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Review - Terminator Genisys

By midlandsmovies, Oct 1 2015 03:07PM

Terminator Genisys (2015) Dir. Alan Taylor


“It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”


So said Kyle Reese in 1984’s seminal sci-fi success The Terminator and it is with a nod to that film that this movie begins by trying to fix what happened in the past. Or is that Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap?


Anyways, similarly this film seeks to literally travel back “into” the previous film a bit like Marty McFly did in Back to the Future Part 2 and thus begins one of the most confusing plots of a Summer blockbuster since Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.


So, the story – if I can summarise such a convoluted set of beats – involves Kyle Reese (now played by “franchise-killer” Jai Courtney) sent back to 1984 (as per the first film) only to find a reprogrammed Arnie there already. He has brought up Sarah Connor as a young girl so she is ready for action and kills the evil “1984” Arnie as he arrives in LA. Still with me? They then fight a T-1000 who has also been sent back to 1984 and the movie starts to edge away from the first film now having “re-set” the timeline. This is followed by a plan to leap forward in time, not all the way to the Skynet future, just a little bit (good god!) and then the old John Connor is sent back from the Skynet time to the slightly future time. Can you guess why this film is a mess yet?


Plot aside, the film’s flaws are many. The actors are simply awful. Courtney has already established himself as a charisma vacuum whilst Emilia Clarke as Sarah looks about 12 and has no chemistry with Courtney at any point. The dialogue is delivered with all the passion of a dead dog, the script is cobbled together from previous films alongside images we have all seen (many many times) before.


I liked Alan Taylor for his work on Thor 2 (I was one of only a few) but here he brings no visual flair at all. It’s shot like a TV movie and although he apparently fought executives to hide the film’s twist from the trailer – which makes sense but he didn’t win that battle – he can’t just use that as an excuse for the rest of the film.


In the past I’ve said Terminator 2 is possibly my favourite film of all time. To give further context, I very much hated Terminator 3’s PG-rated repeat of that film whilst again I was in the minority to enjoy Salvation. I thought the new focus on the future was a more interesting direction to go in and liked the more serious atmosphere. This one is like a covers album CD though. You’ve heard and seen everything before. It’s nothing new and incredibly “beige” in every unmemorable department as well as lower in quality than the original.


The first part of a planned NEW trilogy (I thought Salvation was too) I can only hope $400 million is not enough of a box office haul to make another along this particular timeline. I enjoyed the opening “future” scenes where the resistance was taking Skynet and discovered the time-machine. They had an authenticity and freshness that was nowhere to be seen for the next 90 minutes of dullness.


Its audience was once the serious adult action/sci-fi genre but it’s now family-friendly nonsense and I wish the films returned to a higher rated and darker tone (much like Mad Max did and look how successful that was in maintaining its core fans). However, unlike Skynet, I cannot see the future but from the previous evidence, further Schwarzenegger-approved comedy cash-ins will be a Judgement Day-like inevitability.


So, much like Terminator: Genisys, I take this review full circle all the way back to the beginning…


“It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”


Sadly, this line now resonates as a symbol of the Terminator franchise itself; An emotionally void, terminally ongoing machine that will not stop until it claims every last bit from a resisting human audience.


6.5/10 Midlands Movies Mike

2 comments
Oct 10 2015 03:10PM by Jenny

I think I'm one of a few that actually quite liked this film, agreed not on the same level as 1 or 2, which were both excellent films in their own right, but I thought it was on a par with Salvation. I liked the twists and thought that the beginning of the movie where they incorporated Bad Arnies initial arrival was clever and pretty near spot on, as any Terminator fan is going to spot even the smallest mistakes, so I thought it was a pretty ballsy route to take, and one that I believed worked well. As for the characters and the actors chosen to play them, I have a bag full of mixed feelings, Arnie is Arnie and in my book can really do know wrong (that might be just a tad biased opinion as Arnie was my childhood hero and maybe still is just ever so slightly), however as for the others, I thought although very young looking, Emelia pulled off a relatively decent Sarah, and at times it was easy to see that she'd got her 'Sarah' inspiration from the T2 version of the character, Courtney was ok, but I didn't start to feel completely comfortable with him as Reece till at least halfway though the movie, in fact I think the only character I had lasting trouble with was John Connor, Jason Clarke just didn't cut it with me, although I imagine its quite hard playing the saviour of the world, he's just knot oozing in any John Connor vibe whats so ever, ...hey ho you can't win them all.

I guess that's the beauty of films though, they can all be a bit Marmite to some ;)

Nov 11 2015 11:29AM by Mike

Thanks for your comment Jenny. I appreciate it's an improvement over 3 but everything I liked about the franchise - the dark tone, the violence, the cold Terminator killing machine with no other purpose than destroying one person - seemed to be absent here. Very little tension, the actors were awful and the kid-friendly nature of it all really offended me. It really needs someone with a cinematic vision (rather than a Summer blockbuster Michael Bay-style averageness) to take the reigns of it. I hoped it please some people though - T2 is possibly my fave film of all time - but I really felt it missed a chance given that Arnie's iconic character was truly back

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