After Jurassic Park gave us the World last month, The Terminator gave us Genisys, an oddly spelled sequel/prequel/reboot starring the franchise's very own Jason Voorhees, the unstoppable Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The result was one messy Terminator film to say the least.
The core premise of the film being to pull a Star Trek and deliver an alternate timeline thereby somehow creating a fresh and new storyline. This time, we go back to 1984 where the original Terminator film takes place only to find that a T-800 had already been around for 10 years training Sarah Connor to be a badass. Oh, also a T-1000 who doesn't look like Robert Patrick shows up. Everything is given a reason to be but it's all rather far-fetched, even for a series of films about time-travelling Austrian robots. Weirdly, the fact that Terminators can age ends up being the least distracting plot point. In what is easily one of the least respectful franchise moves I've seen, new Arnie literally annihilates the T-800 from the original James Cameron classic and the film continues as if nothing had happened.
You know, the Terminator we were all genuinely scared of back in the day?
Yeah he sucks now.
And as if the plot wasn't convoluted enough you've got Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) remembering things from a new timeline and John Connor (Jason Clarke) being turned into some kind of villainous liquid metal organic hybrid. There's been a big backlash against Terminator Salvation as of late with everyone pretty much trashing it but, while that film was flawed, it was at least clear about what it was doing (until its last 5 minutes, at least), plus it felt different and wasn't just a lesser retread. Sure its post-apocalyptic future lacked pink neon but its vision of the world after Judgement Day worked both in tone and visually. Terminator Genisys is basically the new John Connor: there's some DNA of something good and iconic in there somewhere but really it's a mishmash of interesting and very dumb ideas that don't make a whole lot of sense.
There are a few more issues this Terminator (and Terminator 2) fan has with this film.
For one thing, the casting is patchy at best. Emilia Clarke just doesn't sell any part of her character and, frankly, a CGI'ed Linda Hamilton would have probably worked much better. Her tough cookie attitude is not convincing in the slightest, she doesn't feel like she's from the 80's at all and it's like she never even saw the original films as she doesn't even attempt to capture the character's essence. The same could be said for Jai Courtney's Kyle Reese who basically comes off as nothing more than a bland jock. It really makes you pine for Michael Biehn's subtle, memorable performance in the first movie. Add to that a shamefully wasted J.K. Simmons as some guy you could have easily cut completely out of the movie and you've got yourself one clumsily cast flick. Oh, also Matt Smith is briefly in this movie but he only serves as setup for the sequel.
The Terminator films were always spot-on in terms of action. Yes, even Rise Of The Machines and Salvation. This one offers us a school bus chase on the Golden Gate Bridge, some rushed T-1000 retread at the beginning and the obligatory factory climax. So even purely as an action movie, Terminator Genisys fails to live up to any of its predecessors which begs the question: how much money did the studios give to James Cameron to publicly approve of this belated "preboot"?
All in all, I can't possibly recommend Terminator Genisys: it's messy, criminally bland, miscast and surprisingly uninvolving as a whole. Arnie's willingness to just have as much fun as possible is this film's only saving grace but, really, you should just go back and watch or re-watch the first two movies.