Terminator Genisys sees John Connor (Jason Clarke) about to defeat Skynet and its machines so to ensure the victory he sends his dedicated right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from a potential attack.
However this is where everything changes from the original Terminator storyline. Yes when Kyle arrives back in 1984 to protect Sarah the T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee) is waiting for him but many other things are a miss. Sarah Connor is not the innocent waitress he is expecting – instead she is ready for the Armageddon that is about to happen and already has a protector, a Terminator named Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who has been looking after her since she was nine years old.
After hearing critics and fanboys alike talking about Terminator Genisys after the screening I attended I have ended up believing that you will never ever make a fanboy happy. Over the years I have heard people complain that the latest film in the franchise ‘never does enough to tap into the earlier films in the series.’ Well that certainly isn’t the case for Terminator Genisys, here director Alan Taylor (most noted for being the man at the helm of Thor: The Dark World) takes the film right back to the happenings of Terminator and T2 and then simply doesn’t a little (okay a major) reset. So here was I thinking the fanboys would be in the same rapture I was, that was cool? Right? Wrong!!!
It seems the major problem that most fanboys are having with Terminator Genisys is that a certain character (if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know who I am talking about) makes a massive switch of sides, through no fault of his own I should point out. Well I’m sorry but a character’s destiny isn’t exactly something that a fan of a series gets a say about. If they did then Dumbledore probably wouldn’t have died in Harry Potter and Jar Jar may have been killed off painfully in Star Wars. No what happens to characters in any franchise lies solely with the creative team behind it, so we have no right to complain. Keeping that in mind both Arnie and the man himself James Cameron gave the script for Terminator Genisys a huge thumbs up so let’s just relax and judge this film on what ended up on the big screen and not what we wanted it to be in our daydreams.
For a start the storyline of Terminator Genisys ain’t that bad. Just as I was getting déjà vu from Taylor’s re-created Terminator scenes I was suddenly jolted into a realization that while he hadn’t exactly rebooted the franchise he had delivered a pretty decent mind-wreck that had me suddenly more interested than anything in Terminator Salvation or Rise Of The Machines had. And that interest remained for the rest of the film as Taylor constantly put his characters at risk and messed with timelines. Once you have realised that the screenwriters here were only too happy to mess with existing timelines you suddenly also realise that the suspense level was raised to extreme… after all what stops them from bumping off someone major to the franchise as well?
At times the CGI in Terminator Genisys makes you suspend belief a little too much, but that is more than compensated by the fact that the screenplay gives this film a little bit heart as well. While I’m not 100% sure I enjoyed the so-called humor put into the film, Arnie pushing the point ‘old doesn’t mean obsolete’, I did enjoy the fact that suddenly questions were raised over whether or not a robot like ‘Pops’ could develop human feelings after a while. We’re kidding ourselves if we didn’t believe that Pops was seeing Sarah at his daughter for most of the film.
When it comes the cast things were a little up and down. Firstly Arnie does absolutely nothing wrong and I can only hope that when I’m nearly seventy years old that I am still wanting to jump off helicopters and get into physically demanding fights with stuntmen. Terminator Genisys shows that bar Sylvester Stallone Arnie is one of the fittest near-pensioners going around. He is also well supported by Emilia Clarke who shows that she has more than just looking pretty in Game Of Thrones in her arsenal. Here in Terminator Genisys she steps into the role of Sarah Connor with complete ease showing that she has the skills to be both a dramatic actress and an action star when she wants to be.
But there are some problems with the casting of Terminator Genisys as well. Jason Clarke is passable as John Connor, although fans of the series beware he does take some getting used to. The same can’t be said for Jai Courtney though. With all credit to Courtney we have seen in films like Jack Reacher and Divergent that this is a guy that can act and be the action hero, but here something is badly amiss. He just simply doesn’t fit into the role of Kyle Reese at all and at times his acting seems well below the par set by Emilia Clarke and yes even Arnie. If he wants to retain his role in any further Terminator films you get the feeling that Courtney is really going to have to try and step up a little.
At the end of the day Terminator Genisys is an entertaining and very different Terminator film that grew on me more and more the longer it went. Given it is nowhere near as good as Terminator or T2, but then did any of us expect it would get close to their perfection, but is a lot better than the very bland Rise Of The Machines. Yes, some people may not like the changes to the timeline but hey this could have been a lot worse and to give Terminator Genisys credit I never once grew bored of it all and that isn’t something I can say about some of the action films that have been around recently. Terminator Genisys is a pretty decent effort that I can’t wait to explore again.
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney
Running Time: 126 minutes
Release Date: 2nd July 2015