Terminator Genisys full movie review - A Trainwreck.
The problem is, when it comes to movies, I have very little resolve. Alarm bells sound in my head when I watch certain trailers, warning me not to waste my money on another lacklustre feature yet I always seek them out at some point.
There have been cases where my concerns about a film turned out to be false, this happened recently with Jurassic Park which I thoroughly enjoyed, however, most of the time I find that my initial opinion is correct and I've merely wasted 2 hours of my life. So, the question is, did Terminator: Genisys confirm my reservations or dispel them? Unfortunately, the answer is the former.
The first portion of the film takes up the 20 minutes and is, for the most part, a shot for shot reproduction of the original 1984 film. It goes as far as recreating the opening of James Cameron's original as a small wink to fans of the franchise, but from here, everything gets flipped on it's head as an older T-800 (once again played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) intercepts the younger model and manages to destroy him with the help of an already trained Sarah Connor. That's right, gone is the scared waitress portrayed by Linda Hamilton in the original film, this Sarah Connor is more akin to the woman we met in Judgement Day and has her very own Guardian Terminator to help her out.
Now I'm all for originality and while the premise of Genisys seems familiar to some extent, I have to give the film some credit for trying something new rather than simply repeating the formula of the previous Terminator films. The problem here is, it doesn't actually work. The plot of the film becomes convoluted due to the time travel aspects and the new timeline it features, especially when Reese claims that in order to stop Skynet from launching it's initial strike upon the world, the trio must travel to 2017 because of a message he received from his younger self in a past life he never lived while he was travelling to 1984 from 2029. It's a convoluted narrative that sounds completely ridiculous but, surprisingly, it still isn't the film's main problem. The biggest issue I have with the film is regarding the Genisys programme itself, a network which connects all of a persons technology much like the Cloud, and John Connor. It's already been established that the previous films never took place thanks to the new timeline which means that there was never a T-800 arm or chip found at Cyberdyne Industries. If this is the case, Skynet should never come into existence yet that would leave us without a film and so to overcome this issue, the screenwriters send John Connor back to 2017 to help develop the technology which will pave the way for Skynet. That's right, John Connor has been compromised and turned into a Terminator-hybrid, an idea that actually isn't terrible but was ruined in advance thanks to the films trailers. I won't try and wrap my head around John's existence in the new timeline, seeing as his mother and father never conceived him in the 1980s, but now that he's a Terminator, he's also become a one dimensional bad guy, much like Schwarzenegger in the original film but without the gravitas. He's much more theatrical than the earlier models, probably because he is still part human, but that is not what being a Terminator is about. Arnie made the character his own and struck fear into audiences back in 1984. In 1991, he became a father figure and a protector to a young boy and displayed a subtle charm with his performance. In Genisys, Jason Clarke's performance is much more akin to a comic book super villain, and he's certainly no Joker or Loki.
It's not just John Connor that feels wasted either. The films primary characters are a part of sci- fi history but the actors do very little with the material they've been given. Emilia Clarke never feels convincing as Sarah Connor the soldier although she does handle the emotional weight of a character that *knows* her own future rather well and displays a vulnerable side, particularly when her pet Terminator, or 'Pops' as she refers to him, is in danger. Jai Courtney, on the other hand, has about as much charisma as a spoon and it's hard to imagine anybody being able to fall in love with his Kyle Reese as they did when Michael Biehn played the role. Courtney is an actor for hire it would seem, one that shows up on set, reads his lines and leaves without ever delving into the inner workings of a characters mind. The best thing about the film is definitely Schwarzenegger who is once again on fine form as the ageing T-800. The trailers, to me, looked like he was playing a parody of himself yet his return to the role allows him to further explore the father figure tendencies that were seen in Judgement Day as he protects Sarah Connor at every turn.
The films action sequences look good enough, although I'm not sure the screenwriters are aware of the way helicopters work, but they are quickly forgotten once leaving the cinema. At the very least, they're easy to follow, which already makes the film better than the last 3 films in the Transformers series. Consider that a backhanded compliment. Alan Taylor showed in 2013s Thor: The Dark World that he is a capable, if not formulaic, action director and he does that once again here. It's the characters and several plot points that let the film down, not his direction.
All in all, there is nothing to separate Terminator Genisys from every other summer blockbuster, except for a convoluted plot. If you're a fan of Schwarzenegger, it's worth seeing for him alone but for those that despised Rise of the Machines and Salvation, there's very little improvement in this latest outing.