Review: Fun, Idiotic 'Terminator Genisys' Can't Do Its Franchise Justice
by Jeremy Kirk
July 1, 2015
Heavy on hardware and low on CPU, Terminator Genisys blasts onto the screen marking the return of one of the action genre's kings, both in terms of star power and franchise. The fifth film in the series, there doesn't seem like much room to continue expanding on the inevitable war between man & machine. If that's your thinking, you've forgotten about the wonders a little time travel can do for a blockbuster franchise. You're also forgetting this is 2015, and the mantra of "bigger is always better" is in full swing. It's a shame that bigger usually means dumber, too. Terminator Genisys is both, briskly limping along the rails its idiotic script has laid down for it. Not even Arnold, welcome return as he is, can justify this film's presence.
Not that another entry in the Terminator series needs much justification. The best ideas this franchise had left with James Cameron after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but that's not stopping it from threatening to be back time and time and time again. This time around, the war between those that survived the nuclear attack brought on by Skynet and the machines the network has built for defense is raging on and nearing its end. John Connor, the savior of the post-apocalyptic human race played this time around by Jason Clarke, is leading his soldiers on their culminating battle against the machines. The robots, sensing their defeat, manage to send a single T-800 back to the year 1984 in an effort to take out John's mother and wipe out any resistance before it can get started. Fortunately, the humans send one of their own to stop the T-800 and become the mother's protector.
Sounds familiar, no? If nothing else, Terminator Genisys knows all the familiar territory the franchise has traveled before. It seems to thrive on fan service and taking all we've seen before and turning it on its ear.
When Kyle Reese, played here by the lumpy and wooden Jai Courtney, travels to 1984, he doesn't find the sweet, innocent Sarah Connor getting ice cream dropped into her pocket during her waitressing job. Instead, the Sarah Connor, played by Emilia Clarke, he finds is already in T2 mode, pumping shotguns, reloading clips, and generally looking badass while sitting behind the wheel of a very large truck. Her premature survivalist skills are all thanks to another T-800, a good T-800, also played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, sent back to her own childhood to protect her from the futuristic dangers.
Who sent this other T-800? Who knows? It's just one of several lame questions Terminator Genisys raises and doesn't answer for the sake of future story lines. When Genisys isn't wallowing in fan service - Schwarzenegger's good T-800 doing hand-to-hand combat with the original T-800 from Cameron's first Terminator is an early treat - it's asking questions it has no intentions of answering. The time displacement equipment used throughout this franchise is running around the clock this time around, machines getting sent to all different points in history, our heroes even finding a machine of their own to jump around time in an effort to stop Skynet once and for all.
The movie could be played off as a brainless blast of fun if it weren't so dead set on rewriting the Terminator universe rules. Director Alan Taylor, best known for his "Game of Thrones" episodes and Thor: The Dark World - has no problem keeping the pace up. Terminator Genisys starts fast and barely lets up for the much of the film. All the action, digitally created as it all is, keeps the entertainment level high, as the movie jumps from set piece to set piece. Unfortunately, most of these are typical. The Golden Gate Bridge can take a hiatus from blockbuster films for awhile. All the action moments are finely put together, though. It's almost enough to keep it all interesting.
That screenplay, though, buries any chance this film had of working. With the new Star Trek series and the direction the X-Men franchises is headed, Hollywood has been no stranger in recent years to completely retconning a series' timeline for the sake of future stories. The Terminator Genisys way of dealing with this is probably the most obvious yet most convoluted way imaginable. The screenplay's one, interesting turn, the identity of the film's true antagonist, has most likely been spoiled for many of you. Its placement within the context of the film, though, is weak considering the "twists" this franchise has taken before. It is also a huge disservice to the franchise, something you don't want to be doing if you're one, true love is fan service.
Just put Schwarzenegger's entire performance in that fan service category. As "Pops," the kindly, giant robot who traveled through time to save a little girl, he amps up the mechanical charm the best he can. If you laughed at him shooting the thumbs up and quipping "Hasta la vista" in T2, you'll be rolling every time he attempts a toothy grin. Schwarzenegger is at ease in the action, much more so than any of his fellow cast members. The best to be said for any of them is that Clarke certainly looks like Linda Hamilton in some of those shots. Also J.K. Simmons as a former cop who becomes a believer in the time-traveling machines brings the film its only, real sense of humor. Even he seems like a refugee from another film entirely.
Which is all to say Terminator Genisys is a blended heap of a mess. Its dumpster fire of a screenplay cobbles pieces of the previous, four films together like a jigsaw puzzle out of gravel, and it's all brought to cinematic reality by way of all the digital creations money can buy in 2015. Spoiler alert: none of it is ever as photorealistic as the first time we saw that T-1000 in 1991. With Genisys as its example, the Terminator franchise has proven once again that bombastic explosions will always trump interesting storytelling in the studio's eyes. If this is the best they can do and the direction of this series' future, let's just hope Arnold won't be back.
Reader Feedback - 31 Comments
I'm sure no one is surprised.
Brian Sleider on Jul 1, 2015
I still think back to how T3 came so close and yet fell so badly. I'll pass on this franchise until it's shown on TV.
Steven on Jul 1, 2015
I think someones having a bad week!!!? Hmmmm Moody, angry review of this and Ted 2? Yes we'd all be fooling ourselves if any of us thought this may be any good. But It's Summer and who gives a shit - I can spend two hours in air-conditioning and watch shit blow up while emptying a bucket of popcorn down my gob!! And yes - of course I want quality writing, directing, production in movies I lay down hard earned cash for. But history will show that the numbers are not stacked well against a constant flow of incredible artistry at this particular time of year. (At least we can look forward to Oscar season for some true surprises) Man! Lighten up, have some fun! and don't choke on that popcorn.
lattimore on Jul 1, 2015
Welcome. I see you've met Jeremy. When he runs out of Doritos and his mom isn't around to fetch him some more, he writes movie reviews.
txJM on Jul 1, 2015
...I'd "somewhat" agree with you if it weren't for two things: 1, this is a sequel to the fucking The Terminator and T2 and those weren't dumb actions movies. If they wanted to do dumb actions movies they should call it other than Terminator. 2, people happy with dumb popcorn movies are the reason we get even more dumb popcorn movies, remakes, reboots an whatever.
