Terminator: Genisys (2015)
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Byung-jun Lee, Emilia Clarke, J.K. Simmons, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, Matthew Smith
What is it all about?
When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future…
The Hughes Verdict!
There are many famous classic scenes from the Terminator franchise that fans all around the world remember. The “I’ll be back line” served up so famously in the original, to Arnie on that bike, swirling and double loading that shotgun for that ultimate cool effect, and many more I could write for hours about. But the two pivotal moments in the Terminator franchise that are ingrained in the memory off all fans everywhere are not from Terminator or its ground breaking action classic sequel, but that from T3-Rise Of The Machines, the much maligned 2003 addition. I am talking about of course about the two scenes where Arnie’s robotic killer dons those Elton John type glasses for a cheap laugh and before that, the ridiculous “Talk to the hand” line of dialogue that had those watching back then cringing in their very seats.
Those two moments which came in the first fifteen minutes of the second sequel were an indication that the franchise was beginning to move away from its roots, a reminder that its creator James Cameron was no longer sitting in the director’s chair. We were no longer witnessing a clever Sci-Fi movie and that the plot, which started off in 1984 as a horror before moving into an action mega blockbuster in 1992, was now being watered down into an audience friendly extravaganza and for all those who loved what when on before, it was pretty hard to watch.
The meaning of “Talk to the hand” is quite ironic when I think of Terminator Genisys. The definition of that saying is……..
“ used as a contemptuous way of dismissing what someone has said (often accompanied by a gesture in which the palm of the hand is held in front of the original speaker’s face).”
……which sums up the general feeling of this long awaited sequel. It’s quite hard to get rid of this hateful feeling that what the writers have done here is reset the franchise, so everything we knew and loved has now never happened. Sarah Connor transforming from this weak woman to ultimate action girl – never happened!, “Hasta La Vista, Baby”-never happened! All the events of T3 and Terminator Salvation-never happened…OK! For that, we all should be grateful, but my point is, what this addition does is now make our copies of the two original films, in our DVD collection, redundant!
Yes! I admit that all they have done is copy the Star Trek route, but while J.J Abrams managed to pull it off, Genisys at times becomes its own worst enemy. By trying to be too clever, it sails dangerously close to ruining everything we love and I can see why there is much hatred already developing for this film. But is it as bad as the word on the street?
For the opening half hour, I thought I was watching the wrong film! Like I have said before, I try not to read reviews before I write my own as I do not want to be influenced but it’s been quite hard this week to avoid such the negativity surround this sequel. I have seen many one star ratings being spread around the net and for a while last night, I was wondering why such hate?
We start with the typical Terminator voice over beginning, telling us again about Judgement Day! Why we needed to hear this again is anyone’s guess but for the newcomers or those with a bad memory, we see the events of the end of T3 in which the human race fell to the hands of Skynet. We then skip to the future and once more get an extended look at the ruins of earth, only glimpsed in James Cameron’s original two. Here we finally see the moment, John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to the past of 1984, to protect his mother Sarah from the Terminator.
It’s here that the movie sparkles! Maybe its my undying love for the original two films that clouds my judgement but it was nice to see the film show some iconic scenes all over again, only this time with a different slant. A lot of care has gone into the beginning and while it was odd and surreal to see Jai Courtney doing the things that Michael Biehn once done, if you can manage to get past that mental block, you appreciate what Genisys is offering. When Arnie shows up all naked and walks towards those punks to steal their clothes once more, it’s here the film takes an almighty swift.
Anyone expecting a fist through the chest this time by our killer are in for a shock when another Arnie appears from nowhere and utters the line “I have been expecting you”, and we have two T-800’s staring back at us. Now I admit and say I thought this was really brilliant. 2015 Arnie facing up to his very impressive computerised 1984 counterpart, I mean what is there not to love?
The 1984 version of events we all know with our heart is no more. Sarah Connor is no longer a waitress and no longer Linda Hamilton but that of Emilia Clarke, who has now been taught how to fight and prepare for the war since she was a young girl by the killing machine she calls “Pops!”. Confused? Well, get used to that feeling!
