‘I’ ON CULTURE
The horrible thing about Terminator Genisys is that it proclaims it’s the first of a trilogy. No, please NO! The first movie, done about 30 years ago, is a classic. The terrifying robot of Arnold Schwarzenegger was great, as were the reactions of the people in the film. The second was actually even better. But that was a long time ago. Since then, the movies have been barely OK, constant rewinds.
The story is always essentially the same. The machines have revolted against humanity and a robot assassin is sent back to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), mother of the leader of the human opposition John Connor (Jason Clarke). The two Clarkes are unrelated: she is a Brit and he an Aussie. Connor sends his best operative, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), to save her, and Reese becomes Connor’s father. Ah, the wonders of time travel! In the second movie, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to protect Sarah Connor. Time after time the machines send a robot, and it fails. I guess they don’t have learning programs.
Anyway, this time there’s a bit more confusion, and Sarah and Kyle wind up doing some time traveling themselves. The reason seems to be so that they can change the timeline just before the infamous Skynet, which set off all the problems in the original, goes haywire, making everything fine. The real problem is that time travel creates many anomalies. In the original movie, Kyle tells the police that only one person can go through because that pretty much changes everything. Then it was decided for the second movie that there could be two changes. Amazing how Hollywood can change all the laws of causality!
By the time they got to this movie, changes seem to be running around like crazy. Somehow, they are on a different timeline: Linda Hamilton (or her photo, anyway) starts out as Sarah, but when Kyle goes back, he gets Clarke. And the cast keeps moving, probably rushing to make certain that no one tells them what is really going on. I am a science fiction fan, and I had trouble working out the continuity.
For those interested in the “science” of the whole thing, once the first guy went back, it created a new timeline… pretty much a new dimension. Therefore, we do have different timelines, etc., but it also means that the machines win some of the time and there might even be new ways for humans to win without Sarah or John Connor. Unfortunately, it seems the producers understand things like this and are sending more of these films.
As a result of all these problems, the whole plot becomes muddled and becomes totally dependent on special effects — seldom a good sign.
The cast was OK. Emilia Clarke is a decent Sarah, although I prefer her riding dragons (she plays Daenerys, the “mother of dragons” in the far better Game of Thrones). She is appropriately strong and tough, and is even able to come across as somewhat of a cynic, particularly after she is told she is to mate with Kyle. Courtney does his lines well but, unfortunately, does not really match Clarke in terms of charisma. Jason Clarke was good as John Connor, and I really liked J.K. Simmons as a cynical detective.
Schwarzenegger seemed to be having a good time. He is really far too old for the part, although at least the writers allowed him to be called Pops. He is the only one we can really identify with, and that is probably because of his status in the earlier movies. He has never been a great actor, but has always managed to do a good job as a robot. But, frankly, he is really far too old. And, as a warning, there is a shot of his 67-year-old naked backside along the way.
Right now I am hoping that some shift in the timeline will set the sequel, now set for 2017, back in time to maybe 2014, which means I have seen it and will not have to sit through it again.
It is sad that so many movies now are sequels. The best of our films are originals, the creation in many cases of new worlds. Unfortunately, Hollywood is now so lacking in ideas and originality, it is simply a recycling bin. And those get cleaned regularly. Skip this one.