TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015)
(Directed by Alan Taylor)
(Written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier)
(Starring Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke and Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Plot: Much like the events of “The Terminator“, a person calling himself Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), the mother of John Connor (Jason Clarke)- the savior of humanity- when machines use time travel to assassinate her. Much to his surprise, everything is different and now a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is helping them.
“Terminator: Genisys” can go f@ck itself with a giant CGI phallus. My viewing experience was odd, because my feelings kept alternating between mild anger, amusement and indifference. But as the end credits rolled and my mind began to process what I had just witnessed, I became more and more enraged. That’s not to say that this is an awful piece of shit, even though it kind of is. “Terminator: Genis-f@ck it, I’m calling it “Terminator 5” is the latest trend of nostalgia based reboots that coasts off of memories created by its predecessors instead of developing its own. Hey, remember when the Terminator said “I’ll be back” and it was arguably the most iconic line in the original movie? Let’s just re-use that and have a character practically wink at the camera so we can ‘get it’! Remember when Kyle Reese said “Come with me if you want to live“? Now Sarah Connor is saying that, so isn’t that nostalgic? Before anyone reminds me that Arnold did a reprisal of that line in the sequel, keep in mind that it served a purpose within the story and wasn’t just fanservice. But all “Terminator 5” wants to do is remind us of the first two Terminator flicks, which only serves to remind us how inferior it is in comparison. Will I remember anything exclusive to “Terminator: Genisys“? Um…T-800’s weirdly charming smile…I thought that was funny…Yay?
Oh wait, “Terminator 2” did that too…
Story: I will concede that I thought some of the ideas within “Terminator 5” sounded intriguing based on how they were presented in the trailer. Not only could it have taken the franchise in a new direction without completely discarding the classic formula, but it could’ve tightened loose ends and filled some holes. There was a lot of potential and the filmmakers did a excellent job of completely wasting it. For one, instead of answering any questions, it only produced more of them. Who sent the ‘good’ T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back during the 1970’s? I’m guessing that will be explained in the sequel, but it’s glanced over in such a way that I personally suspect that the writers hadn’t decided yet. Why would Skynet send a ‘T-800’ (Arnold again) AND a ‘T-1,000’ (Byung-hun Lee) at the same time? If Skynet has the technology of ‘T-1,000’, why continue to use an obsolete model? Or is Skynet sending one at a different point in the future-ugh, this is giving me a headache! I’ve always wondered why they send their assassins back during specific periods instead of just assassinating Sarah Conner’s Mother or something, but was willing to presume that even time travel has a limitation. Except according to this movie, they can go as far back as they want! Having a character lampshade how nonsensical this is DOES NOT MAKE THE WRITING ANY BETTER. If anything, the screenwriters are acknowledging that this is a hole, but are too lazy to do bother filling it. By the time the end credits rolled, I was fighting off a headache born of confusion. The fake scientific jargon dominating the majority of exposition probably didn’t help things either. Maybe the script isn’t as convoluted as I think it is, but none of the plot developments are allowed any time to breathe because the narrative is in a rush to reach the next action scene. In the end, all the script did was draw more attention and even aggravate the holes that have plagued the franchise.
Action: I will admit that the opening, where we see the apocalypse go down, was pretty awesome. The visual effects were flawless and you felt the weight of the event. The subsequent shot of the skulls and bicycle, covered in grey ash, was very haunting. But then everything else becomes standard. The special effects range from ‘really good’ to ‘really good…for a video game’ and I must be the cranky old dude who bemoans about the overuse of CGI. But I’m not saying that practical effects would be better. The problem is that because filmmakers have no limitations as to what they can show, so they don’t hold back. The first two films were effective because they built up to the effects and the action sequences, instead of just throwing the spectacle at us. They were suspenseful and made the big moments count. “Terminator 5” just constantly bombards the audience with a barrage of CGI effects, numbing me with all the noise and excess. The only action set piece that really stood out was the Helicopter chase, but only because it really sucked. A few good shots could not redeem the overly tightened editing, murky lighting, claustrophobic camerawork and unconvincing special effects. I never felt anybody was in danger, even though they kept pointing out that ‘everything has changed’. But the tone is so light hearted and even goofy that the foreshadowing only convinced me that Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) would live, when I think the movie wanted me to believe that Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) could potentially die. Ugh, and the f@cking character writing…
