and self-deprecating humor feel a little heavy-handed at times, they are also probably a large contributor to much of the films charm. As usual, Arnold is back in action, old but not obsolete, bringing the cool factor along with a smile on his face and ours.
Most of the actors do an admirable job, with Oscar winner, J.K. Simmons, as a standout in a funny but almost out of place role. However, this story belongs to Sarah and Reese. One of the biggest draws is seeing Emilia Clarke in a different role from her Queen of the Dragons character, Daenerys Targaryen, on “Game of Thrones”. I admit I’m completely obsessed with that show, which in turn has made me a little obsessed with Clarke, (don’t tell my wife). FUN FACT: “GoT” co-star Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister, also played Sarah Connor in the TV series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. Director Alan Taylor is also connected to “Game of Thrones,” directing six incredible episodes. Unfortunately, his feature work isn’t quite as powerful, directing the rather bland THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Jai Courtney never quite brings the battle frightened crazy that Michael Biehn so perfectly brought to Reese. In fact, the entire film feels like a watered down version of the first two.
I wrote in my TERMINATOR SALVATION review that I felt the series should terminate. After seeing TERMINATOR GENISYS, I stand by that statement. But the series is determined to leave openings to future films, which loses the sense of worth or urgency every time a movie temporarily stops the machines from attacking. I’m not denying that the film provides some decent visuals, a few clever ideas, a couple of funny moments, and a nice way to use old Arnie in a familiar role that overloads my nostalgic senses with gratitude, but it just doesn’t provide anything special worth a second viewing. For those, like me, who have grown up watching the Terminator series, you probably should watch it at some point in the future, but anyone new to the series can leave it in the past.
The use of 3D is well done with some of the Terminator appeal (machines, blades, bullets, explosions) flying through the screen, but like always, it just isn’t necessary.