They are Back…

We’re all familiar with the Terminator premise. It is an integral part of sci-fi action cinema, so if you have never seen a Terminator movie, it’s worth revisiting one of cornerstones of the genre. The typical theme of Terminator is pretty simple. Big robot from the future, with an Austrian accent for some reason, tries to protect important characters from another evil robot in an attempt to protect the world from an impending global genocide, which is brought about by their own weapons and instigated by technology. So it’s a lot to handle. For 3 movies this has been the story leading ultimately to the world getting blown up anyway. I am purposefully going to ignore Terminator: Salvation since……if you’ve seen it you understand. This new sequel takes on a totally different angle in the Terminator universe.  

We’re going to talk about the plot first…it’s hard to talk about without ruining the story; but the trailer did a good job of doing that already. This film revolves around the idea of time travel and altering the future in an attempt to save all mankind. Although the idea of going back into time to fix a problem is not new to Hollywood, this movie attempts to address a lot of problems created by the previous films. We know that the first terminator, played by Schwarzenegger, was sent back to protect Sara Connor from being killed, since her son would ultimately be the savior of the human race after Judgement Day. Throughout the films, we accepted this but were left hanging since Judgement Day happened anyway. What’s the point? Connor still ended up being the savior that the robots tried to kill in the past. There are a lot of moving pieces.

This film revolves around the notion of the new revolution fronted by John Connor that failed and therefore had to send someone back to try and fix the past to ensure that Judgement Day never happened to begin with. This isn’t about surviving Judgement Day…they’re trying to prevent it from ever happening. However you REALLY REALLY need to pay attention to what’s happening, since first chunk of the film is weighed down with exposition. Where this movie differs from other time traveling films is the paradox is that there are two timelines running at the same time that affect each other in a cyclical and paradoxical way. It only makes sense if you really follow the film, and requires quite a bit of determination to nail down the timelines. So many viewers will likely be left confused as to how everything is laced together, but the film does a pretty good job covering its bases.  Overall the plot was decently thought out and everything is tied together enough to finally make a serviceable ending to the Terminator franchise, even if this movie is in a totally different vein than the other films.

As for the acting, the cast is one of the best we’ve in a Terminator film. The dialogue wasn’t too bogged down by the intricacies of the plotline, not too wooden, and stayed consistent throughout. Yes it’s cheesy, but that’s almost part of the appeal. If you’re looking to see Arnold’s character say some cheesy lines and do an awful smile then you’re not going to be disappointed. The actor who stood out above all else was Emilia Clarke, who was convincing in her role from start to finish AND bared a striking resemblance to Linda Hamilton.

The main draw for the Terminator movies, of course, is the promise of bullets and destruction, and this film does deliver on that promise. The bullets don’t really affect the newer terminator models as you learned in Terminator 2, but that doesn’t stop the protagonists from shooting every round of ammunition they can find. Bombs explode, acid tanks drip, bullets fly, building blow up, helicopters ruin streets, and they even manage to don an electromagnetic pair of fisticuffs to fight the bad guy. The last scene is pretty sweet too, but I don’t want to give that away.

Overall the movie was very watchable, despite initial reservations I had. There were still some plot holes that should have been filled, like who sent the original terminator back in time to begin with, and some further development on the alternate timelines would have served the plot nicely. There were several discrepancies in the dates also, which was the cause of the timeline split in the first place. The original Judgement Day and a few other dates needed to be altered in order to make the film work for a 2015 audience, and none of these changes were explored.

Bottom line, Terminator: Genisys is worth seeing for fans of the franchise. There are enough exciting action scenes to keep things going, and it is a better sequel to T2 than anything else we’ve. Just remember…time travel is messy.

Ryan is movie-loving magician. You can check him out on his own site.

Alex Russo

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