Back in 1984, director James Cameron helmed a futuristic project TERMINATOR that featured Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn. This was a followed with a superhit sequel TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, which went on to become one of the biggest hits of all time. Now a little over three decades we see the release of the fifth installment in the TERMINATOR franchise with TERMINATOR GENISYS, which features Arnold Schwarzenegger from the original cast.
The film starts off with the resistance led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) on the verge of winning the war against Skynet. In a last ditch attempt to end the war, Connor sends his trusted lieutenant Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back through time to save his mother’s life and ensure his own existence. But what Reese finds on the other side is like nothing he ever expected. After being orphaned at the age 9 by a Terminator, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) has been brought up by another Terminator, played by Schwarzenegger, programmed to protect her. This Terminator has then trained her to face her destiny, which she adamantly tries to reject. Now Sarah, Kyle and the reprogrammed Terminator have to escape the T-800, the T-1000 and John Connor himself in a desperate attempt to stop Judgment Day from ever happening; while at the same time trying to stop the sinister Genisys app from going online. But after the letdown in the previous film TERMINATOR SALVATION (TS), will the new TERMINATOR GENISYS rekindle excitement created by TERMINATOR JUDGEMENT DAY… Let’s analyze.
Right from the start, TERMINATOR GENISYS seems more like a film for the fans of the series. It most definitely is a follow-up to Cameron’s vision in the first film and second film, complete with references sometimes minor and other major to those movies, along with the inclusion of tunes, background scores and even recreation of certain scenes from those films. However, TERMINATOR GENISYS (TG) takes a whole new twist with Kyle Reese time travelling not once but twice, that leads to a much debatable yet realistic past. This is where TG enters a new domain. While the previous films kept time travel to a minimum focusing more on characters, surroundings and action, TG jumps on the other hand, uses the concept of time travel as the crux of the film basing the entire story and character development around it. Thanks to this, the film appears to be more of a reboot (something that many other franchises are using) than a sequel to the previous films.
Another big drawback of the repeated time jumps the characters go through is that the audiences are left with dual timelines and existence possibilities, not forgetting Arnold mouthing off some heavily scientific dialogues about quantum fields, alternate time-lines, nexus in time points associated with important events, et al. Add to this the new AI (Artificial Intelligence) that is being developed under the name ‘Genisys’ that in all likelihood will be the ultimate facilitator in leading an all-encompassing ‘connected life’ evolving on its own and developing a sense of survival, in essence becoming the new age Skynet, and the entire film has a feel of being more of several short parts stitched together to for a feature film.
Director Alan Taylor has done a good job with direction. Despite the multiple time jumps and a very convenient script, he more than manages to retain the semblance of a linear story line. The action and explosion sequences appear seamless compounded with some top notch CGI work in recreating a younger Arnold for one of the sequences.
Coming to individual performances in the film Arnold Schwarzenegger, the original Terminator who was sorely missed in TERMINATOR SALVATION, is back and is lovably called Pops, albeit looking a bit aged. However, despite him embodying the essence of being the Terminator and him being responsible for quite a few high octane explosive sequences, the viewer is left with wanting a lot more. Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese is just misplaced, from being the skinny confused, terrified, beleaguered soldier doomed to face a tragic fate in the previous film, he has somehow transformed into a hulking new character, who is clean shaved with a chiseled physique that just doesn’t fit the bill. On the other hand, Emilia Clarke does a good job with her character of a neo-apocalyptic Sarah Connor, who has grown from being the damsel forever in danger to the battle ready hard ass who is certainly packing a load. Sadly nothing much can be said about Jason Clarke as John Connor, who is the one character that has undergone the most change since the first film. His role seems rather limited, in effect transforming the story of TG from being the fight lead by John into one that is spearheaded by Reese, Sarah and Pops.
On the whole, TERMINATOR GENISYS despite featuring tons of action scenes and some humorous bits, lacks the edgy feel of the original film. However, if you are a diehard fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, then TERMINATOR GENISYS is worth a watch.