Man it was great to see that Terminator was coming back, especially after the misery of suffering through Terminator Salvation and anyone who follows my twitter feed knows that I was very excited to see it after James Cameron gave his brilliant testimonial about it. However, it didn’t change the fact that the early report from the critics was that they were not enjoying the film and were giving it savage ratings. On opening day in the UK the film had a score of 26% on rotten tomatoes, but I made my decision not to go into any further depth into what the critics thought of the film and didn’t read any actual reviews of the film. I went in with an open mind and was prepared to really enjoy the film. Hell, I always have a film every year where I say, screw the critics I enjoyed this movie, maybe this was going to fill that role!
Terminator Genisys tells the story that in the year 2029 a programme called Skynet has taken over the world from the year 1997 after an event called Judgement Day and has enslaved most of humanity, however when humanity is on the brink of extinction a saviour comes, known as John Connor (played by Jason Clarke) who rallies the humans in a bid to stop the machines and take down Skynet with his right hand man Kyle Reese (played by Jai Courtney). Just when humanity is on the verge of victory, Skynet send its last effort back, a Terminator sent back to the year 1984 in order to kill John’s mother Sarah Connor, (played by Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones Fame). Kyle volunteers to go back in time to protect Sarah Connor in a state when she cannot defend herself and is thus sent back in time to 1984. Now, stay with me because this is not just a remake of the original Terminator, when Kyle gets back to the past he finds that the past is not exactly the way he remembered it being told to him and that there is another T1000 Terminator gone back, (played by Byung-hun-lee) and the only thing that can stop him is a bad ass Sarah Connor and her guardian, another T800 Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Kyle must figure what went wrong with the past and how it has affected Skynets plans for the domination over the Human Race. Now you think that plots sounds simple to follow, oh no it isn’t, this film is anything but simple, in fact it’s really a convoluted mess. There are tons of things bought up which are never explained, stuff which unfortunately I can’t fully go into for fear of spoiling the film for people who haven’t seen it yet. But, trust me, the careful attention to detail put into the time travel aspect of the first 2 Terminator films is not present here and I think the film creates quite a few paradoxes that a repeat viewing will only highlight further, in fact this is probably a film which will get worse with successive views for that apparent reason. I am also not a fan of these incarnations of many of the characters, this film has clearly been designed as a re-boot for new fans with re-imagined characters to go with, however, if feels like newcomers will be lost with this film, it really assumes that you have seen Terminator 1 & 2. I would highly recommend that you watch both films prior to seeing this film. That’s not getting in to the fact that I am not really a fan of these incarnations of Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor. Granted Sarah Connor turns out really well initially and I thought we were going to see a really cool version of the character with Emilia Clarke, but she kind of dies down early on and never fully recovers. She goes back and forth into being a really good Sarah Connor and being a really bad one, and again I think that is more down to the writing and she really does not measure up to Linda Hamilton in the 2 other films. She does seem to have good direction though. This film is Directed by Alan Taylor, who previously directed the Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” and he brings a lot of his strengths and weaknesses to this film, however, he has also directed 6 episodes of Game of Thrones and obviously for that reason can work well with Emilia Clarke. Kyle Reese is really annoying in this film, I am really not getting what route they were going down with this one, but I don’t really care for this incarnation of the character and I especially don’t like his relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, yes, let’s face facts, you’re not calling him T800 you are calling him Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator! It’s kind of treating it like it’s a relationship between a boyfriend and the father of his girlfriend! Not helped by the fact that Sarah constantly refers to him as ‘pops’ and seriously if you ever wanted to emasculate a really cool bad ass character, calling him ‘pops’ almost the entire film will really do the trick. That got so annoying really fast!! However, both of those are nothing on the betrayal of John Connor’s character especially considering his betrayal and conversion to being half man, half machine weird hybrid thing that is never given an adequate explanation!! Before you say anything about spoilers, this was used in all the trailers and on all the posters, it’s been well and truly given away, and that another major problem because it really could have been a really shocking reveal if they hadn’t given it away so blatantly. What’s more, this is a terrible John Connor, this is supposed to be the saviour of humanity and he builds up no resistance to these machines infecting him or whatever they do (it says something about the way they have re-arranged his cells and the mechanics, but really, how much sense does that make).
