Review: Terminator Genisys


There are only really two Terminator films in the eyes of most fans of the franchise, 2003’s Rise of the Machines (ROTM) and 2009’s Salvation were largely derided. So, six years after the last installment the Terminator is back.

Terminator Genisys is different from the previous sequels as it attempts to implement an alternate timeline after the confusion of the last couple of films. In the same way that JJ Abrams’ Star Trek successfully rebooted that franchise. This is also the first time Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned to the role since ROTM (his wobbly CG likeness in Salvation doesn’t count).

This is the role Schwarzenegger was born to play and he comes back strong in Genisys. He appears both as he looks now and how he looked back in the original 1984 film and delivers an interesting mix of stoic, robot-like dead pan mixed with some tongue-in-cheek slapstick and quips. His appearance is explained away because the skin on a Terminator is biological and ages. He is, obviously, what the filmmakers have hung the hopes of the film on and have put him front and center and surrounded him with actors that just don’t seem to pop in the same way that he does. Even after all these years, he still draws the eye which is a shame for his co-stars. But, without Schwarzenegger this film would have been really dull.

Matt Smith’s part is quite subtle and he doesn’t really play a part at all for the most part (Dr Who fans will be mortified to learn). Jai Courtney, as Kyle Reese, is a little on the wooden side and seems to have one facial expression throughout the film; as though he’s not quite sure if he’s left the oven on back at home. Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor is supposed to be tough and independent but still can’t help falling in love and relying on the male figures in her life. Jason Clarke plays John Connor, the prophetic leader of the resistance and child of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, and he really chews the scenery.

While attempting to avoid spoilers as much as possible the marketing campaign had totally ruined any plot twists, even giving away who the villain turned out to be, much to the chagrin of director Alan Taylor. Both the trailer and even the poster (not the one used on this review) gave away the secret that Taylor wanted to shock audiences with.

This is also why there is no reference to the plot in this review, but again, there’d be no point in doing that as the time-travel element has been needlessly pronounced and would take up far too much time to explain. What I will say is that the scenes from the first film that are either re-shot or worked in to this film are integrated really well, though Bill Paxton is seriously missed. But the problem with this and the T-1000 effects just make you want to watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Needless to say, Terminator Genisys is not a patch on the original Terminator or Judgment Day, but it’s much more enjoyable than the other two sequels. In the way that Jurassic World is worth a watch but not very good, this is another film that’s fine while it’s playing but isn’t very memorable the further away you get from it.

Can Hollywood please start making some original films and leave the beloved one to remain brilliant without sullying their good names years later with disposable sequels like this, please? Thanks.


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