Judgment Day Arrives for Terminator Genisys

Anticipating the latest installment of the Terminator franchise, I again watched the original. Born from a fever induced nightmare suffered by writer/director James Cameron, the 1984 film follows a machine sent from a dystopian future to murder the mother of an unborn resistance leader. It’s a simple and well-executed concept that plays out like a horror film. Despite its much-imitated conventions and dated style, The Terminator endures as essential viewing for any film fan.

Terminator Genisys, which opened number three at the box office behind two films which have been in theaters for weeks, goes to great lengths to recreate iconic imagery from the original. A handful of scenes are recreated shot for shot, and the portrayal of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger works far better here than it did inTerminator Salvation. That said, as the film continues, it proceeds to obliterate the continuity and tone of its progenitor, leaving us to wonder whether the recreated scenes were sincere homage or twisted mockery.

Genisys is an infuriatingly horrible film. I walked away angry at those who made it, disgusted at those who marketed it, and dismayed by the apparent demise of the franchise.

To start, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the movie. Every major plot point is given away in the marketing, blunting any impact those moments may have otherwise had. I’m not sure I would have liked Genisys if it wasn’t spoiled by its own trailers. But I may have at least been distracted from the overall mess.

The franchise has always suffered from continuity issues. The narrative paradoxes inherent to time travel require a greater than average suspension of disbelief.  Even so, Genisys seems to shrug off any responsibility to set or abide by plausible rules. It offers no coherent story, shoehorning a preconceived set of action beats into a hodgepodge of poorly executed fan service.

To call Genisys a retread would be too complimentary. Had it merely done what previous installments did, it would have worked on some level. Instead, Genisys views like a $155 million fan film written by a Fifty Shades of Grey caliber hack.

As a fan of the earlier films, the most disappointing aspect of Genisys is its failure to deliver on any of its potential. The film teases several intriguing concepts and evokes some titillating ideas. I found myself holding out hope that some twist might eventually bring everything together. Alas, the trajectory I imagined proved more entertaining than the actual film.

Final thoughts and score on next page…

This franchise has been milked dry. It’s a sad epilogue to Schwarzenegger’s depiction of an iconic character.

Game of Thone’s Emilia Clarke fails as Sarah Connor to engender the same sympathy and admiration that Linda Hamilton did. It’s fair to fault the script more than her ability.

Jai Courtney arrives wholly ill-equipped to lead the cast as freedom fighter Kyle Reese. He’s the worst thing in the movie, delivering emotionless narration that sounds like it was taped from his first script reading.

Terminator Genisys deserves to die. See it only if you want generic action, not if you care about the themes and characters portrayed far better in previous entries.

Scoring system:

5 Stars – A Masterpiece

4 Stars – Great Film

3 Stars – Entertaining

2 Stars – Not for Everyone

1 Star – Complete Waste of Time

Terminator Genisys scores one out of five stars, an atrocious insult to its pedigree, and a total waste of your time. It’s a contender for the least enjoyable film of the year.