With the summer movie schedule moving on, we get a brand new reboot to discuss, this time we get to see an older Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys. But is it any good? Read as Denis and myself (Derek) argue it out in four categories; PLOT, PERFORMANCES, PRODUCTION AND OVERALL FILM QUALITY and we’ll end the review with a score of SEE IN THEATRES, WAIT FOR RENTAL or PASS . But before we get there, here’s a rundown of the films plot.
Genisys starts during humanities final battle with Skynet. After destroying their mainframe, the robots send a Terminator to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) , the mother of the resistance leader John (Jason Clarke). Sent back along with the machine is Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to protect Sarah. However, before Reese is teleported he watches a Skynet spy (Matt Smith) seemingly kills John.
Now in 1984 Reese finds out that things aren’t as we all remember, with Sarah being prepared for the upcoming machine attacks due to the protection of her own Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). After defeating two Terminator machines, Sarah and Reese go to the future in order to stop the new version of Skynet.
But before they can do so, they must take down a new Terminator. This time a human/robot hybrid version of John Connor.
So this plot is pretty convoluted right from the top. The film goes out of it’s way to recreate several of the events of the original film only to flip it on it’s ear and move in a different direction. While this switch is interesting, the plot points seem to matter little as the film moves from action scene to scene with little of interest connecting them. This is made worse by the flat characters, who do little to make the viewer care for them. Sarah is strong, but kinda socially awkward as she lived with a Terminator her whole life, past that she’s just generic tough guy action hero. Even less time is spent with Reese.
As I was watching the film it dawned on me that the film feels like well produced fan fiction. Where the sci-fi concepts from the original films are used mainly to play with the timeline, character motivations, and the big bad. That could be something over overwhelmingly awful, but it managed to be fairly interesting. I didn’t fall asleep but I wasn’t blown away either. It feels like a movie, nothing that I’ll remember or want to add to my collection. Just a film that is a great watch and then you move on to your life.
Depressingly the only memorable performance out this film comes from the former Governor of California. While he’s longer in the tooth, Schwarzenegger brings the same charm of his T2 character to this new film. The rest Courtney, Smith and Clarke (well both of them really) don’t get anytime to shine or develop past, good guy or evil robot. One small performance that should be noted was J.K. Simmons, fresh off his Whiplash performance. While his appearance is small, he seemed to thrive in the goofy character he was given, more power to him.
Everybody is fine, they do well with the material given. I kinda wish Matt Smith had more time to shine, but he’s just a plot device. Arnold is great, Clarke and Courtney are fine. JK Simmons is fun and watchable. Yea, just run of the mill. Nothing that stands out.
Despite all of the flaws in plot and performances, the films production it’s strongest suit. With the legacy of T2 behind it, Genisys looks better than most action films released today with some of the Terminator exoskeletons still looking intimidating after all these years. That being said, there weren’t any particular stunts or scenes that really stood out, like you’d hope from a Terminator film. Past that, this movie looks pretty.
I liked seeing a movie with at least part of it set in the 80’s, those sequences echoed back to the original film and worked quite well. I also like the effects for the new Terminator prime thing. The action scenes just happened, the only one that I remember liking was the scene at the department store where Reese was fighting the Liquid Metal Terminator, but it dragged on when he kept popping up every five minutes until they acid washed him.
In the end, Terminator isn’t a terrible film, but it’s not amazing either. It fits with the line of current action films with impressive effects but lacks in the heart the genre was known for. If your looking for another T2 your braking up the wrong tree but if you’re looking for a movie to watch half awake on a couch, this is you film. WAIT FOR RENTAL.
I find now that if a film doesn’t offend or belittle me then its solid. Terminator was that, a modern action film that takes and established franchise, mixes up the mythology, and bakes it into a modern action movie structure. Nothing new, nothing exciting, just a standard Terminator film. Maybe the reason James Cameron feels like it’s the third entry in the franchise is because the other two movies suck far more than this one. If you have money to spare, and you want to watch something compelling and daring, probably Magic Mike XXL would be better. PASS.
Terminator Genisys was produced by Skydance Productions and distributed by Paramount Pictures.