By Declan Chin
The Terminator and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, both written and directed by James Cameron, were well-received, successful hits. But ever since James Cameron left both the directors chair and the writers desk, further sequels have failed to live up to fan expectations. Many saw Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation as unnecessary and uninspired tags of the first two films. All this led to the speculation going into the fifth installment in the series, Terminator Genisys.
The film opens with the same plot as the original Terminator. It is the year 2029 and machines have taken over the world. John Connor (Jason Clarke) has led a successful human resistance and is on the brink of winning the war. As a last resort, the machines send a terminator, a cyborg resembling a man, back in time to 1984 to kill John’s mom, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) before he is born. John sends his soldier, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), back in time to protect his mother, only this time, predictably, something goes wrong. In 1984, Kyle Reese is met by Sarah Connor and ally terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) awaiting his arrival. Sarah explains how the timeline has somehow been altered and the world John sent him to has changed.
Now, the three settle on a new mission to stop the war before it begins by traveling forward in time to 2017 and destroying the technology application, Genisys, which is the main cause of the machine uprising.
If this sounds confusing, it’s because Terminator Genisys is a confusing film. The plot is so convoluted and pointless that it doesn’t serve a meaningful purpose in the Terminator franchise. The original two films were very gritty and dark and this film looks and feels nothing like its predecessors. The difference in writing and directing is so clear that The Terminator (1984) and Terminator Genisys genuinely do not feel like they are apart of the same universe.
Not only is the film confusing, but it is boring. Boring is probably the worst insult to a sci-fi action thriller because if the movie is not exciting, it has quite simply failed its job. The two main protagonists played by Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke deliver emotionless performances and have weak chemistry.
In addition, the film lacks one of the most basic necessities a movie can have: a main character. In a crazy cinematic world like Terminator, the audience needs a main character like them to guide them through the film. In this new alternate timeline, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese both know about the future and do not serve as relatable characters. Instead, Terminator Genisys has two rebel characters who are entertaining to watch, but who are impossible to connect with on an emotional level.
The film’s redeeming qualities are few and far between. The effects of the film look good and the CGI interactions with the human characters works well. The movie incorporates Arnold Schwarzenegger impressively, and despite noticeably aging, Arnold still delivers a serviceable performance that stays true to his original interpretations in past films. Lorne Balfe, the composer, gives a score that is fun and exciting but simply lacks the heart of the original by Brad Fiedel.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough effort or passion in Terminator Genisys, making the sequel falls short. Without the “Terminator” title, this movie would be remembered as an average sci-fi flick. However, as another installment in the series, Terminator Genisys is one of the weakest sequels so far, and fans are better off watching the first two.