By: Endo Morgan On July 8th, 2015
“When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline.
Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.”
Gale Anne Hurd
Courtney B. Vance
The latest installment to the Terminator franchise set its hopes high, Terminator Genisys; written by Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar, Shutter Island adaptation), Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry 3D) and directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World, Game of Thrones) touted itself as the true sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, making all the right noises in its infancy with grand suggestions of a return to the roots of the saga- something all fans wanted.
Imaginations ran rampant as the movie neared its release date with speculation and predictions abounding in an internet outpouring of “what if”s and “what about”s, causing the movie to be over-thought and overestimated before it had even been set free into the ether. The trailers and promotional material didn’t exactly inspire faith as we were shown- with much fanfare- exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Exactly.
As I sat down in my theater seat, palms sweating (not with excitement but anxiety) I forced myself to relax and absorb what I was about to experience. Two small children began bickering a few rows behind me as the opening scenes started to unfold with a flourish.
The movie starts with decimation, war, damage, battle, managing to miss the mark of what James Cameron had set up with The Terminator (1984) but this ain’t no James Cameron movie (something I had to keep reminding myself of). I waited for something I could hold onto, hoping to feel those old familiar feelings; wishing for some nostalgia as promised by the writers, director, actors and producers.
Indeed, I did find something familiar about Terminator Genisys,- yes, recreation, repetition, imitation and sadly… echoes of T3’s garish color tones. An angry ball began to gather momentum in the pit of my stomach- some recurring sediment left over from past failures of the franchise.
I felt saddened by all that is lacking; heart, connection, emotional attachment. For a movie which had screamed aloud with ambition I found too much was wanting,- this movie is devoid of risk, of danger, of any real loss. Genisys attempts to gain its mantle by destroying any history the franchise has gained,- it rips loose the threads of the timeline and throws caution to the wind; setting in motion a lackluster and reckless myriad of convoluted split ends.
I felt cheated by the comedic elements as Arnold repeatedly smiles inanely at Sarah and Kyle; the aged Guardian appears only to be a plot piece and nothing more than a regurgitation of sentiments put to better use in T2 (and with more subtlety). The humor allowed the movie to feel as though a parody when I should have been feeling depth and poignancy in the scenes which were meant to have weight and impact. Arnold’s age felt badly used and almost a betrayal,- not just to the film but to the man himself “old, not obsolete” someone should tell the writers and the marketing team that it is the fans- the viewers- who determine which lines are quoted long after the credits roll, not the cynical creators intent on box-office revenue and merchandising gains.
The aged Terminator was the elephant in the room; even the children sitting behind me failed to laugh when Arnold grinned emptily or desperately attempted to outdo Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese in a display of feathers whilst loading guns in the makeshift armory.
The much hyped fight scene of Arnold Vs Arnold isn’t long enough, thought out enough or utilized enough for it to linger long in the memory after viewing as it really only lasts around two minutes- which disappoints more than anything, especially as it was one of the biggest tools the studios had to promote Genisys with. The scene itself clunks along anticlimactically; somehow gaining speed whilst feeling slow, shallow and slapdash. Where did the brutality go? Down the toilet with the giggles.
Kyle and Sarah lacked the chemistry necessary to imbue the movie with the romance of T1, Jai Courtney fails to achieve anything but a wooden performance and staid aesthetics (a cardboard standee would’ve sufficed) and Emilia Clarke manages to be both miscast and childlike without ever appearing gritty or determined- Linda Hamilton’s boots are too big for the pint-sized actress to fill, too big and too kick-ass.
The script is schlocky and comically written causing any real story to be grotesquely mired in an almost vacuous attempt at mainstream mollification- something which subdues important roles, as with Jason Clarke’s John Connor; the legendary savior of mankind becomes a side part, a dated foil for a premise which doesn’t really add anything to the franchise and sadly manages to decimate the canon back-story from which it draws its inspiration.
Mr. Clarke’s role is little more than a “baddie” surrounded by other baddies,- all of whom never really seem to meet their demise; there are no real consequences as the action swiftly moves on; leaving an unending stream of explosions and raucous cacophony which lacks emotional and intellectual meaning. There is no pay-off, no reward for staying to the end,- simply an end… of sorts.
The T-1000 as played here by Lee Byung-Hun attempts to keep fluidity and grace in a role seen before (and with more oomph); that’s not to say he didn’t do his best given the material he had to work with- sadly he can’t quite touch the performance of Robert Patrick’s earlier incarnation; a work of sheer thrill and seamlessly stunning acting. The CGI for the T-1000 was also better back in 1991; for some reason the repetitive need for the studios to re-use the old tricks and quirks of the character simply doesn’t meet the standards set by Mr. Cameron and his team for T2, only managing to mirror (in vain) aspects beloved by fans.
Lorne Balfe’s soundtrack is well used, lending the movie a quality which outshines the production itself; the score is epic and artful, beautiful and atmospheric… it’s just not the soundtrack of a Terminator movie and is wasted on Terminator Genisys even more so.
Altered timelines, deleted timelines, nanobots, multiple incarnations, an all-knowing-all-seeing T-800, nexus points, killer apps- the future looks bleak and for all the wrong reasons; if Genisys had the imagination it thinks it does then the story wouldn’t need to hinge quite so heavily on confusion whilst supposedly aiming for transparency. The studios are clearly relying on questions and loose ends to garner sequels- well, that and Asia.
Terminator Genisys resets the Terminator franchise with all the imagination of Terminator 3: ROTM and suffers an identity crisis of almost Marvel proportions; failing to create the nostalgia it so desperately seeks. This isn’t the Terminator I remember, nor does it whet the appetite so keenly awakened by the dark beginnings of the franchise.
Categories: Aaron Williamson • Alan Taylor • Arnold Schwarzenegger • Brett Azar • Cast • Characters • Courtney B. Vance • Dana Goldberg • Danny Dyson • David Ellison • Dayo Okeniyi • Detective Cheung • Detective O'Brien • Directors • Emilia Clarke • J.K. Simmons • Jai Courtney • James Cameron • Jason Clarke • John Connor • Kyle Reese • Laeta Kalogridis • Lorne Balfe • Megan Ellison • Movies • Music • Nolan Gross • Paramount Pictures • Patrick Lussier • Producers • Production Company • Reviews • Sarah Connor • Sargeant Perry • Scripts • Skydance Productions • T-800 Endoskeleton • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) • Terminator: Genisys • The Guardian • Writers