I had always heard some really bad things about Terminator Genisys, which is why it has languished on my Amazon want list since it came out last year. I was really disappointed by Terminator Salvation and the less said about Terminator 3, the better, so I figured I’d had enough disappointment with this franchise to last me a lifetime.
But I was poking around on Amazon Prime and there it was, so I decide it doesn’t cost me anything but a couple hours of my time so what the heck? And you know something? It wasn’t half bad!We pick up in the future, just as the human resistance is about to destroy Skynet. This is the story we know, from the modern-day side, from the original Terminator. John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother from the original Terminator, but this time something goes wrong and Reese winds up in an alternate timeline, where Skynet had sent back a Terminator to try to kill her when she was 9 and the T-800 had saved her and raised her to be a warrior instead of being the wimp we saw in the original movie. Now, with multiple Terminators running around, they have to wipe out Skynet once and for all before it launches Judgement Day.
Okay, I’m going to get this out of the way right now. They bend over backwards to reference the original two movies especially as much as possible. Too much, if you ask me. It’s clearly done to get long-time fans to go “hey, I remember that!” but most of it isn’t necessary. There are a bunch of cool scenes, particularly where they recreate the time travel arrival shot-for-shot, but it honestly got a bit tiresome, especially when I was predicting what was going to happen throughout.
Cast-wise, I think most of them did a decent job, although I really can’t help but think that they should have found someone else for Sarah Connor. We watched her go from a scared waitress into a leader, but Emilia Clarke never really makes her feel like a warrior. In fact, she feels like a kid, far younger than the Linda Hamilton role from the first movie. They really needed someone who could bring that kind of gravitas to the screen and Clarke just didn’t do it for me. Arnie though, he was perfect, it was like watching the Terminator of old with a little more gray hair and their explanation for why he aged actually worked. I will say though that, the second they walked into the time machine chamber at the end and they said something about the liquid metal just needing a chip, I knew he was going right into the drink.
For the plot though, although all of the Terminator movies have had an inherent time-travel element, they were adventure stories. This one took the time travel to the extreme, to the story’s detriment. In all seriousness, if Skynet still controls the time machine doohicky in the future, there’s no way that Sarah could be alive because it could send back a complete torrent of killer robots to take her out, back before she was even born, and there would be no story. At least in the original movie, they explained that after Kyle went through, the time machine was supposed to have been destroyed. Granted, Kyle wasn’t there and couldn’t have known for sure, but having that machine in existence really makes the whole story completely pointless.
It was better than I thought it would be. It has issues, of course, and it is nowhere as good as the first two movies, but I thought it was better than 3 and probably as good as Salvation, if not better. It was a trip down memory lane, a little too much in some places, but it made me nostalgic and that was just fine. Lots of action, great effects and I didn’t hate what it did to the franchise, unlike the previous two movies. So hey, if you come across it and have a couple of hours to waste, you could do a lot worse than this film.