Review: “Terminator Genisys”

Terminator Genisys

“I’ll be…”

Rebooted? Replaced by Sam Worthington? Washed up after another Expendables sequel?

I always forget how that line ends. Oh well.

In a year full of sequels, reboots, and other recycled scripts, “Terminator Genisys” picks up 31 years after Arnold Schwarzeneggar first played the cyborg hunting Sarah Connor. Missing from the series since 2003’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” many fans were hoping Arnie’s inclusion would signal a return for the once-revered franchise. Not so fast.

With its cat-and-mouse structure somewhat played out, “Genisys” doubles down on its time travel origins to alter the original story we know and love from the ’84 original. This isn’t a reboot so much as the beginning of a new trilogy (which we may not even get to see if the box office numbers don’t improve).

Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke debut as the new Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor with Jason Clarke taking over as John Connor. It’s rare that a film miscasts every core character, but these three are all wrong for their parts. I’m sure it looked good on paper, and they all give as good a performance as they can with the source material, but none of the three seem to match up with their respective characters in the previous films. It’s too bad, because Schwarzeneggar is clearly happy to be there, even if it’s mainly just for the same humor from the previous films.

Suspension of disbelief is important for any filmgoer watching a movie about time-traveling cyborgs, but the further the Terminator series develops, the harder it is to answer questions about its timeline. This film cranks those problems up to 11 and even introduces new ones. If you think about it for more than a minute, your head might explode.

Fortunately the Terminator films have been pretty good at distracting the audience from these problems with cool action sequences. While the new film’s CGI action usually doesn’t hold up well compared to the better balance of practical effects from T1 and T2, it does contain a few scenes that are pretty entertaining. One section of the film takes place in T1’s 1984 timeline and has a few great callbacks to the original. It also features a fight between Schwarzeneggar and a digital version of his ’84 self that is probably the film’s best special effects.

It would be easy to label “Terminator Genisys” as a soulless cash grab, but the franchise should be commended for at least trying to do something new. Making the film PG-13 is a pretty critical error, but this is still a better film than “Terminator Salvation” which was doomed as soon as McG was put it in the director’s chair.

“Terminator Genisys” is a generic action movie in one of Hollywood’s most iconic franchises. Much like “Jurassic World”, one’s enjoyment may be dependent on how often the film is compared to the original. However, let’s all hope the next sequel (if it happens) shoots for a higher goal than rainy day entertainment.

Grade: C+

Happy viewing.

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