Terminator Genisys – reviewed by David Emms
I saw Terminator Genisys at the Palace Nova Cinemas in Adelaide’s East End. I had heard both good and bad reviews of this film (as it’s been out for a couple of weeks now), so I went in somewhat apprehensive of what was awaiting me on screen.
The Terminator series of films is one of my favourites, and indeed now iconic in Hollywood cinema history. As some background, the original, The Terminator, is a modern sci-fi classic, and still stands on its own 31 years later. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a landmark in modern cinema – brilliant for all the right reasons and ground-breaking in terms of action and special effects. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a reasonable follow up to T2, but of course not quite in the same ballpark. I try to forget Terminator: Salvation is part of the franchise – it was OK, but this film didn’t have a great plot, was very convoluted, and had a tone far removed from the original trilogy. So, excluding the Arnie-less Salvation, the first three films, particularly T2 & T3, base a lot of their plot development on the principle of “There is no fate but that we make”, and that any change in the timeline in the present can lead to profound changes in the future and the war with SkyNet. This principle is important to remember when going into Terminator Genisys.
This film starts off brilliantly, with a battle in the future against SkyNet, followed by Kyle Reece travelling back in time to 1984, just like in the original film. What I really loved about this installment was the dedication to the *mythology* of the Terminator, particularly the first film. Original footage from the first movie is spliced seamlessly into recently shot scenes (some amazing body double work here too!) and there are some fantastic shot-for-shot remakes of the original as well. True fans will be satisfied with this I’m sure, as I was. Other parts of the Terminator mythology that are revisited, especially from T2, will also give devotees big smiles.
From this point, time travel is involved again, this time going forward into the future, rather than back into the past. I’ve said this before: time travel films are tricky to get right. Some are brilliant (eg the Back to the Future films), others not so good (with many paradoxes and/or infinite time loops, e.g. Looper). Terminator Genisys gets their time travel issues mostly right. The writers and director handle the jumps back and forward well, with the understanding that changes in the past affect the timeline in the future, and the many alternate futures are dealt with well. It is complex to keep up in some places, but if you can, the many alternate timelines actually do make sense.
The acting is fine. The two main leads Emilia Clarke, (The Khaleesi from Game of Thrones) and Aussie, Jai Courtney have reasonable chemistry, and another Aussie, Jason Clarke, is suitably impressive as Resistance Leader John Connor. Arnie is Arnie – and I did like the way he played an “older” Terminator, as dictated by the actor’s age. The special effects are good too, and the stunts are pretty impressive, but I thought the physical fight scenes weren’t quite spot on. Perhaps a little too much reliance on CGI there (and overall in the film), but given it’s SkyNet, I’ll let that pass. My biggest issue with the film comes from the main villains in the piece, but I can’t say any more here without giving away major spoilers.
Overall, not as bad as some of the reviews I’ve heard or read. It has a good storyline, and good action, comedy and special effects. For those keeping score, about on a par with Terminator 3, perhaps a little better.
3.5 stars for the film + the 0.5 star loading for a film series that I’m invested in =