I have tried to write this review like 5 times and things just keep going wrong. Not just with my writing but saving it to the site. Hopefully the sixth time is the charm……
I had a perfect intro the last time I tried to get this up. It was about how Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day were 2 of my favourite movies growing up, how I gave Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines a pass cuz of the ending, and how Terminator Salvation……ugh, you can read about that here. Now that I look at that review I have already said all that. I have wasted so much TIME! Anyways, this is a review of the latest installment in the Terminator Franchise.
LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
I am happy to say that Terminator Genisys isn’t bad. Due to the absolutley idiotic advertising team most of the twists and turns of the story are given away. A terminator was sent even further back in time to save Sarah Connor as a child and has been preparing her for her part in saving the world in the future. Kyle Reese was still sent back to 1984 to save Sarah believing she would be scared and weak but that is far from what he finds. Also John Connor is now a Terminator….friggin’ ad men.
Anyways, it is leaps and bounds better than Salvation, but that is a relatively easy feat to achieve. But it is no where near the quality of the 2 first films even though it tries. It is too bright, flashy, and filled with hope. One of the things that make 1 and 2 work is that they were very defeatist movies. Yes they worked hard to stay alive but the characters would break, have that moment were everything seemed impossible, that the end has come. Where with this, there is no moment where you really fear for the characters and even though they are put in precarious situations the characters know they are going to live. There are a lot less of those heart racing, “oh SHIT!”, moments and more of those, “oh that was cool” moments.
Another reason the movie doesn’t work is, well, the acting. I think the movie was badly cast. I understand that Sarah Connor is supposed to be younger but she is also supposed to be hardened, battle scared, and tough. Emilia Clarke is just so soft. She is missing that hard edged intensity that you would expect. Watching the film some of that is definitely intentional but they took it too far. Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese didn’t do anything for the role. They keep trying to make this guy happen but it isn’t working. He is the new Sam Worthington (They’ve both been in Terminator movies). I mean I wouldn’t kick either of them out of bed but when it comes to acting they aren’t bringing much to the game. Jason Clarke is alright as the older John Connor. He jumps the line between hello-mom to menacing really well. And Arnold, well he’s Arnold. You can’t fault him in that at this point. There is also Matt Smith. It is a very small part but it is a big role in the overall scheme of things. He sets this whole movie in motion. He is creepy in his stoic line delivery making him perfect for the role. The thing that got me though, is that at the beginning of the movie there is a point where he turns his head and I could not stop laughing. I assume it was supposed to me menacing but it was completely hilarious to me. It is so brief though, I don’t know why it got me. Anyways…..
When it comes to story, the twists are interesting and in this world make “sense”. There is more time travelling in this movie and I believe the only reason to do that, like with the tv show, is to modernize the story. We already know they go back to 1984 but they also jump a head to 2017. This is when “Genisys”, a new OS, will be launching which is revealed to be the new “Skynet”. Finally revealing why there is a “y” in Genesis (even as a bad speller that was annoying the crap out of me. And as a bad speller I only now know that there was more wrong with the spelling of the word). With the first 3 movies and the tv show we know that judgement day has been pushed back and they want to push it even further in the hopes of keeping it from happening all together. The problem with that is it, except for the first about 10 minutes of the first movie, makes everything that has happened so far pointless! Completely moot! Yes we want to erase the damage that was done by Terminator Salvation but I don’t want to lose the other stuff. They clumsily try to explain that a new completely separate timeline was created when John was turned into a terminator to get past the whole time paradox thing. Even with all the suspension of disbelief going on that still annoyed me because the movie relies crazy heavily on the material in the first 2 films that rendering them pretty much pointless seems like a slap in the face. At the beginning of the movie they accurately recreate scenes and literally take footage from the first film and use it in this one.
This movie is a genesis though. They say it is a continuation of the story but with what they have done it is a reboot. They are using the basic building blocks of the original story but they are not building on it like the previous sequels. They have scrapped all of that and are now going in a completely different direction making this something new. I mean when this movie ends Kyle Reese is still alive and there is a big chance there is no longer going to be a John Connor. That changes just about everything. They have also left hints and a lot of room for sequels based on this new timeline.
When the movie was over, I left the theatre feeling unsure of the film and somewhat unsatisfied. I went to dinner with my friend and he asked what I thought of it. I couldn’t respond. We are nerds and sat discussing the minutia of the Terminator cinematic universe and based on that discussion I came to the conclusion that I liked it. I know my opinion of it heavily depends on my love of the first couple of films and the dismantling of them made me uneasy. But Terminator Genisys is a solid action film. The dialogue isn’t too clumsy, the action is good, and the story isn’t bad. Unlike with Terminator 2 you do have to at least watch the first two films to really get what is going on. As I said before the do heavily depend on previous material and they are expecting the audience to know it as well.
I do recommend watching it if you are a fan of the franchise. If it is new to you (fore-shame!) I suggest prewatching the first 2 movies before heading out to see this one.