Has anyone in this universe never watched a Terminator movie? If that is the case, I feel extraordinarily sorry for them because, as far as movies go, they’re pretty damn cool. The Terminator put James Cameron on the map for putting a masterful example of “tech-noir” on the screen, and the lore only got a million times cooler with Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Since those two films there was Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines in 2003, which wasn’t bad, but 2009’s Terminator Salvation was a catastrophe. Here’s one thing I can now say about Terminator Genisys: At least it isn’t as bad as Salvation.
In the future, leader of the Resistance and all around savior of the human race, John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads a massive assault on Skynet. It’s at this point that we see Skynet send the original T-800 through time to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), which prompts John to send his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), back to protect her. When Reese gets back to 1984, however, everything has changed. A T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) is running amok, and Sarah is being assisted by another T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). After being convinced that the future is now changed and things could never happen the same way, that they travel to 2017 where Skynet is developing the Genisys program, an operating system that will connect everyone and everything. Things quickly go awry when the heroes run into John Connor, who has been changed into a T-3000 by Skynet in the future.
Going into this movie, I had very low expectations. I mean, after Terminator Salvation how good could another one be? I’m not the kind of person who thinks that every series should stop after a certain amount of movies, but I was confused as to what they could possibly do with the universe that was established in the previous movies. That being said, I really had a good time watching Terminator Genisys. It had a brisk pace and some really cool scenes that would please any fan of the series. There were in-jokes, references, and entire scenes recreated. After that, I slept on it and woke up the next day still thinking about it. That’s where the movie started to lose its credibility very fast.
Part of the enjoyment of a movie is to be able to think about it and talk about it in the hours and days to come. You can learn new insights or hear lines you might have missed or even be able to look at the movie in a new light. The worst thing you can do with Terminator Genisys is think about it. Now, I’m a person who can enjoy a brainless action movie where you don’t have to think, but this is a movie that plain and simply doesn’t make any sense. There’s a huge difference between those two kinds of movies. Plus, there are so many twists and plot points and goals throughout the story combined with technobabble about time travel, I began to not even really know what it was all about anymore. Finally, there are so many questions left unanswered which can only be explained by awful writing, and that is unacceptable.
Now, Terminator Genisys isn’t a total waste, and it isn’t even the worst that this series has to offer. There are some redeeming qualities. Like I said, there’s some scenes that are shot for shot recreations of scenes from the first movie. There’s also quick little nods to the other films that are subtly hidden throughout the dialogue that takes a keen ear and knowledge of the Terminator universe to pick up on. It was also really great seeing Schwarzenegger return as the T-800 and Jason Clarke’s John Connor is actually the best portrayal of the character yet… At least the parts where he actually is John Connor.
Terminator Genisys is a movie that didn’t have to happen, but if done well I’d be behind it 100%. Unfortunately, the storytelling is weak, scenes just happen to move the story forward, questions go unanswered, and things just start not making sense after a while. As a big budget summer blockbuster, it’s entertaining enough to watch, but for a series that has been growing for over 30 years, some respect should be given to the source material, instead of just rewriting everything in the laziest ways possible.