No doubt the folks at Paramount Pictures are hoping that “Terminator Genisys” does for the near-dead “Terminator” franchise what “Jurassic World” did for the also-moribund “Jurassic Park” series.
Good luck with that.
For while Chris Pratt may have brought freshness and new life to the dinosaur movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger just reminds us that we’re all getting old.
But not necessarily obsolete.
“Genisys” takes us back to the beginning — or rather the future — where John Connor has led the human rebellion to victory over the evil computer Skynet that has enslaved and murdered most of the population.
Now those of you who were alive in 1984 and going to the movies will remember that right before Skynet’s defeat, it sent a cyborg killing machine, aka a Terminator, back in time to kill Sarah Connor before she could give birth to John. John sends his right-hand man, Kyle Reese, back in time to stop the robot. Kyle and Sarah have sex, the T-man is defeated, Kyle dies, Sarah has Kyle’s son and names him John. Pretty clever and simple to follow as time travel stories go.
(My apologies to anyone who’s upset that I just spoiled a 30-year-old film. But then, if you haven’t seen “The Terminator” by now, well, I have no pity for you.)
In the new film, something goes horribly wrong. As Kyle (Jai Courtney) is making the time jump, John (Jason Clarke) is attacked by something. Kyle arrives in the past only to find that a different, older T-1000 has shown up and done his job for him. It turns out someone (probably to be revealed in a later installment) sent a Terminator to take care of Sarah (Emilia Clarke) when she was a child because Skynet sent a Terminator to kill little Sarah and..aarghhh…fractured time lines…everything you thought you knew may be true, maybe not…getting headache…WHY MUST TIME TRAVEL GET SO CONFUSING?
Yep. Turns out director Alan Taylor and writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier took a clever yet easy to follow time travel story and made it all complicated and messy the way all sequels do.
Still, it’s not all bad. There are plenty of “Terminator” standards still in play: Exciting action scenes, things blowing up, things getting shot up, explosive car chases, Teminators beating each other to death and not dying, and Arnold’s creepy smile and occasionally amusing one-liners.
Arnold still has that same old robotic charisma. The same can’t be said for the new Kyle and Sarah. Clarke showed some spark but Courtney comes off as a total stiff. J.K. Simmons is brought in as some kind of comic relief but his talents are pretty much wasted here.
On the Terminator scale, this fifth installment comes up far short of the first two but maybe a little better than the previous two. As confusing as it was, it still made more sense than “Terminator: Salvation.”