Friday, January 29, 2016

Movie Review: Terminator Genisys

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Great action scenes and special effects
Cons: Confusing story that negates much of the franchise and leaves some major questions
The Bottom Line:
Another sequel
Nothing truly new to say
Easy to skip it

“Time Travel Makes My Head Hurt.”

I spent last summer watching the Terminator movies for the first time, fully intending to finish off the run by watching Terminator Genisys, the sequel/reboot that launched into theater this summer.  I didn’t wind up making it to the theater to see it, but that might have been a good thing in this case.

The movie starts off in the not so distant future as humans are finally about to win the war on the machines.  However, that means that the machines are about to send the terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor.  So her son, John Connor (Jason Clarke) prepares to send his friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect Sarah (Emilia Clarke).

As any fan of the franchise knows, that’s exactly the premise of the first film.  And there are some nice nods to that original movie in the early scenes when Kyle arrives.  However, he quickly determines that there is a T-1000 Terminator (Byung-hun Lee) also running around in the past and in fact it is Sarah who saves Kyle.  She is working with her Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a reprogrammed terminator who came back to save her even earlier in her life.  But when it is determined that they might be able to stop this madness once and for all by traveling to 2017, the sparks really begin to fly.  Can they agree on the plan?  Will they be able to save the day?

There is a reason I pulled the particular quote from the movie as the title of this film.  Yes, time travel makes the head hurt of anyone who tries to think about the plot of a movie like this logically.  We are set up with alternative time lines and we just have to accept what they are telling us.  I think there are probably a plot whole or two big enough to drive a school bus through, but I decided to just go with it.

Unfortunately, that’s not the biggest problem with the film.  This is now the fifth film in the franchise, and we are still seeing the exact same story unfold.  Oh, there are variations on the theme, but essentially, this is the same story told again and again.  I know, sequels are never completely original, but this franchise is one of the worst about it.

And that’s not to mention the twist in the film that pretty much negates everything we’ve been trying to accomplish in the franchise.  I know they were going for different and shocking, but I just didn’t like it.

Then there’s the fact that they left a huge question hanging.  I’m sure they intend to address that in any sequels planned for this film.  If this were a normal franchise, I might let that slide like I did with the recent Star Wars film, but let’s think about it for a moment.  This is only the fifth Terminator film and the first came out in 1984.  Furthermore, the last film was supposed to be the start of a new trilogy, but it got abandoned in favor of this reboot.  So how are we supposed to trust them to come back and answer these questions?

Then there’s the acting, which is passable at best.  No, I’ve never expected anything outstanding from this franchise, but this one seems especially weak in that department.

Of course, if you are watching this film for the action, you will be highly rewarded.  There are several wonderful action sequences that will leave you on the edge of your seat.  Going along with that, the special effects are outstanding.

But that’s pretty much the only reason to watch the film.  The story barely holds the action together and it will leave fans of the franchise who are looking for any kind of decent story frustrated.  Terminator Genisys is by far the weakest film in the series to date.

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