Like most classic franchises, the Terminator series ran out of steam a long time ago. The first two films are both science-fiction and action masterpieces, the second one being one of my all time favourites. It hit a high point of which there is no return. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines came as a massive let down, proving to be soulless and dull. Terminator Salvation was a slight improvement, but it wasn't a Terminator film. It was a generic action movie with nothing new to offer. Now we have the not-at-all needed fifth installment in a franchise most of us want dead, but should it be? After this film, it absolutely should.
Terminator Genisys begins post-Judgement Day. The war has been raging for several years now and a terminator has been sent back in time to kill Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke). Remembering what's already happened, John Conner (Jason Clarke), her son, sends back somebody too. This man is Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney). Well, the film claims it's the Kyle Reese we know and love, but this is undeniably a different version of him. No way this movie can convince me they're the same character. Anyway, when he arrives in the 80s, Reese is shocked to find that things are drastically different to what was described to him. Sarah has been guarded by a terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) for over a decade, and she's preparing to take down Skynet once and for all, destroying them before Judgement Day happens. That's when a new threat arrives. A threat that could potentially take them down. The threat should be a secret, but because of the poor advertising, everybody knows just who this threat is. Goddamn it.
Terminator Genisys is neither good, nor bad. It simply is. I had absolutely no hope for this film going in, so technically I have to say this film isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The only problem is that it's still not a good movie, and the same could be said about Terminator Salvation. Both of these films try to be something different to the original trilogy and both of these films are simply okay films, nothing more. On a side note, both of them had an important twist that was spoilt by the advertising. Way to go, advertisers. And on yet another side note, Terminator Genisys completely ignores that Salvation ever happened because why not?
Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke and J.K. Simmons are all fantastic in their roles. None of them are at the top of their games, perhaps due to the poorly written screenplay, but none of them are awful. They're all the best parts of this film. Then there's Jai Courtney. Now, I've always been fairly lenient towards Courtney in previous movies. I honestly don't think he's all that bad an actor, however in Terminator Genisys he's a bit of a hit and miss. He has his moments, especially a scene early on between him and Sarah Conner, but overall he just falls flat, delivering the odd line in a cringe worthy fashion.
Easily the best performance of the lot is J.K. Simmons, who's performance, as always, is just utterly fantastic. I absolutely adore J.K. Simmons in every film he's in, even if said film isn't very entertaining. *cough* Spider-Man 3 *cough* In Terminator Genisys he's great. The only problem is that his character hardly has anything to do. They set him up well and his character is certainly investing, and arguably the most interesting character in the whole film, yet he's put aside in replace for a forgettable and completely underwhelming action sequence involving two helicopters. That's literally the last we ever see of him. His character had so much more potential.
That's the thing about most of the action sequences, too. They're all set up to be this exciting and thrilling thing, yet only a couple of them actually deliver on that, the main one coming to mind is a scene involving the younger terminator and the T1000. It's a thrilling, yet predictable sequence that actually delivers what a Terminator film should deliver. The rest of the action feels more 'been there, done that' and it's not nearly as exciting. Not even the stuff in the future is that exhilarating to watch. It's all a mash up of things we've already seen.
On a visual standpoint, the film succeeds, although the same thing could be said about the Transformers movies. To be fair, I'd rather see this again than I would any of the Transformers movies. But yes, the special and practical effects work incredibly well, the most impressive example being the young Arnold. It was uncanny seeing him on screen and it was more believable than Paul Walker was in Furious 7. That entire scene, while brief, was a lot of fun to watch, despite having seen an abridged version in the trailer.
Terminator Genisys' biggest issue is with the screenplay. Dealing with time travel is difficult enough, but in Terminator Genisys they time travel to prevent time travel that's going to prevent time travel. There's so many unexplained events and redo's and timeline changes that the film just becomes a big, convoluted mess. It took me a substantial amount of time to think about what the hell actually happened in this movie and I'm still not entirely sure. Things change, things don't. I didn't even know what year it was by the time the film's closing credits begun. This is a Terminator movie. I'm meant to think, but I shouldn't need to try and work out what the hell I just watched.
To sum up, Terminator Genisys may be better than I expected, but that doesn't mean you should rush out and see it. It's a convoluted, messy and rather dumb film that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. We officially live in a world with more bad Terminator films than good.
2 1/2 Stars