Oh my God, what an insult. Terminator Genisys pushes so many alternate timelines, and rules about changing destiny, and variant new abilities of the liquid metal cyborg killers that it discounts everything that was integral to “The Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Those two are James Cameron classics that still have a merciless hard sci-fi streak in them. Now we get this squishy fifth film, with such laborious explanatory dialogue, with such negligible references to different moments in the series, that I can’t help but think I observed better sci-fi writing in “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.” Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in friendly cyborg mode, and Sarah Connor lovingly calls him Pops.
Number five in the series suffers significantly from inadequate acting, with pivotal roles played by Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese), Jason Clarke (John Connor), Emilia Clarke (Sarah), and none of them bothered to keep saga consistency with their characters from the rest of the series. These sci-fi legends are now watered down ciphers that would play well to the demographics of the Nickelodeon channel.
Not even good acting though could have saved a movie where every new development barbs a dozen new holes. This time, we begin in 1984, with Cameron’s original scenario noodled with – for instance, Bill Paxton’s punk character who meets the T-800 cyborg is replaced by a new actor, an anonymous wannabe bonehead, while the background scenery is 1984. The film will intertwine “new” events of 1984 with 1997, 2017 and 2029 that would make your head spin if you’re 12-years old and everyone else sigh from boredom first. The plot hinges on taking down Skynet in 2017 before the launch of a computer app that will unleash a robot revolution and mass extermination of humans simultaneously. This is all amidst obligatory action that’s plugged in there (chase through a warehouse, runaway bus, shooting down a helicopter not once but twice).
One quick flashback reveals that another killer cyborg was sent to kill Sarah Connor at age 9. Hey, if you can’t accomplish the killing of a 9-year old, what good are these cyborgs at bringing the world to an end anyway? The biggest bad laugh, however, is turning John Connor, for the first time in the series, into a transformer adversary.
I hated how “Genisys” nonchalantly tarnishes the greatness of the Cameron films with its heedless unscrewing of the mythology. But it’s all very desperate on its own terms. There was a time when a T-1000 would have dismembered Sarah immediately while having her in a headlock. In this now dumbed-downed series, the damn robot negotiates with Pops.
Nothing in it matters anyway. There’s no need for a finale to the “Terminator” series because new writers on studio payroll can endlessly come up with more hogwash ideas to keep this series lurching forward. Or audiences can finally decide to end it all by not showing up. But since international audiences are still eating this thing up, and domestic tallies aren’t bad, we’re in for more craven “Terminator” sequels. The next one can go ahead and first get rid of Emilia Clarke’s gung ho amateur take on Sarah Connor. Then get rid of director Alan Taylor who is way too timid for this material. But I vote to cancel the series entirely.
126 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
SCI-FI & FANTASY / ACTION FANS / BAD MOVIES WE HATE
Film Cousins: “The Terminator” (1984); “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991); “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (2003); “Terminator Salvation” (2009).