Thoughts On – Terminator: Genisys


Last week we went to see Terminator: Genisys, the 5th movie in the franchise which is a sequel but also a kind of reboot.

*potential spoilers ahead*

Since time travel is a big part of the Terminator story, it’s used here to “reboot” the series by creating an alternate timeline. Elements from the first Terminator movie play a large part, as well as some elements from the second. It seems like nothing from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is retained (from what I could tell), and events from Terminator: Salvation also seem to not be included (the main being that John Conner meets Kyle Reese when Reese is a younger age, compared with how they met in Salvation).

*end spoilers*

It’s generally agreed that the first 2 movies are the best ones, with 3 being not particularly popular and Salvation getting mixed thoughts, so it’s probably on purpose that they’ve chosen to essentially ignore those later 2 movies ^_^;

Personally, I did like Terminator Salvation, it was entertaining enough and it had good SFX. I also think that there were good points about Terminator 3; the battle damage on Arnie’s T-850 was improved since the last movies (although it looked fine there anyway) and there were some cool chase scenes.

The first 2 movies were among my favourite ever movies when I was younger. I watched them on VHS recorded off the TV from their late night showings :P
I had toys from the movies too….which seems weird now; having a toy line from an 18 rated movie. But kids were watching them at the discretion of their parents anyway. My parents recorded Schwarzenegger
movies for me all the time….as well as things like Aliens and Die Hard etc.

*more potential spoilers ahead*

So back to this new movie.

The scenes at the start of the movie, showing the future time period looked great. They were suitably dark but punctuated with bright coloured laser fire, and the designs of the hunter killers etc matched their looks in the original movies.

Jason Clarke makes a good, older, John Conner. He looks and acts the part in the future timeline.

Jai Courtney taking on the role of Kyle Reese was something that I was unsure about at first, he had a high bar to match set by Michael Biehn in the first movie, who was excellent as the character. At first it was hard to see Courtney as Reese, when we see him fighting his way through the future timeline he could be any other soldier on Conner’s side really, but as the film progresses I think he started to fit into the character better.

A lot of reviews are saying that Emilia Clarke as Sarah Conner doesn’t have the presence and level of hardness of Linda Hamilton’s portrayal of the character. But I think the mistake they are making is that they are comparing her to the T2 Sarah Conner, because she’s supposed to be tough. Actually this Sarah Conner is somewhere between T1 and T2; she’s not the unprepared normal person caught in events of T1, and she’s not yet the hardened fighter of T2. She’s still younger, and although trained, she doesn’t have the experience yet. So I think Clarke is a good fit for this stage of Sarah Conner, and she does a good job showing this transitional stage of the character.

Of course, pretty much all articles and reviews about this movie have overused “he’s back” when referring to Arnold Schwarzenegger ….yes, we get it, none of you have any original ideas for how to refer to him returning to his most famous role :/
Schwarzenegger has perfected the movements and mannerisms of the Terminator over the years, and it’s great to see him returning here. (I was going to say “…see him back here.” But my brain engaged quick enough to save it :P)

The explanation for the aging of Arnie’s Terminator makes sense (at both times), and the added quirk of his right hand occasionally malfunctioning shows that it’s not only the exterior that’s showing the passage of time. It was funny seeing him attempt to smile and saying “Nice to see you.”, which also shows that he’s a machine that’s been active long enough to have been taught some mannerisms by Sarah, and it links back to John’s attempts in T2…..although it was slightly overused by the end.

When the younger Terminator and Kyle Reese are first sent back in time to 1984, the shot-for-shot remakes of scenes from the first movie were really well done, and were a massive nostalgia kick :P

The T-800 sent back to kill Sarah Conner, as in events from T1, looked convincing as a younger version of Schwarzenegger made up of a body double and CG face cover, and it was believable enough on screen, although there was still something slightly off about it (uncanny valley maybe). It was awesome seeing the older Terminator played by the real Schwarzenegger fighting against it though :)

From there events change the course of the timeline and it veers off away from how T1 played out. There’s not much downtime really, at least I didn’t think so, and the film moves along at a good pace. Some attempts at explaining time travel logic perhaps could’ve been done better or just left out. But overall there are some good chases and fights throughout, and it’s always cool seeing Terminators smash each other about heh.

The biggest disappointment about the movie is thanks to a massive spoiler being dropped by its own promotional material :S
The trailers for the movie, and posters up in the cinema gave away a big twist that happens halfway through the film. Unfortunately because of that, when a character appears on screen at that point I spent that whole time just waiting for the twist to happen, rather than being surprised by it……it’s a perfect example of advertising executives screwing over the director, and in turn the audience who are deprived of a good twist which was filmed in a good way to make it effective.

Even if I hadn’t seen the trailers I’d have to walk through the cinema with my eyes closed to be able to not see the posters giving it away. Promotional material should entice the audience to want to watch the movie and see the thing in full, to discover the events which lead up to an interesting point shown in a trailer or to see how something plays out afterwards…..but these days they give everything away from the plot, show most of the best bits of action or surprise, and leave nothing as a shock for when people actually go to see it. If Empire Strikes Back was made and released this year, everyone would’ve been told in the trailer and on posters that Vader was Luke’s father even before they’d seen the movie :/

The end of the movie sets things up for a sequel, and to be honest I’ll be looking forward to it. I looked forward to seeing this one, and I enjoyed it. The characters were good and they fit in well enough with previous renditions of the characters, the effects were good, and it was generally an enjoyable film. Go see it if you have a chance, or at least give it a look when it’s out on DVD / Blu-ray.

If you’re a fan of the Terminator franchise, especially the first 2 movies, then you should definitely give it a watch :)


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