Sarah Connor swaps smokes and scorn for sweet eyes and soft skin in the second of this summer’s big reboot blockbusters. Yes, Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys is here. Whether we wanted it to be here or needed it to be here is a whole other matter. But hey, it’s here. And it’ll probably spawn a sequel or two of its own.
Fuelled by spectacle and nostalgia, the film follows Jason Clarke; a bigger, buffer Kyle Reese who’s sent back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from a Terminator played by the great Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because the film first strives to parallel the original Terminator movie – until Reese realises that the Terminator Time Continuum has been altered, and young Sarah’s been raised by a friendly T800 since she was a nipper (also played by Schwarzenegger).
Now the trio must traverse a lucky dip of action sequences, time travel, and random robots and tropes recycled from previous movies in order to blow up Skynet once and for all. In short, the same plot as the last three Terminator movies, but with more diversions than your average British roadworks. And more teeth.
Now, picking apart all the problems with the film would take longer than researching and building an actual time machine, so if you’re interested in that sort of thing, check out Red Letter Media’s ‘scientific’ explanation of Terminator Genisys by clicking the video link below. If not, then read on!
The foundation of Terminator Genisys is pure nostalgia. And beneath its complications, the ‘creative’ formula’s simple: take the knowledge that most Terminator fans only really enjoyed T1 and T2, and pay tribute to the best elements of both as much possible, in order to bridge gaps between outrageous action scenes. And I’m talking REAL outrageous action scenes. Think Helicopters with the agility of birds of prey, and car catastrophes that’d give The Fast & The Furious franchise a run for its money.
Now, if you like the old Terminator movies, this isn’t really so much of a problem. In fact, fans are likely to find the first half hour or so a real blast. We get a T1000 (Byung-Hun Lee) in a Cop Uniform, pummelled by pissing acid in a factory (great action idea!). We get another hidden gun stash, a father-figure robot Arnie (actually a total of THREE incarnations of robot Arnie!) and, best of all, some genuinely fantastic special effects that enable The Governator to tackle his younger self, mano y mano.
The issues arrive when Kyle Reese & co. time hop to 2017, in a vague haze of a plot about stopping a Mobile Operating System (the ‘Genisys’ of the title) from kickstarting Skynet’s Judgement Day. Technology taking over our lives under our noses? Clever and contemporary? Director Alan Taylor seems to think so, but the film makes so little sense, that it’s seriously hard to be sure. In fact, Taylor’s movie is so convoluted, it’s difficult to be sure about anything at all.
The film simply crams in too many not-so-bright ideas for its own good and, naturally, all are introduced only to be given a backseat to the Michael Bay-esque action. In fact, even Taylor himself admits to the ridiculousness of the film’s over-complications, claiming:
“My favourite part is using humour to sort of skate over it. It’s a way of sort of saying, ‘You may not get this, but who cares? Keep going!”
Expectedly, Taylor’s idea of humour has a strong hint of The Expendables about it. And Terminator Genisys is definitely one to be taken tounge-in-cheek.
We never learn who sent Schwarzenegger’s “Pops” Terminator back to protect Sarah Connor when she was 9. We also never learn how the Genisys Operating System can actually cause Judgement Day. We never learn, or really understand a gazillion things about Terminator Genisys but, quite frankly, we’re all too busy enjoying Schwarzenegger back at his robotic best to even care. Or are we? Are we really just peeved that the confusing events of this frivolous film have kinda made T1 and T2, the classic movies we so dearly loved, kinda redundant?
Terminator Genisys is a pure fan film, founded upon, and driven by, nostalgia. On multiple occasions the soundtrack dropped Ramones classic, ‘I wanna be sedated’. And, at many moments during the movie, that’s exactly how I felt. It’s big, dumb and sometimes fun, but in the words of Avril Lavigne, “Why’d ya have to go and make things so complicated?”.
Let’s hope Terminator Genisys: 2 will be a coming-of-age comedy about “Pops” Arnie trying to stop a teenage Sarah Connor from getting frisky with Zac Efron after prom. Fan films rule.