ByAlex Perez, writer at
© Paramount Pictures
© Paramount Pictures

I took a massive dump right before going out to see Terminator Genisys. I can confidently say that said dump was far more pleasurable and memorable than this movie in every single way imaginable.

It goes without saying that I am completely in love with the Terminator franchise. Well, at least with the first two films. The Terminator is not only one of the most influential sci-fi films of all time, but is a film that still holds up to this day, a feat not met by many films. It's a brilliantly told story with genuine intensity and thrills, and can almost be considered a horror film. Terminator 2: Judgement Day took more of an action oriented approach, but did its job even more brilliantly than the first, and I still consider it the single greatest action film ever made.

Unfortunately, that's right about where the franchise's glory ended. 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was simply an abysmal film that only served to completely fuck over a meticulously established mythology, and to provide for a forgettable and frustratingly disjointed experience. And while 2009's Terminator Salvation was an improvement, it is still a dreadfully boring and disappointingly dull film, despite it's stunning visuals (CGI Arnie not withstanding). So have director Alan Taylor and company rejuvenated the franchise with its fifth entry, entitled Terminator Genisys? Of course they haven't. I'm just gonna put it simply: Terminator Genisys just plain sucks.

So what's the story this time around? Well, you'll basically have to forget everything you know about the previous Terminator films as Genisys basically gives all of that a giant "FUCK YOU!". This time around, we once again see Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) being sent from 2029 back to 1984 by John Connor (Jason Clarke) after Skynet has taken over the world and turned everything to shit. Once again tasked with protecting John's mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the deadly T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) he finds that the past he was expecting no longer exists, and when John himself comes in the form of a Terminator (it was revealed in the trailer, shut up) set destroy the future, Reese must join forces with both Sarah and the T-800 to save it.

I'll just get the few good things I have to say about this film out of the way before I get into everything this movie does wrong. Boy that'll be fun. I think it goes without saying that the thing we remember most about these movies is Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance as the T-800, and this is no exception. Schwarzenegger slips back into this role seemlessly, once again bringing to life all that we love about this character as well as continuing to pull off these action scenes very nicely, despite his age.

Also - and this surprised me - I actually thought Jai Courtney was pretty good as Kyle Reese. He's no Michael Biehn, but this is definitely the best performance I've seen from the usually bland Courtney. He ain't nearly as bland or one-note as he's been in films like A Good Day to Die Hard, and I actually found him kinda enjoyable to watch.

The only other positive I'll mention is that despite its horrid storytelling, the film does actually present some interesting ideas throughout. Even with how badly this continues to fuck over the mythology, there are some pretty cool story elements sprinkled here and there throughout the course of the movie, some of which are especially neat for die-hard Terminator fans like myself.

And that's exactly where the problems of this movie start. Even with a slew of interesting ideas, this movie does absolutely nothing interesting with them. Many of these cool ideas are left completely to waste, which is a shame considering that these could've made for some very cool stories to tell. Genisys decides instead to focus its attention on continuing to screw everything up and make everything feel like a frustratingly confusing hodgepodge more than an actual cohesive story.

And yes, I cannot say this enough. The Terminator mythos has just become a complete mess. Genysis just further proves that this franchise really should've ended with T2, because every incredible thing that film did this film continues to undo. I wouldn't take as big an issue with it if this hadn't been going on for over 10 years now, and if this movie hadn't continued to make everything so damn confusing. Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happened, and by the end of the movie I was just asking myself and my friend who I saw it with, "What the hell just happened?"

Storytelling fuck-ups aside, the action sequences here are quite disappointing. These action scenes really do highlight my problem with a lot of action scenes today, as these scenes are poorly directed and put together, and as a result ultimately come off as really generic. This is especially disappointing for a Terminator film. I think a lot of this has to do with the PG-13 rating, which makes everything feel really watered down, as well as with the visual effects, which really aren't that good. For such a gritty and bleak movie, everything looks way too squeaky-clean, and ultimately looks like something out of a bad PS2 game. In particular, the T-1000 looks no better here than he did in T2, all the way back in 1991. That's kinda sad.

Byung-hun Lee in Terminator Genisys (left) and Robert Patrick in T2
Byung-hun Lee in Terminator Genisys (left) and Robert Patrick in T2

Lastly, the characters................ Jesus Christ, don't even get me started on these characters. Terminator Genisys turns these once fascinating and engrossing characters into some of the most insufferable characters I've watched in quite some time. I think the character I took most issue with was Sarah Connor. They try to build her up as some kind of badass soldier type, similar to her character in T2, but instead she just comes off as a whiny, annoying brat, and anytime she opened her mouth I just wanted to stab myself in the jugular with a screwdriver. Along with that, John Connor is a generic and uninteresting lead, Kyle Reese isn't much better, and the T-1000 is completely pointless here, as is a new character Detective O'Brien (J.K. Simmons).

But really, I think a lot of this has to do with the acting. While Schwarzenegger and Courtney are enjoyable, Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame is horribly miscast as Sarah Connor, and as a result I couldn't take her seriously at all. Jason Clarke, who's usually a very good actor, is just bland and one-note, and Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame is horribly misused in what could've been a pretty interesting role. And I never, EVER thought I'd be saying this, but I did not like J.K. Simmons' performance in this movie. He just came off as really annoying, and I'm still questioning why he was in this movie. Because when you can successfully make J.K. Simmons give a bad performance, you're in deep, deep shit with me.

In the end, Terminator Genisys is further proof that the Terminator franchise should've ended a long time ago. This movie is poorly acted, horrendously directed, ineptly written, visually dull, and insufferably boring, and unless Paramount can get a new director and writer on board for the upcoming sequels, I really don't see how they can successfully breathe new life into this once amazing series. Thank God the rights go back to James Cameron in 2019.


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