Terminator Genisys is the fifth film in the blockbuster series which began with the 1984 classic The Terminator, and most recently 2009’s Terminator Salvation. In Genisys, we see the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as rising star Jai Courtney who stars as Kyle Reese and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark-Thirty) as John Connor.
Directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), Genisys is a clear attempt at re-booting the franchise. To do so, it uses a back-to-it’s-roots story that, in some case, is frame-by-frame identical to the original 1984 film. The mechanism that it uses to accomplish this is an “alternative timeline” which sees Kyle Reese return to 1984 only to find that things are not quite as he expected. Sarah knows who he is, knows about Judgment Day, and is accompanied by an original T-800 (Schwarzenegger) who has been her “guardian” since she was 9 years old. Some of the early scenes in Genisys retell familiar scenes from The Terminator, but with changes due to the altered timeline. For instance, when the T-800 arrives in 1984, it looks identical to the young T-800 from the original film and confronts the 3 bikers and demands their clothes. At that point, it is met by the much older T-800 and the two terminators(one young, one old) fight each other until Sarah intervenes to give a helping hand. Seeing these familiar scenes again is funny and was meant to be a little tongue-in-check, such as when Kyle steals the pants from the old bum.
Though seeing these old familiar scenes again in a new film is fun, it is unfortunate that pretty much the entire film is just scenes from the other Terminator films cobbled together to make a new one. Many of the scenes where the T-1000 is trying to kill Kyle in 1984 are very similar to Terminator 2. Though the film does introduce a nano-type upgraded Terminator which is cool, most of the action scenes feature familiar settings or compositions (such as the use of vehicles) that just don’t offer anything new. The story is a little confusing due to the alternative timeline, and the attempt to modernize the story by skipping over to the year 2017 just seems like a slack effort at trying to change things up and make it more relatable to the current technology climate. Overall, I felt the story was quite bland and redundant. Also notably absent was any romantic chemistry whatsoever between Sarah and Kyle, and the attempt to build a story that sets a stage for Kyle’s feelings for Sarah is feeble at best and just not convincing.
Terminator Genisys does have some cool special effects. I especially liked the upgraded terminator, the early scenes of the nuclear blasts, and the young Arnold terminator fighting the old. Though there are a few tense moments, most of the action scenes are routine and formulaic, as is the story. Though it is not meant to be a literal remake of the original, Genisys is a blatant attempt to breathe new life into an aging franchise and borrows heavily from the previous films. And of course it makes no excuses about hinting at yet another sequel.
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