Film Review: Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys header

Now that we’re down the sequel road quite a bit in the Terminator series it’s hard not to tell Arnold to maybe get lost somewhere along the scenic route as he makes good on his iconic “I’ll be back” catchphrase. Do I really want to see a past-his-prime action star trying to relieve his youth on screen? Do I, Harrison Ford? Not really. The thing is, Terminator: Genisys shows that sometimes the old coming back can be a good thing.

Before I get into the review I feel like I should probably point out that though I have seen all the movies in the Terminator series, I’ve only ever watched each once a few years ago so I don’t have a super firm grasp on the mythology, timeline, and all that jazz. I know the basics, but I’m sure this definitely effected my enjoyment of the film in someway, as well as my lenience in continuity. Does this mean that a fan of the series will automatically like it less than I did? No. But it is a definite possibility. Experts in time travel, amorphous goop, and the application of prosthetic scars may also find fault where I did not. Thus the world we live in.

Phew! Glad I got that off my chest. Now onto the movie: Genisys brings us to the possible end of the machine vs. human war, with John Connor leading the resistance. But why explore this apocalyptic future as Salvation did when we can recycle the story from the original film? Wait… What? Are we seriously about to watch a remake of the first movie where Kyle Reese goes back in time to save Sarah Connor from a murderous Terminator? This was a legit concern as the callbacks begin rolling out with Schwarzenegger’s naked introduction, but before much time passes it’s clear that Genisys is going to diverge from the previous storyline. They spelled genesis like that, for crying out loud. How dare you confuse this film for the same old same old.

The problem with the Terminator series is that nothing really has stakes thanks to the premise: everything that happens can be wiped clean because of the manipulation of the timeline, so how can I really get invested in any one of these films when it all may not matter? This definitely dampens the excitement levels for me, so it comes down to the characters/actors, action, visual effects, etc. to make each installment worth watching, especially when the story isn’t exactly inspired.

To put it simply, Genisys is a solid action film. Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney make a great pairing as Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, bickering all the while running around shooting things up, and I never thought I would find myself saying this, but thank goodness for Schwarzenegger. His performance didn’t convince me to finally sit through The Expendables series, but I definitely found myself inspired to revisit the previous films in this series for sure because a violent robot awkwardly trying to assimilate into humanity is the perfect role for Schwarzenegger. His role is really what makes the relationships between the three leads work, and it provides some laughs along the way. Now if we can just lose a few of the “pops” moments…

Though I am hesitant to call Genisys a great movie because I am not quite sold on the villain, J.K. Simmons presence is wasted and without payoff, and the final scene at the beginning of the credits plays into what I was hoping to avoid, it’s still a solid summer action film worth seeing. It has plenty of pew pews, explosions, and robots. Oh, excuse me, cyborgs. Who doesn’t want to see cyborgs fight, tear things apart, and attempt to smile? You should, cuz it’s super pretty. Well, except for the smiling bit.

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One thought on “Film Review: Terminator Genisys

  1. I think the movie’s ultimate end game works. Skynet is still a threat, but not a future threat that will send people back in time. Now, the film can move forward with the characters, have them fall in love and what not, and have the battle be them trying to keep Skynet from coming online again.

    Will they throw away the time travel stuff completely, no, probably not. But should they? I hope so, at least for one of the sequels. But I’m intrigued to watch this Trio going forward, even if I could punch holes in this film all day.

    I feel similar to the way I feel about Jurassic World (a film I like a bit more). A fun ride, but it feels like a surface level entry into the series, not achieving any of the depth the best entries in their respective series achieved.

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