Monday, 13 July 2015

Not Another Terminator Movie - aka the Terminator Genisys review

Imagine a universe where the promoters of The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects put these films' respective plot twists in the trailer. That would be pretty stupid, right?
So the Terminator Genisys crew goes and does that. Oh well.

'Come with me if you want to live'
It's not terrible. It's good. And it's bad. Confused? Same here.
Of the non-James Cameron Terminator movies, it's probably the best, but still not good enough.
It can't decide on what it wants to be, and that might be its biggest failure.

Endless nods to the original Terminator and Judgement Day are found here, if only to be noticed by the hardcore fans - those new to the franchise will be lost. But then even the fans will be confused at the many changes, twists, turns, timelines crammed in to try to make the movie interesting - making it in fact more annoying than mind-bending.

'Show more than tell'

If I could suggest an alternative title for Genisys, it would be The Terminator Monologues. Some screenwriting basics: characters explaining stuff is not as good as characters doing stuff. Because that's what happens most of the film. Kyle Reese explains stuff. Sarah Connor explains stuff. John Connor explains stuff. Arnie explains stuff. And there's action in between the explaining of stuff. But much of this stuff isn't really worth explaining. And no one cares about this stuff anyway.

'Bite me'

Perhaps the strongest point of Terminator Genisys is the attempt to recover some of the humor present in Judgement Day and the silly one-liners only Arnie can deliver. Emilia Clarke brings some good energy to the role of Sarah Connor, only for Jai Courtney to show less emotion than a Terminator.
Strong Points
  • The action scenes are good, even if sometimes hugely unrealistic
  •  Plenty of good ideas - John Connor and Matt Smith's characters - but executed poorly
  • Bringing back some humor that was missing from the franchise
  • Emilia Clarke and Arnie on top form

Weak Points
  • Too many callbacks to the James Cameron Terminators
  • Excessive monologues: can we see stuff happening instead of stuff being said? Please?
  • Jai Courtney's acting is borderline comatose
  • The dialogue becomes very cheesy, in particular towards the end of the movie
  • 'Killer app' - whaaaat? 
  • Jason Clarke: what a waste of a good actor


Apart from some good action scenes and funny moments, the film is nothing more than a mishmash of old ideas presented in a new packaging that adds little and confuses more the Terminator mythos. One more Terminator film like this and you may well find yourself rooting for Skynet.

Author's Note

Perhaps the most interesting and overlooked part of the movie is Arnie's Terminator mention of a time where he worked in construction. Can we see that spin-off please?
'T-800 the Builder' would be a great watch.