“Whatever happens, it’s gotta be better than this!”
Another reboot/sequel/prequel hits the screens from franchise born a long time ago has hit our screens. Already this year, we have had upgraded versions of Mad Max and Jurassic Park. Now it’s the turn for Terminator, a franchise that should have died after Terminator 2. I’m not saying Terminator 3 is without its merits, but it wasn’t necessary at all. At least Terminator: Salvation did something different. Terminator: Genisys attempts the rebooted Star Trek trick of establishing a different timeline for the franchise. However, it avoids the streamlined nature of the rebooted Star Trek and comes up with an incredibly convoluted storyline that is at once over-explained by the cast and impossible to follow! It also raises the most number of questions in a time travel film since X-Men: Days of Future Past…Get ready for the second worst entry in the Terminator franchise!
The film begins with what happened before The Terminator (1984), but apparently disregards Terminator 3 and Salvation (Judgment Day is 1997, instead of the date we saw in Terminator 3). The human resistance is about to defeat the machines, and John Connor and Kyle Reese attack the machine’s latest weapon of mass destruction, which turns out to be a time machine. Reese volunteers to be sent back in time to 1984 to protect John’s mother, Sarah, from The Terminator. Everything happens as we’ve seen in The Terminator, until another T-800 enters the scene with the T-800 from The Terminator. The timelines have changed; Sarah Connor is no longer the innocent waitress we knew in the first film, but a sort-of bad-ass. Reese’s job is done; but there’s more to be done…
While director Alan Tayler films an impressive opening battle between the machines and the humans (with the peculiar sight of a Terminator driving a truck…why would it need to drive a truck?!?!?), I believe that this kind of thing should remain in the mind of the viewer. Just like with the Star Wars prequels and the Clone Wars or Anakin’s downfall, for example, your imagination will always overcome whatever happens on the screens. Even at this point in Terminator: Genisys, at the very beginning, I viewed the battle as impressive but non-essential. Some things should remain in the viewer’s imagination, Hollywood! And already, both Jason Clarke, as John, and Jai Courtney, as Reese, grated on me. They aren’t great actors to begin with, and the terrible, boring exposition-laden script didn’t help matters. Everything, and I mean everything, is over-explained, even in the opening minutes of the film.
“I’m old, not obsolete”
It sets the scene for the entire film, actually. Excruciating pseudo-science spills from the T-800/Pops/Guardian’s mouth at a hundred miles an hour, at once laughable and incoherent. It makes modern day Doctor Who sci-fi codswallop sound as if it’s taken from ‘A Brief History of Time.’ To explain the ever-convoluted plot, the characters talked and talked. But it still didn’t reveal the plot to us. On paper, I suppose it’s simple enough, but if you think about it, even for a second, then everything falls apart. For example, who sent the other T-800 (Pops/Guardian) back in time to save child Sarah Connor from the T-1000 in 1973? For that matter, who sent the T-1000 back? There are few aspects or plot developments of the film that made any sense. Some of the logic behind the time travel makes the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who seem as simple as A, B, C. Terminator: Genisys tries incredibly hard to justify its existence, but methinks the film justifieth too much. The plot is a total mess, from start to finish. It not only ruins its own logic, but the logic of the entire franchise.
Of course, in a predominantly action-focused film, shouldn’t the action overcome any faults in plotting, scripting or acting? Oh, I am afraid not! Apart from the future battle scene at the start of the film, most of the action scenes feel like under-heated rehashes and remixes of scenes from the first two films, but with extra explosions for no reason and the Golden Gate bridge (because we haven’t seen them enough in modern cinema, obviously!). More CGI and more booms do not equal more thrills and spills. The action is as boring and stale as the exposition, and only seems to be splurged on the screen to spread out the duration of the film.
“I wanna be sedated!”
For most of its duration, Terminator: Genisys did nothing at all to justify its existence. Boring and silly exposition, dull as dishwater action scenes, nonsensical plotting and use of time travel, and poor acting from all the leads apart from Arnie, I should not have enjoyed this film. However, in spite of myself, I enjoyed it a little. There were a few laughs to be had, thanks to Arnie (my particular highlight was his “Nice to see you!” after smashing headfirst through someone’s windscreen). I can’t put a finger on why I enjoyed it, but I’ll say that I enjoyed it more than Jurassic World. Maybe I appreciated that the filmmakers were trying hard to justify a new Terminator film. Maybe it’s Arnie back in his best role (well, his second best role: his best role is as the evil T-800!). It’s nothing more than enjoyable trash. The plot holes and time travel flaws will build up in my mind until I have an aneurism, but I liked it more than logic tells me I should…and just like the film, I seem to have done away with logic!
VERDICT: 4/10. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until your brain explodes from the billions of plot holes. It’s old and obsolete. But it’s also minutely, inexplicably, enjoyable trash…