Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Film Review: Terminator: Genisys (2015)

Terminator: Genisys (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Vudu Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it had some of that b-movie charm that makes bad movies tolerable."

Years after Judgment Day, the destruction of the world caused by Skynet, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back in time by John Connor (Jason Clarke) to ensure the survival of his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clark)....

Terminator: Genisys can be a lot to ingest, so I'll just give you the basics – it's probably for the best. So, 2029: John Connor leads a human resistance against Skynet, the artificial intelligence responsible for Judgment Day. (Judgment Day=Apocalypse) After a botched mission where a Terminator escaped to the past with a goal to kill John's mom, John sends Kyle to save his mom. Unfortunately, Kyle ends up in an alternate timeline where everything he expected has changed. He finds Sarah Connor working with a Terminator, which she named 'Pops' (Arnold Schwarzenegger). So, John joins Sarah and Pops as they travel into the future again... Forget about that. They go and try to stop Skynet. There's no need for me spell it out when the characters will go over every detail several times. The film leads to a predictable ending – a cop-out, as usual.


Terminator: Genisys is a difficult film to review. So, let me get through some of the bad. The narrative is filled with exposition. Almost every other scene, you have characters standing around and explaining every little thing to the audience. Exposition isn't the end of the world (that's Judgment Day), but it seems so unnatural in this film. The film follows a very basic formula: an over-the-top action sequence followed by a lengthy explanation as they prepare for an over-the-top action sequence, which is followed by a lengthy explanation... You get the gist, don't you? It becomes dull after a while due to this very safe structure. On top of that, the story becomes to obsessed with delivering twist after twist. It's not the most complicated story to understand, especially if you're a fan of Terminator or time travel movies, but it feels like this film is purposely trying to either confuse you or blow your mind – it fails at the latter.

Despite its glaring issues (there are a few more I'll get to when I get to the acting), Terminator: Genisys is fun. It's not exactly a 'turn-off-your-brain-and-enjoy' action film due to the convoluted story, but it is an entertaining blockbuster. The action sequences may not have the same suspense or style as the first and second films, but it does have plenty of action. It can occasionally just feel like loud noise and explosions, but it has its moments to shine. If you like big, colorful, and explosive summer blockbusters, then I can see you liking this. I personally don't love them too much, but I found the silver lining in this film. Also, although the action is a saving grace, it doesn't stop the film from feeling bloated. You can only watch the same explosions before you grow bored. A little variation certainly would have helped the pacing.

The acting was mostly... bad. Jai Courtney was as stiff as a board. I mean, the man has no emotion or conviction. You could cast a cardboard cutout of him and you'd get the same performance. Emilia Clark is not as bad, but she felt completely miscast. Maybe it was the writing of her character or my memory of Sarah Connor, but Emilia looks and talks like a 14 year old girl. At least Arnold Schwarzenegger has a bit of fun with this performance. The film looks and sounds like every other summer blockbuster ever made. Terminator: Genisys was written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier and directed by Alan Taylor. The writing was not very good and the direction was severely lacking in personality. This is Terminator, but it feels more like The Terminators. (That's a joke referring to The Asylum's mockbuster. I hope you laughed.)

Overall, Terminator: Genisys is a mediocre film. In reality, it's a bad film. Genisys feels like a good b-movie. It has a large budget, but it shares the same atmosphere as a b-movie. It's feels hastily written, the direction is uninspired, the action is often bad, the dialogue often made me cringe, and I was bored before the end. Yet, it had some of that b-movie charm that makes bad movies tolerable. On top of that, there were some decent action sequences and Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a fun performance. I'd recommend it to people who secretly like bad blockbuster movies – only if you can rent it for 99 cents like I did.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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