What it's about:
When John Connor, leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian, dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: to reset the future.
What we thought:
"Goddamn time-travelling robots, always messing-up everything." – Academy award-winner JK Simmons who was relegated to a playing a bumbling beat cop.
The term 'reboot' is the hottest trend in Hollywood at the moment and for better (Mad Max: Fury Road) or worse (Prometheus, yeesh), we're going to see many revived, rehashed and re-invented movies for the foreseeable future.
Terminator is not just a franchise, it's a work of great science-fiction that's shaped both storytelling and action films for decades, along with being responsible for James 'Win all the Oscars' Cameron’s initial success.
Despite this heavy burden, Terminator: Genisys tries to make its mark by giving the franchise a makeover, reaching deep into the bucket of reboot staples and applying the contents liberally.
Is it a good reboot worthy of its predecessors or a trip through ret-con hell*?
Who's in it:
The movie stars two teams: Team good-guy is comprised of Emilia Clarke (Sarah Connor), Arnold Schwarzenegger (old Terminator aka Guardian), Jason Clarke (John Connor) and Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese).
Team 'evil-death robots' stars Schwarzenegger (younger Terminator), Byung-hun Lee (beat cop/T-1000), Matt Smith (T-5000/Skynet) and a bad-guy plot twist revealed later.
Plot - Terminated?
If you're unfamiliar with the series here's what you need to know. In the not-too-distant future the military decides to build a computer system, Skynet, that becomes self-aware. It takes its mission of world peace to the extreme and decides to wipe out all humans – cue slow-mo nuclear missiles hitting people in parks.
Dr Crazy computer (played by Doctor Who) loses future war and sends a killer cyborg back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, future mother of resistance-leader John.
John sends back Reese to protect his mom. It's then that the director pulls a switcheroo on us and instead of Reese saving Sarah, she saves him…with the help of her trained killer robot affectionately known as 'Pops'.
The movie skips over the original quadrilogy and what follows is a storyline filled with plot threads, alternate futures, alternate pasts and a tangled mess of retroactive continuity. The writers try and help the viewer along by having Arnie recite quantum theory, with about as much success as Arnie reciting, erm, well, quantum theory.
That's not to say there's nothing here to admire. It's heartwarming to see Arnold reprise the character that made him one of the biggest movie stars in the world. The veteran actor was genuinely funny on screen and spoofed himself with numerous jokes of "being old but not obsolete". The smile of Terminator Arnie is funny, horrifying and not easily forgotten…
Emilia 'Khaleesi' Clarke was superb in emulating the spirit of Linda Hamilton’s badass iconic character, right down to her signature mannerisms. Clarke/Courtney do a great job of portraying on-screen chemistry and it's great to see the latter emulate Michel Bhein’s character from the first installment.
As an action movie it's passable, there's plenty of Michael Bay-esque ‘splosions on screen but ultimately nothing memorable. It’s sad to see Terminator topped by Fast & Furious 7 in that department.
I was genuinely captivated by the action-packed, character-building opening. I was hoping we’d stay in the plasma-cannon riddled dystopian future, dripping with atmosphere and where I might add the Terminators had more presence…it’s like they took one look at Connor/Reese and collectively thought: "Hey, protagonists! Guys let's take this seriously."
For all its faults it's a good trip down memory lane with many scenes paying homage to the originals. There are plenty of things I disliked about the movie (who sent Arnie back to 1973? How the heck did they build a time machine in 1984 with spare parts?) but once the rage cools you'll find yourself wanting to defend it and possibly warm to the reboot as time goes on.
Terminator: Genesis (I can’t deal with that ‘Y’ anymore) is the kind of movie that will have fans of the originals arguing for years and newcomers to the series enthralled, until sequels are released. Perhaps they'll stick with the biblical nomenclature – Terminator: Exodys? Terminator: Revylations?
Though my expectations were high and unmet it's still a good action film taken on its own merits.
* Retroactive-continuity hell (ret-con hell) - When a director/author decides to destroy an original storyline/series to suit their own purposes. Fans are then taken to a literary hell (See Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull).