Nov 30, 2015

[Movies] Terminator: Genisys (2015)

It's hard to figure out what they want to do with the Terminator movie franchise. It seems that every new iteration added to the long line-up of movies just gets stranger and stranger - it's like we've lost the ability to figure out how to tell stories this setting and thus they just throw whatever they can into the mix to see what might come out.

Terminator Genisys demonstrates that not only have they forgotten how to spell, but they've also reached a new level of retcon ridiculousness as they've begun to extensively re-write their own story in order to come up with a completely new reality that doesn't make all that much sense. And they continue to find ways to drag in Arnold into all this. It's getting really sad.

I certainly wasn't excited enough to try and catch this movie while it was in theaters and didn't exactly race to catch it on home video either. But I've already seen all the other movies and The Sarah Connor Chronicles and so it's hard not to be a total completest about this series. The end result wasn't too terrible, but it was still disappointing.

Synopsis: Terminator Genisys is a 2015 science fiction action movie directed by Alan Taylor. The screenplay was written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier and it is the fifth movie in the series.

In the year 2029, the Human Resistance is making its last big push against Skynet, the artificial intelligence that has very nearly eliminated all human life on Earth. With the rest of the resistance attacking the main complex, John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads a smaller group to attack a seemingly harmless facility that turns out to hold a time machine. They are unable to stop the T-800 Terminator from going back in time to kill Sarah Connor, John's mother,  but they manage to get the machine working to send Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to go back in time to protect her. But just as Kyle begins the journey, everything goes weird as he sees John attached by another Resistance soldier and is assaulted by a series of images during his journey. Eventually when he gets back to 1984, he ends up getting rescued by Sarah (Emilia Clarke) and another Terminator (Arnold Schwazenegger) that had been sent to protect her.

It was a little weird to have all these different people portraying already familiar roles. Yes, I recognize the need to replace actors as so much time has passed since the first movie, but it'still a little disorienting. Plus consider how many different actors have had to play the role of John Connor alone, whether we're talking about his younger incarnations or his adult Human Resistance instances either.

In some ways, I sort of appreciated how this movie felt like a bit of a tribute to the first two movies in the franchise. We have the effort put into recreating the original Terminator time-travel sequence followed by the newly empowered Sarah Connor get in the way of things. We had them making multiple time jumps in order to address other parts of the new reality, which sort of felt like the third movie. And we even had the decision to include a liquid metal Terminator in the mix, just like the second movie. So yeah, these little nods did make for good fun.

Now the fact that John Connor had been somehow turned by Skynet was already spoiled in pretty much all of the trailers, so that was kind of weird. I don't even understand how somehow supposedly made of nanite machines could still use the time-travel technology that required only organic-coated materials to travel. Just standing next to an MRI was already highly disruptive to his physical form so yeah, I don't know if this change to the big hero of the Resistance was all that necessary. Since the trailer already spoiled it, it wasn't a key reveal. It was just something that happened.

Jai Courtney wasn't a very good Kyle Reese - he did not seem to have any true sense of agency in this movie at all. Emilia Clarke was certainly skilled as a commanding female protagonist although at times her height was a little distracting when you think about the first Terminator movie. It's a minor point but then I just wanted to put things out there.

Terminator: Genisys is a very weird addition to the franchise and I'm not sure why they wrote the story the way they did. But it is what it is and it's not entirely terrible since it had a few great one-liners and role-reversal moments. Thus the movie gets 2.5 silly reasons for bringing in new Terminator models out of a possible 5.


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