Monday, July 27, 2015

Terminator Genisys

2.5/4

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke

Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence and Gunplay Throughout, Partial Nudity and Brief Strong Language

Another summer, another year of Hollywood studios desperate to keep long-running franchises going.  To be fair, "Terminator Genisys" isn't a bad film.  It has its flaws, mainly with the fact that it doesn't take enough chances, but it's not terrible.

As we all know, when Skynet came online, they destroyed the world and went to war with the survivors.  The human leader, John Connor (Clarke), is the biggest threat to Skynet, so they sent back a Terminator to 1984 to kill his mother, Sarah, and...well, unless you've never seen any of the movies, you know the story.

In this new "Terminator" film, the humans are launching one final offensive against the machines that could finally bring down Skynet for good.  They succeed, but not before Skynet sends someone back in time to kill Sarah (Clarke).  Thus, John Connor (Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Courtney) to protect her.  When he gets there, he finds that Sarah already knows everything and has been working with a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) to prevent the activation of Skynet.  Sarah and Kyle go into the future to prevent the activation of Skynet's new operating system, called Genisys, which will cause it to become self-aware, and start the apocalypse. And that's when they meet a real threat...

"Terminator Genisys" is like "The Avengers:" it's all earmarks and winks to fans.  In fact, the first half hour is a retread of the first two movies, resulting in irritation and boredom.  No movie I've seen has been this dismissive to viewers.

The film's plot is also problematic, since the details are unexplained and what is there makes it present more problems than its worth.  Then there's the big twist, which those who have seen it or been on the internet will know but I won't reveal.  I'll admit that it took me by surprise, but it flies so far in the face of everything in the films leading up to it that it feels wrong.

The acting is...okay?  Honestly, neither of the heroes leaves much of an impression.  Of the two, Jai Courtney is the most successful, but they made me wish for Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton.  Ah-nuld just looks bored.  And old (there are a few jokes at the expense of his age, but that doesn't solve the problem).  Jason Clarke is very effective in his role, but I won't say more than that.

Ultimately, I can't recommend the film because it brings so little to the table that its new that it doesn't justify seeing it.  The action scenes are pedestrian and so is the script, which makes it even worse.  Say what you want about James Cameron (he has a reputation for being a particularly demanding director), but the man possesses a gift for storytelling that screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier and director Alan Taylor lack.

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