Terminator Genisys exists in a similar space to Jurassic World. It tries to erase previous installments and provide crowd pleasing fan service; all in the name of too close to the surface corporate greed. However, Genisys does a much worse job of pulling this off effectively.
Terminator 2 was my favorite movie for a long time. I’m more willing to admit its flaws these day, but what it does right (The sheer awesomeness of Sarah Connor, some special effects that are still amazing, a great soundtrack, and great action that still finds room for actual pathos) still outweighs all of them. I have way more reverence for Terminator 2 than I ever did for Jurassic Park. But the Terminator franchise burned away all of the reverence with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Terminator 3 is the worst kind of sequel, formulaically repeating the previous movie without recapturing any of the spirit that made it work. John Connor is an obnoxious shit, and the addition of the Claire Danes character just opens up so many plot holes. It’s a tedious, annoying sit that only serves to undermine the previous movie. Terminator 2 is movie about hope; the future is unwritten we can shape our own destiny. T3sweeps in and goes “Syke! Predetermination all the way bitches.” It’s just such a bummer ending to what is a really dumb, silly action movie.
However, I am one of the few people who actually likes Terminator Salvation alright. It’s no T2, but it at least doesn’t try to be, it carves out its own place by being such a radically different entry. It’s not great, but I respect it for carving its own identity.
Terminator Genisys does not carve its own identity. Like T3 this is more just a remix of what you expect from a Terminator entry. Ultimately that’s the movie’s greatest sin, it’s predictable and forgettable. No part of this movie made me say “Oh, that’s why they needed to make another one of these moves.”
It doesn’t help that the one card the movie has to play was spoiled in the trailers. (Which if you haven’t seen I won’t repeat here.) But it’s not like it’s THAT surprising a twist anyway. It’s such a safe move; the movie has the universal Terminator playbook and they’re running it, step-by-step.
Add on top of that some hilariously obvious product placement, and the same kind of heavy corporate presence that Jurassic World has, and I can easily see people hating this movie. I don’t hate this movie, but I had zero expectations going in, and the movie wasn’t too obnoxious or annoying to piss me off. The action was passable, although probably worse than T3’s, just because that at least had some real shit getting wrecked whereas this is a CG-fest. Our heroes are all competent and spend most of their time kicking ass, and the movie keeps up a decent pace for the most part.
Emilia Clarke does a decent job as Sarah Connor, but she’s kinda too cute and doesn’t ever capture the pure badassery of Linda Hamilton. It’s passable because she’s playing a younger Sarah and it’s hard to live up to such a great performance, but it also makes her forgettable. I will say that I basically saw this movie to see Sarah Connor kick ass, and wasn’t really dissapointed.
Jai Courtney acquits himself way better than he did in A Good Day to Die Hard, but he also feels like a discount Sam Worthington. And it’s not like Sam Worthington is that great.
Arnold is back, which would be a bigger deal to me if T3 didn’t exist, but I don’t really know what to say about him. He’s what you expect, and I like his performance, but it’s still everything I’ve seen before. Oddly he comes off less Human than he did in T3, but he also kinda went too far there and dialing it back makes more sense, except that he’s had way more time to learn to be Human. Like in T3 he’s here more as comic relief than anything. This is a way better movie than the last thing I saw him in though. (Escape Plan is terrible and one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.)
It all adds up to a movie I didn’t hate, but also one that’s not going to stick with me at all. It’s a serviceable action ride, but all its attempts at pathos fall flat, and ultimately I don’t care about these versions of these characters. And for a movie that’s clearly trying to set up for sequels that’s pretty bad. J.K Simmons plays a minor character who was probably my favorite but he’s totally pointless and feels like something that would come back in another movie. If they go really nuts with the Time Travel in a sequel to this movie that could work maybe? But this movie does nothing to earn a follow-up.
If you just need to spend some time in an air conditioned theater, or are looking for some light entertainment on Netflix at some point down the line, this wouldn’t be the worst way to spend your time. But there’s no reason to watch this movie. It’s ok, but pointless and forgettable.