Review – Terminator: Genisys (2015)

Director: Alan Taylor

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke

Release Date: 1st July 2015 (US)

Much like fate, you can’t stop Hollywood reanimating old franchises, which is what we get with Terminator: Genisys. Given the convoluted nature of time travel mechanics, the series gets legitimate leeway to tell different stories and to disregard the more unsavoury continuity elements of the films that came before.  It’s the perfect logic for rebooting a series.

The basic plot hasn’t really changed: use time travel to prevent Skynet from causing the robo-pocalypse.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is involved somehow, and boom, blam, pow.  Same shit, different timeline.  For the most part, it works.  A lot of critics are hating on it, and they have a point, but I found it rather entertaining, if forgettable.  Obviously, it’s not as good as parts one and two.  It lacks their sense of sheer terror, tension and urgency (and Stan Winston’s badass practical effects), but at  least Genisys advances the story in a meaningful way, unlike the last two entries (T3 & Terminator: Salvation).

As we all know, in the bleak future, the resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke).  Once Reese arrives in 80’s-era LA, the film takes a hard left turn and informs us that the past has already been altered severely (time travel will do that sometimes).  The Sarah Conner of this timeline is fully aware and prepared for what the future entails and has been raised by an aged Arnold-variety Terminator called “Pops”.  She doesn’t even need Reese’s help at this point.  Now, they must time travel some more, avoid other Terminators, the authorities, and thwart the latest iteration of Cyberdyne/Skynet.  To describe any more would be spoiling things.

The film, much like Jurassic World, really wants the fans of the original to love it.  It seems like a constant series of callbacks and remixed scenes from the first two Terminators.  We get a similar opening from the first film, but with Old Arnold fighting Young Arnold at the Griffith Observatory.  The T-1000 Liquid Metal Terminator gets a moment to shine as well.  A tanker explodes, Arnold says he’ll be back, etc, etc.  The fan service is all well and good, but it pales in comparison to the way James Cameron staged the action and effects (to be fair, not many can).

The film seems aware enough about how ridiculous it is, often mocking the logistics of time travel (a criminally underused J.K. Simmons fills in as the audience surrogate for these moments).  Schwarzenegger, in particular, brings out a lot of that humour by poking fun at his age (“Old, not obsolete.”).  It’s cheap and obvious humour, but it worked for me. I can’t help it.  Arnold is the best.

This is total cinematic comfort food. Not the good kind, but still…it was comforting.  Come in with low expectations and you’ll be surprised that it’s not completely terrible.


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