Review: Terminator Genisys – Fractured future tales

Terminator GenisysWhat if the Sega Genesis gaming console was actually the impetus of Skynet, the artificial intelligence system that will eventually annihilate the human race? Well, that actually has nothing to do with Terminator Genisys, but if you were an 80’s gamer I bet that thought crossed your mind when you first heard the title of this latest Terminator film.

In the new movie, ‘Genisys’ is an operating system (think iOS 9 or, oddly enough, Android) that is the forerunner of Skynet, and the Sarah Connor family is once again up against those deadly Terminators, human versus machine, each trying to stop the other before they were ever created; action-packed T-whatever-model wackiness ensues.

If you don’t know a T-1000 from a T-bone steak, then you’re going to be even more lost than the rest of us in this fractured future tale. It’s as if Paramount Pictures was afraid that Marvel’s Secret Wars and DC’s Convergence comic books were going to secure the copyright on convoluted alternate timelines.

Terminator GenisysIf you are an unstoppable, die-hard fan of the Terminator film franchise, then I honestly don’t know what you might think of this new film, which blows away most of the series’ mythology like it was caught in the epicenter of a nuclear blast; and I think that you are either going to love this movie or hate it (and we’d love to hear which in our comments section).

Now, if you are a casual fan (like myself) and know just enough of the Skynet mythos to be dangerous, Terminator Genisys offers just over two-hours of fun, mindless, popcorn-munching mayhem, with some truly incredible stunt work and special effects. I had a great time watching this movie and plan to watch it again to try to (hopefully) sort out some of its many plot holes, or confirm that it made sense all along and I just missed it on the first take.

In a nutshell, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back to the past by the machine resistance leader, John Connor (Jason Clarke), to protect his mother, Sarah Connor, from being killed by a Terminator robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Most of us already know this part of the story, but, in Genisys, events occur that create a warped timeline where everything we knew is twisted into a new version of the past, which also means a new version of the future.

Terminator GenisysDirected by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), the cast also includes J.K. Simmons as a crazy cop who has figured out that time-traveling robots are in our midst (one of the film’s best roles), and Byung-hun Lee channels Robert Patrick as a T-1000. It took me a while to realize that Sarah Connor was being played by the actress, Emilia Clarke, who is best known as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, because the “Mother of Dragons” is almost unrecognizable as the “Mother of John Conner.”

As you might guess, the standout performance here is easily Schwarzenegger’s, who is at his best since coming out of retirement a couple of years ago. If you are an old-school Arnold fan, then you are in for a real treat. (Who else can’t wait for King Conan?)

It would be very easy to rip into this movie, but the bottom line is that despite its many problems this is a very entertaining film and the embodiment of what a big summer blockbuster is all about – fun. Grade: 7.5/10

Photos © 2015 Paramount Pictures

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.