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Final Review: Terminator: Genisys (2015)

Updated on July 6, 2015

Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, J.K. Simmons, Lee Byung-hun

The Terminator franchise had hit a snag ever since the release of T2 back in 1991. While the first two movies were terrific and iconic action spectacles, the third movie was mildly entertaining yet ultimately forgettable, while the fourth film was just plain awful. Now, we have Terminator: Genisys, which tries to revitalize the franchise by taking the same route that 2009's Star Trek reboot took (namely, rewrite everything by having events take place in an alternate timeline). Whereas J.J. Abrams managed to work wonders with the new Star Trek movies, director Alan Taylor's (TV's Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World) take here is listless and frustratingly incoherent.

The movie opens by showing how John Connor (Jason Clarke, whose initials are JC like his character. What are the odds?!), the savior of humanity, first met Kyle Reese. Kyle was but a small child trapped in a sewer tunnel when John showed up and saved his life from a Terminator at the very last second. He took Kyle in and taught him to be a warrior. Year later, Kyle grows up to be Jai Courtney, while John...doesn't seem to have aged at all. I guess they have some wicked anti-wrinkle cream in the machine controlled future.

John and Kyle lead a successful mission against Skynet and shut down the machines, but not before they send a Terminator back to 1984 to kill John's mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke, also from Game of Thrones). Kyle offers to travel back in time to save Sarah from the machine, and John, knowing good and well that Kyle is to be his future/past daddy, agrees to send him back. "She was very weak and scared then," John tells him. "Protect her." Just seconds before Kyle is successfully sent back, he sees John attacked by another machine (who looks an awful lot like Matt Smith), who apparently has the power to turn people into Terminators simply by touching them.

Beautiful, deadly....but oh so dull! (and I actually like Emilia Clarke) :(
Beautiful, deadly....but oh so dull! (and I actually like Emilia Clarke) :(

It is here where things get impossibly confusing. During his travels, Kyle begins receiving memories from his life as a 13 year boy living happily with his parents (which technically never happened, because he was born after the apocalypse). As soon as he gets back to 1984, Sarah is already a gun-totting bad ass who saves him from a T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun). Prior to that, we're treated to a scene where good Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) faces off against a younger looking model of himself, which is actually the machine Skynet sent back before the humans won their battle.

Questions begin to arise. If the younger Schwarzenegger was the machine Skynet sent back to kill Sarah Connor before the humans defeated them, then where in the hell did the T-1000 come from? Sarah tells Kyle that the good Terminator, whom she nicknamed Pops, saved her life at the age of 9 and has been her guardian ever since. Who sent him back, and how come that event didn't alter John's memories of her in the future? Shouldn't he be remembering her differently?

Kyle actually asks Pops who sent him to save Sarah, and he tells Kyle that the information was deleted from his database. "That figures," he says. Pops says it was to protect whoever it was that sent him from Skynet, but it sounds to me like screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier's attempt to get out of addressing a gaping hole in the plot.

After finding Kyle and saving his life, Sarah and Kyle hop into another time machine and are sent into the future to stop Skynet before they can start the apocalypse. The dates here have changed as well: Instead of it starting in 1997, it actually starts in 2017, although the movie doesn't do a very good job in explaining the change in dates. From there, the movie plunges us into a series of loud and boring action sequences. There is not a single set-piece that is even mindlessly entertaining (not even the school bus flip, which the trailers advertised to death), and the special-effects themselves are surprisingly poor. Apparently, $155 million doesn't buy you a whole lot in this day and age.


It doesn't help that the cast feels all wrong. Emilia Clarke is not an untalented actress, and she certainly looks like a young Linda Hamilton, but the screenplay gives her nothing to work with. I've always thought Jai Courtney was more convincing as a villain than as a good guy, and this movie does nothing to change my mind about that. Frankly, he's bland, as is Jason Clarke as Jesus Ch...I mean, John Connor. The only actor who makes much of an impression is J.K. Simmons as a disgraced cop and paranoid conspiracy theorist, although he's not in the movie for very long.

Then, there's Arnold. He seems comfortable in the role, and why shouldn't he? This is one of the roles that made him into an action movie icon (there was also Conan the Barbarian). Unfortunately, he's no longer fearsome or really that amusing. His attempts at humor are especially flat, and his "catch phrase" this time is nowhere near as memorable as the ones in the previous movies. In part one, it was "I'll be back!"; part 2, it was "Hasta la vista, baby!"; in part 3, it was "Talk to the hand!" (ah, the good ol' days!); and here, it's "It is nice to see you!"

This summer, audiences have been treated to a number of blockbusters that were either terrifically entertaining (Jurassic World), reasonably entertaining (Mad Max: Fury Road), or dispiritingly disappointing (Avengers: Age of Ultron). From what I've seen, Terminator: Genisys is the worst blockbuster of the summer so far. Maybe director Alan Taylor (whose Thor 2 was also bad, but looks positively Oscar worthy when compared to this) was the wrong person to direct this movie, or maybe the studios just need to leave well enough alone. There's a scene here where Arnie's Terminator gets to use his "I'll be back!" line, although I don't think anyone will hold it against him if he decided to break his promise this time.

Rated PG-13 for lots of action and violence, profanity, partial nudity

Final Grade: * ½ (out of ****)

One Last Note: Back in February of 2012, I discovered Hubpages online while searching for a job. My decision to open an account and start writing reviews was, in my eyes, a rich and rewarding one. Writing reviews isn't just a way of expressing my love for movies, it's also a way of expressing who I am as a human being, which is not at all easy for me to do in person. It was writing that had helped me through some very dark times, and it was writing that allowed me to meet a number of very interesting people here. (The comments I got on my articles, whether positive or negative, always made me happy)

These past couple of months, I've had a number of story ideas in my head that I'm very passionate about. There are some I'm wanting to turn into novels, and some (one in particular has been in my head for a couple years now) that I want to make into screenplays. Unfortunately, my brain is wired in such a way that I can not write fictional tales and write movie reviews at the same time. I either have to do one or the other; I can't do both.

So it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Hubpages. I will keep my account open, on the chance that I decide to come back and write more reviews. If I do, then I will see you later. If not, it's been a lot of fun, and I thank everyone who supported me with their encouraging words over the years. Either way, take care, and God bless!

Well, at least the trailer looks cool. :/


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very well done. Great review!

    • Thepagemaster profile image

      LA Film Institute 

      3 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this. I like to find others who enjoying critiquing films. Too bad the film bombed nevertheless good review.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Patrick, I did not read all your reviews, but I appreciated those that I did, including this one. I do not get a chance to watch many movies, but it's good to know something about the title I see or hear about. I gained good knowledge from reading your articles. Your reviews were more than a rush-through summary like lots of other reviewers. You gave in depth commentary on the plot and characters.

      I think you'll continue on HP some time in the future. Till then, best to you and please let us know when your book is published.

    • Oswalda Purcell profile image

      Oswalda Purcell 

      3 years ago from Los Angeles

      I was very curious and you've answered my questions. Congrats on a very good review, but I think I will wait for this installment on DVD :)


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