Terminator Genisys (2015)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Synopsis: It’s a Terminator sequel so it’s the same storyline as the previous 4 films in this tired franchise—Terminator goes back in time to kill someone in the Connor family and a protector also goes back to save someone in the Connor family. Except this time the Connors go back and forth in time to destroy Skynet which is now called Genisys and it’s an OS system that connects personal tablets and cell phones together. Which is basically what iCloud is right?
What work(s): Sorry for the delay in this review. The opening weekend was July Fourth weekend and we had way less important things to do than see this terrible sequel/reboot/whatever it is. In fact, Brian and I took the families to the beach. Good times indeed. The beach was called 7 Presidents and I just looked up why it’s called that. Apparently 7 presidents; U.S. ones!, stayed at the beach’s resort at one time or another. In fact President Grant (the $50 guy) declared the beach the “summer capital” in 1869. Neat huh? The rest of the weekend was visiting family, grilling and eating horribly fattening and delicious food, and some firework displays. I finally got around to seeing the Jaws documentary on the Blu-Ray—The Shark is Still Working and trying in vain to see if I could see myself in the crowd at Jawsfest back in 2005! What? Oh, the Terminator Genisys review? My weekend plans were way more interesting and worthwhile even for you to read than what that movie attempted to show.
But fine, I’ll tell you something in the slim chance you’re interested. The only thing that really works and you have to turn off your brain (I know, I hate that advice for films but it’s true for these insipid blockbusters) and maybe the first 30 minutes will be fun to watch. It’s basically set in the future with John Connor and Kyle Reese fighting terminators and almost winning the war against Skynet. Then it catches up to the “end of the story” as we know it—Kyle getting set back to save Sarah in 1984. When this happens the retconning and rebooting begin because some scenes are basically remakes of the 1984 original. Except this time, the time line is different and Reese is unnecessary since Sarah is already fully aware of Skynet, Judgment Day and her son leading the resistance. And the trailers spoiled the rest of the storyline when they show an old Arnold fighting the 1984 original. That was a neat little sequence for fans of the series. But as a concept in a larger story, these scenes play out like terrible fan fiction. I’d like to point out some decent comic relief from J.K. Simmons but I was mostly upset that he was in this bullshit.
What fail(s): I can write pages and pages on why this film fails. It could rival the length of our Man of Steel review. But I really don’t want to get too much into it because I’m bored by this sequel and still trying to figure out the convoluted plot. First, I will complain that the alternate time line is done terribly. Last summer, X-Men: Days of Future Past did the whole rebooting the timelines of the series wonderfully but Genisys only made me confused, angry and only wanting to watch the original and T2 again. But like Days of Future Past, the alternate timeline wipes out some or all plots and histories of pervious installments. Terminator 1984 and T2 don’t matter anymore. But we fans wanted to change the outcome of the dismally made X-Men: The Last Stand and got what we deserved. Genisys insults us by alternating the mythos of the Cameron movies. But even if they did change the previous timelines and did it great they still have a lot of loose ends left unanswered. So again a reprogrammed T-800 was sent back to protect, but this time it was Sarah in 1973 when she was a little girl and then basically raised her when the T-1000 who was sent, killed her folks. They never explained who sent back the T-800 to protect her. Reese asked this question and Arnold basically said the files were erased. Very lazy and convenient. More laziness is that it’s a T-800 AGAIN as well as more T-1000’s involved in the film. When Reese arrives in 1984 he’s immediately attacked by an Asian T-1000. How that T-1000 knew about Reese, is again, never explained. Plus that T-1000 is posing as a cop—AGAIN! Why does this franchise never evolve, progress or think of anything new. Another thing I always wondered was why doesn’t Skynet send back more than one Terminator to kill Sarah or John. I always assumed they couldn’t send more than one at a time. Nope, there’s a scene later on when Sarah and Kyle go forward in time together.
