Having spent $10s of millions on buying the Terminator franchise, the backers of Genisys had a lot riding on the movie. The film was planned as the first part of a new trilogy, although it seemed that was in major doubt after it only made $89 million at the US box office. However worldwide it did much better, grossing $440 million overall. As a result we’re likely to see more Terminating, even if the original plans change.
It’s both a continuation and semi-reboot, with Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) sent back in time to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from an evil Terminator (a CGI’d young Arnold Schwarzenegger), but once there it turns out events have changed since the first time we saw things, as Sarah is well aware of what’s going on, as she’s been protected by her own Terminator, which she calls Pops (a non CGI, aging Arnie), since she was a child.
While travelling through time, Kyle picked up a message, which suggests they may be able to change things completely and prevent Judgement Day from ever happening. That involves another time jump to 2017, where the Genisys programme is about to come online – an AI that is learning and will eventually become Skynet, unless Kyle, Sarah and Pops can stop it.
They don’t only have to contend with liquid metal terminators out to stop them, as a character who’s very familiar to the franchise has undergone a significant change, which could make him almost impossible to stop.
Genisys is one of those movies that confuses being complicated with having a good plot, as even the most avid viewer is likely to go ‘huh?’ at several points as it jumps around and tries to explain exactly what’s going on and how. The main issue is that in its attempts to make any sense of how all the different timelines have changed and relate to the other ones, it ties itself up in an ever-tightening knot of time-travel paradoxes and confusion.
Eventually you just have to give up as it makes less and less sense as it goes on, but once you’ve done that it’s a lot more fun, as the action and effects are well done and entertaining. It’s a shame there isn’t a little more depth to the characters, but Courtney and Clarke are decent enough taking over the iconic roles, while it’s nice to see Arnie back in android mode, even if he doesn’t quite have the same sense of power and force as he once had.
As an action movie it’s not bad, although as with the third and fourth entries in the franchise, there are undoubtedly people out there who will feel that it’s a pale imitator of the first two. As long as you can put that to one side, it’s pretty entertaining, and if nothing else, it’ll make you want to watch T2 again.
Overall Verdict: Decent blockbuster fare that makes very little sense, but jogs along at a decent pace and has some good action. It may not be the brilliant reboot some have hoped for, but it’s okay.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac