Release Date: July 1 , 2015
Director: Alan Taylor
Writer: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, EmiliaClarke, Jai Courtney, J. K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith, Courtney B. Vance, Byung-hun Lee, Michael Gladis, Sandrine Holt, Wayne Bastrup, Gregory Alan Williams, Otto Sanchez, Matty Ferraro, Griff Furst, Ian Etheridge, Nolan Gross, Seth Meriwether, Afemo Omilami, Teri Wyble, Kerry Cahill, Mark Adam, Kerry O’Malley, Willa Taylor
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 125 minutes
Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions
Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
It’s hard to believe the first Terminator film hit theaters 31 years ago. It’s a classic that still holds up today blowing everything else in the same genre out of the water. So can that same substance be found today? If you’re looking for it in Terminator Genisys you won’t come remotely close to finding it. You may find a few entertaining elements, but overall it’s a migraine headache of stupidity and lack of reason. We’ve had 31 years and 5 films of evidence that a great story, practical effects, and flushed out characters will always terminate flashy CGI, paper thin plots, and cheap one liners. What will it take for the studios to get the picture and bring back quality films like before? They make the mistake of dollars at the box office as an indication of quality, but it’s not. It’s the misleading trailers and the interest that drives those ticket sales up. So once that ticket is bought, all we’re left with is disappointed movie goers who have no choice but trashy blockbusters to choose from, because majority of the other studios are following suit.
With my expectations low I was surprised with the introduction of the film. It was beyond amazing giving the audience actual footage of the futuristic war we only got a glimpse of in the previous four films. I actually felt like I was in the middle of it like a realistic video game. Smiling ear to ear, edge of my seat type entertainment. Everyone knows the story, and if you don’t you wouldn’t be at the theater or reading this review. Then the plot took over and things continued to go downhill. When the humans sent character Kyle Reese back in time, the way it was all executed was a shame. The movie could’ve ended here if logic was put into place, but it was replaced by unnecessary spectacle. I thought to myself a number of occasions that if you want to win this war just kill this person here, and now and your problem is solved. This is overlooked and made it harder to enjoy the rest of the film.
What made the first two terminator films so great was the sale of the terminators themselves. They’re cold, calculating, killing machines with no remorse or emotion. They take the shortest points between A and B, arrive there, and destroy everything in their path. So in Genisys it was there, but only in cartoonish fashion with you knowing the good guys will escape. You have super terminators who crank their abilities up to 50, but still can’t get the job done. I’m watching saying to myself, “This character should’ve died nine times by now, but hey it’s a movie so I guess they’re still alive.” That takes me out of the film due to lack of realism. Of course this is a terminator movie, but once the rules for said universe are created, the film needs to stick to it. There is a new design of terminator whose model number escapes my mind. It was cool to look at, but I didn’t see the improvement from the liquid metal concept in Terminator 2. This time around the terminators are dangerous, but don’t hold a candle to the true terror I felt back in the first two installments.
What’s even worse than that is the plot. I rarely get confused watching a film, but this was a first for me. The plot became so convoluted and confusing that the director himself Alan Taylor didn’t know what was going on. I think he gets the short end of the stick again, because it felt the same way with his last flick Thor: The Dark World. Again and again we see great images on the screen, but it holds no value. We already had Cyberdyme and Skynet, but now we have this new thing called Genisys which I still don’t understand. The film also bounces back between 5 different time lines, then another alternate timeline no one has ever seen before. Plus in all the middle of it, new origins of corporations are brought forth that have never been mentioned, but are presented as the main spine of the overall story. At this point I’m just clueless knowing that I will see guns fire, punches thrown, and that the characters need to get to a building to blow it up. That’s the exact way the last film ended, and I wish we had something new. There is even a scene where the characters say the clock is jumping down to zero, yet they still decide to walk instead of run to their destination.
Arnold is back of course and is still as muscular as ever. Even though this is his franchise I can’t give him the pass of approval. He isn’t horrible but also isn’t the terminator we knew from the past. I’m still lost as far as this being a sequel, reboot, or re-imagination, and still the characters are jokes compared to their predecessors. I like Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese) and Emilia Clarke (Sarah Conner) who both usually have great presence, but here I didn’t buy them playing their roles. There was no chemistry between the two, and it was difficult to care.
I’m not trying to say the whole film was a train wreck because it wasn’t. The beginning was fantastic and seeing Arnold for the first time in the film got me excited. There are some very cool weapons, clever traps, and even a few funny lines. I even yelled out loud twice at the brutality one character dished on another. You still have the plot points that make no sense, and I absolutely HATED what was done with the character John Conner. I won’t say much about that here because I get angrier the more I think about it. So there is still some enjoyment to be had with Terminator Genisys, but if this is supposed to reinvigorate the franchise launching more sequels, it is an epic failure of massive proportions.