Terminator Genisys is the fifth installment in the man vs. machine franchise. Up to this point, the Terminator series had two strong, beloved movies with classic one-liners, a truly unique and inspiring take on a relentless, uncompromising enemy, and enough heart to make you feel for the character’s struggles and sacrifices. Following those two movies, we got one sequel that tried to copy the same formula and a second that tried changing things up a little focusing on John Connor’s future resistance vs. the machines. Both movies failed to receive a lot of positive reception. There was tv series that made plenty of fans happy, but it was short-lived. Terminator Genisys seems to fall in the middle of the franchise’s highs and lows.
The story starts off with a quick look at Judgement Day followed by John Connor (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) working together to put an end to Skynet. While they succeed, they fail to do it before a Terminator was sent back in time. John Connor, with all of his knowledge from his mother, convincingly allows Kyle to volunteer to follow the Terminator and stop him. When he arrives, he’s in an alternate timeline where Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) isn’t a defenseless waitress, but a soldier raised by a Terminator and prepared for the same war Kyle has known all his life. She was saved by a T-800 when she was nine and has been under his care since.
From there, things kick off as Sarah, Kyle, and an aged Arnold Schwarzenegger, I mean T-800, deal with various Terminator models, trying to stop Skynet, and John Connor? Yes, John Connor shows up in the past and, as many trailers have spoiled, he’s a Terminator. It’s interesting how this change came to be. John proved to be an even more versatile Terminator than the T-1000. It was still fun to see the T-1000 again and watch its impressive use of the liquid metal that it is composed of. The T-1000 and a new model T-800 are the first obstacles for the gang to deal with. Too bad those two are dealt with so soon, making you long for more.
Visually, Genisys is quite impressive. From the future settings to the time travel bubbles, there’s plenty to be entertained. If you’re looking for a ton of Terminator on Terminator violence, you’re in luck. Old Arnie is constantly playing fisticuffs with the modeled Terminators and John. Many walls are demolished and a lot of metal gets exposed. Sometimes the camera seems a bit too unfocused with all that is going on, but it works for the most part. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return is welcomed as he does a great job in the shoes of a rusty T-800. Matt Smith is barely in the movie, but he has a very pivotal role and I really enjoyed his character.
Now onto the not so great parts. The pacing of the movie gets a bit rough. It’s fine until they jump to one day before Skynet goes live, giving them one day, plus a couple of hours, to stop it. Odd since the technology seems to allow the ability to control time travel down to the day and location. And in that slightly under 30 hour time frame, hours mysteriously vanish and a couple of minutes go on a surprisingly long time. The movie recalls a lot to the movies that came before… a bit too much. Using iconic lines like “Come with me if you want to live” in places just for the sake of the line when several different things could have been said and might have sounded better. There is no attempt at trying to make another new quotable line, besides Arnold’s “Old but not obsolete,” which got old the second time he said it.
J.K. Simmons plays a character that understands Kyle and Sarah and does his best to help, which isn’t very much. There is a time when he is trying to find them, following the chaos and, for some reason, can’t catch up in time despite being so close to them, all the time it takes them to deal with their problem, and all the noise they make while doing it. Somehow, Simmons character shows up only at the aftermath.
There’s a lot going on in this movie. There are a lot if obstacles for the characters to deal with, some unanswered mysteries like who sent the T-800 to nine-year-old Sarah to protect her, clearly for potential sequels, and plenty of conundrums to make you scratch your head involving the typically befuddled time travel logic. Added on top of all of that, the movie tries to play on the message of people practically being slaves to technology already, glued to all their tablets and phones, drooling at an operating system to make them even more connected. This message feels a bit overused these days and, for this movie, it’s done almost too satirically. It has also been done much better. The animated movie, Summer Wars, pulls off the all-in-one integrated operating system without turning it into a joke. Terminator Genisys is a fun summer movie… but that’s about it.
There is an after-credit scene and I think it’s worth staying after to see it.
(3 out of 5)