The Characters: The best thing about this movie is Arnold as T-800. I was surprised that he didn’t sleepwalk through the role, even though he probably could’ve gotten away with it. His body language, comedic timing and subtle reactions were perfect. I actually really liked the whole ‘older, but not obsolete’ angle, which became somewhat tear jerking when you realize that the model is beginning to fall apart. Unfortunately, this is treated as an afterthought and is resolved in such a stupid family friendly way that I ended up getting angry anyway. Emilia Clarke has been getting a lot of flack, but I personally thought she did fine, even if she was a bit young looking for the role. I didn’t like this version of Sarah Connor simply because instead of being endearingly relatable or disturbingly unstable, she’s more hot headed and immature- in a very cliched kind of way. I started to get annoyed with her attitude, although I could tolerate it because Kyle Reese is significantly worse. In “The Terminator”, he was a rugged, traumatized, but sympathetic mess of a man. Here, he’s clean shaven, shockingly well adjusted and…Jai Courtney. I hate it when a fan praises this movie for its nostalgic value, because the filmmakers completely missed the mark with Reese. He’s nothing like the original and is incompetent in comparison. The two leads have little chemistry, primarily because this is one of those chaotic romances, where they spend the entire runningtime bickering. Reese is always complaining while Connor is always being stubborn. I did not enjoy watching them interact or doing anything else. F@ck these characters and HOLY F@CKING GOD DAMN SHIT WHAT THE F@CK DID THEY DO TO JOHN CONNOR!? I can get behind the idea of turning him into a Terminator, as it is a shocking development that the distributors chose to use as the focal point of the marketing campaign, ruining the surprise. But even if I wasn’t expecting it, I would’ve been underwhelmed due to the lack of drama. You never see any sign of internal conflict going on within John and even though T-800 says that he has gone insane, he never acts like it. John Connor just seems like he’s become evil: A one dimensional villain. Sarah Connor almost immediately abandons any hope in saving him, deciding that she has to kill her own son as if that’s a normal thing to do. I don’t like how the relationship between John and the T-800 is never brought up, which is a problem I had with “Terminator: Salvation” as well. Yeah, it’s not the same machine, but you’d think he’d have more of a reaction to his parental figure from “Terminator 2“. I didn’t feel any sense of tragedy surrounding this twist, which is infuriating considering how the entire franchise has been built around keeping him alive! Reese does seem freaked out by Connor joining Skynet, which lasts an entire scene. Was it just me, or did Reese and John have more sexual tension than Reese/Sarah? I was worried that they were going to start making out in their opening scene together, which would be especially awkward considering…Or wait, is Kyle Reese his Father anymore? Since they didn’t have sex in the 80’s, then he should not exist as of 2017, which he does…suggesting that even if Sarah had been killed in previous films then he wouldn’t cease to exis-OHMYGODTHISSTORYLINEF@CKINGSUCKS.
But hey, Kyle Reese is wearing the same shoes that he had in the original, so isn’t that nostalgic? Who cares that they’ve completely re-written the characters into blatant cliches or that the tone is completely different or that it practically has changed genres or that it’s PG-13. Because various shots or lines are reminiscent of the original, that apparently makes this an awesome throwback…even though they’ve been doing that since “Terminator 3“, which this doesn’t even acknowledge. The previous 2 sequels are retconned during the first five minutes, even before the timelines were altered. I’m sick of shitty sequels pretending that previous shitty sequels do not exist! The new T-3000 has an okay design, but there’s nothing eye-popping about it.. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem particularly menacing compared to past antagonists. T-800 was obviously more dangerous than Kyle Reese. T,100 increased the stakes by being more dangerous than T-800. T-X took it even farther by practically making T-800 her bitch. While T-3000 seems to have a slight advantage, it’s…only a sleight advantage…even though they make it clear that T-800 has begun to malfunction. The final battle is more reminiscent of a Marvel Comic Book movie than a Terminator sequel…and yet James Cameron has given his seal of approval and called this the ‘True’ third entry…even though he said that about the previous two sequels before changing his mind after the audience backlash…Ugh, am I becoming a bitter critic? I’m not asking for deep symbolic imagery or a slow paced character understudy. I just want a true f@cking Terminator sequel. I want the original tone, characters (even if they’re recast), suspense and thrills. Those films were intense and exciting. This was just confusing, misguided and soft. Only the humor had a positive effect on me, and it probably contributed to the lack of tension.
Is this just how movies are made now? Just non-stop CGI effects and nods to better works? I had a lot of the same problems with “Jurassic World” and “Poltergeist“, which made similar mistakes. “Jurassic World” in particular was also a ‘so called’ nostalgia trip that didn’t seem to understand what made the original so good. “Mad Max: Fury Road” was awesome because its effects dig themselves into your mind, made every action set piece feel larger than life and provided homages for the fans- while not relying on them. The only way that the overarching storyline can be stabilized is if it’s revealed that the timeline has been stuck in a loop ever since time travel had been invented. Maybe Skynet and John Connor have gone through the same game of time travel chess over the course hundreds of years, since it’s implied that the events of “The Terminator” was at least the second time they had occurred. Then you can argue that the sequels did at one point take place, but had been replaced with new timelines that always end at the same spot: Neither side winning. But do I care anymore? Not really, as the people who made this franchise great have sold out and those who own the rights have no clue what they’re doing. If I wasn’t such a fan, I’d probably just dismiss this as a below average actioner, but I’m biased. I am a fan and think “Terminator: Genisys” was a horrible sequel.
Violence: PG-13. Even though I took a rib at the rating earlier, I was fine with the amount of violence. Sure, it would’ve been cooler if the kills were more graphic. but they did push the rating pretty far.
Nudity: Characters do get naked and sometimes you see parts of the male backside.
Overall: “Terminator: Genisys” was everything I did not want it to be. I left the theater confused, frustrated and unsatisfied…I’d say a 1.5/4 star rating would be more accurate, but I am too angry.