Movie Reviews

Review: “Terminator Genisys”

Terminator Genisys Poster

Terminator Genisys (2015)

Synopsis:

When Skynet is on the verge of losing its battle against humanity, the artificial intelligence sends a Terminator Model 101 back in time to 1984 to assassinate Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), the mother of Human Resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke). Volunteering to protect Sarah from the Terminator, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), John’s right-hand man, volunteers to travel back to May 12, 1984 and protect Sarah from the Terminator and ensure John’s existence. But when he arrives in 1984, he’s discovered the timeline has changed and that Sarah has been raised by another Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) programmed to train and protect her from Skynet.

Film Review: 

Terminator Genisys is a sequel/reboot to the first two entries of the Terminator franchise. Much like how the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is an alternate timeline that doesn’t connect to Terminator 3Genisys is another alternate timeline that ignores the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation.

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves: Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation were garbage. I didn’t hate Terminator 3 because it didn’t live up to Terminator 2; I hated Terminator 3 because it took everything James Cameron established and took a dump on it. From awkward humor that missed its mark to crappy special effects, boring character development between John and Kate Brewster and a plot that gave the middle finger to Terminator 2, the third film left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Six years later, director McG attempted to revitalize the franchise with Terminator Salvation. His intent was creating a new trilogy that showed John’s early fights with the machines years after the events of T3. Although Salvation had an interesting premise, it ended up as a careless attempt to make a post-apocalyptic action flick, not to mention it featured a badly miscast Christian Bale as John Connor and a cheap attempt at digitally inserting Schwarzenegger’s face on a T-800. I personally gravitated toward Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as the true follow-up to the first two films, feeling that it was more true to the Terminator source material than T3 or Salvation.

Just when it looked like the franchise was terminated, Schwarzenegger returned to acting after his stint as Governor of California. This meant that another Terminator film was a must and the result is the new film.

The majority of critics have been harsh in reviewing Genisys, labeling it as the worst entry in the franchise. Scott Mendelson of Forbes is one of these notorious critics, ripping the film as being uninteresting, constantly comparing the film to the standards of Terminator 2 while sliding over the two recent sequels. Even World of Entertainment’s Paul Sell went on about the film having so many plot holes that it made the film difficult to enjoy.

I highly disagree with these assessments.

Terminator-Genisys Arnold Schwarzenegger

He may be old, but he’s not obsolete.

Genisys is not the best entry of the franchise, but it distances itself greatly from the likes of T3 and Salvation and stays true to the established Terminator lore. It may take elements of what makes the first and second movies great, but it manages to hold its own and polish off the rust that built up between 1991 and 2015. The film even goes out of its way to re-create and honor subtle moments from the beginning of The Terminator, from the punk kids meeting the T-800 to Kyle Reese adjusting his Nike shoes while hiding from a police officer. Although it may not have the suspense that the first two films excelled at, Genisys has more memorable action sequences than Salvation and much better humor than what was in T3. It’s all about enjoying yourself at the movies, and Genisys manages to accomplish that without going overboard on the disaster porn.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s clearly the star of the film as he reprises his role as a Model 101 T-800. This time, he plays an older T-800 model known as The Guardian, who was sent by a mysterious individual to go back in time and protect 9-year-old Sarah Connor. This particular T-800 acts as a surrogate father to Sarah, whom she develops an emotional attachment to and refers to him as “Pops.” Since Terminators are living tissue over a metal endoskeleton, Pops is susceptible to the aging process just like any other human, making him one of the more unique Terminators in the franchise. Pops is like a spiritual successor to Terminator 2’s “Uncle Bob,” and it was fun seeing a Terminator with established human-like traits, even if it’s still an awkward sight for those around him to see him smile. While still a machine underneath the living flesh, it’s clear that Pops has adapted to learning human emotion, as there are moments where you get the sense he has a bond with Sarah.

Emilia Clark as Sarah Connor

Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor

New to the franchise is Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), who does a fantastic job of portraying Sarah Connor. Because of the changes in the timeline, her 1984 portrayal of Sarah has qualities of the older trained soldier Linda Hamilton played in T2. However, Clarke puts her own spin on it to make Sarah her own as well while maintaining the standards Hamilton set. Not only does she keep in line with her predecessor, Clarke’s hair and facial expressions bear a strong resemblance to young Hamilton, and she delivers with a convincing performance. While some may criticize that Sarah shouldn’t be trusting a Terminator based on her hatred of machines in T2, but this is a different timeline where this Sarah was never hunted by a T-800. Because of this, she has a vastly different opinion of the T-800 she calls Pops. While it’s weird to see Sarah be so trusting of a Terminator, it was a nice twist to see her experience what her future son experienced with Uncle Bob in another timeline.

