Terminator: Genisys – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

terminator genisysTerminator: Genisys – 3/5 – Another weekend with another summer blockbuster.  Here, we have another film to revitalize and old franchise.  In short, this Terminator takes the route of previous sequels in a franchise (X-men: DOFP and Star Trek) where they play with the timeline to create an ‘alternate universe.  Unlike those films, this film tries too much with a lack in various departments.  Even with the abundance of story flaws; Terminator: Genisys delivers enough flash and bang to create an entertaining experience.

Premise: As Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984 to protect Sarah Conner; all events from his timeline has changed.  With a new threat arising, Kyle, Sarah and the aged T-800 must stop this new terrible evil from taking over the world.

Returning in the iconic role of the T-800 from the previous films (also known as the Guardian in this film) is Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He is famed for this role, and truly doesn’t disappoint in his return to this role.  With everything going on and changes happening in this film, Schwarzenegger becomes the heart and soul of the story.  His ‘lack of emotions’ because he is a machine creates the ironic allure of emotional attachment, especially when it comes to his relationship with Sarah Connor.  You sense the strength when he engages with the enemies and feel slight poignancy with the simple dialogue that is perfect with its cheesy/comical moments in the film.  In short, this is probably one of the best jobs Schwarzenegger has done in acting role since returning back to making films.  When it comes to the rest of the cast, you have some other iconic roles being reprised by new actors/actresses:

Jason Clarke as John Connor

Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor

Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese

Byung-hun Lee as T-1000

On the onset, you get a lot of mixed feelings when seeing these actors in these roles.  Jason Clarke and Emilia Clarke do a good job in their roles as John and Sarah Connor.  The depth isn’t as deep as the original films (1 and 2); but there’s enough to create some reflection of who they are in this new universe of the Terminator lore.  Without spoiling much; both give enough to create some emotional attachment, but not enough to break from the archetypes found in sci-fi/action films.  What helps Sarah out more than John is her relationship with the aged T-800.   That relationship feels real enough to warrant some of the emotional scenes that happen throughout.  When it comes to Jai Courtney; his performance as Kyle Reese is as bland as anything I’ve seen before.  Without comparison to the previous performance of this character from the first film; he doesn’t give enough ‘gripping’ sensation to create any worth that he will be the ‘hero’ that prevents the apocalyptic future.  His interaction with any of the players in this film aren’t believable, and the ‘forced’ romance he has with Sarah Connor comes across as a standard gimmick of a ‘love story’ than the fateful and inevitably thing that ‘must’ happen.  Byung-hun Lee as the T-1000 comes across as more of plot devices.  He really has no importance in the film.   There are some other actors that aren’t mentioned in this list because they were either ‘unimportant’ to the plot or ‘underused’.

The direction of this film, while not some of the worst I’ve seen, is passable with the kind of ‘overstuffed’ script that it is being directed from.  The film can be broken up by its three acts in a contrasting way:

First Act: reintroduction to the Terminator lore, characters and ‘time-travel’ elements.  Alternative timeline ‘plot-device’ introduced with a new direction and ‘purpose’

Second Act: new directive on stopping Skynet; lack of development of new lore and convoluted plot elements; twist of ‘new enemy’ and ‘terminator’.

Third Act: Point A to B concept with a mix of ‘over-the-top’ action sequences; standard ‘good’ vs. ‘evil’ battles with ‘sacrificial’ and ‘pseudo’ happy ending.

From this hodge podge of terrible writing, the director (Alan Taylor) does a great job in keeping a focal point on the ‘new’ timeline, threat and ultimate ‘twists’ to what happens to our iconic characters.  He does enough to keep the focus on the ‘better’ parts of the film even when the ‘lacking’ of performances (outside of Arnold) make it hard to stay on track.  A lot has changed because of ‘certain’ events that happen in the future, that cause a different kind of ‘timeline’ when Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984.   From this part of the first act, Sarah informs Kyle of the new changes, then uses a reconfigured ‘time-travel’ device to travel to the 2017 to stop the new ‘Skynet’ from taking over.  From here, it is a convoluted mess of new lore and ‘sci-fi’ elements, creating something of a forced exposition just for the sake of trying to stay on track.  As mention though, Alan Taylor does enough to keep the focus in a linear path through ‘other’ methods.  The action is what you would call ‘eye candy’ for a typical blockbuster, with a mix of explosions, high-speed chases and ‘over-the-top’ sequences.  It is all typical, but still amusing.  Once we get into the third act, we get the typical cliché element we see in an action film; stop the outcome of the ‘terrible’ future from happening.  It is mix of homage scenes from the previous ‘great’ two terminator films, with some new elements of what this new Skynet is and capable of.   In the end, our hero’s have ‘supposedly’ ended the dire future, but there are enough ‘opened ended’ sequences to make you believe otherwise.

The visuals of this film are of the utmost greatness (especially better than the last couple of sequels).   From the creation of the ‘machines taking over’ future, to the terminators (including young Arnold), it all feels believable to the eye.  You feel the intensity of the circumstances, even as the emotions are contrasting because of the lacking of character development.  Some of the changes to the lore can be divisive, but the recreation of some of the previous action elements combined with new sequences creates enough ‘spectacle’ to be entertained.  The score is a mix of ‘typical’ surrounding sounds to intensify action elements with some ‘homage’ score from previous films.

Terminator: Genisys may not be as amazing or game changing like the first two in the series, but the director does enough with what is given to create a spectacle of entertainment. If you’re a fan of the series, and would like to see where the new direction they are heading, there is enough here for you.  This is a film that is worth seeing as a matinee.

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