Terminator: Genisys (2015) – Alan Taylor

 

The sequels following T2 have been shoddy at best, and what the new one has given us, while undeniably the best of the films since Judgement Day, is just another in a series of disposable popcorn films as easily forgotten as the horrid, photoshopped poster that someone okayed to promote this movie. I miss solid poster art.

These sequels have shown that the creative team behind the camera is just as important as the ones in front of them. Now while I don’t expect the same director to constantly shepherd a series, the one thing truly lacking from all of the sequels, including this one, though it apparently has his blessing, is James Cameron.

His perfectionist attitude towards his films, from editing to scripting to model work (I really miss Stan Winston and his studios on films like this – though Legacy Effects is an offshoot) to directing set a very high bar for Terminators 1 & 2, and to date no one has come close to creating a film worthy to follow in its footsteps.

While Genisys is acceptable summer fare, glossy, pretty it doesn’t strive to be anything more than that. In the end, while it does advance the Terminator mythos in an interesting way with the introduction of alternate timelines (and does leave questions open for the proposed sequels), its disposable and inevitably forgettable, joining Rise of the Machines and Salvation on the shelf as incapable of following in the huge steps Cameron left on cinematic history.

There are things I really liked – there are homages, lifts, shots, lines and characters that while nodding to the audience also advance story. The explanation of an aged T-800, Cyberdyne systems model 101 is perfect, and lets Arnold Schwarzenegger step into one of his most famous roles once again, with an enjoyable twist.

emilia

Emilia Clarke, best known for her turn as Daenerys on Game of Thrones is well cast and seems comfortable as Sarah Connor, a cross between Linda Hamilton in 1 and 2.

Her co-star Jai Courtney takes on the role of Kyle Reese originally eased by Michael Biehn and this casting was a mistake. Biehn’s Reese while beat-up, scarred, worn and no doubt a soldier had an Everyman accessibility to him. Courtney comes across as a cardboard cut out Gap version of Reese, leaving Clarke to do all the heavy lifting in carrying the film, when it should be shared… I mean aren’t these two supposed to fall in love? I certainly wouldn’t believe Clarke’s Connor following for this Reese.

To avoid spoilers I won’t comment on Jason Clarke or Matt Smith’s performance, though I will say Smith is wasted.

The other thing besides Cameron and Arnold that is essential to a Terminator film is Brad Fiedel’s score. While there are momentary nods, and an all out lift for the end credits it’s sadly missing from the bulk of the film.

I wanted to like it, I went into this one as open-minded as I could, but at about the halfway mark I found myself thinking how Cameron may have directed a sequence, or how, if Cameron isn’t planning on doing another Terminator, he could have, perhaps, had a hand in the script.

To be clear I didn’t hate, but no sooner had the credits rolled, and I’d left my seat than I was forgetting the film. There’s nothing that makes it stand out from the summer fare in general, and nothing that makes it exciting in the Terminator series specifically.

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