Review: Terminator Genisys Doesn’t Hold Up During A Strong Summer
TItle: Terminator Genisys
Director: Alan Taylor
Screenwriter: Laeta Kalogridis (written by), Patrick Lussier (written by), James Cameron (characters), and Gale Anne Hurd (characters)
Principal Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, and Matt Smith
Summary: John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.
I’m going to admit up front that I’m not a huge fan of the Terminator movies. I’ve seen them all and I appreciate them but they have never been something that I was obsessed with. I was on the side of people asking “who asked for this?” when they announced another entry in the franchise. However, after the miserable Terminator Salvation the series needed a win and one could argue that nostalgia sells better than sex these days. My expectations of Terminator Genisys were not very high and even more so after how great Mad Max and Jurassic World turned out to be. With a summer that contained such great movies already, could Terminator Genisys stand among them?
Terminator Genisys might be visually pretty, but with a muddled story and a strange pacing the film cannot rise above being average.
One of the inherent problems with basing a movie around time travel is that you end up with a lot more plot holes than a normal story. There are so many alternative timelines and different things happening in different order that it can all get very confusing, very quickly. While the original Terminator movies had plot holes Terminator Genisys has plot holes so big a tractor trailer could fall through them. The marketing has also been basing itself on things that aren’t really relevant to the actual story. The fight between young T-800 and the older version is all of the first ten minutes of the movie. Matt Smith is also criminally underutilized with barely ten minutes of screentime as well. The bulk of the movie follows Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as they bounce around the timeline.
J.K. Simmons is also on hand with a very small and kind of throw away role which is surprising considering having an Oscar winner in your movie is something most people would take advantage of. Arnold has some great one liners and it’s easy to see why he got to be one of the biggest stars in the world. He also has great chemistry with Clark and their very father-daughter relationship is fun to look at through the perspective of Reese who is our everyman. There are a lot of well shot battle sequences and everyone runs around shooting at each other, but it’s ultimately all window dressing. There is a lot of lip service paid to our interconnected world and how our dependence on technology is going to be our downfall, but it never really has anything to say aside from “stay plugged in and someday Skynet will show up”.
This is a very frustrating movie to review because while there were moments and little things that I liked, as the credits rolled I just wasn’t that interested. There is a mid credit stinger at the end which is supposed to be a pretty big game changer, but I’m not sure it was a good idea. While this has the brand recognition like Jurassic World it is also a movie that I haven’t seen a lot of hype for. I even had a straight, male coworker tell me that, given the choice between this and Magic Mike XXL, he’d rather see Magic Mike. After Terminator Salvation a lot of people just aren’t excited for another Terminator movie.
Terminator Genisys aims to be a return to form for this once great series, but with a lackluster script there is only so much robot fights and Schwarzenegger one-liners can do. Perhaps in a weaker summer this movie could have been better, but the bar has already been set too high and it just can’t keep up. They are banking on this movie doing well because of the cast and the name Terminator, but I’m not sure that is going to be enough to propel it forward to a new series of films that they clearly want to make. Unless you are a die hard fan of the series, if you’ve already decided you’re going to see this, Terminator Genisys is a rental at worst and a cheap matinee at best.