Jason Clarke becomes the fifth actor on film to portray John Connor on film. Jason’s portrayal of John matches up with the stories of future John that has been described in previous films, right down to the facial scar seen in T2, and his confidence is through the roof because of his knowledge of the future. Unlike Nick Stahl or Christian Bale, Clarke’s portrayal adds a side nobody ever thought of before; what if the man to save humanity became its biggest threat? If you saw the trailer, you know it revealed a big plot spoiler that John is transformed into a Terminator. While the twist in the film doesn’t have the intended effect due to the trailer, it brings a different perspective on the character we’ve been told countless times is the savior of the human race. For the first time, John is the humanity’s enemy, and it tests your feelings toward the character.

As for John’s trusted right-hand man, Kyle Reese is played by Jai Courtney. Courtney may have the soldier’s look about him, but he lacks some of the emotional aspects that made Reese such a beloved character. In the original film, Michael Biehn played Reese as a soldier who’s clearly damaged and exhausted by the war. Courtney gets the soldier part right, but there’s never a sense he’s exhausted from the fighting, making him just about as robotic as a Terminator. Some of the scenes between Reese and Kyle lack the chemistry that Hamilton and Biehn had in the original movie, but that could very well be due to the timeline change. Either way, Courtney fills the role decently, but doesn’t channel a young Michael Biehn in the way Emilia Clarke channeled Linda Hamilton.

Pops and Sarah

Sarah Connor and Pops in Terminator Genisys

Although there are many great aspects to Genisys that critics are blind to, there’s no denying it has its faults. The majority of the fingers point at the number of plot holes in the film. Since it involves time travel and numerous changes to the timeline, there’s bound to be plot holes in time travel logic. Most films involving time travel have inconsistencies regarding how time travel works and the ripple effect it can cause to future people and events. There are plenty of questions that the film does not answer, but considering that Genisys is intended to be the start of a new trilogy, there’s bound to be withheld information that would be revealed in future sequels.

Overall, Genisys is an enjoyable movie that is much better what the film snobs say it is. The movie is anything but boring; it’s an interesting film and while it may not meet the standards of T2the entertainment factor is high and it doesn’t drag as T3 or Salvation did. If you’re a stickler for absolute concrete details and can’t allow yourself to let some time travel plot holes prevent you from enjoying Genisys, then you won’t like it. However, if you’re open minded, then do yourself a favor and allow yourself to enjoy the movie for what it is.

Grade: 4 out of 5. 

6 replies »

  1. So critics that didn’t care for the story or characters, and as a result found the action boring and unfulfilling, are snobs who must be, according to your words, “sticklers for absolute concrete details and can’t allow [themselves] to let some time travel plot holes prevent [them] from enjoying the movie…” and that they are blind to some elements of filmmaking, even though it might just be a difference of opinion.

    Hmmm. Interesting.

    A word of advice – judge the film, don’t judge the people who didn’t like the film that you liked. Don’t talk about ascepts that you think the critics got wrong (even though Genisys is holding at a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes, so this must be something that most critics agree on), talk about why you think this film deserves a 4 out of 5. I got the impression that this review was aimed more at the critics that didn’t care for the film and how they’re wrong, even though it is all opinion based, thus no one is right or wrong. So being rude and disrespectful to your fellow critics is uncalled for.

  2. Oh, I judged the film. I also found the critics were far apart from my opinion of the film and I pointed out their main complaints and justified my opinion of how I viewed the movie.

    And if you actually read my review, I did talk about why I thought the film was a 4 out of 5 and I justified exactly why I liked it. Yes, I had my opinion of the critics, but I focused on why I thought the film was better than the reputation it had been given.

    If you consider it rude and disrespectful, that’s your opinion. My opinion is that they were wrong and that the movie was entertaining and worth going to the movies for. If you see it as a personal attack, then I guess that’s how you feel about it.

    • I’m not saying that you didn’t judge the film. What I was saying is that you were also unfairly judging the critics that you disagreed with. That’s what I got out of your review – that you were more angry at the critics than you were enjoying the film. In other words, my response to your review was to say that the bits about critics being snobs and sticklers for concrete details and blind to elements of filmmaking on a film that currently has a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes is unjustified and unnecessary.

      I read your review, and I what I took away from it was that you were angry at the critics that didn’t like Genisys. That’s fine that you disagree with them, but to call them snobs who are blind to good elements of filmmaking? That is going too far.

      “My opinion is that they were wrong.”

      Except that they can’t be wrong. It is their personal opinions that “Terminator: Genisys” sucked. That’s the wonderful thing about opinions – they are not right or wrong. There is no one right mind set when it comes to “Terminator: Genisys” or any film for that matter. Just because someone hates “Citizen Kane,” that doesn’t make them wrong. It just means that they have an opinion that is different from most other people. Same with liking “Terminator: Rise Of The Machines” and “Terminator: Salvation,” like me. I enjoyed those films much more than “Terminator: Genisys,” and would gladly watch those again before seeing “Genisys” again. Does that make me wrong? Not at all. Because it isn’t a matter of right or wrong.

