By Matthew Soall
Man, this is going to be a hard one for me. Going into Terminator Genisys I had no, or very little, expectations. I thought it would suck and, to be honest, the film didn’t suck. It’s at least watchable.
The problem, though, is how repetitive this film is. Terminator Genisys opens with the war on the machines–the end days in fact–as the war is drawing to a close. You’ll be familiar with this scene if you’ve seen any instalment of the previous Terminator trilogy.
Our new John Conner (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) are introduced. John Conner is described by Reese as a sort of futurist or soothsayer, and this is a funny little nod to the audience who understand where Conner obtained his future information.
But time waits for no man, and Kyle needs to be sent back in time to save Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke)–and mate with her, wink wink.
But something goes drastically wrong as Kyle is sent back, altering the Terminator timeline as we know it. Annoyingly though, this doesn’t stop the repetition. We are treated to Kyle Reece stealing a homeless guy’s pants and stuff from a department store, and old Arnie taking down the same young Arnie from the first Terminator film.
I have to give the film some credit for the new Arnie/old Arnie fight scene. It was pretty seamless considering they used original footage from the first film, inter-spliced with new footage.
The acting in the film is better than could be expected. Arnie is cool as the Terminator, as he was expected to be. There is some “elder dad worried about his child” mixed into the film, which was a nice touch. In Terminator 2, Arnie was learning to be human and it was John who saw him as a farther figure. In Genisys, however, you can see the Terminator caring about the child he raised.
Emilia Clarke does exceptionally well as Sarah Conner. We meet Sarah now as a confident fighter. She is very similar to John from T2, young and hoping to avoid the destiny she is locked into. Clarke is no stranger to strong characters and this serves her well as Sarah Conner.
If you have seen the trailer, then you know what the deal is with John Conner. I found that John was a weird choice for the villain. At no time in the film is Clarke menacing. In fact, he just comes off as weird. His initial scenes at the start of the film were far more notable than his villainous Terminator appearance toward the end.
Now, this is where I get to pull apart Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. And boy, does he give me a lot to work with. For one, the post-traumatic bad-ass Reese is not in this film. Instead we have a pretty boy who looks like he would be killed instantly by a Terminator. Courtney does not have the chops for this role, and was totally miscast.
Now, on the plus side, you can tell the director actually gave a shit about Terminator. There are tons of fanservice to chew through from the original trilogy, with even a little wink to the TV series. Alan Taylor even tries to keep studio interference to a minimum. You can tell when the studio instructed him to put a joke into the film, but he gets through those bullshit moments so quickly that they don’t detract from the film too much and I was very thankful for that. He’s also kept the look fairly consistent and avoided too much CGI. Hell, they even used a puppet here and there.
Throughout the film there are a few hidden mysteries, like who was behind the creation of Matt Smith’s character, or who sent the Terminator back in time to protect Sarah. It takes a lot of balls to leave these mysteries open to a possible sequel and, credit where credit is due, I really liked pondering those mysteries.
Terminator Genisys is not the best Terminator film, but it is slightly better than the worst the film has to offer. With little nods the Terminator legacy and better-than-average acting, I think you’re going to be happy enough to say I’ll be back at your local cinema.
(For our video review check out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM-kdlj8hfc)