Hello, and welcome to my Uber car! Where can I take you tonight?
It’s got to be a pretty bad movie that makes Terminator: Salvation look halfway decent in comparison. After all, Salvation, that misbegotten wannabe Terminator film that desperately tried to restart the time-traveling-killer-robot franchise, was directed by McG, for crying out loud! But the new film, Terminator Genisys–yet another misbegotten attempt to revive the Terminator series–is just a waste of film (assuming they even used film to shoot this).
Oh well, the body’s been prepped on the table, so let’s start the autopsy, shall we?
The first fifteen minutes or so of Terminator: Genisys is basically a remake of the classic 1984 film written and directed by James Cameron. We see Kyle Reese (a really bland Jai Courtney) get recruited into the human resistance by John Connor (an even blander Jason Clarke), who then leads the resistance to victory over the killer robots in a final battle–only to have the robots send the original T-800 Terminator back trough time.
Alas, poor hand…I knew it well….
As expected, Reese volunteers to go back to save Sarah Connor, but when he gets back there, he runs into the T-1000 liquid metal guy (played here by Byung-hun Lee), who tries to kill him. Oh wait, what’s this? Yes, the Genisys filmmakers try to be cute by altering the timeline by having Kyle encounter a Sarah Connor who’s already a kick ass super warrior back in 1984, thanks to a T-800 that’s been sent back even further to protect Sarah when she was a child. Nice idea, but the stupidity shows through even here.
Case in point is the scene where Sarah and Old Arnie take out the original Terminator (New Arnie) who shows up at the observatory and steals the punks’ clothes (“Nice night for a walk, huh?”). Old Arnie shows up before the New Arnie can even kill the punks and they have a knock down, drag out fight where New Arnie very nearly destroys Old Arnie until Sarah takes him out with a large caliber rifle.
Looks like we missed the bus!
Why is this stupid? Well, Sarah later tells Kyle that she and Old Arnie had been preparing for the arrival of the time travelers for the last ten years. If this is true, then why should Sarah even bother sending Old Arnie to fight New Arnie at the observatory at all? She had a high powered cannon with which she could take out the bad Arnie with from afar. If she simply shot him from long range the moment he shows up and then swiftly moved onto her next objective, it would have been cooler, as well as smarter.
Another example of the raging dopiness in this movie are the scenes where the villain shows up and everybody–who are all armed–just stands there and stare at him like idiots while he either morphs into something deadlier or just babbles on about his grand scheme to change the world. There’s no sense of urgency in this film that the two Cameron-directed Terminators had, nor is there any real hard driving suspense.
This movie is just another committee-approved product that doesn’t tell a story so much as it just goes by the numbers, dutifully hitting all of the beats (action scene; exposition scene; CGI scene; more action scenes; another exposition scene, etc) that they think will thrill the viewers. But the movie winds up being a dull and lifeless waste of time that’s obviously a cash grab from a franchise that would probably be better off left dormant at this point.
Hey, where’d that dragon come from?
And while I tried very hard to like Emilia Clarke (I love her as Daenerys on Game of Thrones), she falls short here as Sarah Connor. She lacks the screen presence that Linda Hamilton had in the first two films. Hamilton wasn’t just tough in T2, she was an outright badass; I don’t get that vibe at all from Clarke. But Hamilton was also working from much better scripts in those two movies that gave her a character arc to work with. While Clarke is stuck with such a lackluster and idiotic script that I suspect it must have been written in crayon.
All you really need to see is Terminator, Terminator 2, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (yes, I thought even that was better than Genisys) and the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the last having done a fantastic job of taking the basic premise of Terminator and running with it. Interestingly enough TSCC starred Lena Headey, Clarke’s castmate from Game of Thrones, who did an admirable job of playing Sarah Connor with a confident war-weariness. Terminator Genisys joins Terminator: Salvation in the list of Terminator films to avoid. Here’s hoping that list of bad Terminator flicks doesn’t get any longer. –SF