Let’s preface this review by saying “Terminator” and “Terminator 2” are two of my all time favorite movies, I’d say I’ll try my hardest not to let that sully this review, but I’m not promising anything.
Let’s get the one huge nugget of discontent with fans out of the way first. “Terminator: Genisys” rewrites most of the history of the franchise and worse, it pretty much destroys the character of Sarah Connor. Gone is the cute waitress, thrust into a world where a cyborg assassin hunts her down, and in the process transforms her from damsel in distress to an amazing badass. Oh sure she still shoots things in “Terminator: Genisys”, but it all feels a little bland. Yes, Sarah Connor now has a protective daddy and love interest, thus destroying all of that wonderful character growth we saw in the original two films, yay alternate time lines! Ugh.
Let’s summarize the plot without ruining the film, basically “Terminator: Genisys” resets the franchise by way of a new alternate timeline is which Judgement Day is now 2017, not 1997 and it is now caused by Apple, well okay, not Apple, but Genisys, a world wide operating system release that makes all our lives so much simpler when all our devices connect seamlessly to one another. Huzzah! Yes there is a slight warning in there, but without the darkness of the originals ‘technology will come back and get us if we make it too smart’.
Sure there’s a few nods to the original “Terminator” movie and they’re fun. Arnie as “Pops” is delightfully ‘old but not obsolete’ and the recreated scenes are well done for the most part (no Paxton? Seriously?!). It’s just so nauseating that Sarah Connor is now cast as love interest to one hero and daughter to the other, as opposed to hero and mother of the future. Emilia Clarke is good as Connor, but she just seems so young, which worked well for Hamilton in the first movie, not so well for Clarke in this one (Yes I know Clarke is verging on 29, but she looks 16). Aussie Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese, but he lacks the authenticity and ‘normal guy’ characteristics of original Kyle Reese actor Michael Biehn, he’s beefcake over regular guy and he sort of looks huge compared to Clarke, it just seemed, mismatched. Having said that, he’s more likable than other Reese actors have been, so it could be worse.
So it’s bad then right? Well, that really depends. If you’re a huge fan of the first two movies you’re bound for disappointment, particularly if you’re going in thinking this is a sort of reboot of those movies. If you’re going in thinking this is another brainless Hollywood explosion fest based on an absolute classic, you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s reasonably entertaining, even has laugh-out-loud moments (mostly thanks to Arnie’s deadpan antics). Sadly for those looking for something deep, the script is just, flat. There’s none of the connection you hope to feel once more for Connor and her cohorts, there’s none of the gut-wrenching feelings of both hopelessness and hope the franchise has previously delivered. It is at its very heart a money spinning reboot based on something they know will sell to the masses regardless of how terrible the script is (just like “Jurassic World”). Did I like it? Sure, I enjoyed it more than the last one, which was so forgettable I’ve actually forgotten it. Does it come close to those first magical two in the franchise, nowhere near.
Oh and don’t get me started on that Matt Smith casting.
And on a read-through of this review prior to publishing I realized I never even mentioned Jason Clarke as John Connor, well doesn’t that speak volumes.
Fans of the first two films prepare for disappointment, sure you’ll get a few smiles at those all important nods in their direction, but this does not even come close to their greatness. See it with low expectations and you’ll not see it as a complete waste of money. It is another brainless Hollywood rehash. Oh and stay for the – now expected – post credits teaser.
(it’s a 2.5 (average) for me, but we round up so, it lucks out with a 3)