Terminator Genisys Review

terminator-genisys_screengrab-from-motion-poster
All right, I managed to see the latest installment in the Terminator series! The trailer was one of the best ones that came out this year and it’s why I had rather high hopes for it. This certainly seemed like it would be an improvement over most of the films that came out. The fact that they made it more of a summer blockbuster aimed at just about everyone was an instant advantage as I wouldn’t have to wait a few months for the TV airing. It’s certainly fun and was nearly the best film in the series, but the writing holds it back. Still, this is definitely a good film to check out!

The plot is essentially a re imagining of the first two films with some time elements that change the future. The Terminator arrived early and helped Sarah live through the events of the first two films while also getting Kyle up to speed. The mission is to destroy Skynet in the future before the true future occurs. Kyle agrees that this is a good call although he disagrees on when they should destroy Skynet. Once the heroes get that sorted out, they embark on their most dangerous battle yet!

As you may have heard, reviews have not been kind to this film. It’s also not doing very well in the box office and that isn’t even too surprising when we go back to the trailer. It’s the kind of trailer that almost looks too good and the general audience definitely wouldn’t like it. Go back to Man of Steel, The Amazing Spider Man 2, and other films like that. Even I Frankenstein and Spider Man 3 would count to an extent. If there is a lot of CGI, action, and essentially comic book/video game styled plots running around, then it is typically doomed to bad reviews. For films like these where the action is at this level and the trailer looks exciting, you can bet that it will be doomed. Not necessarily at the box office as they still do tend to do well, but the reviews will be harsh. So, for a big anime/video game/comic/action fan, they’re typically a good sign that the film will be quite good. Terminator didn’t disappoint.

Before I really get into talking about the film, I’ll quickly take a look at the big negative that I had with it. The writing was terrible, specifically the script. There’s a lot of excessive language to be found here. You’ll hear the s word for what feels like dozens of times and even the more extreme word appears once. These moments really hurt the film and I had to take a whole star off of it as a result, which took it from being the best film in the series to number 3, as it falls behind the legendary T2 and the less critically renown T3. It still clobbers the original Terminator film as well as Salvation, but it’s a missed opportunity. Even if the film is going for a realism effect, you wouldn’t expect the average joe to be swearing this often. It’s like the characters have the word on standby so that they can say it whenever they are surprised, scared, or excited.

The romance is also handled rather poorly, but long time fans of this site will not be surprised at this. There’s really no reason for the 2 main characters to like each other except that this is a theater film and it is expected. It’s worse when you consider the fact that Sarah knows that she is supposed to like Kyle. There’s just no way that this would work after that and she shouldn’t even like him since Kyle isn’t the nicest guy on the block. He nearly jeopardizes the world and he’s very slow on the uptake. As per usual, there is also some fanservice here because the characters have to go into the teleporter while naked because clothing throws the system out of place. I still find it amusing that the new ball effect from the third film is completely ignored nowadays. It was a decent effect, but the original is still the best as it’s short and to the point. I’m not sure how one character’s truck manages to endure the lightning blasts when one bolt causes a car to be ripped in half later on, but…that’s just how it goes.

That’s really it as far as the negatives go. One area where the film is mixed on as it’s not particularly strong or weak in is the characters though. As with the first film, I still don’t like Kyle at all. He comes off as very defensive since he’s always pointing his gun at the heroes and he completely overreacts with the original Terminator. Falling in love with someone over a picture is incredibly shallow and I could go on and on about why he is such an unlikable main character. This guy just doesn’t have what it takes to hold his own film. Sarah isn’t a whole lot better, but she is a definite improvement. I liked her a lot in T2 because she was a very tough heroine who got the job done. (Although I wasn’t a big fan of her in the original film)

In this film, the writers clearly tried to go for that as she still has a gun and fights Terminators several times, but she’s not as battle hardened or skilled in combat. She does still spring traps and beats the average hero (Kyle….) but the romance plot at the end hurts her case a lot. Especially considering that it was a whole plot where she was trying to defy her fate. Going along with it at the end just didn’t seem like a smart option at all. Giving her an extra action scene or two would have certainly helped her case along with less panicking when danger arrived. I think that her character would have been a lot more likable if Kyle was not around as the dynamic between her and the Terminator was good. They had some good teamwork against the first villain so seeing more of that throughout the film would have been enjoyable and the banter between them could have made the film even more fun.

