July 5, 2015
"The Terminator" (1984) is one of the best futuristic action films of the 1980s. Its sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) was even better with its Oscar-awards winning technical aspects. That is why even after two more not-so-good sequels, the franchise name is still strong enough to eke out a reboot thirty years after the first film.
The first part of the film echoes the first film very closely. The artificial intelligence Skynet is controlling the world, developing killer cyborgs called Terminators to eradicate humanity. John Connor leads the human resistance against Skynet, and they were actually winning. Skynet sends a Terminator back in time to the year 1984 to kill John's mother, Sarah Connor, before John even existed. John sends his most trusted soldier Kyle Reese back to protect his mother.
However, when Kyle meets Sarah, she was not the helpless waitress he was expecting. It turns out that the fabric of time had been altered so that since the age of 9, Sarah had been raised and trained in warfare by her own reprogrammed guardian Terminator, whom she lovingly called Pops. After defeating a T-1000 sent from the future to kill him. Kyle, together with Sarah and Pops, teleport to the year 2017, a year he heard in random clips of memory he had of his childhood. Their aim was to locate John Connor and destroy Skynet even before it gets launched.
The first part of this film was fun to watch for those of us who had seen the first film. We see the young Arnold T-800 teleport to earth, the punks, the department store, and the images of the first movie come flashing right back. We hear Sarah say, "Come with me if you want to live" again, and of course, Schwarzenegger will say, "I'll be back!"
Problems of logic start to crop up when we begin to hear about time travel issues which the writers explain with pseudo-physics jargon. I suggest to just sit back and stop analyzing these probable plot holes and errors which are really bound to crop up whenever time travel is used as a device in films.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was so good to see as Pops. His presence in this film prevents it from being forgettable. He is so iconic an actor that despite some cheesy lines he was made to deliver here, he remains to be cool and hip, old but not obsolete (in his own words). Only Schwarzenegger can pull off this role of the Terminator. No one could ever replace him in a future reboot and succeed.
If you have seen the first two films, then you can see some obvious problems with the casting of the rebooted Sarah and Kyle.
As a Game of Thrones fan, I was excited to see the Khaleesi Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor. However, while her acting was OK, her screen presence as action heroine is lacking. This is especially since they had already altered her history that she had already been training for battle since she was nine years old. Then by the time Kyle sees her, she should already have looked as buff as Linda Hamilton circa T2, shouldn't she? Ms. Clarke's arms do not have the muscular definition to convince us that she can even carry, much less fire, such high-power weaponry.
Jai Courtney, what can I say? I felt like he was miscast as John McClane's son Jack in "A Good Day to Die Hard" (2013). Now in this film, Courtney felt wrong as Kyle Reese. The Kyle we knew from the first film portrayed by the intense Michael Biehn was nothing like how Courtney played Kyle here. There was no connection, as if they were different people altogether. However, those viewers watching this film as their first Terminator film will probably find Courtney OK as well. Although, there is no real romantic spark that credibly developed between Courtney and Clarke at all.
Oddly, even if the CG technology for films should be much more advanced now, the breakthrough special visual effects of "Terminator 2" remain to be more impressive and memorable. The shape-shifting liquid metal T-1000 we see here is basically the same as what we saw back in 1991. Only this time T-1000 was portrayed by Korean actor Lee Byung-hun, instead of Robert Patrick.
So, overlooking these inconsistencies with the original films and the time travel illogicalities aside, "Terminator Genisys" is actually a fun and exciting futuristic sci-fi action film. The time-jumping storyline was actually not hard to follow if you just simply accept the premises they throw at you. Schwarzenegger is there to hold the whole thing together so the whole film still comes out in one entertaining piece for most audiences. An extra scene in the middle of the end credits actually promise another sequel. 7/10.