|Runtime:||2 Hours 06 mins|
|Release Date:||US: Jul 01 2015
UK: Jul 03 2015
|See If You Like:||The Terminator,
A franchise which absolutely will not stop…
Since the release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day back in 1991, we’ve been ‘treated‘ to two more Terminator sequels which audiences could’ve happily lived without (Rise of the Machines; a clunky and forgettable mess; and Terminator Salvation; which effectively ruined the future war so many fans had been longing to see), but this year gives us something different; as Terminator Genisys attempts to reinvigorate the franchise with a quasi-remake/reboot which alters the entire Terminator timeline and gives us a fresh story/world to explore.
Unfortunately, it fails.
Set in the same world created by James Cameron; where an artificial intelligence known as Skynet caused a nuclear holocaust which devastated the entire planet, and raised an army of machines (known as terminators) to attempt to eradicate the human race; Terminator Genisys begins with the future war, where John Connor (Jason Clarke, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) smashes Skynet and wins the war, before finding Skynet’s time machine and sending Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, A Good Day To Die Hard) back to 1984 in order to intercept the first terminator, save his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones), and live out the events of the original movie.
Things change however when Reese arrives, as an old T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger, returning to his most famous role) attacks and terminates the original terminator fairly early on, and Sarah actually bursts in to save him from a T-1000. Explaining timelines have shifted, she then takes Reese on a journey to destroy Skynet (again), by zipping forward in time to 2017, where they encounter their latest enemy; a part-man/part-machine version of John Connor (their unborn, yet fully grown and time-travelling, son) who’s decided he actually supports Skynet, and is going to help it come online.
If all this sounds overly complicated, that’s because Terminator Genisys is overly complicated; aside from the whole alternating timelines, nexus points, dreams becoming reality, strangely shifting futures and pasts, and the unknown origin of the seeming army of different machines sent back to various times (one when Sarah was 9, two more in 1984, the unmentioned two in 1991 which probably don’t even exist in this timeline, John 2.0 in 2017 etc. etc.), John’s villainous guise is never fully explained and seems to have a muddled and misguided mission; half-lost in numerous plot-holes, ropey acting, and an over reliance on humour.
Shooting for a 12A/PG-13 audience Genisys was never going to be as graphic or scary as the original films, yet rather than maintaining the momentum of the previous films (something from the first two chase films which is sadly lacking here; where any exposition was previously provided on the run from an impending killer, but here is reduced to locker-room chit-chat) and perhaps cutting away from the action a little earlier, what we get is a strange series of largely unfunny jokes delivered every few minutes (often revealing around Arnie pulling an ‘amusing’ smile).
Even the action itself fails, as while the majority of Genisys‘ special effects look amazing (the recreation of a 1984 Arnold is surprisingly good) there are several fairly poor looking effects shots, and a feeling there are simply too many set-pieces; Terminator 2 had the mall fight/lorry chase, hospital escape, and mini-gun scene leading into the finale, yet here we have several tussles in 1984, a hospital barney, helicopter chase, school bus chase, the finale, explosions, gunfights and more; meaning they all become rushed, merged into one, and largely forgettable.
It doesn’t help to see actors which pale in comparison to their original counterparts; Emilia Clarke is an acceptable Sarah, and more than capable of carrying off a big movie herself, yet she appears far far weaker than Linda Hamilton’s Sarah did in T2 (despite apparently being raised to fight the machines from a child – wouldn’t she then be a great deal stronger?); Jai Courtney is nothing compared to Michael Biehn, lacking the intensity, likability, and charisma of the original Kyle Reese; and Jason Clarke gives one of his poorest showings to date (a shame, as he’s a hugely capable actor) as a muddled and incomplete version of the John Connor character.
Some things worked however; as while the future war may not have been the T2 style battle we’d hoped for (where were the skulls?) it did look fairly impressive, and the whole of the first half hour (including the quasi-remake of the begging of the original Terminator) was great, despite possibly piggybacking off the nostalgia factor. Sarah’s father/daughter dynamic with the ageing T-800 was also a nice touch (though not explored thoroughly enough). Things went wrong however as soon as Terminator Genisys jumped to 2017; losing the morale-boosting nostalgia the majority of the movie left us with poor direction (courtesy of Thor: The Dark World‘s Alan Taylor), mediocre acting, forgettable action, and an overly convoluted plot no-one will remember or care about come August.
Sadly, another skippable addition to a once unstoppable franchise.
See Terminator Genisys, and you will feel pity, and remorse, and fear – for the franchise you once held so dear.
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