I will say that the positives for this film are, is that it initially feels very good. The first 25 minutes are actually pretty decent, the biggest problem is when the film goes back to 1984, which is when the film goes completely off the rails. There is really no other way of putting it. I was trying to wrap my head around the plot for the entire hour and a half that it takes me to get home from the cinema and I am still trying while I am writing this review, I still do not understand this plot! I am normally the person who usually explains what is going on when people find it confusing. How is anyone meant to wrap their head around it!! Especially considering the film rarely explains anything that is going on. For example, how are Skynet still active after it is shut down in the final mission?? Does it have an extra server on standby, well, it would have been nice for that explanation to be put out there, and who is sending back all these Terminators!! I guess you could make the argument that Skynet and John Connor are still using the time machine, but we never see them do it!! So we are just left to make those assumptions. If you are wondering what Genisys bring spelt that way is all about, it’s actually a reference to a programme that is released in 2017 to link up several networks which is actually a front for Skynet. Also this film has some amazingly blatent product placements for Nike that come of as incredibly distracting to extent that it seems like the film was briefly interrupted for an advert. I will say that when the film pays attention to its plot it is actually halfway decent and I will say this film’s plot was much better that the boring waste of time that McG’s Terminator Salvation was and yes his name really is McG or at least that’s what he calls himself and thank goodness he wasn’t bough back for this film, because if he had directed this it would have been even worse, and I guarantee you that!! That really sums up this plot, it’s not boring per-say, it’s just all over the place and it never gives you a moment to catch up or get a grip of it, it’s just constantly on, it never, ever, stops and normally for an action film, that is a good thing, however, they want to tell a decent plot and have it be a character piece like the first two films did, however they don’t create likeable enough characters in order to achieve this. The film hints at the idea of a sequel and potential new franchise now the Terminator Universe has been re-booted, but this plot was so much of a mess that by the end of it you won’t be looking forward to the idea of a sequel, you will be thinking Terminator’s continuity is really, really bad. The film left me completely confused and not really satisfied. I actually said out loud, as soon as the credits rolled “what the hell was that”!!
Let’s talk about the cast for the next few paragraphs. They are fairly OK, but they are not given good enough direction and some of them really don’t turn in brilliant performances. I am not really a fan of Jason Clarke playing John Connor and Emilia Clarke is pretty good half the time as Sarah Connor, however she is dipping so back and forth and if they do plan to continue this as a franchise I wouldn’t object to a re-cast on both of their fronts. Similarly with Jai Courtney who I think is possibly the worst actor in this film. If he is trying his best, he was given really bad direction. Arnold Schwarzenegger is giving off the pained expression of a man who is a mid life crisis and is desperately trying to re-capture the good old days of his career!! Now that being said Arnold Schwarzenegger still is good in this role and he ultimately gets into it though does feel like he’s trying too hard. The rest of the roles feel very thankless, especially J K Simmons as a cop in 2017 who was rescued in 1984 by Sarah Connor and the Terminator, he basically feels like your usual conspiracy nutter who is proved right in these films and doesn’t really do much, what a waste of a great actor! Similarly most of the other roles are not that good, especially people like Matty Ferraro as Agent Janssen. Courtney B Vance was alright as Miles Dyson, but I would have to say that the stand outs for me were the villains in this film. Particularly Byung-hun-lee as T-1000, he really helped re capture a lot of what Robert Patricks bought to the role back in Terminator 2 and the most memorable aspect to this film for me was Matt Smith doing a very interesting villain turn as Skynet, he is listed on the films IMDB page as Alex, but don’t be fooled, he is playing Skynet in this film and he would possibly have been a great villain if only: a) he was allowed to be in the film more and I suspect he was meant to be originally since it looks like a lot of his scenes were probably cut, and b) he wasn’t told to put on that ridiculous American accent. Seriously Matt Smith’s accent is fine and distinctive to him, he could definitely do a menacing performance with that accent. What were you thinking? I suppose it was put in place to not directly associate him with Dr Who, but come off it, it’s Matt Smith, of course we are going to associate him with Dr Who!!