When watching this half of the film, I could only wish for Biehn and Hamilton. I honestly feel if they had done this angle many years ago, fans would have been thrilled to see this plot happening with the two original stars playing off each other in a different way. This is no fault of Courtney or Clarke who try they best in these famous roles, but I guess your appreciation of these scenes will only happen if you can get past these “imposters” filling in their shoes. I mean Linda Hamilton was so iconic in the role of Sarah, it is asking the impossible for Clarke to even get half of the same feeling of affinity from us the fans, but all I say is… go with the flow and try to forget the faces on show and just see the characters.
It’s for the first time since T2 that this moment of the franchise actually feels like a Terminator film and that is the biggest praise I can give because it all suddenly goes dramatically wrong.
Now, I do not know much about Quantum Physics or even leaping (apart from the fact you need a computer called Ziggy, a hologram named Al and a Scientist by the name of Dr Sam Beckett), but when Genysis moves away from the roots of Cameron and then offers its only twisty time travel plot, it all becomes a bit of a mess.
Arnie trying to explain “Quantum Field” to us, the viewer, is mind baffling and we then lead into a “two time lines merging into one” with Kyle’s memories aiding to the plot in a most stupid and dumb way. This is where the film switches to 2017 and yet another attempt to stop Judgement day happening and like me you probably be thinking, “haven’t they done this already in Terminator 2?”
For a two hour running time, I can not stress how badly the last hour and a bit is! Genysis becomes a parody onto itself, explaining techno jumble to ill effect and leaving massive unexplained plot holes that will frustrate and anger you in equal manner. It’s in the year 2017 that Mum and Dad finally meet their son John Connor, in what should have been a franchise highlight.
But this is where I can state how much of a mess this film becomes.
If there is now an alternative timeline how exactly is John Connor born? I mean we see Kyle go back to 1984 and meet up with Sarah. In the original he saves her life, they fall in love and have that memorable proper 80’s love scene, before he dies a hero and she ends up with child. Now though, that never happened, we never see this event, so in theory, when they go to 2017, they are in a timeline in which John was never conceived. For this to happen right, they would need to save the day in Genysis, then somehow go back to 1984, make a baby, so these events pan out…..
My head hurts….. where is Doc Brown and his chalkboard?….
It’s that kind of plotting that will leave you tearing out your hair even more so when you see what happens to John Connor as a character. With no internet in 1992, many fans were stunned in their seats when watching T2 and finding out that Arnie was now a good cyborg. How we wish for those days now, because the twist half way through this, which, lets be fair, would have been great, was now ruined thanks to a stupid ad campaign and trailer which explains in great detail in how John Connor is now the film’s bad guy.
So what we have is parents against son, which on paper sounds wicked, but really is a gigantic robotic mess. Director Alan Taylor fills the remainder of the running time with a repetitive cycle that goes like, chase scene….explain the complicated plot…. chase scene…..explain the complicated plot….chase scene…..I think you get it!
Arnie is the best thing in this! He steals every scene and you just wish he had better material to work with. Even the misguided moment involving the “Bad Boys” song (don’t ask!) is only saved thanks to Arnie’s tongue-in-cheek approach.
Basically though, is this better than the last two offerings? Well yes, but only marginally! There is no dark edge to this at all like we had in Rise Of The Machines which was saved thanks to that ending that even Cameron would never have thought of and let’s be honest, any further sequels would have to really scrape the barrel to match the dire Salvation, a film to this day I have only ever watched once and probably never will again.
Genisys is only strong, and at its peak, when it goes back to its roots and satisfies the fans memories of a long gone two films. All Terminator fans know that the franchise started in 1984 and ended in 1992, with Judgement Day giving us the perfect film and a satisfying end. Little did we know back then that when the T-800 was being lowered into that vat of molten lava of vat and gave his thumbs up at the end, it was actually a farewell of greatness.
Terminator: Genisys sparkles in the opening half hour but then sinks into its own creative mess. It at times is the worst of a new breed of film genre: not exactly a remake or reboot… but a re-brand! When it brings up its own past, it seduces the fans but when it then tries to serve up its own mythology, it falls on its sword.
This is supposed to have been the start of a whole new trilogy and while it may work as dumb summer blockbuster, for a Terminator film it should be a whole lot better and if a sequel does manage to get made, more thought is needed, because after this and Salvation, fans may hold up their palm, instantly dismiss the entry and utter the most iconic words…
“Talk to the hand!”……… because they simply won’t not want to know!