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Film Review: Terminator Genisys

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Title: Terminator Genisys

Director: Alan Tayor

Writers: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke Jai Courtney

Release Date: Out Now

Review by: Dave Griffiths

Okay now I’m going to start this review with a bit of a tirade because some of the things that I have been reading about Terminator Genisys have made me pretty mad after I viewed the film the other night. Firstly, let’s start with the fact that no matter how much of a fan you are of a series or franchise you don’t get any say in what happens to the characters in that franchise. You might have DVD/Blu-Ray of past films, you may have every comic or novel, you may have the toys, you may have the collectables, even the T-Shirt or you could have even forked out a million bucks for one of the costumes in the actual film, but at the end of the day what happens to the characters in that franchise remains solely the responsibility of the creative team behind the film.

If you’ve seen Terminator Genisys then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hell, if you’ve seen the trailer you probably have a pretty good idea that one of the characters from this franchise does a major U-Turn that nobody saw coming in this film. But just like we all were when Dumbledore took the massive death plunge in Harry Potter or Rachel was blown to smithereens in The Dark Knight we are an audience and we don’t get a right to tell a creative team what they should or shouldn’t with a character. So let’s just sit back and take a look at Terminator Genisys for what it is – the next film in one of the greatest franchises in cinema history.

This time around it does feel like a complete reset. The film sees John Connor (Jason Clarke – Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) about to defeat Skynet and its machines so to ensure the victory he sends his dedicated right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney – Divergent) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke – Game Of Thrones) from a potential attack.

However this is where everything changes from the original Terminator storyline. Yes when Kyle arrives back in 1984 to protect Sarah the T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee – G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra) is waiting for him but many other things are a miss. Sarah Connor is not the innocent waitress he is expecting – instead she is ready for the Armageddon that is about to happen and already has a protector, a Terminator named Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger – Predator), who has been looking after her since she was nine years old.

During the publicity for Terminator Genisys nobody ever used the dreaded reboot word thankfully, yet in a strange kind of roundabout way that is exactly what director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) has given us… a smartly executed reboot that masterfully manages to incorporate Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day in a way that fans should really be embracing.

For a hardened Terminator fan the opening half hour of Terminator Genisys is like walking down memory lane as the film re-creates some of the most famous scenes from arguably two of the best science fiction films ever made and then delves into its own new plotline – a story that actually needs to be given it a little bit of credit because it certainly has its own creativity and isn’t simply re-hashing some familiar story lines that have already been used in the franchise.

Given there are moments in Terminator Genisys where the CGI is a little bit over-the-top but there are also moments where this film actually reaches some pretty good heights as well. The chase and resulting crash on the Golden Gate bridge (yes once again San Francisco gets slaughtered in a motion picture) is actually a pretty decent watch, while the screenplay also steps up to the mark. The film remains action packed and suspenseful throughout while the screenwriters also manage to bring a little bit of humor in as well with the ‘old but not obsolete’ lines about Arnie and some inter-play between Pops and Kyle that wouldn’t have been out of place in Meet The Parents.

In fact a lot of the times when Terminator Genisys comes alive for its audience is when the screenplay does delve into some pretty deep emotional scenes. The film explores the topic of whether or not Pops has managed to learn the human ability of feeling emotions. Sure his smile might be awkward, but as Kyle soon learns he seems to be getting laughter and jokes down pat and there is certainly a hint of ‘fatherly love’ around himself and Sarah as well. There will also be more than enough audience members who can relate to Sarah’s fear of falling in love again as well… especially seeing she has already gone through this once before.

Some of the biggest faults with Terminator Genisys comes with the acting or more so the casting. Firstly Arnie does an amazing job. As he fights and battles his way through this film doing stunts with ease it is very easy to forget that this man is now nearly 70 years old, yet instead of looking for the nearest retirement village he is still happily throwing stuntmen through walls and jumping out of helicopters. Also stepping up here is Emilia Clarke. She throws all of her Game Of Thrones Khaleesi persona aside as she steps into the boots of one of the greatest female action heroes of all time Sarah Connor. She takes the role quickly and you warm to her a lot faster than what any Terminator fan would expect to.

Now comes the weakness. While you quickly become accustomed to Emilia Clarke playing Sarah Connor the same cannot be said for Jason Clarke playing John Connor. Clarke does nothing wrong in the role but for some reason he just can’t be bought as John Connor, but that may chance with several watches of the film. Then there is Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. Now if you’ve watched Divergent or Jack Reacher you’ll know that Courtney can act, if you’ve watched A Good Day To Die Hard, you’ll know he is a pretty decent action hero but something just seems off here in Terminator Genisys. He suits the role but too many times throughout the film his acting is below the par set by Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke who unfortunately he shares most of his scenes with.

Now I might take a beating from some people out there but as someone who loves both Terminator and T2 I have to say that I rather enjoyed Terminator Genisys. Yes it takes some getting used to that there is a major change this time around, but hey it shakes up the franchise and actually breathes some new life into… and because it’s sci-fi they can reset what they have done this time around anyway. The changes seemed to be given the thumbs up from both Arnie and James Cameron so who are the fanboys to complain? Yes Terminator Genisys isn’t as good as the original two films in the franchise… but did we ever expect that it would be. It’s a great watch, action packed and did more than enough to keep me happy.

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