Terminator Genisys will (and has) no doubt pissed off plenty of fans but taking emotion out of it, I actually didn’t think it was awful. The action scenes, albeit generic at times, were at least well shot, and the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Guardian was welcome and helped overshadow some of the shortcomings. In spite of those, it’s at least a passable and entertaining flick, though don’t go in expecting much.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Paramount | PG13 – 125 min. – $52.99 | November 10, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Note: This review contains SPOILERS about the plot, even more than what the trailers revealed, so readers beware.
I’m not sure there’s any messier of a franchise than that of Terminator. Through several re-casts and a confusing movie timeline (as I think the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” are not cannon), this has been maligned and mismanaged dating back to 2003’s Terminator 3 which, from what I recall, was a rather generic action flick followed several years later by Terminator Salvation which had even more issues from the script and focus.
Through Paramount (previous incarnations were distributed by Orion, TriStar and Warner Bros.), six years later they’ve gone back to the well with Terminator Genisys which attempts to reboot/recon the series and although this incarnation is hardly perfect, I actually found it to be somewhat entertaining – more so than Jurassic World – if only to see the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger (non-CGI’d) who all these years later still oozes charisma and charm despite (or perhaps because) playing an android.
Note #2: Again, turn away now as I reveal MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS.
The year is 2029 and the war between man and machine wages on but victory for the resistance, led by John Connor (JASON CLARKE), is within reach. With an incursion in Colorado to take out Skynet central under way (and done off screen), Connor and his right-hand man, Kyle Reese (JAI COURTNEY), set out to stop Skynet from sending back a T-800 in time but are too late. So, as we saw in The Terminator, John sends Reese back to protect his mother but as he’s sent back, Connor is attacked by a new form of machine, which we later discover is Skynet incarnate (MATT SMITH), which in turn sends a ripple in time.
Because of this, Reese is sent to a different 1984, one where Guardian (ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER) and Sarah Connor (EMILIA CLARKE) are already working together, as he saved Sarah 10 years prior, in anticipation for Reese’s arrival, and for Reese’s part, he receives new memories. Also waiting for him is the T-1000 (BYUNG-HUN LEE) and the fight is on, well, mainly Reese running and getting rescued by Sarah who utters the classic line, “Come with me if you want to live” (as seen in every friggin’ trailer). They manage to escape and Reese gets caught up on exactly what’s going on, not to mention trying to understand how the Terminator is a good guy and is there to help.
Their plan is, initially, to go to 1997 – the year Skynet became self-aware – but thanks to Reese’s alternate memories, he realizes they must go to the year 2017 to stop Skynet, under the name of the Genisys operating system, which is set to go wide, as a Trojan horse, to the masses, interconnecting everybody.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Terminator Genisys: the good is it is better than Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation and not that far removed from the 1984 original, The Terminator. The bad news is, the previous two installments were hardly noteworthy (though I enjoyed T3) and with Salvation, just plain bad even though it looks good. That, along with action scenes that are not terribly memorable, and some questionable visual effects work.
Personally, I don’t have an emotional stake in this franchise so take that into consideration when I say Genisys actually isn’t a terrible movie and its moments. Despite what others have said, I didn’t take issue with the casting. Both Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney are perfectly satisfactory in their respective roles though I’m sure there were better candidates out there. Jason Clarke is fine as John Connor albeit during his “inspirational” speech early on, he seemed to be channeling Christian Bale…
However, the biggest reason this film works, in spite of its flaws, is because of Arnold Schwarzenegger who oozes charm and charisma that was sorely missing from Terminator Salvation and although some of the jokes might be laying it thick (like his intentionally creepy/awkward grin), it was nice comedic relief that worked. Though he’s no longer the box office draw he once was, he returns to his iconic role so well and makes up for the other lacking elements.
Alan Taylor takes over directing duties following the footsteps of Jonathan Mostow (T3) and McG (TS) and frankly, it looks good and the pacing is brisk but like his predecessors, I’m not sure it’s anything remarkable. On the plus side, the action scenes were well done even when some of the visual effects were a bit wonky such as the helicopter chase sequence when one chopper flies through a ball of fire or the bus bridge chase as it flips end over end. Outside of the effects, though, I found the action thrilling.
I also kind of commend, even if it is confusing, the writers — Laeta Kalogridis (Alexander, Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000, Dracula II & III, Drive Angry) — retconing/refreshing a franchise that had so lost its way. That being said, Terminator Genisys understandably has its detractors but considering I have zero investment beyond the sheer entertainment value, I don’t share the same issues as some. Of course, Terminator 2: Judgement Day is still easily the best (and one of the best sci-fi flicks of all-time), but with this messy series, Genisys was at least passable entertainment.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a front embossed and glossy slip cover. The 3-disc set is contained in a standard Blu-ray case and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Family Dynamics: The Acting Ensemble (15:51; HD) examines the casting, from the around the world, and underscore of family that permeates the story. Included are some behind-the-scenes footage and on-set interviews.
Infiltration and Termination (25:29; HD) looks at filming in New Orleans and San Francisco and provides more BTS footage and interviews primarily with the filmmakers as they talk about how NO doubled for 1980s Los Angeles as well as some locations for the future war and Griffith Park Observatory sequences.
Upgrades: VFX of Terminator Genisys (15:07; HD) breaks down the effects work used in the film.
2D VIDEO – 4.75/5 | 3D VIDEO – 4.75/5
Paramount send out Terminator Genisys onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and with a 1080p high-definition transfer (MPEG-4 AVC codec). Not too surprising, but this looks fantastic in HD with excellent detail throughout, bright and brilliant colors as well as natural skin tones. There are no major instances of aliasing, artifacting or pixilation. The range of colors is also good going from darker tones in certain scenes to daylight sequences, such as the chase over the San Francisco Bridge, where the yellow on the bus pops off the screen.
The 3D presentation is exceptional. Although this was a post-conversion, I found the depth to be incredible with plenty of scenes going beyond ‘stuff’ being flung at the screen and instead perception gives the illusion of being there while the brightness is not an issue that sometimes permeates some movies and there were no apparent issues of ghosting.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Terminator Genisys is the latest release to receive the new Dolby Atmos track (TrueHD 7.1 for those receivers unable to decode it) and like the others, it sounds fantastic. Beyond the action scenes, which there are numerous that utilize each and every channel, the few quieter moments also sound nice with clear dialogue levels not to mention Lorne Balfe’s score which makes use of the front and rear channels fairly well.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, Terminator Genisys will (and has) no doubt pissed off plenty of fans but taking emotion out of it, I actually didn’t think it was awful. The action scenes, albeit generic at times, were at least well shot, and the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Guardian was welcome and helped overshadow some of the shortcomings. In spite of those, it’s at least a passable and entertaining flick, though don’t go in expecting much.
The Blu-ray released by Paramount offers excellent video and audio transfers but the bonus material was on the disappointing side.
Brian Oliver a.k.a. The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.