Friday 11 December 2015

Terminator Genisys

The Terminator is back, and this time he isn’t just a cheesy CGI effect like in the previous attempted reboot Terminator Salvation. Featuring an impressive cast, including Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, and a somewhat greyer Arnold Schwarzenegger returning as his most iconic role for the first time in 12 years (24 if you ignore Terminator 3, like I do). It does look promising, but can Genisys reignite the franchise after its first failed attempt? 

Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Terminator Genisys. The film takes a step away from the formula of the original three Terminators, don’t get me wrong, it’s still filled with time traveling robots trying to kill Sarah Connor, just this time things are a little different. As fans of the series will already know, in the future humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction and the survivors enslaved by Terminators.  John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the resistance and humanity’s last hope, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother from the original Terminator and the events of the first film. He arrives expecting a shy defenceless waitress, but instead finds Sarah now to be a hardened fighter prepared for battle by her very own Terminator (Arnie himself). Now fully aware of the events of the future, Sarah has a plan to defeat Skynet once again. 

After an opening sequence that explains and sets the tone of the dystopian future, we see the moments before the original T-800 Terminator and Kyle Reese are sent back in time, by what John Connor refers to as “the first tactical time weapon” (most people would just say time machine). In the film’s opening thirty minutes, scenes from the first Terminator film are recreated and used cleverly to connect the reboot to the original, but with different outcomes. It is because of ambitious ideas like this, where Genisys differs from the failed Salvation and it does have moments of brilliance. A brief cut away of Sarah, Kyle and Arnie being arrested and processed to the Bad Boys theme tune comes straight to mind.

However, the film from the director of Thor: The Dark World, Alan Taylor, never really lives up to its potential. It’s riddled with lazy references to the originals, I get that it’s not a Terminator film if no one says “I’ll be back”, but sadly these soon start to grow old. One of the first things Emilia Clarke says is perhaps the second most famous Terminator quote “Come with me if you want to live!”. Although I appreciate the novelty of the role reversal with Sarah saying it to Kyle as she rescues him, this line, like many of hers feels far too forced, and is said with none of the fierceness that made Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor such a memorable character. This brings me to another of Genisys’ problems, with both Courtney and Clarke playing roles that have been well established in the originals they are left with big shoes to fill, which sadly neither are able to live up to. Courtney has some early successes, but drifts off towards the end of the film. Whilst clearly a talented actor, Clarke has simply been miscast here and included in the film in an attempt to boost its star power with her Game of Thrones fame. On the plus side, being a Terminator is what Schwarzenegger does best, bringing his trademark style and humour to the role. Although it really says something about the film when a man playing a killer robot displays more emotion than the majority of the cast.

The film does have its better moments and some exciting action scenes as you’d expect from a Terminator film but ultimately is too ambitious. It is a much better effort than Salvation but like the last reboot, Genisys is also held back by its twelve age rating, along with its numerous locations, eras and even reality’s its clear to see why the film never really comes together. It is planned to be the first of a new trilogy, but with the films mixed reviews it remains to be seen if the Terminator…will be back.

I give Terminator Genisys 3/5.


Reuben Simmons

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