Movie Review: Terminator Genisys (2015)

[This review contains major plot spoilers… but all of these were featured in all of the advertising. So, uh, maybe they aren’t spoiler? The spoiler free recommendation for watching this is: if you liked the previous films, then yes.]

Terminator Genisys is the fifth overall film in the Terminator franchise, but you’ll all be glad to know that it more or less ignores the travesties that were the third and fourth films. As both a re-imagining and direct sequel to the first two films, this 2015 offering stars Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as  Kyle Reese, Jason Clarke as John Connor and, after skipping the fourth film, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the T-800, here named The Guardian. And don’t worry, the stupid film title makes sense once it comes up.

+ the obvious star of this film is Arnie himself, as the T-800 aka The Guardian. Older, perhaps less muscular and certainly far more emotional than his previous Terminator portrayals, this new take on the T-800 was in my mind just what was needed to bring some life to this robot
+ Jason Clarke was the standout actor, but unable to touch Arnie’s presence. Clarke (no relation to in-film mother, Emilia Clarke, but an interesting meta-casting choice nonetheless) is arguably the main character, although he gets perhaps the least amount of screen time of the core quartet. The plot twist regarding John Connor was surprising, and certainly should have added to the story, but it was already played out before it ever happened
+ there is something very enjoyable about Jai Courtney’s film roles. As a big fan of him in Spartacus, I can admit he may not have quite reached those same dramatic heights in his mostly-action film roles, but as Kyle Reese he had that perfect mixture between ‘fish out of water’ and ‘survival instincts’ that I think Reese should always have
+ the shot-for-shot recreations of a handful of scenes from the first two films were glorious, and gave me the most satisfying sense of déjà vu

– Emilia Clarke was not horrible, but certainly the weakest of the four main cast. Her Sarah Connor never quite felt like the badass bitch she needed to be. Similarly, I never really felt anything between Clarke’s Sarah Connor and her will-be-lover, Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese
– Lee Byung-hun takes over the role of the T-1000 from Robert Patrick, and Byung-hun was fantastic. The reason this is in the negatives is because as awesome as this new T-1000 was, it was in the film for all of twenty minutes. Those may be the best twenty minutes of the film mind you, but it’s hard to use the T-1000 as a selling point for this film
– too many villains is always a quick way to ruin a film (see: Spider-man 3). Between the T-800, the T-1000, the T-3000 and however many more may show up (hint hint!), there was never any real chance to feel a threat from a villain before they were terminated
– in terms of action, the explosions are guttural and the chase scenes frantic, but none of that really adds anything to the film. I’d have almost preferred more original, James Cameron 80’s-style horror in place of the Michael Bay ’10s-blowy-upy-shooty stuff. Personal preference, maybe, but still worth noting

> Watching this film, I can’t help but think how much better it would have been if the John Connor reveal wasn’t spoiled in all of the advertising
> I always get confused between Jason Clarke and Patrick Wilson. Even googling them I can see they don’t really look too similar, it’s just something I always find myself double checking

Should you see this film: Far and away better than the third and fourth films, this film is the sequel we should have always had. Having said that, the film is an over-written Hollywood blockbuster which falls into the ‘not bad enough to avoid, but don’t plan a movie night around it’ sort of result. There are a few bonus points if you are a long time Terminator fan.

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