So to destroy Skynet, Sarah is planning on going forward in time to 1997 when it was originally the date of Judgment Day. You may be asking yourself, well how does she plan to do that? Well, her old T-800 and herself built their very own time machine! Another thing this franchise has been doing in every installment is making the T-800 smarter and more useful than just a cybernetic killing machine. Every movie he knows something new about Skynet or is a technically-inclined genius that can build stuff like MacGyver. He’s now a Johnny-5 robot with so much input and exposition to explain things it’s really annoying. But anyway, Reese conveniently and befuddlingly sees a NEW alternate personal timeline about his childhood when he was being sent back to 1984 and has new information about Skynet being now called Genisys and that the new date to destroy it is 2017 because it’s way easier to tell a Terminator story in modern times right? But if they have time traveling technology then why don’t they pull a Skynet and destroy it before it’s conceptualized and not a mere day and half before the launch of Genisys. Yes, they go forward to initiate their plan just one day before the new Judgment Day. And again, it’s Miles Dyson and his son who are still at fault (I guess since the time line is altered Dyson doesn’t die because T2 now never happened) so why don’t they sabotage the Dyson’s before they even plan Genisys?! So weak.
But going back to the main problem with this film though is the time travel. If one stops to think about the logic of the film it unravels rather quickly. So Reese goes back to 1984 but instead of saving Sarah like in the original and getting her pregnant to birth John, they jump forward to 2017. There they meet up with a time traveling John Connor, who is now a terminator himself (the poster and trailer both already spoiled this and it doesn’t work in the film as much as you think or hope it would). So if they never gave birth to John then how is he still living? You have a couple you jumped forward in time and the offspring that went back in time yet there’s no paradox? I have a college degree in fine arts and I am no science wizard but even to me this makes little sense. Even if Sarah and Reese had John in 2017 he’d only be 12 by the time he was made into a terminator by Skynet. I think the screenwriters (who by the way have made such gems as the Dracula 2000 film series and Pathfinder) really didn’t think the time/space logic scenario out too well. Which brings me back to it plays out like piss-poor fan fiction.
I can also go in length at how bad the acting is. Especially from Jai Courtney who’s less human than a T-800. I’ve never seen Courtney in anything really so I don’t know if he’s always this bad or if it was this movie that made everyone suck ass. I like Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones but here she’s a pale imitation to Linda Hamilton. Michael Biehn was so good in the original Terminator. But Courtney sucked all the air out of the film for me. Arnold was OK but he looks ragged at this role. He can’t really bring anything new to the role. Remember at the end of T2 when he explains that he can’t cry and lowers himself into the molten steel and how John cried and was despondent? They had a great connection and you really felt for them and cared about them. There’s nothing here in this movie at all. It’s a soul-less and heartless fan fiction version of the Terminator series.
Overall: I recently watched a video review that said this movie is “watchable” but not great. Remember a few years back (actually, they may still be using this slogan) Budweiser said their beer had “drinkability?” I always laughed at this because, of course it’s drinkable being that it’s in a liquid-state; whale urine has drinkability too and like Bud Light I’m not going to drink it either. It’s the lowest truth a company can give their product. They never really say that the drinkability is because it’s so good or even easy to drink but that it simply has “drinkability.” That’s basically Terminator Genisys. It has watchability. I guess I didn’t hate it but I will most likely not see it again any time soon. It was way too flawed and I hated how the story turned out. I just wish the franchise would get a great boost like Star Trek or Mad Max did. Tired old franchises that recently have been given new fresh life. I’m sick and tired of The Terminator films not only thinking in the same old box but also shitting in the box at the same time. They seem to think that Arnold IS the story and essential to the overall story. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I was disappointed in seeing that a 66-year-old Arnold was somehow shoehorned into this new story. Say what you will about McG’s Terminator Salvation but at least that film had the brass to tell a grander story. It was great until Sam Worthington’s dumb robotic reveal and of course a cameo by a CG-Arnold at the end but for most of that movie it was nothing but John Connor’s story. I want more of that.
With the way the film ended (Skynet, again, destroyed), I really don’t know how they plan on making more sequels. They pretty much painted themselves in a corner. Sarah and Reese finally “fall” for each other but with the time line drastically altered I don;t know what they could do. I suppose another few years Skynet will rise again in some sort of [insert new technology here] and still pose a threat to mankind with Sarah, Reese and (oh yeah this is great) old man T-800 with T-1000 upgrade (I’m running out of time to even explain that bullshit). But the old John Connor leader scenario is more or less dead. With a terminator still functional and two resistance leaders alive the stakes are not the same as before.
Score: 4 “terribly out of place arcane use of the Bad Boys song from Cops” (out of 10)