Movie Review: Terminator Genisys


Terminator-Genisys-T-8003 stars

PG-13  |  126 min

Director: Alan Taylor

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke

by Jason Koenigsberg

Now this is the movie Jurassic World should have been. Nostalgic but still with enough good ideas and action throughout that it is never boring or patronizing to its audience.

I have to be honest; I was very reluctant to see the newest installment of the Terminator franchise mostly because of the major disappointment of its previous two sequels. Terminator 3 (2003) was non-descript and once it showed Judgment Day actually happen, the results were boring and underwhelming. Terminator: Salvation (2009) with Christian Bale as John Connor was never boring, but it was incredibly stupid and because of that, equally disappointing. James Cameron’s promotion for this latest film was legitimate; this is the best Terminator sequel since the last one he directed with T2. This is the Terminator movie that fans and the actors involved deserve.

The script has a lot of ground to make up and it does so rather efficiently. There is never too much scientific mumbo jumbo about time travel although there easily could have been since it is paramount to the plot, a lot of humans and machines are jumping around through time trying to save and destroy important people and technology. But Terminator Genisys moves at a brisk pace so we never feel bogged down instead we are given some very effective action scenes, some feature too much CGI and others feel just right.

My biggest inhibition was going to be with the actors. Arnold looks old (but not obsolete as he reminds us a few times during the film) however once they give a simple explanation as to how his terminator character can age we forget about it and accept him in the role he invented over thirty years ago. I was nervous about Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor because Linda Hamilton owned that role; she was great as the toughest mom in the world. Plus, I also thought Emilia Clarke is far too attractive to play Sarah Connor. Linda Hamilton may be pretty at times, but she is not the gorgeous Emilia Clarke in any way. I feared Ms. Clarke was going to be too hot and distract from what Sarah Connor should be. After the first few scenes I accepted her as the kick ass mom of the future and she disappeared into the role nicely.

Jai Courtney is the weakest link of the cast mainly because he never convinced me that he was Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn in the original 1984 film). I also did not think he had much chemistry with Emilia Clarke, he seemed kind of wooden and the sexual tension and subsequent romantic moments felt forced.

Some praise also should be given to Jason Clarke as John Connor who has to play the hero of the human race and a villainous machine. He is the best adult John Connor we have seen, and the best since Edward Furlong played him as a child in Terminator 2 (1991). We are not supposed to be sure at certain points of the film if he is good or not and there are no spoilers here because the ad campaign for Terminator Genisys ruined what could have been a great surprise in a lot of the trailers and TV commercials. From what I know about the original script of Terminator Salvation, this is kind of the movie we were supposed to get from that film until Christian Bale was cast as John Connor and they re-wrote that part to make him the lead and the hero of the film. 

In the end Terminator Genisys had enough action and intelligence to keep me entertained for its full two hours. It is also a smart indictment of technology and our reliance upon machines for everything. The Skynet Company and its Genisys program are guaranteed to make audiences think of major technological companies such as Apple or Google and how they have so much power and control over our lives already. Director Alan Taylor is faithful to Terminator legacy and lore making references to the previous films, mainly James Cameron’s first two. Fans of the franchise should be satisfied with this entry. It pays tribute to everything that made the first two films such a success while still adding some new ideas and riveting action. This is the Terminator sequel we all deserve and the kind of nostalgia that studios should strive for. 

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