Review

Review: TERMINATOR GENISYS – “Old & Obsolete?”

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There was a point in time when it seemed like there were a lot of new things in the movie theaters. Horrifically “real” sharks that terrorized people at the beach, aliens that burst from inside the human body, marshmallow men as tall as skyscrapers, and amazing toys brought to life through a brand-new animation technology.

The Terminator was one of those movies for me. It was a combo of post-apocalyptic meets time travel. Basically, Back to the Future meets a terrorizing human killing machine. YESSSS!

To be truthful, Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a series of those movies. Predator kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and I was completely fascinated by the concept of Total Recall.

If only all of the sequels to those originals could’ve been as good. (Predator vs. Alien,  REALLY?)

So, with Terminator Genisys hitting the big screen, I came to the theater with great anticipation, but pretty mixed emotions. Rotten Tomatoes was showing the movie at 25 percent. What made that even worse was that it was debuting up against Magic Mike XXL, which was rated at 64 percent. Strippers versus the Terminator… and the strippers were winning?

All I could hope was that Arnold being on board in Terminator Genisys would bring back some of the magic.

In the end, and I hate to say this, but there weren’t very many thrills in Terminator Genisys.

But, let me start with the good news.

JK Simmons was amazing! I like just about anything I see this guy in. Last year’s Whiplash was simply outstanding. The guy really deserved the Oscar for his performance in that one. It’s too bad he didn’t have more screen time and a bigger part in Terminator Genisys.

The best part about Arnold, despite any questionable writing, is that the guy definitely knows how to play the Terminator. Even an aging one.

Second to Simmons, Arnold brings the rest of any fun that can be found in this flick. He’s got some great one-liners — although some of them were shoehorned in by the writer with a little too much force — and Arnold’s “smile” was the capper (if not a little overused). The best part about Arnold, despite any questionable writing, is that the guy definitely knows how to play the Terminator. Even an aging one. One of the T-800’s memorable lines,  “I’m old but not obsolete.” Without him, this movie would have been completely unwatchable.

That said, the screenplay for Terminator Genisys was really disappointing. There wasn’t much in the way of effective storytelling crafted. The characters would often go on-and-on with long expository explanations about what we are seeing and why things were happening, and this left the humans in the story bereft of emotion.

Jason Clarke’s John Connor is nearly dead pan. Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese doesn’t really convey the sense of urgency that we felt from male leads in the first two installments of the Terminator franchise. And sad to say, Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor doesn’t bring the strong woman who could win any fight that Linda Hamilton did.

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The lack of compelling story rests in the screenplay. At the same time, it’s hard to tell whether the lack of interesting characters is because of the actors or the director, Alan Taylor.

One thing’s for sure, this group of storytellers ignored or forgot the lessons of Star Trek. The journeys of the Star Ship Enterprise have always been more about humanity and story (storytelling lesson: people care about people) then it has about space exploration or aliens — although there has always been plenty of both of those. Ironically, the story and execution of this fundamental were critical pieces of what made the original Terminator so amazing.

The special effects in Terminator Genisys were okay. It’s always fun to re-experience your moviegoing memories. Like seeing the Dinosaurs again in Jurrasic World, seeing the T-800 again was very cool.  Watching the liquid metal T-1000 has always added terror onto the original. And, yes, there is a brand-new Terminator in the new movie. But, I won’t go into details about that one to avoid being a spoiler.

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This leaves a nagging question: Is the fun of experiencing the Terminator world in the movie theater again a big enough reason to endure humans who are more robotic than the Terminators for two hours?

One final note:  According to write-ups, Terminator Genisys is supposed to be the first of a three-Movie reboot for the Terminator series.  James Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd (writers of the original movie), please come back.  Or JJ Abrams… do you happen to have any free time?

I look forward to your thoughts and comments below!
CCM Founder & Executive Producer
Doug Rittenhouse

 

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