Terminator Genisys

Schwarzenegger is back, just as he’d promised. Need I say more?
Movie Review #986


I don’t know about you, but if I had a T-800 robot, I’d go back to 2009 and erase “Terminator Salvation” from existence. It was a terrible movie, and despite its title, it wasn’t a “Terminator” movie at all. You can have a movie centered around John Connor and Kyle Reese all you want, but if there’s anything “Salvation” proved, it’s that those two characters aren’t the links that bind the series. The title is “Terminator” for a reason. It’s the T-800 that keeps these movies ticking.

One movie later, we have “Terminator Genisys”, which brings the series back up on its feet again, even if its posture is somewhat lacking. We open in 2029, where John Connor (Jason Clarke) is near the end of his war against Skynet. It’s come to his attention that Skynet has sent back in time a T-800 to kill his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), in order to prevent John from being born. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), a member of John Connor’s resistance team, volunteers to go back in time and save Sarah.

Up to that point, everything sounds like a repeat of the first film. What was discussed in the original “Terminator”, we see outright in the first 15 minutes of “Genisys”. But there’s a twist. “Genisys” establishes an alternate reality to the first three “Terminator” movies. When Kyle arrives back in 1984 to save Sarah, he finds that there are two T-800s: the one trying to kill her, and one that has been protecting her since the age of nine. Add in the element of time travel, which is to “Genisys” what cheese is to mice, and you have both the most interesting and the most convoluted “Terminator” movie to date.

“Terminator Genisys” has a knack for CGI. It’s because of this that we can differentiate between the two T-800s that play a part in this story. “Pops” is Schwarzenegger looking exactly as he does today. Old, ugly, rugged, and scruffy. On the other hand, Schwarzenegger has been given a CGI facelift as the killer Terminator. His entire appearance has been reconstructed, and so well that you’d swear the footage came out of the 1984 movie.

“Genisys” also has a decent sense of humor. The Terminator’s social awkwardness has been a classic piece to the series. Remember “Hasta la vista, baby”? Schwarzenegger’s forced smile in “Genisys” does pretty much the same thing. It’s pretty unforgettable, and it’s a good laugh. Director Alan Taylor also appreciates a sort of meta humor, particularly in the opening of the film. The scene in the original “Terminator” where a nude Ahnold approaches a group of street punks and demands their clothes, is reenacted here. This time, however, the altercation between the young-looking Ahnold and those street punks is broken up by the older Ahnold, who then begins his own altercation with his younger counterpart. “Terminator Genisys” continues like this for two hours, playing out as essentially one long action sequence. When you look at the first three “Terminator” movies, it really isn’t anything special, but it’s still a great deal of fun.