Terminator Genisys (2015) – Film Review

Boy does my head hurt – best advice is not to think to much about this film

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He’s back cry the posters.  In what is the fifth installment of the Terminator franchise director Alan Taylor is given the job of turning its fortunes around following on from his so-so work with Thor: The Dark World (2013).  We are reunited with a familiar group of characters but played by a new range of actors.  The one obvious exception is Arnie who reprises his role as the T-800 model sent back in time to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke).  The spin on the story in this film is that when Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back from the future to protect Sarah she’s expecting him and already knows about terminators, Skynet and would you believe it she has the T-800 or ‘Pops’ in tow.

Initially I was really confused coming out of the cinema because the plot made no sense to me.  They play around in a number of different periods of history and just to make things a little easier the writers introduce the concept of alternate timelines or alternate universes running in parallel to what we are seeing on screen.  I spent at least 30 minutes talking out loud to myself saying well if x happened y couldn’t happen because they’ve changed history and how can z happen because they haven’t gone back in time to change that and hey wasn’t that in a parallel timeline?  If you want a more detailed breakdown of the timeline in this Terminator film watch this SHOW on YouTube.  Here’s what you need to know – an unknown person (and they don’t bother to explain it) sent ‘Pops’ back to the 1970’s to take care of Sarah Connor as a young girl.  As a result she knows what is going to happen and history has in effect been reset (see Star Trek (2009)) so the writers are in essence free to write whatever stories they want.

Herein lies the biggest problem with Terminator: Genisys – the script does a lousy job of making clear just what has happened and that all bets are off in terms of what we thought we knew about the story.  If you address the film as a standalone piece then its fine.  It’s never boring, the sense of nostalgia is kinda fun and Arnie is doing what he was born to do – play a robot with a clear moral compass.  He’s probably the best part of the film although Emilia Clarke does the best she can with an impossible job i.e. takeover from Linda Hamilton although she comes across as too young in my mind at least.  Jai Coutney continues his run of ‘hey I’ve seen you in something else haven’t I?’ performances as someone I know I’ve seen elsewhere but can never remember what in.

There are a whole variety of little niggles from the obvious use of CGI during a school bus crash to the fact that the film is spoiled if you’ve seen the trailer or look too closely at the poster above.  Some fans have really taken against this film and I understand why although I was able to accept it in its own right.  My ultimate takeaway is that they need to leave this franchise alone for a decade and go back to a remake allowing the film makers to start from scratch in a really clean way.  If you’re going to use time travel you need to keep it simple and follow the example of Star Trek or follow the rules as set in in Back to the Future (1985).  In summary its not terrible just another tame sequel in a franchise that has run its course.  Sadly if it makes enough money internationally we’ll be stuck with another on.  My rating 3/5.

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