terminator genisys poster

Considering the brutal beating Terminator: Geniysis has taken at the hands of critics, I was expecting it to be worse than some of the straight to DVD movies I’ve reviewed. I was quite surprised when I ended up having a good time.

Terminator: Genisys is Days of Future Past for the Terminator franchise (that’s a timeline reboot for anyone here who hasn’t seen the last X-Men movie). Kyle Reese is sent back to the past to protect Sarah Connor, only to discover that the past is different from what he was expecting.

The Good

  • Arnie doing his thing as the T800 Pops
  • Emilia Clarke’s performance as the new Sarah Connor starts off a bit rough, but there are scenes later into the film where she pulls out a pretty good performance (even though her lip gloss is occasionally distracting)
  • The new Sarah Connor is an interesting mix of T2’s John Connor and Sarah Connor
  • The future scenes were pretty close to what James Cameron originally envisioned
  • It was funnier than I expected
  • Some reasonably cool action
  • I was actually completely on board during the first half of the movie (the movie started to lose the plot after they flipped a bus)
  • The CG Arnie was pretty damn good

The OK

  • All the best parts of this film are essentially homages to the T1 and T2 films
  • Some interesting, but sadly underdeveloped relationships between the characters
  • Considering T2 essentially ended the franchise, I’m really surprised people expect a decent story from any new Terminator sequels (seriously, there’s only so much you can do with the Sarah/John Connor story at this point)

The Bad

  • Whoever thought it was a good idea to give away a major plot twist in the movie’s trailers and poster needs to be shot (seriously, how bloody stupid are you that you didn’t learn from this mistake during the promotion of Terminator: Salvation)
  • The second half of the film isn’t a complete train wreck, but this is where things start to go wrong
  • As much as I’m willing to overlook some of the story issues, there are a lot of plot holes (again, this is a movie about time travelling)
  • Too many nods to the first two films
  • Tying into its over reliance on the first two films, is the film’s very disappointing soundtrack
  • J.K. Simmons’ character is wasted
  • Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney (not a big fan of either of their previous work)
  • The personification of Skynet
  • Some of the CG was not that groundbreaking, which is a bit disappointing considering this is what the first two Terminator films were known for

Final Opinion

So contrary to what you may have read, Terminator: Genisys is actually a pretty fun popcorn flick. It may not hold a candle to the original two films, but it’s not as horrible as critics make it seem. Yes, its best parts are mostly homages to the first two films, and yes, there are many, many problems, particularly once it starts to do its own thing in the second half, but I did enjoy myself. If you’re looking for something with some reasonable action and some pretty good comedy, check it out. Just don’t think too hard about it.

Now if you have not seen any of the promotional material, it’s time for some MINOR SPOILERS in regards to ideas that would have made Terminator: Genisys a better film. CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

There are two potentially better movies embedded in the story for Terminator: Genisys.

The first better movie is the story of Pops saving Sarah Connor when she’s a child and raising her, while occasionally protecting her from the T1000 that’s trying to kill them. This might have been a bit too similar to T2, but would have been more interesting to see than Genisys.

The second (much) better movie is somewhat similar to Genisys, but plays out like this: Kyle Reese comes back to the past. He discovers that there’s a T1000 waiting for him. He is saved by Sarah Connor and Pops. He freaks out that Pops is there but then discovers something really weird. Pops is basically human (this would be a continuation of the idea that we were left with at the end of T2), and this really messes with Kyle. Kyle Reese has grown up in a world where Terminators have one purpose only: kill humans. Now he meets one that not only protects people, but is in many ways now more human than Kyle Reese because Kyle has known only war. Of course this would have been set against the T1000 hunting them down, but this movie would have essentially been Kyle Reese learning how to be human from a machine, who is in many ways more human than he is because of all the horrible things he’s been through. This would have been a fucking kick ass movie (pardon my French).

How do I know this would have worked? Well, imagine these two scenes juxtaposed against each other for instance.

First we have a scene early in the film where Kyle Reese is a child in the future. He’s in the sewer with the dog, and the dog starts barking. A man pitches up and of course he’s a terminator.

You then have a scene later in the film where Pops walks up to a dog and the dog is initially a bit wary, maybe barks a few times, but then the dog realises that even though Pops is different from all the other people, he’s still good, and so he lets him pet him and then scratch him.

Holy shit, this would have blown my mind and fit perfectly into the established Terminator lore! Come on Hollywood. I’ll work for pennies compared to what you pay some people and will produce better work.

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