Arnold Schwarzenegger is old, but he is definitely “not obsolete”.
The actor returned to the “Terminator” franchise to reprise his role as T-800 in “Terminator Genisys”, the first part of a new, rebooted “Terminator” trilogy. The science fiction fantasy may be a pop-cultural classic, but longtime fans aren’t too happy about Paramount Pictures’ latest attempt to revive the franchise, with some calling it officially dead.
At this point, its reboot is seen as an useless attempt to replicate the success of James Cameron’s first “Terminator” film in 1984.
“Terminator Genisys” is not the best “Terminator” film to date, but we’ve got to give props to the studio for reintroducing the iconic characters to the audiences, no matter young or old. It may even surpass your expectation if you have tried to avoid from watching the short clips that sort of spoiled the movie-watching experience.
The Alan Taylor-directed movie begins with the same premise as the original movie, introducing a post-apocalyptic world where the war between humans and machines reached a climatic moment in 2029. The Resistance, led by John Connor (played by Jason Clarke), are close to victory until they realise that Skynet has a new weapon that will erase the history and terminate the whole human population.
Before the Resistance destroys Skynet, the self-aware, artificial intelligence system sent a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor (played by Emilia Clarke), the mother of the resistance leader. To prevent that from happening, Sergeant Kyle Reese (played by Jai Courtney), who is John’s top soldier, volunteers to be sent back in time to protect his mother.
With such a repetitive and boring introduction, we thought that a predictable plot has once again plagued the franchise. However, the director managed to keep us awake by bringing in a few surprises. While the plot is not as twisted as we had expected it to be, it’s good to see that the movie is finally breaking away from what happened in the earlier films.
When Kyle is being sent back in time, he sees an alternate timeline that shows his happier, younger self before Judgement Day. As if that isn’t too confusing for him to interpret, he arrives in Los Angeles in 1984 only to find out that Sarah no longer requires him to protect her. She’s also not a college student who works as a waitress to earn extra income. She is fearless and strong, which is completely different from what John had described to Kyle.
While Kyle is being pursued by a Terminator disguised as a police officer, she comes to his rescue along with T-800, her own Terminator that she calls “Pops” (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Kyle is not completely useless in the movie, he is somewhat involved in changing the future. Even though Sarah now has her own guardian who can protect her, there is still something wrong with the timeline that Kyle is sent back to, especially after experiencing what he saw before arriving in 1984. In order to find out if the Judgement Day had already happened, Kyle suggested for Sarah to travel forward to 2017 instead for their last chance to take down Skynet.
Having watched Jai Courtney playing in “A Good Day to Die Hard” and “Divergent“, I didn’t expect to see much from him, but I was definitely excited to see if he could tackle the role well. He is, after all, going to play Captain Boomerang in David Ayer’s upcoming DC Comics film “Suicide Squad“. Fortunately, his acting didn’t disappoint and I will admit that I was attracted to his charm at certain point of this movie. He just needs to be given a more interesting story to work with because he can come off as slightly irritating.
As usual, Schwarzenegger managed to deliver his trademark one-liners and give his best deadpan look. The production did a stellar job at recreating the original villain and the younger Schwarzenegger by using CGI. While it wasn’t explained why the original T-800 has been programmed to save Sarah’s younger self, they developed a strong emotional attachment that made the older Terminator seem more humane and caring. He also acts as a parental figure to Sarah, who becomes surprisingly emotional whenever he’s hurt.
J.K. Simmons may have a smaller role in the film, but he’s a fun, surprise addition to cast. We’re not gonna tell you what he does in the film, but we will say we hope that there are more stories to be told about him, especially after he delivered his stunning albeit silly performance. Not even Matt Smith (of “Doctor Who” fame), whose role is as small as Simmons, can make this film as interesting as Simmons did. But then again, that could be because Smith’s role wasn’t written well.
All in all, everything actually worked pretty well with the new plot and we found ourselves enjoying it till the last part of the movie. But having watched the previous films in the franchise, the lack of originality and cheesy dialogues inevitably killed “Terminator Genisys”. It’s just a heavy case of been-there-done-that. Also, it’s time to drop catchphrases like “I’ll be back” and “Come with me if you wanna live”. They are super duper iconic, but way overused. They may be respectful nods to James Cameron’s earlier movies, but at one point, it just seemed like this movie is copying what made the original film so successful.
Repetition is not what we want to see in its upcoming sequels and we can only hope that after altering John’s character, the writers are planning something bigger for the new trilogy. If this is just the beginning of a better storyline, we are ready to throw our money at the studio for the upcoming “Terminator” films.
Slated for a release on 2nd July 2015, “Terminator Genisys” is the first in a planned trilogy based on a screenplay written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier. The film also stars Dayo Okeniyi, and Courtney B. Vance.
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