Now the special effects. The original 2 Terminator films were pioneers of their special effects. This one isn’t!! Ok for starters the CGI is not terrible for the most parts, some of it does look pretty bad, bit when it’s good, it’s really good, particularly I like the CGI effect of the young Arnold Schwarzenegger, made to look like his original incarnation of his Terminator and the fight scene between those two was pretty good, even if it does boil down to Schwarzenegger effectively saying ‘stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself’. Ok he doesn’t actually say that in the movie, but that was what was going through my head when I was watching it! For the most part the fight scenes were pretty good, but they are repetitive and they highlight another problem. The film never slows down, there are way too many of these fight scenes and they are way too much alike and non distinctive. This was never going to out do the brilliant and imaginative fight scenes that Terminator 2 managed, but I was still expecting more. I would have really liked more variety in these scenes; there is nothing distinctive to separate them. The only one I remember very clearly is the Helicopter chase and one of the major reasons for that was that it had the famous “I’ll be back” line, by the way if anyone is wondering “come with me if you want to live” also turns up in this film, but I think that is now standard for Terminator films!! Now, granted this is a franchise that was known for it’s pioneering CGI, especially with the T-1000 effects in Terminator 2, however it doesn’t give you the excuse to use those effects all over again! I know we are meant to re-cycle, but we are also meant to update as well and that is where the CGI often fails, it is too synthetic and not integrated very well. Granted it’s not quite as bad as Jurassic World and there are some good practical effects in this film as well, particularly on Schwarzenegger, but the effects weren’t a hi-light for me. I saw this film in 3D which was lucky considering my schedule when preparing to go to London Anime and Gaming Con and for the first 15 minutes it was actually pretty good, however, after that it really varied and I actually took off my glasses at one point because my eye was itchy and I noticed that the film wasn’t that out of focus, which means, I think the 3D as post conversion given it’s constantly ranging in quality as the film goes on. Surprisingly only a few of the action scenes really benefit from the 3D, I would say that the one which really benefits is the scene with the school bus, because that one takes advantage of 3D’s added sense of depth when you use height into the factor. I didn’t really notice many effects in the film that would be hindered by seeing the film in 2D, so I would recommend seeing the film in 2D version if you have a choice in the matter. If you are forced to see the 3D version, it is not all bad, but it does seem pretty pointless after you reach the 25 minute mark. In fact I am getting to the stage now that I am recommending 2D more now, I’m not sure that I am going to bother too much in the future to actively seek out the 3D version and may just choose to watch 3D if it fits in with my schedule. Incidentally that is going to be this weeks question, but I will save that for later.
Terminator Genisys is not a complete dud and I will say it’s better that it’s predecessor Terminator Salvation, but that doesn’t change the fact that this film is quite a bit of a mess. I’m not angry I’m just disappointed. It has a plot that basically makes you go “what the hell?” for an hour and a half and basically acts as too many re-makes of Terminator 1 & 2 that don’t really work unless you have actually seen those two! I’m not really a fan of these re-imagining versions of the characters, there is a whole lot that is not really explained and it won’t really warrant repeat viewing because it will only work to further hi-light the amount of plot holes in this film and there’s tons of really heavy handed we rely on technology too much messages in the film. Apart from Matt Smith’s rather interesting turn as a villain for this film, there is not really that much memorable here and I suspect this one will be cast aside to the cusp. Terminator has become like Highlander in that anything that came after it, they only got a brief stint at being very good and everything that followed, has sucked. This film keeps up the tradition. The action scenes are very decent, but they are very repetitive and the film’s effects really vary in quality, not to mention the acting isn’t entirely par. I especially did not like Kyle Reese in this film and what they did to John Connor was almost inexcusable. I would say save your money and wait about a week as ‘Antman’ is coming out next week and I think that will be a much better film. Incidentally that is going to receive a review.
So, what are your thoughts on Terminator Genisys? Was I right and it was a complete mess or did you see something in it that I didn’t? Please leave a comment if you have one or answer todays question. I want your feedback on this one as it will effect how I do future reviews!!
“Do people take value in me seeking out 3D versions of films for my reviews”?
I simply wish to know because at the minute I am actively seeking out 3D versions of films so I can comment on it’s 3D. However, I am recommending 2D more and more that I am wondering if I should scrap that idea and only watch 3D if it fits in with my schedule.
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Well Terminator may have been a bit of a bust this week but I am very confident about next weeks review. Come back on 17 July when I will be reviewing Irish Director, Tom Moore’s latest film “Song of The Sea” which earned him an Oscar nomination and yes this is the 3rd film in my 3 most anticipated films of 2015.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed my review.
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