I was very excited for this movie for one reason – Arnie was back. After the failure of Terminator Salvation, I thought the series would die, but I was wrong. The teaser trailer looked very promising and brought back everything I love about the series, with a twist and higher stakes of course. When the reviews came out, I was quite taken aback by how harsh they were with this movie. They criticized every aspect of it and some called it the worst of all the Terminator movies. Consequently, the first thought that rushed into my head after I walked out of the movie theatre, thoroughly satisfied, was “Did the critics even watch the right movie?”
Let’s talk some back story first – the only thing I knew about this movie going in was that Arnie was going to be playing an old T-800 and that the timeline goes back to 1984. I also knew a little bit about the premise, but it was quite vague. That’s all I knew and so I went into the theatre with a blank slate unlike most others. Yes, I’m talking about that much-maligned trailer that reveals a major plot point. The moment my friend told me that the new trailer is like the movie in 2 minutes, I avoided it like the plague and I’m glad I did because I was able to enjoy the movie a lot more. Maybe some of the negativity towards the movie is due to the viewers already knowing some of the twists in the story in advance.
I’ll be blunt – I really enjoyed this movie. I found the story to be quite engaging and interesting and sending the franchise back to its roots was a really good move, the characters were great, probably because they’ve already been established in the previous movies and we’ve grown fond of them, although some were not utilised to their fullest potential, and the chemistry between the actors was great. The acting in this movie is really not as bad as critics say it is. Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese quite well and was nowhere near as wooden as he’s said to be, and though Linda Hamilton will always be the true Sarah Connor in my eyes, Emilia Clarke wasn’t too shabby either. However, her interpretation of Sarah really doesn’t look anything like the immense badass that Linda Hamilton’s one was and though not game-breaking, it did annoy me slightly. Emilia Clarke really should have worked out for this role; if Arnie can do such an intense workout at his age, then I’m sure she could have too. Speaking of Arnie, he has perfected these kind of roles down to a T – not much talking, a lot of shooting; he brings his signature deadpan along with him and it just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside seeing him play the beloved T-800. The other person I want to talk about is Jason Clarke who plays John Connor perfectly. The guy is a really good actor and he has a lot of screen presence, almost rivalling Arnie’s. He really should have had more screen time as he’s quite the powerhouse. This brings me to J.K. Simmons – why was he in the movie at all if he was going to have such limited screen time. They could have had any Tom, Dick and Harry playing his character; this was a wasted opportunity of using such a terrific actor. However, when you’ve got so many stars all competing for more shots in the film, someone’s got to give.
Now when it comes to plots in movies, they’re like that loose thread that’s hanging from your shirt – you pull it and before you know it, the whole thing’s come apart. Even the so-called “perfect” movies have plot holes and inconsistencies and this is all the more so in time-travel movies. These almost always have several parallel timelines and thinking about them gives one a headache as Kyle Reese puts it (I’m paraphrasing of course). The plot in this movie is a lot to take in and to follow it, you need to be quite sharp otherwise you’ll be lost in the middle of the movie not knowing where, rather when, the characters are. I found the plot quite believable, you know, by Terminator movie standards and the decisions made by the characters seemed rational and their reactions to certain events were genuine. The ending was the most optimistic one in the series but was a little confusing, though if you stick around to watch the post-credits scene, it’ll make a lot more sense. There are however, quite a few things that remain unexplained in the movie and that’s by design as they’ll be explained in the sequels (as stated by the director). Like I said, don’t dwell on the plot too much because plot holes are inevitable and finding them will only leave you with unanswered questions. Take one of my favourite series – Back To The Future and you’ll find a multitude if things that just don’t add up. However, these are overlooked and they are not allowed to detract from the fun of the movie. Then why are they considered a cardinal sin in this movie? Action movies were never watched for their deep and perfectly crafted plots; they were watched for the action, they were watched because they were always immense fun. This is, in the end, an action movie and such things must be forgiven.
The music is classic Terminator, but I noticed that the theme song was used very sparsely. Every Terminator movie introduces some very-catchy one-liners. T1 was “I’ll be back”, T2 was “Hasta la vista, baby”, T3 was “Talk to the hand” and Genisys has one too. It may not be as catchy as the aforementioned ones are, but it is perfectly apt for this T-800 (you’ll get it when you watch the movie). There was some running gags that were really funny in the beginning but started to lose their charm towards the end. However, the circumstances that they were presented in made them seem almost as funny as the first time. The CGI in the movie is top-notch and produces some really jaw-dropping scenes. My only gripe with it is that a certain Terminator from one of the previous movies actually looked better in that movie than in this which was a little disappointing. The fight scenes were exciting and seeing the tank-like T-800 go up against superior opponents (on paper, at least) is always a blast. The big set-pieces are well constructed and are tense and thrilling.
Most franchises go back to their roots, their “genesis” (get it?) when people start to get tired of them, but most can’t recapture the magic. Terminator Genisys is one of the few to do so and that’s because it isn’t just a rehash of the past plots, but also introduces some new things of its own. This movie really is the true sequel to Terminator 2 and completes the trilogy in my mind (Terminator 3 was a good action movie, but not such a good Terminator movie, though the ending was excellent. And Salvation…don’t even get me started on that one). In the end, Terminator Genisys was a great movie and if you’re even remotely an action-movie fan, then you’ll really enjoy this.