Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Terminator: Genisys

If you like action movies with great visuals and a reminder of your movie-going past, this is the summer action movie for you.  But if you're looking for a really good sequel that moves the story of the Connor family, with Reese and a cyborg and a liquid-metal thing duking it out in present-day, in 1984, and in future L.A.--well, you'll be a bit disappointed here.

Maybe it's unfair to compare, as James Cameron's first two films were almost perfect movies of their type.  Plus, this latest is more of a reboot than a sequel, and the ending practically shows you how the next one will start.  Some movie needed to veer the series off its finished course, and this was it.

But there's still a lot wrong.  Some of them include (and, yes, there may be SPOILERS here):

* Ah-nuld's Terminator (and perhaps Ah-nuld himself) should never be called "Pops."  By anyone.  Even his own kids.

* Exposition and info-dump are sometimes necessary in films like this, but such info. needs to be delivered by someone who speaks English better than Ah-nuld does.  It's not that he doesn't speak the language well; it's that he doesn't enunciate it well, and it's grating in a movie if you have to listen to him and figure it out.

* This movie tries way too hard to be as "funny" as the second one.  I never found that one as amusing as many did, either, mostly because Edward Furlong's voice sounded like someone had just stepped on a cat's tail.

* James Cameron understood that story trumps special effects.  Genisys doesn't.

* Ah-nuld's smile is more creepy than funny.  It's even creepier since it's creepy-trying-to-be-funny.

* Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor was as jacked as a movie heroine is likely to ever get, surpassing even Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.  Emilia Clarke, playing a Sarah Connor who has known since she was nine that she would grow up to be kick-ass Sarah Connor, needed to be just as buff here.  She wasn't.  Part of the problem is that Emilia Clarke couldn't get jacked because she has to be in Game of Thrones, too.  (Daenarys as a buff dragon queen simply wouldn't work at this point.)  Another problem is that she's simply too pretty in a soft-looking kind of way.  And maybe she always will be.  (Linda Hamilton was just as pretty, jacked or not.)  But she's soft, and she stays that way.

* Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, in this movie, have zero chemistry.  When they kiss and declare their love for each other (they have to, or John Connor doesn't get born), you won't believe it.  To be fair to the actors, the script gives them zero chance to actually fall in love, anyway.

* Jai Courtney was also in the last Die Hard movie, which worked as an awesome action movie, but failed miserably in its attempt to be a Die Hard movie.  This movie works the same.  A good action / special effects movie.  A bad Terminator movie.

* And Michael Biehn needs to get more credit for his role.  Jai Courtney does not measure up here.

* Emilia Clarke tries her best, but she doesn't exactly catch Linda Hamilton's grasp of the character.

* The original, 1984 Terminator and the sequel's liquid metal monster are done away in quick fashion here, to mostly good effect.  The biggest problem of the movie, though, is that the real villain is (SPOILER) John Connor, and that absolutely does not work. Sarah doesn't seem to care that it's her son killing everyone (though, of course, he kind of isn't, yet) and Reese doesn't, either.  It's a mess.

* The script also mandates that John Connor was fooling everyone all the time, including in his rare scenes from 1984.  Though he could be considered a victim of SkyNet when Reese was sent back, he just doesn't hold up in any way as a good villain.  And it's 3 (often, 4 or 5) against 1, which seems unfair.

* This is a concept movie that never unveils itself.  SkyNet is the internet, of course.  And this movie, much like the second, is a warning about letting computers run everything.  (WarGames and every other flick of this type were, too.)  This one goes the extra step and posits the dangers of being too connected, via phone, laptop, iPad, iPhone, or whatever the hell your electronic addiction is.  But it loses its own point amidst the failed attempts at humor and significance.  This movie would've been much better had it just played it straight.

* And it doesn't cover any new ground at all, since it tries to follow the first two, yet break off from them, at the same time.  (It pretends the 3rd and 4th ones never happened, which perhaps we should as well.)  Maybe you can't do both simultaneously.  (And there was a nice tip of the cap to Cameron and his famous True Lies scene, too.)

Well, you get the idea.  It's a good action flick, and I didn't feel like I'd wasted my money or time, but beware that it is what it is, and it's not what it tries to be.  Do not expect a Cameron Terminator.


  1. Having seen the first two Terminator films countless times over the last 25 years, I was more than just a little disappointed with this installment. I'm hoping the low box office draw for Genisys will stop any further sequels from being made. This franchise needs to be put to rest before it becomes even more unrecognizable.

    I'll be the first to admit Edward Furlong is irritating as the prepubescent John Connor in T-2, but the humor works for me now just as much as it did in 1991. There was plenty of drama to balance it out. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor meant business and her character stayed focused on her mission throughout T-2. She never once said anything remotely lighthearted or funny. In Genisys, there was "humor" being thrown at us every five seconds and it got old very fast. Sarah Connor is fighting to survive and yet she has time for snarky comments and sarcasm within the first few minutes of her onscreen appearance. Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn played it serious for a reason. They are trying to prevent total mass destruction from happening while escaping a ruthless cyborg. Who the hell has time to crack one liners? The "Bad boys bad boys..." sequence nearly made me walk out of the theater. There is no place for that kind of comedy in a Terminator film. It was like watching a parody of itself!

    Yes story is everything. Along with solid acting. This movie has neither. Good special effects will be nothing if you don't care about the characters and what is happening to them. I didn't care if this Sarah and Reese died. In fact I was kinda hoping they would.

    I agree the lead actors had zero chemistry. There was no intensity at all. Biehn and Hamilton had an even shorter amount of time to fall in love and yet we believed it!

    Making John Connor a villain who was "fooling" everyone is such a slap in the face to the original story. If you can't trust him or believe in him then there is no hope at all. I agree it would have been much better played straight...because the internet has indeed taken over this present time and the notion of it destroying the world is convincingly scary.

    I will say I liked how Reese suddenly had two memories. I wish Zemeckis had done that with Back to the Future 2 when Marty returns to alternate 1985. He should have previous memories of that reality mixed with his old memories. Having him walk around clueless as to what's happening never made sense to me. He should have known Biff married his mother..and that George was dead. But can't ask too much of time travel movies, especially ones like Genysis which isn't sure itself of what is going on.

    For any answers to those burning Genisys questions, check this link out:

    In short: I did NOT like this movie and I wish someone would erase it from my memory.

    One more thing, James Cameron used to know effects are nothing without story. That is until Avatar came along. Just sayin..

    1. Wow! This response should be its own blog entry. It's certainly better than mine. Anyway, Diane, I mostly agree with you here, about everything, except that I think a good reboot could happen for this franchise. This just wasn't it.