The future is already set. There are no Terminator movies left to make anymore. There has already been the straight concept movie where Kyle Reese travels back in time to save Sarah Connor from a homicidal cyborg before she can give birth to mankind’s savior. We’ve already had the amped up big budget version, which not only turned the villain of the first movie into an iconic hero and set him against an even more terrifying villain, but closed off potential sequels forever by ending in a giant battle meant to change the future. Then there was the Terminator movie that descended into self-parody, retreaded as much old ground as it could find and bastardized the ending of the first sequel by suggesting everyone really did need to die in nuclear winter after all so they could finally do a Terminator movie set in the actual apocalypse. (There was even a TV show starring a completely different queen from Game of Thrones which expanded the material into long form.)
Anyways, now that Terminator Salvation has happened and should mostly be forgotten now, what is their left to do? Could you just remake or reboot the franchise? That wouldn’t make much sense. If there is ever an action movie made to hold up decades down the line it was Terminator 2.
Terminator Genisys is an anomaly, not just because of the dumb spelling. In this post-apocalyptic age of sequels, remakes, reboots and prequels, Genisys splits the difference by somehow being all these things in one. It joylessly blitzes through the well-worn territory of the previous films, offering “twists” that were really just the movie struggling to cram the plot of about four separate movies into one.
Films like this don’t have to be deep. But there isn’t one memorable piece of dialogue or action, just the hollow iconography of films you may or may not have seen. But in just knowing they exist, there are no real stakes in watching these characters fighting the same enemies and trying to stop the future again, and nothing entertaining enough on its own to distract you from the lack of stakes. There is nothing to distract you from the fact that the movie barely explains the “twists” other than you won’t care until it maybe dawns on you hours after you’ve finally gotten out of there. For two hours, noise and effects and pseudo-science mumbo jumbo assault the senses for no desirable purpose other than an investor returns and robbing viewers of finite lifetime hours. If there is one thing the script will be good for is in comparison to Terminator 2, demonstrating to the screenwriters just how right and wrong a basic concept can go.
It’ll be sad/weird to see Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke go down as an awful Sarah Connor when it is clear the script gives her no opportunities to live up to Linda Hamilton (although given the word that Tatiana Maslany was in the running anyone else would be miscast). Matt Smith is in here too, completely wasted. The most notable thing about Arnold Schwarzenegger here is how good the “young” T-800 CGI was. I’d say it deserves a few points just for that. But when I remember the ending monologue, it doesn’t matter what happens. We know there will be another one of these so I take the points back.