Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Terminator – Genisys

Terminator Genisys is a watered down concoction of the greatest hits from previous movies, making it both a sad attempt to reboot a franchise that is obviously past its prime and a big-budgeted action film that’s not worth a dime.

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia 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 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future.

Genisys is your run-in-the-mill cash grab by producers who want to make easy money by repackaging an old product for the new generation and rope in nostalgic fans.

It’s an ugly Hollywood trend that would have been forgivable if a reboot had a more interesting story to tell with a creative twist.

Terminator Genisys has none.

Instead of the overdue robot vs. mankind battle that would have been a more reasonable course to tackle, the latest installment tweaks the old premise to reset the timeline, which is obviously just an excuse to launch a new franchise. As the trailer hinted, this lead to a convoluted plot.

Instead of showing the viewers something new or creative, the movie rehashes memorable moments from previous films.  The Terminator rights would revert back to Cameron in 2019, so Megan Ellison had to hurry up to squeeze two movies out of the asset. The result is a feature-length throwback video that doesn’t offer anything substantial.

The CGI looks cartoonish. There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before from the previous movies and other action films. How many times are we going to encounter some new better equipped model only to be somehow defeated by the old one?

Arnold Schwarzenegger tries to make it work, but the old jokes are stale. Jai Courtney (the poor man’s Sam Worthington) does what he is supposed to do, but his Kyle Reese is unlikeable. Jason Clarke is capable, but his role is an alibi for a weak reboot (or requel?). Emilia Clarke overacts and turns Sarah Connor into a monomaniac. On the other hand, J.K. Simmons is a ray of light as he provides the much needed self-aware humor in the film.

In the end, Terminator Genisys is a useless reboot. Sarah and Kyle will still trigger the same events. Skynet, now Genisys, has become the stereotypical unkillable big bad (now with the complementary holographic image given to evil A.I.). And then there’s T-1000, kept alive for nostalgia.

We don’t know yet how the sequels will turn out. Maybe the makers have something in store, but based from what they gave us here there’s nothing much to expect.

All angles to the story has already been tackled by the previous films – the unlikely team-up of man and a machine; the struggle against fate and fight for autonomy; the blurred line between humanity and artificial intelligence, and the inevitability of the future. So there’s nothing else to do but move forward.

In the new Terminator, the makers prefer to do something safe, quick, and easy by milking the novelty of the franchise. So instead of making an effort to plug in some new programming, they just recycle the old code. This did nothing but to prove that the franchise is a memorabilia that wouldn’t sell at even half of its original price.

The movie bombed in America because of obvious reasons. While it made money from overseas (usually from places whose industry aren’t capable of big-budgeted films churned by Hollywood so they’re easily amused), the fact is the time-hopping Terminator is a tired old shtick. The more they tinker with it, the more obvious how stupid its premise becomes – how hard is it to send a Terminator in the 19th century and kill Connor’s great great great grandparents armed with a blunderbuss?

It’s ironic how directors today have better technology but end up wasting it, compared to directors before who had to make do with underdeveloped technology but end up producing something amazing. Millennials are spoiled with choices, but they’re pretty much the same mass marketed product from the Hollywood machine.

I digress. Even though its not much, Genisys has a female action hero that doesn’t run in heels. It does have something interesting for those who have never watched, heard, completely forgotten, or too young to process the original. But then again who hasn’t? and for those who do what do they get?

Terminator Genisys isn’t a decent reboot nor a serviceable blockbuster flick. It’s a forgettable mildly amusing relic from a deleted timeline that shouldn’t have been recovered from the recycle bin.

My Rating: 3/10

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