Terminator Genisys – Movie Review

Like most nerds, I’m a pretty big fan of the Terminator franchise, at least the first two films anyway.  So a couple years ago when Terminator Genisys was about to be released in theaters, I was getting pretty excited for it.  The trailers looked promising, the idea seemed like a good twist on the established story, and then the grand architect of the Terminator franchise, James Cameron, personally gave the movie his blessing. And then the reviews hit…. and they were God-awful.  Like bad bad. Rotten Tomatoes has it at a rather stinky 25% Critics Rating (234 reviews and marking it at a 4.7/10) and audiences have it at a 53% rating (81,497 reviews and marking it at a 3.3/5). After I saw that, my excitement was crushed and I didn’t even bother seeing it in theaters.  Well with Cameron being back in the entertainment news cycle again (for some rather idiotic comments) over the past couple weeks, I decided it was time to finally give the fifth installment in the Terminator franchise a shot and while it’s far from a great movie, I still enjoyed it.  Let’s get into it!

Minor spoilers in this paragraph. The plot of this movie is probably my favorite thing about it.  I’m a big fan of time travel stories and how you can go backwards and go forwards and change things ad nauseum and Terminator Genisys plays right into that.  The movie starts out with Kyle Reese and John Conner launching the final assault on Skynet in the future and finding the time machine that was used to send the first terminator back in time and so, of course, John sends Reese back in time to what would normally be the beginning of the first Terminator movie. However things start to deviate from how we know they play out in the first movie and it turns out that, due to things I won’t spoil here, the timeline was altered while Reese was “in flight”.  Now, instead of Sarah being an innocent waitress in a diner, she’s already the bad ass we know from Terminator 2 and the reason why is pretty great (at least is my opinion).  Later in the movie the plot starts to go off the rails a little bit and it generates plot holes that you could drive a truck through but since this is the fifth movie in a franchise all about alternate timelines and time travel, I’m just going to chalk in up to timey wimey, wibbly wobbly whatever and call it a day.

The action in this movie is nothing really to write home about but it’s not lacking either. There were a few scenes that I really enjoyed, like the time spent in the post apocalyptic time (always enjoy that) and some of the scenes where multiple terminator models were fighting. Terminator 2: Judgement Day still has the best action and special effects of the franchise (which is somewhat mind boggling given that it’s a 26 year old film) but Terminator Genisys delivers average action sequences and special effects on par with most modern big budget Hollywood blockbusters.

Unfortunately none of the actors truly stood out to me. Both Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney are serviceable in their roles however, as good a job as Emilia Clarke did, I think she was a bit miscast most for her physicality.  With her slight build, it felt hard to connect with her as the Sarah Conner played by Linda Hamilton that we all know and love. Jai Courtney was…. .Jai Courtney.  Arnold Schwarzeneggar was everything you would expect of him in another Terminator film, same monotone delivery of exposition and cheesy one-liners.  For me, J.K. Simmons was the real surprise of the cast. I had no idea he was even in this movie until I saw his name go by in the opening credits and he turned out to be one of my favorite characters.  Also, if you’re a die hard Whovian like me, don’t expect a lot of Matt Smith in this movie. He’s in there but not by much.  And he speaks in an American accents which was incredibly unsettling,

In the end, I think Terminator Genisys had a really great story idea that faltered a bit in the execution, had “par for the course” action, and some mediocre acting. I can fully understand why most critics and a fair amount of audiences didn’t care for this movie, but as a fan of the franchise (and a sucker for time travel shenanigans), I am willing give this movie a little bit of a pass.

Final Rating: C+

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