Film Review: Terminator Genisys

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke. Directed by Alan Taylor.

In 2015, is it possible for a franchise to be left alone? Can money-hungry film companies ever let a great story remain told, without a sequel, or a reboot?

That’s the question my friend and I were asking each other when we left Terminator Genisys. Only a month after the Jurassic franchise was resuscitated to massive box office success, Arnie is back (as he promised) in the fifth Terminator instalment.

Let’s be honest, since James Cameron left the directing helm, the Terminator franchise has been less than perfect. Terminator 3 and Salvation were both fairly average films, but with Arnie back on board and a trailer teasing a fight between 2015 Arnie and 1984 Arnie through the use of special effects – there’s plenty of promise here. So is Genisys the sequel we’ve been waiting decades for?

Unfortunately, it’s not… But let me expand.

The film starts in 2029, where John Connor (Jason Clarke) is leading humanity in a war against the machines. To win the war, he sends Kyle Reese (Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Clarke). It’s a familiar story, but with a twist: timelines have been shifted, and so the story is a new one. Don’t expect the same outcomes, and the same results. The film jumps through time, before settling in 2017 with the hopes to bring down an operating system named Genisys (it’s basically Apple) – a mask for Skynet.

My best advice for this movie is to let your mind enjoy the action and stunts, and don’t try and get your head around the time travel. It’s messy, and hard to keep up with. The action is also weighed down by forced soppy scenes and stilted dialogue that does not fire.

The first few Terminator films were released in a time when technology was on the rise, and it was a great unknown. A futuristic robot uprising brought fear, and Cameron executed these stories ahead of their time. Genisys however tries to create fear through an operating system and the Internet, and frankly, this story has been told before, and may have been more effective ten years ago. For this reason, Genisys loses impact, and it’s hard to feel fear, or really much at all towards the film.

‘I was born after judgement day, into a broken world, ruled by machines.’

Time travel has always been a major drawcard of the franchise, as is the robot uprising. The future is portrayed as a frightening place, where humanity is the minority and must fight for survival. But it’s through heroes such Arnie’s T-800 (the good one) that hope stays alive. In this movie, he has aged and is affectionately called ‘Pops’ by Sarah Connor. He is a protective father figure to her, despite not being human in form.

I love that we can call God our heavenly Father, for to us he is like Pops. Romans 8:15:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”…”

Those who God has called us to Himself can call the God who created the universe their Father, which is a mind-blowing thought. The T-800 goes to great lengths to protect Sarah and Kyle in this movie, but our God is always for us (Rom 8:31). ‘Pops’ always refers to himself as ‘old, but not obsolete’, and the God who spoke creation into being is certainly not obsolete either. He still rules the universe, and is still at work saving and protecting people, who can now call him Father.

Terminator Genisys kicks goals as a summer blockbuster, but it’s a Terminator story that brings down the franchise rather than rebooting it. But – as we all know – it will be back. Three stars.

Terminator Genisys is releasing worldwide tomorrow.

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