Yahzee on Jul 3, 2015
Get off the fence and make up your mind! You either agree or you disagree. And just so we're clear I didn't reference the original films I purely referenced this film! which as it turns out, truly pails in comparison to the original and it's sequel Terminator 2. Try convincing the money grabbing studios for the reason we get dumb popcorn movies not the public! We go see films because we all hope, in every circumstance, that we will be truly entertained and perhaps given something fresh and new. Don't blame the audience for seeing something they paid good money for, only to be left disappointed and cheated.
lattimore on Jul 4, 2015
Doesn't James Cameron regain rights to the franchise in a few years? I'm really really hoping he wraps the story up with a solid film. It has always had so much wasted potential.
Benjamin Hunter on Jul 1, 2015
He already did wrap this story up. It's called "Terminator 2: Judgement Day".
John Doe on Jul 1, 2015
Benjamin Hunter on Jul 1, 2015
I liked it. Very entertaining. Give it a shot.
tyban81 on Jul 1, 2015
You people are fucking ridiculous. Why do you hate everything that comes out? Are you seriously being paid to write bad reviews? Not like anybody gives a shit what you pitiful hacks think or write anyway. The movie was fun and exciting, that's all it needed to be, stop jerking yourselves off over how "smart and sophisticated" you think you are. It's not cool to hate things just to hate them. Try not being cynical assholes for a little bit, try looking for things to actually like and enjoy in movies, life is better for it.
davidshaw on Jul 1, 2015
Yeh its just these guys, its not that its a shit movie(as reflected by its 39 on MC)......
Brian Sleider on Jul 1, 2015
DAVIDPD on Jul 1, 2015
Randall13 on Jul 1, 2015
agree - see my comments below
lattimore on Jul 2, 2015
someone had to say it
Joker's hideout on Jul 2, 2015
They are trolls.do not notice to them.enjoy your movies and never read a review.let them fuck each other.
Pincode on Jul 3, 2015
This is technically considered as a whole new trilogy and not Terminator 5. So really it's just a brand new and revved up franchise.
Jason Scarpelli on Jul 1, 2015
Make a good move. Get a good review. Make a bad movie. Get a bad review.
DAVIDPD on Jul 1, 2015
"The best ideas this franchise had left with James Cameron after Terminator 2: Judgment Day" I have to disagree, I think T3 was sorely underrated and offered some excellent scenes. The car chase was the best of that year and a wonderful action scene plus it also had the balls to add on a down note which someone had to step up and actually do otherwise the whole story was effectively moot.
Payne by name on Jul 2, 2015
The ending for 3 was absolutely heartbreaking and unexpected. Fantastic ending.
ragethorn on Jul 2, 2015
Glad someone else appreciates it. The last act has this real feeling of dread, that the world really is going to end as we know it and given the emptiness of many films nowadays it deserves credit for bringing that feeling. Once you know the ending and watch the film again, you really can feel that the scenes are played out on borrowed time and that no matter what, the machines are going to take over. The way they so cleverly worked it that the Terminator completes it's mission and puts John Connor in a safe place that his knowledge could make him a leader is just brilliant. If anything I wish they'd had a little more budget to show the world get destroyed or played out the final scene with the emotive music just a little bit longer so that it really did resonate that we have been the creators of our own demise. For all his bravado, even Cameron didn't have the balls to end his films on such a downer.
Payne by name on Jul 3, 2015
Even the fighting sequences in Rise of the Machines were great. The T-800 & TX beat the living shit out of each other. There's zero great action sequences in Salvation & Genisys.
ragethorn on Jul 3, 2015
Well said, their fight scenes are great and I love it at the end when the T-800 rams his generator into the mouth of the TX and says "you're terminated!".
Payne by name on Jul 3, 2015
I loved it too!
gdario on Jul 10, 2015
I don't really care about shitty reviews. I'm going to see it tomorrow morning. I read shitty reviews about Avengers Age of Ultron, Mad Max Fury Road, Jurassic World and Loved them all. I go to the movies to escape our shitty reality. With so much bad shit going on in the real world the movies help forget about it.
Mike Avallone on Jul 2, 2015
Do not read horse shit comments by horse shit trolls and enjoy your movies.
Н.И. + on Jul 3, 2015
It was good, all of these reviewers seem to have gathered together on the same shit book and even use some of the exact same phraseology. They don't care what the audience likes, they only care what THEY think the take is. If THAT's all you do, Mr./Ms Critic, more power to you, Most people just go to have a good, or not good, experience. However, almost every story, for critics, is old--EXCEPT THE ONE THEY HAVEN'T YET WRITTEN the screenplay for yet (and probably never will, because OMG, then other critics might shait on it). I am an experienced movie goer; I have not been impressed by a lot of other films, including ones in this franchise, but I LIKED this film, replay or not.
Gary Wilkins on Jul 5, 2015
This movie blew dog turds.
Firefly15 on Jul 9, 2015
I hope this movie kills overseas and justifies a sequel because I’m very interested in how Genysis came to be/where it came from, as well as finding out what or who sent back the Terminators and changed the timeline in the first place.
Thomas Watson on Jul 10, 2015
I liked it, yesterday!
gdario on Jul 10, 2015
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.