DIRECTOR: Alan Taylor
May contain spoilers!
31 years later and the Terminator is till terminating. Yep, afraid so. Like the 1984 T-800, this terminator simply will not die. Arnie is back after having all but bailed out of the last attempted Terminator franchise opener,Terminator Salvation (2009), busy being the Governor of California and all that, but he has come along way since that ground-breaking 1984 role and the machine that “will not stop, ever…”
Or has he? Well, his acting has come along… but his resolve to never give up on this career defining role and cash-cow franchise is all too reminiscent of his on-screen counterpart. The Terminator (1984) and its sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)count as two of science fictions cinema’s greatest achievement, bridging so many genres and creating films of such universal appeal that created enough momentum and support to keep this alive a lot longer than necessary.
But this also owes a lot, as many science fiction reboots do, to J.J. Abrams Star Trek (2009), where a time travel event has reset the history that we all knew in order to continue the franchise in an all new skewed timeline, not completely dissociating itself from what has come before but effectively rebooting the entire franchise. And this is what has happened here.
But this is where the film works best. After opening with a brilliant sequence showing the nuclear devastation of San Francisco of the 1997 Judgment Day, ignoring the events of Terminator 3 (2003) and Salvation (2009), we see the CGI’d T-800 (101) from the original get sent back to 1984, followed by Kyle Reese (Jay Courtney) just as before, only re-shot with clinical accuracy.
Things have changed and Sarah Connor, now played by Game Of Thrones, Emilia Clarke, is not the Sarah Connor from The Terminator. From this point everything is different and we begin a checklist of fanboy set pieces, with T-1000’s, T-800’s and everything that you might expect from a loving crafted work of fan fiction. But is it any good?
The answer is yes.
It’s fun. If you are comparing this to James Cameron’s original films then no, it is self-indulgent rubbish but as an action blockbuster for 2015, ticking all the right genre, action and franchise boxes, then yes, it is great fun! There is more humour now than horror, no-one important seems to get really hurt and there are some nice twists and turns but it has nothing of the original’s charms or integrity and owes more to Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines in style, a film which I actually liked as well, again for what it was.
Should Genisys begin a trilogy? Yeah,why not. It is harmless and takes nothing away from originals, even when it tried to tie itself in, it only serves to remind us how wonderful and innovative Cameron’s early work was. This is just entertainment and there is nothing to be ashamed of when being entertained. Not everything has to beCitizen Kane (1940), or even The Terminator.
UPDATED: 3rd November 2015:
Emerging from the cinema back in August, I seem to have felt that this movie only deserved 7/10. Well on reflection I was wrong! The review stands but after a second viewing on Blu-ray 3D I can not rate this anything lower that 8/10. It might not be the greatest movie of all time nor the best Terminator film but is the most accessible of the franchise and hugely entertaining from start to finish. Highly recommended.