Terminator Genisys (2015)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith
Directed By: Alan Taylor
Written By: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 6 min
For this trip to the movies, I was joined by my brother Andrew (38), and his daughter Kaitlyn (14). The final score given to Terminator Genisys is the average of our individual ratings of the film. Keep in mind, both Andrew and myself have seen and love the original Terminator movies. Kaitlyn on the other hand, is new to the franchise.
Warning: The following review contains spoilers.
The popularity of James Cameron’s Terminator films means we’re likely to see studio’s try to tap into this brand for box-office gold, for many years to come. And so far, everything that has followed T2, hasn’t reached the same cash or critical heights of those earlier films.
As a reboot, this movie attempts to retool the events from the first two movies, and then channel that content through a studio filter, and likely several focus groups, to ensure the end result hits all its marks, and lands in theaters with a box office friendly PG-13 rating.
You could sense the corporate hand at work during this movie. Making sure all the memorable components from the original films made it into this product. A check list of ‘must haves’, like Arnold saying ‘I’ll be back’, and anyone saying ‘come with me if you want to live.’ Which is why I didn’t enjoy this film all that much. Because it reminded me of better Terminator movies, and it brought nothing new to the franchise.
Emilia Clarke does a reasonable Sarah Conner impersonation, but she’s not the warrior Conner we saw attack the Dyson household in T2. Haunted by dreams of an impending nuclear apocalypse. Jai Courtney is also no Kyle Reese. With Michael Biehn playing that part, Reese’s battle scars are physical and mental, and his passion for Sarah Conner was born from a genuine love, and fear that he would lose her. He knew how to fight a Terminator, but was also properly terrified by it. When Biehn traveled back in time and appeared in the alleyway in 1984, you felt he had gone through the gates of hell to be there. By comparison, Jai Courtney acted like time travel caused a difficult bowel movement!
Terminator Genisys’ PG-13 rating mutes the action, and bubble wraps the violence. Killing any sense of urgency in the story. I never once felt any of the lead players in this film had anything to worry about. Arnold’s performance in the first Terminator movie was one of his best. Properly intimidating – you believed he would stop at nothing to achieve his goal. In T2, James Cameron softened the T-800 and turned him into the ultimate protector, but upped the ante with the laser focused Robert Patrick as the T-1000. These films used violence to tell the story. To make sure the viewer knew s#@! was getting serious, and that these futuristic assassins meant business. In Terminator Genisys, Skynet is wearing the friendly face Dr Who (Matt Smith, miscast and wasted in this role), and his cyborg killing machine looks like it’s made of iron filings. Thrown into a tizzy whenever he gets near a magnet.
The Terminator series then is still looking for that next step forward. For someone to honor the past, but not repeat it. This series needs a James Cameron (or James Cameron). Someone who can bring their own twist and creative passion to a Terminator project without the bean counters insisting on specific content, or a supposedly box-office friendly rating.
If you’re a fan of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, you are probably not going to enjoy this all that much. It’s not particularly violent, and while the action is decently shot, it occasionally strains credulity.
This is a big Hollywood spectacle, best served on a huge theater screen. A HD rental on your nice big TV would work too. I wouldn’t recommend you watch this on a laptop, tablet or phone.
I was impressed by the CGI rendering of the younger Arnold T-800, and wished the battle between old and new cyborgs had lasted a little longer.