Director Alan Taylor Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, J.K Simmons, Matt Smith
Is Terminator: Genisys a sequel or a reboot? A ‘requel’? After sitting through it I still wasn’t too sure. It starts off as a straight-forward continuation of the fourth film but once time-travel is introduced and a new continuity is established its position in the series continuation becomes questionable.
And this is what holds Genisys back (apart from that spelling error, which exists for a reason but still annoys me). The concept, in theory, is quite interesting, but when you try and make an effective film around it you suddenly realise just how unnecessarily convoluted Genisys is. All the talk about different time lines and alternate futures made sense once I’d returned home to mull it all over, and upon reflection it’s actually quite simple, but be damned if anyone in this film can explain it effectively.
The use of time-travel is obviously necessary as it’s a major component of the series, but the way it was utilised here contributes to my feeling that Genisys is less a standalone film (or the first in a new trilogy, as has been officially announced) than it is an inferior remake. I’m highly critical of this series for delving into self-parody, and that’s exactly what the time-travel element of the script does here.
There are so many references to the two classic Terminator films that they don’t come across as homages, or even necessary to the tone and feel of the film, but as a solemn acknowledgement that they have no intentions of attempting to move past this lack of originality. It mocks itself for knowing it’ll never measure to the standards set thirty-one and twenty-four years prior, which only widens the gap between the two classics and the three that have followed. Furthermore, that mockery comes at the expense of quality cinema.
I would like to say that the original concepts for this film offer Genisys some redemption but I’m failing to see anything new. The dystopian future scene, the 1984 introduction, the first two villains, the same characterisation of Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) are all pulled directly from other films, and of course the T-800 (Schwarzenegger) is exactly the same as always. Only the upgrade of John Connor (Jason Clarke) is a new toy to play with, but it is alone in its endeavours.
So why the hell did I, admittedly, enjoy this film to some extent? I haven’t yet put my finger on it, but I guess considering the last time I saw a Terminator film on the big screen was twelve years ago maybe the kid in me is just taking it all in. But there are aspects of this that make it at least worth checking out. Both Clarke’s, Emilia and Jason, do good jobs in their respective roles, as does Courtney (though if you quote me on that I’ll deny it), and the action scenes work well to push the film along, but they are a tad generic, so rather than be unique to the Terminator series they really could be used for any old action flick. Overall I don’t think this was a bad film, it was potentially a really good one, but it missed the mark by miles.
Terminator: Genisys was meant to kick-start a new era of Terminator films but it’s hard to start afresh when all potentially original concepts are not given the time to shine. Instead they’re buried under a ton of throwbacks and lame one-liners in a script that relies too heavily on jokes (that lose their punch with each iteration), which is entirely counter productive to what Genisys is meant to represent. Rather than imitate their own art by forgetting the past they instead embrace it as something unobtainable, dropping the ball in the process, then proceeding to laugh at itself for dropping said ball.