Movie Review 'Terminator Genisys' Gears Up To Revitalize

The Connors and Arnold are back in a perfect revitalization of the franchise in Terminator Genisys. The movie begins in the thick of the war of 2029 before transporting through several timelines to destroy the evil, now iconic, Skynet from ever getting deployed. It’s large, action-packed, and filled with nostalgia. It’s what one should expect from a Terminator movie. This is not a groundbreaking piece of art that many hold for Terminator 2. No, rather this is a continuation of a story that so many have been lusting over for over 20 years and never received.

Byung-hun Lee plays T-1000 in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.
Byung-hun Lee plays T-1000 in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

I am not one to hold Terminator 2 up on a pedestal like so many others. While I liked it, it has always just been another fun action film to me. Upon hearing others quick comments about Genisys and seeing a general consensus, I may not be sharing a similar opinion. Wiped out from history is the 3rd installment and the generally well received Salvation. Instead Genisys focuses on the already perceived future and a complicated alternate history caused by the ever so confusing effects of time travel.

Think Back to the Future series and how they all relate somehow yet there are many alternate realities, histories and futures that can blow even the smartest of moviegoers minds. Genisys shall do the same for you as long as you allow to just sit and enjoy, not over analyze unlike how I think many have already done.

Terminator Genisys as I mentioned starts in 2029 with John Connor (Jason Clarke) as the leader of the human resistance during the war against the machines, aka Terminators, and must send Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the original T-800 and prevent an inevitable future from taking place. After hearing endless tales from John Conner, Reese finds himself in an unfamiliar version of history, a history that already knew he was coming. Reese must now partner with Sarah’s guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to travel to the future to save an either further future. Do you see my Back to the Future comparisons?

I was quite worried that the film has already been ruined by overly detailed trailers of key plot twists and developments, but fortunately many of these would not be of any surprise as they are quickly explained or obviously foreshadowed. Yes, we all know John is no longer human, mostly machine, whilst this still ruined an early reveal, it’s the how-we-got-there that matters in the movie. There are plenty of other twists that may be a bit predictable, but at times felt purposely portrayed early.

Genisys writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier along with the production seemed to truly want to stay reminiscent of Terminator 2 with familiar situations and the same look and feel of the movie. Not only do we get to see Sarah Conner back in the 80’s, though Emilia is not nearly as rugged as Linda Hamilton was, but we also get the liquid metal shape-shifting T-1000. That familiar liquid arm-spike returns along with countless special effects that obviously one-up T2. However, you cannot beat Robert Patrick and his stone cold face.

The audience is also treated to an impeccable 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger that in my opinion is the best motion-captured computer generated aging effect I have seen. It’s not perfect, as walking seems a bit jarring still, but the skin looks photo realistic including an EXTREME close-up. One the most gratifying scenes is when an older Arnold is met with newly created Arnold. It’s a great, semi-comical scene that includes some clever face to face combat of two Arnold’s.

As the story progresses and we make it to 2017, the film describes how the skin structure will continue to age as we meet Arnold in the future. Clearly a lot of thought and production went into this idea and effect. I felt it was executed superbly and organically.

Speaking of 2017, that’s just it! Somehow the originals work cohesively with today and age where everything is interconnected with the each other and the web. It’s not so bizarre to think in just a merely two years that a new operating system named Genisys will debut unleashing Skynet and all of it’s destruction on humankind.

Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.
Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Emilia Clarke well-known for her role in Game of Thrones remains sexy without her bleach blonde hair, but I’m sure many are upset that she is not the rough-around-corners as the original Sarah, but she remains tough and can hold her own. This is the Sarah Conner of ’84 after all, and let’s face it, cinema today requires extra sex appeal. There is no way around that, but I want to stress that filmmakers didn’t choose someone that didn’t fit the role just to fill a void a hotness. Emilia was a perfect fit as she has already proved to show how bad-ass she can be.

Jason Clarke on the hand wasn’t my favorite. His scar was a little much and overdone and he never really felt like a John Conner. From the get-go he feels more of jerk opposed to a charismatic leader that I foresaw him turning into. It’s clear immediately that there was going to be something “behind” him, and yet the something doesn’t even occur to him until later. It didn’t feel right and our beloved Edward Furlong from the 90’s seems to be nothing more than a memory.

Left to right: Jason Clarke plays John Connor and Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.
Left to right: Jason Clarke plays John Connor and Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Jai Courtney who plays Kyle Reese, you should know who this is but if you don’t then the movie will do a good job for you, does have a few misses. Sadly several jokes fall flat and a couple scenes of lack of trust for the Guardian feel forced and awkward. Although, the chemistry between him and Sarah feels right and believable.

Characters and actors aside,Terminator Genisys really thrives in special effects, new fight scenes, and an intriguing storyline. We aren’t going to see some dramatic masterpiece. We are seeing a “time traveling beefed up robots are taking over the world” movie, and our favorite characters need to stop them. Arnold is at his best, which isn’t saying much, but he plays the part like he should. No matter how they did his younger persona scenes doesn’t concern me as I felt I was watching the Terminator go on a tare like we once saw while much younger.

I honestly cannot say what else I would be expecting from this film, which is more than a lot of others are saying online. Why dive any deeper into it? This is Terminator. You know what you are getting yourselves in to. It won’t be invigorating, but it sure was fun! I don’t think we have seen the final chapter on this franchise.