a critiQal film review Terminator: Genisys (2015)

Plot: When John Connor (Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian (Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the futureā€¦

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Looking for a newer movie to review, we stumbled across Terminator: Genisys, the latest in the line of The Terminator (1984) sequels. Critically bashed, this was supposedly the worst of the bunch – and judging by how the critics hated at least two other films in the series, that was saying a lot.

However, we had high hopes going in. After all, the weakest film of the series for us has been Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003). We actually enjoyed Terminator Salvation (2009). Would we continue to buck the trend when it came to these sequels and enjoy Terminator: Genisys as well? Or were the critics actually right this time?

Arnold Schwarzenegger returns once again to play the T-800, and he’s still obviously having a lot of fun with it. Back in the 80’s, critics accused him of wooden acting, and he showed how that could work for him by taking on this iconic role. While his recent films have varied from decent (The Expendables 3 (2014)) to not-so-good (Sabotage (2014)), Terminator: Genisys shows that while he may be older, he hasn’t yet lost all his on-screen charm.

Jai Courtney – who first gained notice by playing John McClane’s son in A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) (another not-so-well-received sequel in an iconic series) – gets the rather unenviable task of trying to fill Michael Biehn’s shoes as Kyle Reese. An iconic – and pivotal – role for any fan of the series, he couldn’t hope to satisfy all the fanboy wishes out there, so he doesn’t even try. Like his role as McClane’s son, he just plays it his way, not trying to emulate (in that case) Bruce Willis or (here) Michael Biehn. It works well, and he is able to bring his own flavor to the revamped role.

Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke (no relation) round out the main cast as Sarah Connor and John Connor, respectively. While Clarke steps up a bit as the role of John Connor changes drastically, Emilia Clarke is the emulator of the bunch. Seemingly trying to channel Linda Hamilton, she doesn’t really make the role her own, unlike her co-stars.

J. K. Simmons also pops up, but his character is under-utilized in the film. He’s used more to tie together one of the time jumps in the film more than anything else. It would have been nice to have that filled out a bit more, but alas, not this time around. Maybe in a sequel?

While critics (and fanboys) have bashed Terminator: Genisys for “destroying” the series, the film instead seems to be the much-needed update the series has been yearning for. After the one-off that was Terminator Salvation (2009) (and the silly Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003)), the series was in need of a reboot. After all, the famed “Judgement Day” had already passed (it was in 1997, remember?) and the series needed a way to keep this a “future world-ender” scenario.

By changing things up a bit, yet creating some familiarity while mimicking the early sequences (and fitting in the aging Schwarzenegger as well), Terminator: Genisys accomplished this brilliantly. While hardcore fanboys may hate it, it works well, bringing a sense of 80’s nostalgia along with a new twist – making the film less of a retread and more of a new chapter. With the changes, viewers won’t know what to expect, and will keep being surprised as they watch – unless they saw the previews.

It seems like the biggest fallback of Terminator: Genisys is what the previews gave away. Viewers already know who the surprise bad guy is, for one. And, while the trailers showcased an epic fight between 80’s Schwarzenegger and an older version, that actually isn’t as much of a spoiler as viewers may originally believe (thankfully). Still, the bad guy reveal in the trailers is a mistake, and should never have happened.

Once again, despite some flaws (with the biggest occurring during the marketing phase of the film), we’re going to have to disagree with the critics. While diehard fanboys may hate the update, Terminator: Genisys comes across as a natural bridge between the past and the future in the series, and an actual continuation/update that the series has needed since Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) almost killed it off. So ignore the critics and give Terminator: Genisys a shot – like us, you may find yourselves having more fun than you thought you would.

Arnold’s still having fun with his character, and chances are he’s going to be back (again) for another sequel. If the series can keep evolving as it did with this film, we’ll definitely be on-board.

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