Film Review: Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys

The original Terminator – along with the 1991 sequel – has a special place in the hearts of sci-fi fans. The successive third and fourth movies were worth forgetting, but The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series proved that the Terminator universe could still be added to, when done properly..

Fifth installment, Genisys, is both a sequel and a reboot of the franchise. Like in the latest Xmen film, time travel is used to create a new story arc whilst still paying respect to the original.

There are still nods to the past, with lines like “I’ll be back”, and “Come with me if you want to live” inevitably included. It’s still the same story even – the machines try to kill off the Connor family, while the Connors try to prevent Skynet from being created – but there are enough twists and turns to keep the story fresh.

Interestingly enough, none of the key cast are American.

Emilia Clarke replaces her Game of Thrones co-star Lana Headey as Sarah Connor. And we already know that Clarke  can handle the tough-girl role, playing the mother of John Connor, because we’ve seen her play the Mother of Dragons. She’s fiery and confused, feeling victimised because she has little choice but to play her destined role, and wondering if there is a way to escape her dictated fate.

Arnie, The Governator, reprises possibly his most iconic role as an old – but not yet obsolete – terminator. Arnie is getting old now, but the writers have factored this in. Terminators can age because they are made out of living tissue encasing a robot body, giving explanation to the clear wrinkles and grey hair. His robotic nature and inability to empathise with the humans often provides comic relief, but he’s still the same gun-toting badass that we’re used to.

I don’t love Jai Courtney, who plays Kyle Reese. Maybe it’s because I associate him with his jerk character from Divergentor maybe he just isn’t that likable. I’m not sure, but he does OK. And John Connor is played by Jason Clarke, the wildcard who keeps everyone on their toes.

Genisys has managed to update the franchise while still remaining true to the series. The characters are the same, yet different due to the time travel. There are more terminators this time, but we don’t know which one can be trusted, or even which people are terminators in disguise. The film is brought forward into the 21st century, and not just in the apocalyptic post-Judgement Day wasteland way, but in a touch screens are inescapable kind of way. We need to flip some established preconceptions on their head, like in T2, when viewers had to challenge the ideas that all terminators are bad.

James Cameron has voiced his support of this fifth film, and I agree with him. With Genisys we have more terminators, more time travel, more action. There are car chases on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge that remind me of the recent Planet of the Apes films, and helicopter pursuits through the skies. There are shoot outs in alleyways and fight scenes in factories. A few plot holes go unexplained, but none are glaringly major enough annoy. Most importantly, Genisys does justice to the franchise, and wipes clean the blight of the third and fourth films.

Joseph James