The Last Sci-Fi Blog: 5 Things to Love (and 5 Things to Hate) About 'Terminator Genisys'

The Last Sci-Fi Blog: 5 Things to Love (and 5 Things to Hate) About 'Terminator Genisys'

Jul 03, 2015

Terminator Genisys, the fifth entry in what was once one of the greatest science fiction film series of all time, is here and it's bound to bring out a lot of mixed emotions in fans. On one level, it directly quotes (and even takes place during) the events of the iconic first film while bringing in recognizable elements from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, it's also a silly and often hammy movie, putting it more in line with the later entries in the franchise. To properly capture what's so good and what's so rotten about Genisys, let's break this down: what is there to love in the movie and what is there to hate? Because there is plenty of both. 

WHAT TO LOVE

1. A Clever First Half

Like 2009's Star Trek reboot, Terminator Genisys attempts to wipe the timeline of its franchise clean and start anew. The results are ultimately mixed, but the opening half is often very clever. Set in 1984 on the same night as the first scenes from the original The Terminator, the film has a lot of fun subverting expectations and presenting bizarre twists on familiar iconography. 

2. T-800 vs T-800

The most clever of those bizarre twists arrives early. The original T-800, sent back in time kill Sarah Connor, finds himself inexplicably confronted by an older T-800, also a Model 101 (meaning it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger). The resulting brawl between modern Arnold and a CGI recreation of his younger self isn't entirely successful, but we will never say no to a Schwarzengger vs Schwarzenegger battle.

3. Khaleeeeesi!

Emilia Clarke, one of the biggest badasses on Game of Thrones, makes her blockbuster movie debut as the new Sarah Connor and the results are quite nice. Although the script doesn't give her the depth that was awarded Linda Hamilton in the first two movies, this is evidence that Clarke can help carry a movie (and we hope she continues to do so in the future).

4. The Presence of J.K. Simmons

It's basic mathematics: any movie with J.K. Simmons in the cast instantly becomes a better movie in every conceivable way. Genisys wisely casts him in what could have been a thankless role (a conspiracy theorist who thinks time traveling robots are real) and Simmons brings the goods. In a movie where the comic relief often falls flat, the Oscar-winning star of Whiplash delivers at least half a dozen big laughs.

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger Doing What He Does Best

Like him or not, Arnold Schwarzenegger has never phoned in a performance. That streak continues here as everyone' favorite Austrian body builder turned movie star turned politician does what he does best: look intimidating, deadpan one-liners, and lend the perfect amount of humanity to a robotic character.

 

WHAT TO HATE

1. A Lesser Kyle Reese

Kyle Reese as played by Michael Biehn is a borderline feral scavenger, a man whose war torn existence have made him a psychotic shell of a human. He felt dangerous. He felt as insane as everyone thought he was. Kyle Reese as played by Jai Courtney is some wisecracking action hero who never shows a single sign of damage. It's not the same character in any way and Courtney isn't even asked to be anything other than a bland action hero.

2. The Wasting of Byung-hun Lee and Jason Clarke

Why cast Byung-hun Lee, one of the biggest cinematic badasses to ever hail from Korea, and then cast him in the thankless task of "boring Terminator with no memorable lines or action beats"? Why cast an actor as wonderful as Jason Clarke as the new John Connor and then only give him a series of action movie cliches instead of a proper character? Genisys' casting is one point, but it really needs characters worthy of these actors.

3. Truly Cringe-Worthy Comedy

The Terminator series has a long history of using humor to take the edge off all the scenes of robots murdering people and Genisys is no different. Unfortunately, this is the kind of movie that thinks playing the Cops theme music over a montage of the main characters getting arrested isn't the lamest possible joke you can put in a 2015 movie. The rest of the comedy tends to follow suit.

4. Time Travel Stupidity

In 1984, Sarah Connor learns that the new and improved Skynet will come online in 2017. So she plans to travel 34 years into the future and prevent the new Judgment Day. To be more specific: she travels forward in time and arrives less than two days before the event is supposed to occur instead of, you know, arriving in 2015 and taking two years to create a sold strategy. Genisys is littered with lazy time travel nonsense like this and while a few moments here and here are forgivable, there's just too much to let it slide.

5. Set-Up For a Sequel That May Never Happen

Did you know that Doctor Who star Matt Smith is in Terminator Genisys? He is! For about two minutes! That's because his character exists solely to set up future sequels that may not ever happen. The film is littered with stuff like this, loose threads and unresolved subplots that will presumably come into play if another movie ever gets off the ground. And since a sequel is far from guaranteed, the results are frustrating at best and infuriating at worst. 

Categories: Features, Sci-Fi, In Theaters
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