Arnold Schwarzenegger is back – again – as the Terminator, in the poorly spelt Terminator Genisys. Part remake, reboot and sequel; Genisys steals the brilliant concept set out by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman in the recent Star Trek fIlms, by playing around with time travel and alternate timelines, so as to get the best of all worlds.
The film starts off with a voiceover from Kyle Reese, who brings new and old audiences alike up to date with the basic premise of the film. A war between man and machine has been raging for years, but is coming to an end as the military hero John Connor, leads mankind to victory.
The first ten minutes of the film pretty much play out like a glossy remake of James Cameron’s 1984 original, and at times actually uses footage from the iconic first film. Connor’s trusted friend Kyle Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor from the ruthless killing machine. However, as the Terminator asks a group of 80’s punks for their clothes, and a familiar voice tells him he won’t be needing any, things begin to take a strange turn.
The voice belongs to an older, trimmer Terminator who goes on to destroy the his younger self, and in doing so, Cameron’s original timeline. It appears that somebody has sent back a Terminator to protect Sarah Connor since the age of nine – she calls him pops…yes, really – and they have been planning for Kyle Reese’s arrival all her life. With everything changed, Kyle, Sarah and pops – yes, really – have to travel to 2017 to stop judgement day from happening, as Skynet has disguised itself as a wicked new app that everybody is excited for.
Flawed but fun, Terminator Genisys isn’t perfect, but is still throughly enjoyable. Hardcore fans of the original films may have a problem accepting the alternate timeline set within this film, but I for one liked the idea of playing around with the events of The Terminator – as does the original’s creator, James Cameron, who has given this instalment his stamp of approval.
Admittedly, things do get quite confusing with all the time travel jargon – Reese at one point says that time travel makes his head hurt, and I was right there with him – especially when the characters make the leap from 1984 to 2017. Because of all the changes, Genisys does have a lot of exposition which feels as clunky as the lead cyborg, but that can be somewhat forgiven due to the central idea of the film.
Whereas I could have gladly stayed in 1984 , the creative decision to bring the story into the modern day, where technology plays such a central role in our lives, makes perfect sense and works surprisingly well. In changing the timeline, Genisys also essentially means that the dreadful Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines and Terminator Salvation never happened, which is only a good thing.
The cast are all great and most of Genisys’ enjoyment is derived from simply seeing Arnie back in one of his most famous roles. Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke proves herself a suitable strong replacement of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, whilst J.K Simmons steals the show as a police officer who has been trying to prove the existence of the Terminator for the last thirty years.
The biggest problem I have with the film is the casting of Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, who is so wooden that he makes Schwarzenegger look like a true thespian. His performance is the worst thing about Genisys and I hope that by the next film – this is supposedly the first in a new trilogy – that he either gets acting lessons, or is re-cast.
It may sound damning with faint praise, but whilst Terminator Genisys is nowhere near as good as the first or second film, it’s certainly the best Terminator sequel since Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It has a great central idea which is both contemporary and nostalgic, but is more than anything just a lot of fun.
One of the recurring lines in the film comes from the Terminator, who says that “I’m old, not obsolete” and that rather fittingly sums up Genisys. We may have seen it all before, but in this instance it still works. It may be old, but it definatly isn’t obsolete.
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