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Skynet Strikes Again: Terminator Genisys
The quest to eradicate man's leading threat against robotic domination continues in Terminator Genisys. Skynet, this time, is hidden in a consumer friendly operating system called Genisys, which promises to link all of a person's home electroncs for convenience. It, of course, evolves into the defense system that keeps sending machines into the past to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). Without her, the human resistance would not have John Connor (Jason Clarke). He knows this, so he sends a reprogrammed Terminator known as Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) over half a century into the past. Before he sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 Los Angeles, Sarah has become a fierce resistance fighter. Guardian not only dispatches the original terminator, but he also helps to neutralize T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee), disguised as a police officer to kill both Sarah and Kyle. Before T-1000 gets another chance at the pair, they get in the time machine that brought Kyle and head to the year 2017, where they try and stop Genisys from going live. Guardian, though, remains in that time because of damage he suffered fighting the other machines.
On arriving in 2017, the pair gets arrested, but chaos soon follows. Someone is pursuing them, but the only person who believes their time travel story is a detective named O'Brien (J. K. Simmons), who'd been there when T-1000 killed his partner. O'Brien assists Kyle and Sarah avoid the new terminator. Guardian has also found them, and John has also traveled back to this time. As Kyle witnessed in part before his initial time travel, Skynet confronted John, and the results are clear to Guardian. The trio remains undaunted as they plan an assault on Cyberdine headquarters before Genisys launches.
The Terminator series continued without Schwarzenegger when he went from the big screen to the Governor's mansion. The greater presence lost, though, was not its lead actor, but its co-creator, James Cameron, who knew how to create fear and action so well in the franchise's first two entries. No subsequent director, including Genisys helmsman Alan Taylor, matches Cameron's leadership. Genisys gets lost in all of its time travel and alternate universe scenarios. Given that Reese, in his journey into the past, can see a past where the nuclear holocaust known as Judgment Day, which supposedly happened in 1997, did not occur, no man or machine should reasonably assume that they will get to the destination planned for them. Further, if Reese had a normal childhood, viewers have to wonder what John is fighting, since Reese's youth did not include the Judgment Day he has supposedly known. The film looks and feels as old as Guardian, and no amount of 3-in-1 Oil can help a franchise entry as rusty as this one. The Back To The Future franchise handled the consequences of time travel so much better.
Another part of the problem is Courtney. His Reese is about as robotic as the machines he fights. There isn't a second of his performance where I didn't miss Michael Biehn playng the man whose backwards journey becomes essential for mankind. Courtney's Reese has Sarah considering abstinence - and I don't blame her. Emilia Clarke fares better as Sarah, a woman whose only family since age 9 is Guardian, whom she calls Pops. Self-preservation has been a must, and the arrival of Kyle gives her a much-needed human ally. At least her Sarah compares favorably to the work Linda Hamilton did so memorably in the first two installments. Jason Clarke does a fine job as John, who shows the effects the long-running war has had on him. Arnold is good, though his best moments come when he shows how awkward it is for him to seem as human as Sarah would like. Simmons, though, has the best moments as O'Brien, a cop who needs to know he's not as crazy as fellow officers think he is, and an unaged Sarah and Kyle arrive at his precinct.
I've been living in a time where a hit movie calls for at least one sequel. I wonder where, after 31 years, these Terminator sequels will end. The makers of Terminator Genisys have two more movies planned, and I am sure that I and others think that's two too many. Old Hollywood pushed out film franchises like Our Gang, Blondie, and the Bowery Boys, but these series remained in constant production instead of taking years between entries. The James Bond series has run longer, but the makers of the series keep finding a way to keep this MI6 agent relevant. I, however, believe it's generally not a good idea to keep a film series growing closer in age to Methusalah with every passing day. Some of us would like to still be around for the final outcome of movie franchises that began years before many of today's moviegoers were born. If nothing else, I hope that those involved with Terminator Genisys seek to make their sequels an end game. They can't keep Pops waiting forever.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Terminator Genisys two stars. I wish you weren't going to be back.