“Terminator Genisys:’ Movie Review

July 3, 2015 0 Comments

The long awaited TRUE sequel to the Terminator franchise has arrived. Though, did anyone really think they would release a fourth film on top of the others? Since the terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has decided to do more acting ever since his short role in The Expendables (2010), the speculations of a fourth Terminator film was soon to follow.

You might have wondered why I refer to the latest film, Genisys, as the true sequel. Well, after Schwarzenegger decided to finish out the second term as Governor of California, he had no choice but to skip out on this film. It was probably a good thing, as Schwarzenegger probably didn’t want his name attached to that unimaginable mediocrity

Despite all of that James Cameron, the writer and director of the original Terminator films, was on broad with this film, and he had some help from Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier to spice things up. It’s good for two elements: 1) It keeps the franchise true to the loyal fans who are solely responsible for the success of the original two films (even keeping the original Terminator theme somewhere in the film), 2) you’ve adopted the films to a newer demographic, which may not be as good as I originally noted.

The previous films were all about preventing the inevitable, Judgement Day, from ever occurring. In this film, not only do you actually see Judgement Day occur (in all of it’s special CGI destructive glory), you see what the wold has become. A world completely ruled by machines, whether humans are scavenging for scrapes to survive or being hunted like animals by the machines for extermination.

We also see what happens 30 years after Judgement Day. The resistance leader, John O’Conner (Jason Clarke) leads the rebel resistance in a mission to take down Skynet. In a last moment of desperation, Skynet sends a machine back in time during a time period before the war to change the game in it’s favor, by killing the mother of the leader of the resistance, Sarah O’Conner. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, “Divergent (2013)“) volunteers (in the original, he was assigned) to go back in time to protect her.

So, this is all to familiar to the first Terminator movie, except when he goes back he in a life or death encounter with a deadly T-1000 (played by Korean actor Byung-hun Lee), which is automatically weird. We all know that the T-1000 was assigned to kill John O’Conner 1995 when he was still a child. Why has the T-1000 been assigned to kill Sarah in 1984?

Although, it’s not as weird as the T-1000 and a fully nude T-800, played by Schwarzenegger, being in the same time period and assigned to kill the same person (I guess Skynet wanted to make DOUBLE sure it killed it’s target, this time). However, it gets even weirder when you have another T-800 appear fully clothed and also played by Schwarzenegger.

Come With Me If You Want To Live!

Not only is the ‘other’ T-800 fully clothed, it’s much older, leaner-looking, and doesn’t seem to be capable of taking out a 37-year-old version of himself. Luckily, he has Sarah O’Conner (English actress Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”) finishes the job. She also manages to save Kyle from being killed by the T-1000 — “Come with me if you want to live!”

So, this alternate timeline may have already caught fans off guard. Two terminators have been sent back to the year 1984 to kill Sarah O’Conner, who already knows about the terminators before hand. She has been raised and trained by her very own terminator, called guardian, ever since she was 9 years old. She also knows that Kyle Reese is her ‘mate’ and together they have a child: John O’Conner.

So already there is a pretty large twist in the bedrock of the film, as the time Kyle has been sent back to no longer exist. This makes a confusing timeline, even more confusing. Although, this mostly has to do with the Terminator sent back to the year 1972, to protect 9-year-old Sarah O’Connor. It was really never explained who sent him back or why, but Sarah and Guardian (Terminator’s alternate name) have been preparing for the arrival of Kyle Reese.

These changes are just one of many changes that you can expect from the film, as it all has to deal with an ‘alternate history’ in the fabric of time. Sarah O’ Connor knows about judgement day before she was supposed to and Judgement was actually postponed until 2017, not 1992.

Along with these changes is the attempted need to humanize Guardian, which was something the film didn’t need. Screenwriters start off by referring to ‘Guardian’ as ‘Pops.’ It’s all an initiative of Sarah O’Connor to help the machine ‘blend in,’ like that machine in Interstellar (2014). On top of this, you have running jokes about how old Arnold Schwarzenegger — “Why is he old? I’ve never seen a terminator old before.” Accompanied with iconic quotes such as — “I’m old, not obsolete.”

You even have this particular running joke where Pops attempts one of his ‘blending-in-techniques’ by smiling. However, instead of blending in he ends up looking like a creepy old man with ‘problems.’ That joke probably runs longer than any gags relating to Arnold’s age. Aside from these comedic bits, Arnold still attempts to find some humor in his utterly humorless by channeling the old “Fuck You, Asshole” Terminator that we’re all used to, but switching it up to a less threatening “Bite Me.” Obviously an homage to the 80s feel of the second terminator film.

Summarizing the ploy further would probably risk readers of getting a massive headache. In an attempt to reboot the series (because watching this, you’ll discover that you aren’t watching Terminator 5, but a movie from its own tangent) screenwriters attempt to strip John O’Connor from his revolutionary role as the leader of the resistance, into a half-human/half-machine shill for Skynet. Probably not as unexpected if you’ve seen Terminator: Salvation (2009), although you’ve probably already learned about this twist simply by looking at the movie trailer.

Final Verdict: C+

This wasn’t exactly what I was expected from the first Terminator film Arnold has featured in since 2003. Its a rather disappointing spectacle watching a film that is known for its grittiness and dystopian feel turn into some cheap blockbuster fluff piece. It’s almost as if the screenwriters thought the movie wouldn’t have been successful without throwing an opportunity to make the audience laugh. That might have been fine with action/comedies like Spy (2015), but something different is required for a franchise we are all too familiar with.

Then again, maybe this film wasn’t mean’t for people familiar with the franchise, but for people who might have not been too familiar with the films of the 80s and 90s. While that might be understandable to broaden your demographical horizons, your core base will return to these films no matter what. Considering this, efforts should be made to appease them first.

I didn’t really appreciate the twist, and I also didn’t believe such a twist was necessary. It’s like producers decided to see what would happen if they decided to bring fan fiction to the big screen. Even the ending credits validates the obvious direction screenwriters and producers are ending with the film. The film has become a self-generating assembly line of repacked old thrillers, just with sleeker, modern and more attractive adaptations, almost as if the films have become its very own terminator. This is a pretty accurate assemble, considering I’ve heard a rumor that Arnold has decided to sign on for more Terminator films.

If newer films fail to impress, I can’t really see the success of more films in this franchise.

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