By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Arnold is back.  He may be much older, but not “obsolete”.  Apparently filmmakers and studios feel that the franchise has not grown obsolete either.  Using a story device that has reinvigorated other movie franchises (Star Trek, X-Men), the brains behind Terminator Genisys hope to do the same.  Writers Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier, and director Alan Taylor manage to keep the series alive with a film that is fun, often humorous, and overall entertaining.  There is much room for improvements, but had the film been another Salvation, the war would have definitely been terminated.

During the war against the machines, John Connor (Jason Clarke), Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and their troops manage to defeat their enemy in a victory where they acquire a time travel device.  The device is THE time displacement machine used to send a terminator back to 1984 who will attempt to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke)  prior to John’s birth.  Equipped with knowledge of all the events that have transpired and will probably happen, John sends Kyle back in time to protect Sarah from the terminator.  When Kyle arrives, however, plans have changed rather drastically.  His first encounter with the legendary Sarah Connor is not at all what he had imagined.  Sarah discovers Kyle soon after his arrival, and already knows everything about the future and what they need to do.  The startled and confused Reese gets even more flabbergasted when he discovers that Sarah has an aged terminator (Schwarenegger) helping and protecting her.

Though not as well written or directed as Terminators 1, 2, or 3, Genisys does have charms of its own.  Revisiting events of the first movie, director Alan Taylor makes a valiant attempt to recreate some iconic and memorable scenes, but some of the differences and errors will be obvious to die hard fans.  To casual admirers, these will be some what negligible.  Still, it is fun to see a new take on these moments, and the CGI work used to make a young Arnie Terminator reappear is pretty darn impressive.  When the story takes off on a direction of its own, it does have its engaging parts, but does lack the emotional and intelligent depth of the first three movies.  Also, compared with the amazing action sequences of parts 2 and 3, the action scenes in Genisys are moderately exciting, but are no match for the work done by James Cameron, Jonathan Mostow, and their respective crews. The movie has a mix of both genuinely funny and unintentionally funny moments.  There are a few silly scenes that provide the unintended humor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger slips into his terminator character like a comfortable shoe, and actually does manage to bring something different each time.  With every installment, he does portray a different terminator with a slightly different personality and he manages to nail these differences each time.  As Kyle Reece, Jai Courtney does have some big shoes to fill replacing Michael Biehn and he does fine.  Emilia Clarke delivers an adequate performance, but she too has a tough act to follow.  Linda Hamilton who portrayed Sarah Connor in the first two installments is truly incredible in those movies.  In the first film, she brought a lovely  innocent vulnerability to Sarah, and in T2, she turns on the badassery in a major way. Clarke attempts to incorporate both elements to the role in this movie, but does fall a bit short when it comes to kicking ass.  Jason Clarke also delivers a strong performance as John Connor, but doesn’t particularly own the role.  To be honest, not one actor has taken the role of the adult John Connor and made a definitive take.

There is a twist that may be to blame for that issue in this movie.  I refuse to acknowledge that twist, even thought trailers and TV spots have already done this.  Sometimes, I do not understand why movie trailers are often made without the director’s consent.  Had Alan Taylor had a say, I’m sure the film’s twist would have been protected and would have had a stronger impact when revealed.  Some critics may scoff at this particular drastic change in the Terminator story arc, but I actually find it very creative.  So for those who have managed to avoid trailers or any promotional spots for the movie, I would strongly recommend continuing this habit until seeing the film.  For those, who already know, the movie is still enjoyable, but doesn’t have too many other surprises. I believe fans of the franchise will like this installment, and will breathe a sigh of relief that it is better than Salvation.  However, I know these same fans are hoping that the next one will be very much improved. The franchise is not completely obsolete, but would benefit from some upgrades.

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