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He’s Back… But is That a Good Thing?: A Review of Terminator: Genisys

By: Matthew Rembold

The Terminator franchise is arguably one of the most influential in cinema history. It’s given us examples of great science fiction/action movies along with how to make a near perfect sequel. It has also shown us what bad sequels look like as well. While Terminator 1&2 were classics the two films that followed were anything but. Because of these less than stellar showings, fans and movie goers are hoping that the newest installment in the series can bring the franchise to the heights it once reached.

In the newest Terminator sequel, the rules have changed. As in the original Terminator, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back to 1984 by John Conner (Jason Clarke) to protect Conner’s mother, Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke). However, when Reese arrives in the past, things are not as they once were. Sarah is already a trained soldier and a new T-800(Arnold Schwarzenegger) is now protecting her. Now the trio must fight against a new threat that has emerged with the changed timeline.

Now if you’ve seen some of the trailers and TV spots for this movie, you already know the major plot twist of this movie and might not even realize it. For the sake of those who haven’t seen the promotional material for this movie, I will not talk about the major spoiler given away in the trailers of all places. If you’ve seen the movies or the trailers, then you already know what I am talking about. I was lucky enough to walk into this movie without seeing the spoiler, but even the posters gave it away, so it’s hard to walk into this movie without even a guess as to what might happen. I blame the marketing team for this big, big blunder. I highly advise you to avoid the trailers and posters if you haven’t seen any of this already, the movie might be improved for you. I had an idea of what the plot twist was and that was enough for me not to be totally surprised. Because of this the movie loses points for not having any big surprises.
Now I’m not saying the movie needs a big plot twist to make it good, but it definitely would have helped. This movie needed some surprises in all honesty. Aside from the plot twist, it was all a very basic, very predictable action movie and not in the best of ways. Although there are good action scenes, and some alright performances, non of this movie is very memorable at all.
For starters the actors do what they can with the script they are given. Arnold as the T-800 is probably the best actor and best part of the whole movie. He’s funny and entertaining and very suited for the role. As good as Arnold is though, no one else really shines. Jason and Emilia Clarke look as if they are acting in their roles of John and Sarah Conner. If you feel like a person is actually acting instead getting engrossed in their performance and believing they are that character, some thing might not be right. Again they do what they can with the script they have, but it really isn’t much. They clearly did not bring their A Game to this one. The weakest actor out of all the main cast has to be Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. Personally, I don’t understand why he was cast in such a major role. He isn’t exactly the reason why any one has gone to see any of the movies he’s recently starred in, and of the movies he’s been in, non of them are really that good either. As in his previous films, he seems like a very stiff and sometimes emotionless character. He really doesn’t bring anything to the table and is easily out shined by even the performances of Jason and Emilia Clarke. Some actors are even under used to an absurd degree. Big names like J.K Simmons are reduced to minor roles and are in the film for only a few minutes at most. At least those scenes were entertaining enough, regardless of how short they are.

The action scenes are serviceable, but they don’t live up to the legacy the franchise has created. None stand out, and considering how many there are, you’d think at least one would. Things just seem to happen in this movie. The story has some very good ideas and interesting ways to take the series, but the execution isn’t done in a way that impresses. One thing that did impress were the visual effects and the scenes that showed more of the future world that was only hinted at in some of the previous movies.

In the end, Terminator Genisys is a sometimes good attempt at keeping the franchise alive, but is very forgettable and unremarkable as well. It is far better than Terminator 3 and Salvation, but comes no where near the original two films. The acting is alright, aside from Arnold back in his iconic role, the action scenes do what they need to, and the film proposes some very interesting concepts that just aren’t executed in a very interesting way. The blunder in the marketing of his film also does not help this movie in any way. If you really want to see this one, I,d recommend waiting until it comes out on TV or is available for rental.

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