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Terminator Genisys

By on July 8, 2015

347517-terminator-genisys-facebookIt’s been over 30 years and three sequels since James Cameron’s original 1984 Terminator movie, about a cyborg assassin sent back in time to kill the mother of an unborn son who will eventually lead the fight against an artificial intelligence called Skynet, which plans to spark a nuclear holocaust. Despite its B-Movie premise, The Terminator became a sci-fi classic, and launched the career of the Austrian man-mountain, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Six years later came the upgraded sequel, Judgment Day, which featured ground-breaking special effects and a smart-ass, floppy-haired, John Connor and now a good-guy Arnie terminator who has been sent back in time to protect him.

Two more films followed, both unremarkable: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and Terminator: Salvation. Now we have the fifth film in the franchise, Terminator Genisys, directed by Alan Taylor whose biggest title to date was Thor sequel, A Dark World… which isn’t a good start. This time around, Karl Riess is sent back in time to protect his eventual sex-partner Sarah Connor, but little does he know that one: she’s already being protected by an old Arnie robot, and two: he’s fated to fall in love with her and produce John Connor, who will go on to supposedly destroy Skynet, but actually kind of becomes infected by them and is himself turned into a God-like cyborg who can’t be destroyed and is actually Skynet’s last chance of sparking Judgement Day…again. I’m confused. Honestly, it felt like the writers printed out the scripts of the first two films, and some random pages from the other sequels, chucked them into a paper shredder, and then cello taped it all back together, misspelled ‘Genesis’ on the front….and then started shooting the next day.

The film promised to be a re-imagining of the whole Terminator timeline, with the best elements of the original films mixed with new, innovative story arcs that will expand upon the Terminator universe as we know it. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what’s happened. Instead, it tries to use the basic outline of the first two movies but then adds over complicated plotlines and cause and effect sci-fi tropes to try and juggle three different time frames and a handful of key characters who have been re-written and re-moulded so many times they’ve lost their purpose.

The film draws us in with a nostalgic first half, set in 1984 with the tin can cop cars, high-top Nikes and another relentless T-1000 Terminator who can shape shift and kill people with his pointy hand spikes. Here we’re introduced to Sarah Connor who, in a kind of alternative timeline to the original, has been brought up and trained by an aged T-800 Arnie since the age of 9. This idea, I quite liked. I liked the theory that Arnie’s skin has aged over time and but he’s still the stoic, straight-faced machine who is incapable of blending in. I also liked the weird father daughter relationship they’ve developed, but I do kind of wonder how the hell a Terminator was supposed to have raised an adolescence girl single-handedly. How did he deal with those angsty teen years? And how did he go about buying her first bra? I’d actually rather watch a comedy spin-off about those years.

Much like other modern franchise films like Jurassic World and Planet of the Apes, we were told to forget about the crappy sequels as this is the REAL revamp, but, the difference is… Those films got it right, they applied new, modern filmmaking to these fondly remembered stories. Jurassic World expanded the vision of Jurassic Park, using a shit ton of CGI in the process, but it created an experience that couldn’t be made in 1993. The same with the newest Planet Of The Ape films, which applies a completely new interpretation to the originals stories. Terminator Genesys does neither of these things. The CGI looked tired in many places, the liquidy shape-shifter T-1000 looks no better than in Judgement Day, which was 24 years ago! The exoskeleton robots looked flat and there were way too many times when it felt that certain shots were only there because it might ‘look cool in 3D’, which by today’s standards shouldn’t be the case. The action scenes were forgettable and clichéd. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen high-speed chase sequences which end up with a bus hanging off the edge of a bridge by it’s pubes, only for the antagonist to saved at the last second by someone screaming ‘take my hand’!

Lastly the performances. They were the only ‘salvation’ that could’ve lifted this movie out of its mess of a script and actually engaged the audience, but they didn’t. Jai Courtney, who was in Divergent and Jack Reach-around, sorry Jack Reacher, is as wooden and uncharismatic as an exoskeleton on standby. He probably spent too much time before the shoot doing curls in front of the gym mirror instead actually practicing any lines. His chemistry with Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor was non-existent, and seeing as the fate of humanity rests on those two getting wet and wild, with his slipping her future spunk, that’s not a good sign. Emilia Clarke, I feel, was also miscast. For someone who was supposedly been trained to destroy Terminators since the age of nine, she can barely carry the weight of a machine gun. Linda Hamilton’s Judgement Day Sarah Connor was all ripped and could do a one-arm pull up, Emilia Clarke looks like she’s never ran more than ten metres. I mean, she makes an attractive lead, kind of, but maybe they could’ve cast someone a little more athletic, or at least someone who looks like they’ve been trained by an assassin robot for the past 15 years. Arnie, on the other hand, does what he does best. I cringed at times at his same old saying, and the fact that he still can’t crack a proper smile, but I have to admit I enjoyed seeing a grey-haired, Granddad-like Terminator chuck himself head first into stuff in order to keep this goddamn girl alive.

All in all, I found the movie disappointing on pretty much all levels. If this is the best they can do, let’s just hope the Terminator franchise has now had it’s final Judgment Day.

2/10

By: Simon Tutton

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