NEW MISSION, NEW THREAT, NEW FATE. "Arnold is back and better than ever" (Shawn Edwards, FOX-TV) in this explosive new chapter of the blockbuster Terminator franchise. In the war of man against machine, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, The Divergent Series) is sent back to 1984 by resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke, Everest) to protect his young mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones). However, this time unexpected events have altered the past and threaten the future for all mankind. Now Reese must join forces with Sarah and her "Guardian" (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to save the world and stop the next evolution of Terminators in "one of the best action movies of the year." (Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee) (from iTunes)
It's the age of sequels, keeping franchises alive, and altogether reboots in Hollywood. So it should come as no surprise to have a new entry in the lucrative Terminator franchise this year (and even the same year as a new Jurassic Park, James Bond, and Star Wars - just to name a few). Even more amazing is the studio's ability to work the original Terminator into the story and bring a 67-year-old Arnold Swartzenegger back into the fold. In the same breath, Terminator: Genisys revisits the original 1984 film and gives a new spin on it, retelling the story at the same time as furthering it, serving as both a sequel and a reboot simultaneously.
I'll be honest, readers. As a child of the 80s, while many were watching Terminator, Rambo and RoboCop, this kid was watching Ghostbusters, Star Wars and Back to the Future. And to this day, this reviewer has never seen more than bits and pieces of the first three Terminator entries on TV. The movies were all rated R and pretty rough, so I wasn't permitted to watch them, and as I got older, my threshold for "restricted" violence, language and the like has remained relatively low. With that said, I did see the PG-13 Terminator: Salvation a few years ago and enjoyed it, and I was a little interested in this new entry (although the previews didn't totally sell me). Since I have a limited knowledge of the series - limited beyond the basic details, that is - it was tough to compare this film to the first three, but I've heard that, supposedly, this film works better as a Terminator 3 than the original third film did.
Genisys has a twisty, curvy plot that starts in the future during the war of the machines and then takes us to 1984 and back to future times. It's a little convoluted as it hops around a few decades in attempts to change the past and future, etc. The big plot difference here is that Arnold's reprogrammed "Terminator"--the T-800--had been sent to Sarah Connor when she was 9 years old to protect her, and after the death of her parents, ended up raising her. This makes Sarah quite the fighter when she meets Kyle Reese in this film, and she calls the aging T-800 (since its human-like skin ages like real human skin) "Pops." It's a little weird, but as a standalone film, all of this is quite interesting. As a follow-up to the first two films, I can imagine it's a bit weird, especially as it takes the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot approach of kind of changing history and re-writing things a bit within the familiar universe (and incorporating a familiar franchise talent, like Arnie's Terminator and Nimoy's Spock).
The main criticism I've seen from fans online is that the franchise has been dumbed down some for the PG-13 audiences and for a more summer blockbuster affair. The film does still have its violent moments--especially with human-looking characters, who are really machines, having holes blown through them time and time again. The other thing it does, too, is give viewers a rather "Hollywood ending," in which a lot of things are wrapped up more nicely and more "happy" than the previous films seemed to. That didn't bother me much, but I can see that being a real sore spot for fans. Furthermore, the film just has that fast-paced, "let's keep the action coming" feel that tends to forsake a deeper story just for entertainment purposes. It actually works to entertain, and it does take cues from the original story, but there isn't a whole lot of depth to be found. The story does slow down enough to have some good character moments between Kyle and Sarah, though. It's a fun sci-fi action film--which is frightfully relevant in today's smart phone, tablet-wielding society--but as someone who hates when Hollywood unnecessarily messes with franchises (for the record, I'm not on board with the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot... at all), I can understand why this reboot/remake would ruffle some fans' feathers.
I enjoyed Terminator: Genisys as a fan of good sci-fi and good action movies. While this film feeds the feeling that Hollywood is fresh out of original content, I also think it proves that these films don't really need the R-rated content of their predecessors. I've enjoyed Arnold Swartzenegger on screen when he isn't making such films, and it's fun to see him in a role like this again. Emilia Clarke made a pretty good Sarah Connor, while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Jason Clarke plays a pretty versatile version of John Connor in this film and Jai Courtney is surprisingly good as Kyle Reese. Add in a little humor from Spider-Man's J.K. Simmons and I just found Terminator: Genisys to be good fun.
As you might expect, the content of Terminator: Genisys is pretty edgy. I thought Terminator: Salvation was grittier and perhaps more gruesome, but Genisys was overall lighter, despite the violence. Arnold's T-800 has some of the classic moments where pieces of his face have been scraped away to reveal the machine beneath his skin, but it's not focused on, nor is it very gory. The T-1000 and the film's main villain, the T-3000 are frequently impaled with things or shot in the head and torso, many times with holes blown right through. We then see those holes close up. It's violent but not bloody or gory (but I'm sure aspects of it would have disturbed me more as a teenager). When Kyle goes back in time, he has to go naked, and we see long, distant shots of him that's kind of obscured, as well as similar shots to the young T-800 and Sarah Connor later in the film. All shots either crop out their lower halves or use lighting to dim their bare butts or crotches. As such, we just see the tops of their bare butts at different times or faint, obscured views of their bare butts in the dark. It's never sexual or all that explicit. There's also some language, including an "F" word spoken by a punk who first encounters the T-800 in 1984, and a handful of other language, including a few uses of the "S" word and some blasphemy.
I'd heard mixed things about Terminator: Genisys, and in the end I found myself enjoying the film. It's certainly not perfect, but I thought it was a strong summer popcorn flick and a better entry than the previous sequel. It seems to be polarizing the diehard fans, but if you're open to the idea of change within the Terminator universe, you might find yourself really liking Terminator: Genisys.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 11/7/15)
Family Dynamics (15:51) - The filmmakers talk about casting here, and continuing the franchise with new actors in these now-iconic roles. They also talk about bringing Arnold back. It runs down each new cast member -- from Emilia to Jai to Jason to J.K. -- and how they fit into the Terminator world. (1 "S" word in an interview, 2 "g*dd*mn" from a film clip)
Infiltration and Termination (25:29) - This featurette covers the production of the film, shooting in New Orleans and Los Angeles. There's some great on set footage, including the crew building physical sets (like the underground T-1000 trap and the time machine) and shooting on location (including closing down a highway in New Orleans for the San Francisco scene). They also address the recreation of classic scenes from the original movie and giving it a new spin. We also hear from Arnold about the cast, including how much he loved Jason's performance and from Byung-hun Lee about being the new T-1000. It's clear from the way they talk here that everyone had a blast making the movie.
Upgrades: VFX of Terminator: Genisys (15:07) covers the visual effects of the film, opening with several "effects passes" that show different layers to the visual effects. They talk about recreating a young Arnold digitally and having to find a bodybuilder with a similar frame to Arnold to use as a reference. James Cameron even pops up here to talk about the past and present of the T-1000. They also discuss the new effects of the T-3000 and how they created the look for the film, showing the original footage and then the finished edits.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 11/8/15)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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