John Connor makes for a decent character. His transition happens fairly early on in the film so you won’t have to worry about him being the generic war general for too long. I didn’t care for him in that form all that much, but he wasn’t too bad. He was just way too vague and should have told his army troopers a little more if he really wanted them to prevent the time travel from happening. After that, he certainly gets a lot more power and we needed one of those insane characters who thinks that he is a hero right? He’s certainly not the John Connor that you’ll remember from the other films, but he actually does beat the other 3 portrayals of John rather easily. This one meant business and he was also more charismatic.

Naturally, the original Terminator is the character who steals the show. He gets in some quality burns on the main cast and most of his dialogue scenes are the best parts of the film. Unlike the third film where he admits that he is an obsolete model, he constantly denies it here as he faces off against the new and improved Terminators. He is older and his parts are starting to break, but he has a lot of determination and puts up a good fight in every scene. He’s very likable and acts a little more like his appearance in T3 than T2 as he still has a big sense of humor and is constantly showing signs of emotion. It’s a good sense of character development for him. In the audience, people laughed when he showed off his grin for the first time. It’s why I wish they wouldn’t spoil humor scenes in the trailer sometimes as it would probably have a bigger impact if you weren’t expecting it.

Humor aside, The Terminator also knows how to get the job done. He still makes sure not to destroy any civilians even while in self defense. He’s very intelligent and a great fighter. While the newer models have special abilities like shape changing and regeneration, The original Terminator still has the edge in physical power over most of them. He overwhelms the opponents through physical strength and that’s always a good tactic although having regeneration would probably be a little more fun for him so that he wouldn’t have to get pounded so often. Finally, we have a fun character who’s named Detective O’Brien. He does a good job of instantly outshining most of the cast as he takes the situation in stride (Unlike Kyle) and helps the heroes out of a jam. For decades, people called him crazy, but the detective never lost hope in his assumption that the heroes were time travelers. You just gotta love the guy and I’m glad that he got to help out without getting killed off right away.

The soundtrack is certainly good as well with the classic theme showing up. The scene where the original Terminator first shows up to take care of his past self was definitely intense. While I agree that he is no match against his younger self, I would have liked a more even battle. (When the fight first started, I had the opposite opinion, but when we saw just how old and broken the current version was, the opening fight scene felt more accurate to me) The music definitely has more emotion than you would expect from the average film.

The film’s tone and atmosphere really help it to be a blast. I’d say that it’s very similar to The Amazing Spider Man 2, which is certainly one of the most underrated films to have come out in recent years. Unlike the past Terminators to an extent (Because 3 was a little similar to this one) this film is a lot more upbeat and cheerful than the older ones. There’s essentially nonstop action and the characters are constantly moving. There are several scenes that were so good they felt like they could have been a climax in another title and the film never takes itself too seriously. While this hurts it critically, it greatly increases the replay value and enjoyment during the film. There are no really violent scenes unlike the first three films, which is certainly a positive. This way you can really focus on the action.

As great as the tone was, it wouldn’t have been enough without some good action scenes. The fights here are the best ones that we’ve seen aside from the big brawl in T3 where the Terminator fought the TX. (Too bad she couldn’t appear here, but it’s too soon in the timeline) Each of the big fights, Terminator vs Terminator, Terminator vs T1000, Terminator vs Final version Terminator, were all really great. They easily beat most of the fights that you will be seeing in theaters and I’d say that the fight scenes here were the best of the year. Beating out the Age of Ultron climax as well as the final showdown in Jurassic World. I don’t see Ant Man or Star Wars topping these, but it’s always possible. These are likely some of the best fights that we’ve seen since Man of Steel, but it’s a tough fight as the Winter Soldier in 2014 had some good ones as well.

Some scenes you will already be familiar with like the one where the Terminator jumps off of a helicopter, but it doesn’t take away from how good the scenes are. Genisys really did a good job of showing off the effects and the design for the final boss in particular is really good. It almost goes without saying, but the film’s pacing also benefits a lot because of this. With all of the nonstop action, the film gets to cram in a whole lot without dragging out. The film’s only 2 hours, but it has at least 3 hours worth of content into it and you’ll never be looking at your watch. Something is always happening, whether it be a funny scene or an intense one.

As for the time travel elements, this naturally leads into intriguing territory where you can try to fit in the pieces yourself. Nothing relating to time travel would be a negative for me as I get to make my own theories on what happened. Even if there are things which would be counted as plot holes, it wouldn’t hurt the film as it’ll just make you grin and try to connect the dots. Also, it’s not like a plot hole would matter all that much since all someone needs to do is send another Terminator in from the future and everything will change. As long as time travel exists here, the cycle will never end and Skynet will never be truly defeated, as much as the characters would like for this to not be true.

