Before we start.
How do you write a spoiler free review for a film whose own trailer dropped the biggest bombshell of the film? I’d like to presume you have seen the trailer, but I won’t, just in case.
I guess the whole question of what a spoiler constitutes is as subjective as what makes one person like a film and what makes another person hate a film, so whilst I wont talk about any specific plot points outside of the films synopsis, or tell you the end of the film in the 3rd sentence, I will talk about what I liked about the film, about the acting, about the style and about the effects because I liked this film and I need to tell you why.
Now is your last chance to skidaddle if you dont want to hear about the film, though I’m guessing you probably do otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten this far.
The official synopsis
When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.
I’m going to liken this movie to Jurassic World. It takes an old, much loved film with a dubious record for shady sequels, puts a shine and a spin on it, gets ridiculous in places and has a few glaring plot holes and has a couple of convenient devices, but as with Jurassic World, I really enjoyed Terminator Genisys.
One of the things that I remember most about the first Terminator was being left with a craving for seeing the future world, seeing more Terminators and getting the feel for the world Kyle Reese leaves behind. Terminator Genisys provides this, sure Terminator: Salvation had a stab at it, but it generally failed, Terminator Genisys feels like a part of the original series.
Last week Arnold Schwarzenegger was on Graham Norton and he said that he see’s Genysis as a continuation of the story from T2: Judgement Day and I’d have to agree with him, the look, the feel and the soundtrack of the film certainly fit well. There are little Easter Eggs peppering this film with shouts out to not only the first two, but there are allegories to be found that tip the wink to T3: Rise of the Machines and the much maligned Terminator: Salvation.
Emilia Clarke does a good job of channelling a 20yr old Sarah Connor, albeit in a much altered timeline, because, as you would expect from a Terminator movie, there is a bit of temporal jollying around, surely that’s not a spoiler though yeah?
Aged just 20 in the film, this version of Sarah is a much tougher cookie, but Emilia still manages to inject some petulance and stubbornness into the role that seems befitting to the age of the character and talking of ages of characters, lets talk about Arnie! Wow, they did a good job with Arnie this time, I’ve never seen him act as well as in this movie, there is a subtle humanity that comes across whilst he still channels the Terminator vibe. They don’t ask him to do anything past his age ability and you really get a feel for the evolution of the character. As you should know, the T800 in T2 is a very different character that that of the original and you can feel the way that that character has changed within these new circumstances and it feels natural.
Jai Courtney and Jason Clarke are OK in their respective roles as Kyle Reese and John Connor, to be honest you could have had anyone play those parts but that’s not to say they did a bad job.
One of the bits that I really enjoyed and got the old nostalgia gland pumping was the soundtrack. As in Jurassic World, the old themes have been used and reworked but not to a vulgar extent and not butchered past being bearable.
The special effects are outstanding, there was a bit of young Arnie versus old Arnie in Salvation but this really does trounce all over that. As you would expect, the CGI is good, it is in most big budget films these days, but what they don’t do is go overboard, when you see through the Terminators eyes it is exactly as you would expect and want it to be, there are plenty enough real explosions and whilst there are some amazing sets that must have been pimped, you don’t get the feeling that the actors have spent half the film running around in front of the green screen.
I know that this film has split opinion, of the 4 guys who went to see it, one was really disappointed, two were a bit meh and in the middle and I really enjoyed it, but as I started this piece saying, movies and all aspects of enjoying them are very subjective. I can see where some of the derisionis coming from, there are lots of good arguments out there as to where it falls down, but if you go in with an open mind, even the ridiculous name kind of gets explained, very subtly, granted, but it’s there.
This film ticked all the right boxes for me, had enough Arnie but not too much, had lots of nods to the originals but wasn’t a slave to the past like Superman Returns was, there was humour but not forced and enough different about the film to make it feel like an addition to the series without feeling like either flogging a dead horse or trying to change the soul of the film (I’m looking at you Prometheus).
It’s clear that there is potential for a sequel and if there is, I’ll be looking forward to watching it.
I liked this film and I hope you do too. Please feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but remember now, no spoilers!