Terminator: Genisys is an attempt to semi-reboot the terminator timeline, similar to X-Men: Days of Future Past and Star Trek did, all in an attempt to justify its ongoing existence as a franchise. They've been doing this ever since Terminator 3 in one way or another, and I'm not even sure what they're trying to say anymore, thematically. The Terminator was about predetermination. Terminator 2 was about self-determination. Terminator 3 fell back onto the mantra of The Terminator and said that predetermination still applies and that the best you can hope for is a temporary delay of the inevitable. Terminator: Salvation was that predetermination come to pass. Terminator: Genisys is about self-determination once more, and if there is a sequel, then it will fall back into Terminator 3 territory where you have self-determination, but not really, it's illusory. In Genisys we see Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) travel back through time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) at the behest of her father and leader of the resistance John Connor (Jason Clarke), only things play out a little differently this time, with Sarah already up to speed, and ready for what she has to do.
With each passing Terminator sequel it becomes painfully apparent to me that the series truly ended with T2: Judgment Day. James Cameron was absolutely right when he said that there was nowhere else to go after Terminator 2. The first 30 minutes of Genisys, which many lauded as being the best of the movie was made up of James Cameron's material that didn't make it into T2. The war scenes were still clunky and lazy in Genisys, even though Alan Taylor was going off James Cameron's scrapped material from T2. It was the lack of attention to the details that James Cameron is renowned for and the sloppy storytelling that stood out in the war scenes. Why are the terminator's holding plasma rifles with two hands? We know they can hold one of those bad boys in each hand, it helps make them a more effective killing machine, and The Phantom Menace style 'saved in the nick of time' was just lazy writing.
Once Alan Taylor tries to step out of James Cameron shadow, then that's when it all turns to shit. Alan Taylor successfully turned one of the most frightening machines ever created, the T-1000, into a staggeringly ineffectual killer. The T-1000's inefficacy reminded me of Smaug, the most feared dragon ever, only he could never seem to kill a bunch of tiny Hobbits. That kind of inefficiency drains all the menace of the machine/creature down a few notches, and then some. I still maintain that the T-1000 never should have been included in the first place. The plot is a mess of fractured continuities and multiple timelines, you'll have more luck figuring out the X-Men timeline than you will the terminator timeline. As for who sent the T-1000 and the T-800 back to 1974(?) who the hell knows. I thought James Cameron pushed it a little too far with a terminator kinda developing feelings in T2, but Genisys takes it way above and beyond anything James Cameron did in T2 in that regard.
The beautiful practical effects of Stan Winston were sorely missed as well, instead of the heavily battle damaged (and iconic) terminator's of past, we get lumped with what looks more like Kano from Mortal Kombat than it does a terminator. After the terminator jumps into the blades of a helicopter then crash lands and that's all the damage he receives, as you see in the movie poster above, it's an affront to the established durability of terminators. Terminator's are undeniably tough, but they're not fucking invincible either.
There was nothing new or novel about Terminator: Genisys, it's all been said before in T2, and better too. The chase scenes were perfunctory in Genisys and not thrilling in the least, if you've seen the trailers then you've practically seen every action scene already, I kid you not. The action scenes were a mess of hyper-editing and quick cuts too, it was almost impossible to follow the big fights with any sense of coherency. Remember the showdown between the T-1000 and the T-800 in T2, how wide the framing was, how we could see every blow land, and land hard, how we could follow the fight clearly, there's none of that in Genisys.
Emilia Clarke is no Linda Hamilton, she's a cute girl with a gun, nothing more. Jai Courtney is obviously no Michael Biehn either, he doesn't look like a soldier who's been fighting in the trenches all his life. Arnold was the solid link of the movie, but his attempts at humor and at selling his growing humanity fell flat. I was actually astonished at how much emotion and humanity Alan Taylor tried to cram into this thing between Emilia and Arnold aka "Pops", it just didn't work. There was no sense of dread or suspense building throughout the movie, at all, it was boring. Jason Clarke turned up whenever it was convenient, like Jason Statham in Furious 7, they just pop up whenever it's convenient for the director. The PG rating definitely hurt it, we jump from a terminator that says "Fuck you asshole" to a terminator that says "Bite me", the edge is clearly gone. There's tons of winks and appeals to nostalgia in Genisys, but I want more in a movie than a mere pastiche that tries to appeal to my sentimentality.
I honestly struggle to come up with any compliments for this movie, the cinematography was nothing special, the writing was a mess, the acting was average at best, the special effects were pretty good in some places, bad in most others, especially in the recreation scenes of the original Terminator. I'm sick of Terminator's that don't kill people, they're terminators, they kill things for fucks sake. The 'tender' moments between Sarah and Kyle were laughable, they had absolutely zero chemistry. The hyper-advanced T-3000 can't even kill an old T-800, despite multiple attempts and the butchering they did to the John Connor character is sure to piss off a lot of fans, myself included.
The "old, but not obsolete." line that was repeated throughout the movie was basically taken from RoboCop 2. Everything in this movie reeks of something from other movies, from the action sequences, to the basic plot and dialogue, and I know that a certain amount of that is to be expected, but everything felt like that in Genisys, that it was nothing more than a rehash of better movies. I re-watched T2 a few days ago and I still get a sense of tension and excitement watching those chase scenes, they're masterful, watching the chase scenes in Genisys was laborious, the helicopter chase sequence was absolutely absurd. Terminator: Genisys basically erases the best of a once great franchise and instead gives us an uninspired, tedious and cloyingly vapid imitation. I could go on and on about all the shit that was wrong with this, but I'm sure you get my general consensus by now, it was terrible, I'd place it below T3 and possibly even below Salvation, and no, I'm not kidding. Do yourself a favor, if you want to watch a terminator movie, then just watch the original duology and call it a day, nothing after T2 is worth it.
Written by - The Sentry - 01/07/2015