Special Report by Agent Z
2015’s summer blockbusters have consisted primarily of reboots and sequels. Many older franchises have released new films in efforts to revitalize their fandom. Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World were success stories that Terminator Genisys sought to duplicate.
Unfortunately, rebooting Skynet proved predictably problematic.
The first issue with the film was its name. Blogs and websites had a field day with the intentional misspelling. Many came up with humorous alternatives such as: Terminator Sega Geneses or Terminator Terminal Dialysis. If the trailer had explained the relevancy of the misspelling, instead of revealing a major plot development, it wouldn’t have come across so silly.
And speaking of the trailer… Many fans were frustrated at how it spoiled the revelation that John Connor becomes a terminator. This is a plot twist that should be dropped on you while you’re in the theatre! This ruined the scene in which Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor discover John’s conversion. The audience doesn’t get to share in the horror of this development, because they already know the truth. I believe the trailer was Paramount’s blundering attempt at building hype for a movie they had no confidence in.
The plot seemed to be the primary cause for Paramount’s unease. The Terminator timeline is incredibly convoluted and has been altered with each subsequent sequel. Genisys needed to wrestle with major developments from the previous films, such as Judgment Day’s inevitability, and John Connor’s survival no longer being necessary to ensure humanity’s survival. It was impossible for Genisys to pull this off and it only added new knots to the existing timelines. So, understandably, audiences felt lost and wondered what still held true after four movies of revised timelines (none occurred in Salvation).
I do feel this film gets some things right. Emilia Clarke manages to channel enough Linda Hamilton badassery to provide a solid portrayal of Sarah Connor. Jason Clarke’s Terminator/John Connor character was intriguing. He’s certainly the most interesting figure and had to wrestle with major causality issues like whether killing Kyle or Sarah removed him from existence. It’s also interesting that RoboConnor tries to conscript his parents to join him in crushing humanity. The humans acting like machines, machines acting like humans subtexts were a nice touch.
Schwarzenegger’s acting was by far the best it’s been. He plays the signature T-800 Terminator. This time he’s sent back to the 70’s to save Sarah Connor. By the time we get to the films last act in 2017, he’s has aged significantly. The movie uses the line “Old, but not obsolete” to describe Arnold’s character, Pops. But in many ways this is a statement about the actual actor. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t agree.
Arnold is no longer the preeminent action hero. He’s had his time in the sun and if the Terminator franchise was going to reinvent itself – it needed a new leading man to draw casual moviegoers. Also, how long can you keep rewriting movie plots with the same cast of characters? I think fans really want a new and exciting angle to experience the struggles to prevent and survive Judgment Day.
The Verdict: Terminator Genisys is a solid action film with great affects. A cumbersome plot and an over dependence on nostalgia really handicap this reboot effort. I give this film an 8.2 out of 10. Don’t spend the extra cash on 3D. It was poorly utilized and doesn’t add enough to the experience.
Agent Z is stationed in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He is an avid writer and poet. You can follow him on twitter @ZapataWordsmith and read his writing at JasonZapata.com.
Read the Secret File of technical information and quotes from Terminator Genisys