Terminator Genisys (film review)

I really wanted to like this film. I had a lot of good will towards it. The previous Terminator films are all at least decent, and in two cases, stone-cold classics. Terminator: Salvation was very enjoyable and opened up the franchise in a new and feasible direction while still being faithful to its own mythology.

Alas, Terminator Genisys is a miserable cinematic experience. Rarely has so much been wasted on such an incoherent mish-mash of ideas already used in the series, and recycled out of context to boot.

The sole good things in the film are the performances of Emilia Clarke and Arnold Schwarzenegger—they at least make an effort, and had it been a simpler film focusing on just the two of them, it would have been so much better. Though it is never explained why good Arnie was sent back, still at least he’s funny and has more character than many of the human members of the cast.

Genisys undoes the mythology of the previous four films in a cynical effort to get a quick buck before James Cameron regains the rights. This has rightly backfired. People are not stupid, they know when a film is made with love and they know when it’s been made by accountants.

So, to the ‘plot,’ which recycles various Terminator ideas. We have bad Arnie (T1), we have good Arnie (T2), liquid metal Terminator (T2), we have Kyle Reese, played by an actor with none of the charisma and believability of his predecessor. It goes on… and on… and on. I wonder if they could sue themselves for plagiarism?

The plot is even worse, a mad hellbroth of time-travel tropes and confusion. We have Matt Smith playing Skynet for instance— why? Sarah Connor recognises an adult, scarred John Connor (who is now a kind of human/Terminator hybrid—I know, my head hurts just typing this!). How does she know who he is, since she has not even given birth to him yet?

That sums it all up, a film made badly for all the wrong reasons.

It didn’t have to be this way. Mad Max: Fury Road is a superb reboot of the Mad Max series, one that delights, excites and uplifts its viewers. Compare the two for proof.

Thanks to Terminator Genisys, the Terminator franchise is now Terminated.

Steve Earles

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (http://toendallwarscomic.wordpress.com/writers/).