Movie Reviews

Paul’s Review Of “Terminator: Genisys” (2015) – Why Is It Called “Genisys”?

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I don’t talk about this as often as it should be mentioned, but plot holes can ruin a movie. In most of the films I watch, there are few holes in the story or gaps in logic and train of thought that it does not deserve to be mentioned, or the holes are simply not that noticeable. But then there are films where the film does whatever it wants to do, believing that the audience will go along with it, forgetting that it destroys the story and makes no sense at all.

For example, “The Dark Knight Rises” is full of plot holes and inconsistencies, like how Talia Al Ghul was able to escape the prison at an incredibly young age, yet no one else was ever able to do it until Batman, or that no one would notice the supposedly dead Bruce Wayne running around Florence, and that Bruce Wayne happened to die the same day as Batman.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the more you think about the story and logic of “The Dark Knight Rises” the more it falls apart.

Perhaps the reason I don’t concern myself with plot holes is because I don’t often like to think about why certain events happen unless the film wants me to notice it. That I shouldn’t worry about things like food or characters going to the bathroom, because it is just a movie. But then there are films that forget their own continuity and go all over the place, bending time and space to their whim to the point that it is simply baffling.

When a film wants to be logical and sophisticated, but ends up as chaotic and stupid, that is when plot holes deserve to be mentioned.

One such film is the most recent entry in the Terminator franchise, “Terminator: Genisys” a franchise that has been slowly but surely loosing steam since creator James Cameron left after the second film, probably because the story was complete and there was nothing left to accomplish. Instead, we get this new film that misses the driving factors of faith in the face of an insurmountable future, and the strong-willed characters that we wanted to see pull through, to give us a forgettable science fiction mess that doesn’t even begin to make sense.

In the year 2027, the computer program Skynet has taken over the world by wiping out most of the human race with nuclear bombs, leaving a small platoon of rebels to fight against an army of machines. Just when it looks like Skynet is about to lose, the machine uses its “last hope” to win the war, by sending a Terminator back in 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), the mother of the leader of this resistance, John Connor (Jason Clarke). But the rebels send Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to protect Sarah from the Terminator, only to find that the time he has been sent to is very different from what he expected.

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First off, let’s set the ground work for time travel by “Genisys” standards – This film believes in the multi-verse theory. That, when you travel back in time, you are actually being transported to an alternate universe. You no longer exist in the same time line, and thus a different world altogether.

Except that time travel has never worked like that in any of the other Terminator films. It has always been one consistent time line, where if you travel from the future to the past, and make changes, those have an affect on the future. There is no other universe theory, only that time flows like a river upstream- you make enough ripples in the past, and it might affect the flow of the current in the future.

So already, we have a huge inconsistency in how time travel has worked compared to earlier films. It also ruins the “there is no fate but what we make for ourselves” phrase that the Terminator films love to use.

That’s like the Star Trek films throwing out “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few” line they love so much. Oh wait, that happened in “Star Trek: Insurrection.”

But wait, it gets worse.

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From the opening scenes, “Genisys” makes it clear that Skynet was still developing the time machine when it was used to send the Terminator back to 1984. That it only had enough power at the time to send one Terminator back and no more, and that only one object can be sent back at a time.

Yet, over the course of the film, we found out that not just one or two machines were sent into the past, but at least five robots were sent back in time, including two T-1000s and the highly experimental T-3000. So how exactly did Skynet send all these back into the past, when it only had enough time and energy to send one? Why did it need to send all of these back in time? Why not just send them all back to 1984 and overwhelm the one T-800 protecting Sarah Connor, who doesn’t know how he got to the past or who sent him back (another plot hole).

But you can’t send more than one thing per trip. Except when Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor travel from 1984 to 2017, together, in the same time bubble. That is baffling beyond reason. So Skynet could do the same thing all along? Why not just send an army of Terminators into the past? Why bother only sending one when it seems like one is so easily defeated? Why did John Connor only send Kyle Reese into the past, when nearly every one of his soldiers volunteered to go back? They clearly all could have gone if they crammed into the bubble.

This film keeps ignoring and disregarding its own rules on time travel and messing with the past that it hurts just thinking about all the holes.

Oh yeah, Sarah Connor and the Terminator that raised her were able to build a fully functional time machine in 1984, despite not having the proper technology, resources and less than ten years to build it, while Skynet had probably been working on it for over twenty years. I call bullshit on the highest order.

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I could spend the entire day talking about all the plot holes and inconsistencies in “Terminator: Genisys,” but suffice to say these do bring the film down. It is hard to get connected to these characters and care about anything that is going on, when the writing ignores logic and is all over the place.

Speaking of the characters, “Genisys” attempts to bring back the same ferocity and drive of characters like Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, but misses on almost every note. Kyle Reese has zero development throughout the film and makes no attempt to show us why he should have been sent back to 1984, other than what John Connor told him about the past, which goes against the biggest rule of filmmaking – show, don’t tell.

All we know about Kyle Reese is that he can shoot a gun well and has an awkward romance with Sarah Connor.

As for Sarah, she was the biggest disappointment in this film. In “The Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” Sarah Connor was fiercely independent, strong-willed and was more than just a good shot. But here, she always relies on the support of other men, and cannot seem to do anything without “Pops,” her nickname for the Terminator sent back to protect her. To the point that she is immobilized when “Pops” might be dying.

One of the greatest female film characters of all time, reduced to a glorified damsel in distress, always needing a savior.

In fact, that might be the biggest reason for why I hated “Terminator: Genisys.” I could look passed some of the plot holes and the many unnecessary references to earlier Terminator films, but this film forgets every reason the first two films are so loved. This film thinks that we love it for guns, robots and explosions, when in reality, it was the characters and the relationships they built. Even though these people knew about the terrible future ahead of them, they fought on to make a better world, no matter what those sacrifices were. They always had this heavy burden that they alone must carry, seeing tragedy where others saw hope.

“Genisys” exchanges those deeply concerned and motivated characters for people who are here to shoot loads of bullets into a robot that will just keep on coming back for more. I can only think of one word to describe that type of absurdity: weak.

Final Grade: D+

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