      The most that you can say is that you disagree with their opinions, which is very different from saying that their opinion is wrong. You’re acting like it is a fact that “Terminator: Genisys” was a good movie, especially by using the word “wrong” on those different from you. That is why I found your review rude and disrespectful – because you’re treating anyone whose opinion is different from yours as inferior and not worth people’s time, when that is not true.

      If you liked “Terminator: Genisys,” that’s perfectly fine. I can see why some people would enjoy it. I disagree with those people, but I would never call them wrong. It is merely a difference of opinion, something that happens daily in the world of film criticism. So I stand by what I said – judge the film, don’t judge the people who didn’t like the film that you liked.

      • If all you took away from my review was that I was angry at critics, then you completely mis-interpreted my review. The critics panned the film and I’ve had numerous people tell me that they were hesitant about seeing the film solely because the critics said it was bad. I enjoyed the movie and I wrote my review to let the reader know that it was better than what they read/heard. I disagreed with the consensus, so I wrote my review to inform readers that it’s not the worst movie ever.

        I’ve had numerous individuals proofread my article and not one of them took away that I was insulting critics. Some may not have agreed with my views on the movie, but they felt I pointed out the things in the movie to justify my opinion and they understood my view on it. I pulled out the common complaints about the movie, said I disagreed with them, and I explained what it was and what I felt about the actors and the film itself in relation to the “Terminator” franchise. If I was insulting critics, the article would specifically be about that.

        You are entitled to stand by what you say, but I don’t believe you took away anything I felt about the film. You saw that I referenced you among numerous names of critics and felt insulted. Instead of reading my review for what it was, you took it as a personal attack on critics. I judged the film and I justified to readers on the fence about seeing the movie that it is worth spending a day at the movies. I covered every aspect of the review process from other critics to the actual movie.

        The reason why I felt the critics missed the mark is that they’re looking for things that weren’t there, and again I stated what they missed. I was entitled to my opinion and I wrote a fair review about a film that has received a poor reputation and justified why I felt it was better than the Rotten Tomatoes consensus. If that’s “rude and disrespectful,” then you are just as rude and disrespectful when you make that accusation.

        Take what you want from it, Paul.

      • Like I said at the beginning of my last response, I never said you didn’t judge the film. You did that just fine, and I’m not arguing about that part. I’m saying that you did that, and far much more than you needed to.

        There is no one right thing to take away from a review, David. Most of the time, a review is just about reading someone’s thoughts and opinions on a particular movie, then using that info to perhaps understand if they want to see that film. But other times, a critic will include more than what is expected. For example, in my review of “Terminator: Genisys” I talk about plot holes in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Was that necessary? No, but it has multiple functions in the review – it lets the audience know that I don’t like “The Dark Knight Rises,” and it leads into my point about how too many plot holes or really big plot holes can ruin a film. It has little to do with my thoughts on “Terminator: Genisys” but a review can be platform for more than just looking at a movie. Your review of this film works the same way with how you word certain phrases, especially with words like “snob,” “critics are blind,” “stickler for details” and “can’t allow yourself…”

        Those phrases didn’t need to be worded like that. And by doing so, it seems like you’re going out of your way to attack those who disagree with you.

        Let me make it clear – I got why you enjoyed “Terminator: Genisys,” but I also think you said some things that felt insulting. You can have your article be about the movie while still insulting critics. In fact, I think that’s exactly what you did. That just sticks out to me more than your thoughts on the film, is your unjustified anger towards people who were only expressing their opinions, much like you are.

        I never once said that you weren’t entitled to your opinion on “Terminator: Genisys.” In fact, in my last comment, I said that it was perfectly fine that you enjoyed “Terminator: Genisys.” But what I’m saying about this has nothing to do with your feelings on the film. Your opinion on the film is not rude and disrespectful, but I think the way you are wording your opinion on the film is rude and disrespectful.

        Anytime someone has to resort to calling another a snob or blind, especially when it comes to movies, that person is doing so unnecessarily and usually hatefully.

  3. Once again, Paul, you’re missing my point. I didn’t insult any of the listed critics in the review; I listed you and another critic as examples of the opinions on this movie with which I disagree with, and you interpret that as as “hateful.”

    If you’re referring to my “film snob” quote in the final paragraph, it’s a general term referring to people who take movies too seriously that they can’t enjoy them for what they are, much like how sports fans can be so into a team that they don’t see reason. I’m a competent enough writer that I don’t have to call people names in my articles. After all, I am an adult.

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