Jurassic World, Star Wars, Terminator… 2015 has proven to be the year of the reboot.
Not that that’s a bad thing. Sometimes a reboot can be done really well and surprise people like Jurassic World did. Or the anticipation for one of the greatest franchises is enough to get people through the year like Star Wars has been doing. And then there’s Terminator Genisys. The most recent franchise to have a film, it’s tougher to get excited since the most recent film, Salvation, was not good. So when a reboot was announced, it only made sense that people were hesitant. It also doesn’t help when the advertising for the film then seemed to be full of potential spoilers, ruining what could have been a legitimately surprising twist. Safe to say, Terminator Genisys was always going to be a tough sell and the team behind the film didn’t make their job any easier. But Alan Taylor, while not perfect, seems to have at least found a way to make Terminator Genisys an enjoyable Summer flick.
Fans of the previous movie know what’s coming: Judgment Day. Skynet, a computer system that gains self-awareness after it spread into millions of servers, took it upon itself to go and on and destroy humanity. Why is this? Since Skynet figured out that once its creators know what it could do, it would try and shut it down. With this, the Earth is turned into a war zone. And there’s only one man who shows to be capable of fighting against Skynet and its army: John Connor (Jason Clarke). John Connor leads the resistance while using his previous knowledge given to him by his mother on how to go about the war. In what looks to be the final battle of the war, John has his two factions split up: one faction to take on Skynet’s main defense grid, and the other to destroy Skynet’s secret weapon which is led by him and his right hand man Kyle Reese (Courtney).
Connor leads his army against Skynet and the all-familiar Terminators and things begin to get a bit messy. As the team is infiltrating the compound, Skynet begins to activate it’s failsafe protocol: a time machine. As the Resistance is fighting, a T-800 is being activated and prepped to go back in time. The Resistance’s first unit is able to penetrate and destroy Skynet’s main defense, causing all of the machines to deactivate. But it’s too late — the weapon has been used. Connor states that the Terminator has been sent back in time to kill his mother before he was ever born, bringing us full circle to the events of the first Terminator film. Connor preps Reese to go into the machine himself and to know what he’s getting into, and that his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) is helpless and won’t know that she needs Kyle’s help. Kyle steps into the machine and it begins to activate, but something goes terribly wrong in the process and the Terminator universe will never be the same.
While it’s tough to go into detail about Genisys without giving too much up, there’s a lot that the film has going for it. Jason Clarke as John Connor for example…he’s easily the best John Connor yet. The competition wasn’t all that difficult since Edward Furlong was a child, Christian Bale just didn’t fit into the role, and Nick Stahl just didn’t fit the character. The difference here is that Clarke is given so much more to do as John Connor than the other iterations of the character. The fact the team behind Genisys had it in them to make Connor into a Terminator…it made the story that much better and made his character much more interesting. It also helps that Genisys had all the usual throwback quotes to the first movie while also finding a way to upgrade Schwarzenegger’s iconic character in a way never imagined. Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney were also good in their roles, but there were moments between the two that were pretty terrible (especially the discussion about free will). There’s also a fun throw in for Doctor Who fans…no, not the time travel…just keep an eye out and you’ll see what I mean.
When it comes down to it, Terminator Genisys is a perfectly okay movie. There’s a good amount of story, thrills, and action for the average Terminator fan to love. But for any newcomers looking to come into franchise and plan on using this as an introduction…they will most certainly be confused. There’s a lot of basic concepts in the universe that are used in Genisys that are better off shown than told, but Arnie’s Terminator this time around is basically a vessel for exposition and trying to explain time travel and the concepts of the Terminator universe is no simple feat. It attempts to be a thinking movie instead of embracing what it really is — a huge Summer blockbuster. So make sure to grab your popcorn, avoid the 3D since it makes no difference at all, sit back and enjoy the movie. Also, I do recommend to stick around for the end credits. If you choose not to though it’s fine, not like it’s the end of the world or anything.
Terminator Genisys is directed by Alan Taylor and written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier, and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, and Jason Clarke. It will be in theaters Wednesday, July 1, 2015.