My main issue with the time travel is one of the final scenes as a kid is given a message. It happens way too late in the kid’s life so it shouldn’t have existed in the first place if you ask me. It’s a time loop, but it still should have happened years sooner so it could have made a difference. As it is, the future will never happen as a result of what happened. Now, what I did like about this film is that they explained that even if a character destroys his parents before he is born, he will still exist. This is a theory that I’ve always agreed with as the character is already alive so a shift in the past should not affect him in the future because his life is already written. In a sense, you are immune to the time shifts because you are now out of time. On that note, the film got it down perfectly.

As for the rest of the time travel, it’s a little iffy on how the T-1000 arrived so quickly. If you ask me, he arrived too soon. In a way, you could just say that the first 4 films never happened to save yourself the hassle. As soon as the original Terminator was sent to the past, everything changed. Why did the heroes wait so long to stop Skynet? Surely, they could have destroyed key facilities and kept on delaying the project for decades at a time right? Maybe it was just flashier this way. Maybe the characters didn’t think that they had what it took to prevent such a disaster. Either way, I felt like the plan to stop Skynet wasn’t really thought out so well on their part.

Of course, it was still awesome to see the first film live again through the opening. Since I just saw the first four films, it was really fun to look at the visual cues and try to fit this in the timeline. I really just prefer to consider it as an AU to the previous films as they no longer fit in the current timeline as their reality has shifted. They did happen, but they don’t matter to the main cast anymore. One cool part is that the sequel to this film probably won’t even need to worry about time travel as things may happen linearly now….right? While it is possible, I’m assuming that time travel will definitely come into play. After all, a big plot point that has not been concluded yet is, who sent the original Terminator to the past to stop the first four films from ever happening? The answer hasn’t even been hinted at yet and I’m just really hoping that it is not John or Kyle, but a completely new character. The problem is that with time travel, it could literally be any character from any timeline so the writers can have a field day deciding who did it.

Naturally, you’ll need to stick around through the credits to check out the final scene. It should have been a little longer so that something more could happen, but I can always appreciate a good cliffhanger. Marvel started the epic tradition and I feel like all companies should keep on going with it. It’s a nice way to build up some hype for the next film and just for yourself if the sequel gets cancelled since things aren’t looking very good for it right now. The next film has a lot of potential if it does come out now since the fights may be a little higher tier and we may get some more answers. I’m also wondering what Skynet’s next play will be. They ended up having the last laugh in T3 and T4 so I suppose that it’s about time that the humans got a quick victory since they haven’t had a glimpse of it since T2.

Overall, Terminator Genysis is a really fun film. This definitely reminds me why I love the concept behind the franchise so much. While it is not a film for everyone, you will greatly enjoy it if you are looking for a really action packed film that never lets up and is always hitting you with a mixture of humor and intensity. The soundtrack is fun and the film never drags on. Another good thing about Genisys is that there aren’t any really bad scenes that will make you wince although the romance at the end comes close. Kyle makes for an underwhelming main character and Sarah is not quite as tough as she should be, but at least she contributes and you will greatly enjoy the detective. The Terminator steals the show as you would expect and the final boss is a legitimate threat. Skynet’s true form isn’t quite as fun as the one in T4, but I have a feeling that Skynet’s true form in the next film will be more threatening. You can tell that this is only the beginning for the heroes, but I have a feeling that the Terminator franchise will not be able to top this film going forward. Hopefully they can surprise me. As long as the writing quality does not deter you, this is definitely the film to check out. Once you see the action scenes, you won’t regret it!

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

Sarah Connor vs One Above All


sarah-connor
one-above-all_multiverse2
This is a tribute to T2! Sarah Connor definitely changed a lot from the first film and it was in a good way. She was definitely willing to fight in this film and she helped out in the early scuffles. By the end of the film, the villains had started to adjust to her, but she still did much more than the average human character would be expected too so she wins this tribute. The One Above All is a tough figure, but he’s simply outmatched here. Sarah Connor wins.

Sarah Connor vs Homura Akemi


homura
emilia15f-1-web
This is a tribute to the original Terminator film. While Sarah Conner would go on to be a fairly hardcore heroine, I didn’t care for her in the first Terminator film. She made the tough calls when necessary, but Homura handled her tragic fate a lot better. In a battle between these two gun fighters, Homura has the edge in experience and weaponry. She has won yet again, but her streak of wins has come to a close. Homura Akemi wins.