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Review ‘Terminator: Genisys’ (2015) From The Editor

There are two clear missteps and mistakes that are occurring within this recent Hollywood trend of long-distance sequels, reboots, and remakes. The first is having too many cooks in the kitchen. These big films are controlled as much, if not more, by special effects creators and money-grabbing studio executives than by directors. Also, these trumped-up blockbusters are being written by a committee of screenwriters, cutting and gluing new and old failed drafts, Post-It notes, and cocktail napkin ideas together until they are filled to the brim with tangents and set pieces that weren’t designed to go together. This first mistake leads to the second.

When you have so many people tinkering and throwing things together, the end result lacks a forceful and unified vision. At some point, so many changes and updates are made that the filmmakers end up stepped all over and ruining what made the popular original classics that inspired them so great.

Nods of homage and nostalgia are fine. They are the welcome connection points that grab us, but instead of using cinematic highlighters, too many sequels, remakes, and reboots are using either White-Out or a redacting Sharpie marker to smear a good thing. They over-modify and don’t know when to quit. In the end, they go too far and end-up devaluing what we love more than properly celebrating or honoring.

Arnold Schwarzenegger made good on his promise and he is back in the iconic role that he originated back in 1984. Marking the fifth installment of the ‘Terminator’ series (sixth if you count the criminally short ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ TV show), Alan Taylor’s sci-fi time travel adventure catches up with John Connor in the year 2029 as his Resistance forces wage war against Skynet and its machines. But as he prepares to send Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect his mother Sarah Connor, a Terminator assassin sets into motion a series of events that creates an alternate timeline where Sarah was raised by a Terminator guardian and isn’t in need of saving. Instead, she and Kyle need to team up to take down Skynet before it becomes operational, however, an unexpected foe stands in their way.

Paramount Pictures screwed themselves with this reboot, with their promotion of ‘Terminator Genisys.’ By revealing a huge plot point in their trailers and posters, it took away from impact of the reveal. It’s a bummer that director Taylor keeps getting shafted in some way with his major motion pictures. If it isn’t Marvel Studios keeping too much exposition in ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ it’s Paramount giving too much away in the promos. Of course, there are other twists that remained intact, but for anyone that saw the trailers prior to seeing the movie, a big part of the story was spoiled and that’s super unfortunate because it would have been a great twist.

Apparently, no one there has every played poker and the words “subtlety,” “shrewd,” and all of their synonyms have been removed from the dictionaries and thesauruses over at Paramount Pictures. The latest trailers and posters for this film have completely given away both the central twist and the identity of the prime villain. “Terminator Salvation” also gave away their big swerve in their trailers six years ago. Apparently, no one learned their lesson. Any real director should be livid and any smart movie producer would sit on their trump card punch, but, remember, this is a studio cash cow now more than an artistic endeavor. This review will stay spoiler-free, but you don’t have to look far to know what will happened.

In altering the timeline, Skynet’s motives were changed from when we were first introduced to the robotic menace. Instead of being instituted by the government, it’s actually an operating system meant to link our devices together. This alteration provides an interesting commentary on our relationship with technology, but that message doesn’t get in the way of the story that it’s trying to tell.

However, something that does get in the way of the story though is the lack of chemistry between stars Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney. The actress from ‘Game of Thrones’ is certainly a badass, but not in the same way that Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was a badass in ‘Judgment Day.’ Clarke is a great Khaleesi (acting wise), but she’s just not so good as a soldier. Despite that, there were still redeeming qualities about her performance.

Courtney on the other hand was pretty vanilla as Kyle Reese. He wasn’t as edgy or gritty as Michael Biehn was in the role and he didn’t make me believe that he was in love with Sarah at all, which is a problem since that’s supposed to be a pretty big motivation for the character.

Terminator Genisys’ was still a solid summer movie. The special effects, action sequences, and CGI were on point. Schwarzenegger was at the top of his game as the heart and humor of the film. And above all, ‘Genisys’ did a great job of revitalizing this franchise that was in a pretty steep downward spiral since it was first revisited in the 2000s. As a single film, you could argue that there has never been a finer direct sequel than “T2.” It raised the stakes, retained and improved on the menacing tone of the original, opened new technological doors, and executed the greatest “face turn” in movie history to propel everything to a tidy and resonating conclusion that didn’t need extra sequels and future cash grabs.


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