Lowdown: The machines are back for another round.
Assume, hypothetically, the position of a Hollywood studio bean counter. You know you have potential treasure in your hand with the Terminator franchise, especially now that Arnie has given up on his political aspirations and allows his presence grace our screens again. On the other hand, those last two episodes in the series, 2003’s Terminator 3 and 2009’s Terminator Salvation? There's general consensus they suck. Now, my friend, what would YOU do?
Well, we know what the real life bean counters did. They came up with a 5th episode, which they dubbed (using currently cool misspelling trends) Terminator Genisys. And in order to outmanoeuvre them pesky painful past episodes, Schwarzenegger’s latest incarnation of living tissue over metal endoskeleton comes as a direct follow up to the first two movie while completely ignoring the latter two. Indeed, our new movie starts with some very interesting, almost one to one replicas of the scenes at the beginning of that 1984 movie that changed it all, The Terminator.
Oh, and since Hollywood can do just fine with old male actors but totally rejects older females, we have Emilia Clarke (aka Mother of Dragons) step into Linda Hamilton’s shoes. She does well; so does Arnie. Something that cannot be said for the movie they star in.
Simply put, in order to be able to take off from the pretty well sealed plot line of Terminator 2, our bean counters had to come up with some pretty convoluted ideas. And you know what? These ideas, involving your usual time travel paradox lame excuses, suck. Enough to render the whole movie into a collection of action scenes, which – as good as they are, and they are pretty good – are not enough to lift affairs up to James Cameron tiers. Couple that to the latest excuse for how Skynet comes into being – by releasing a new operating system that connects everything – and you can see where sucks comes from (I thought we call this thing that connects everything “The Internet”).
So yeah, there is a plot that redoes things as we know them from that first movie, there is some going back and forth in time, and there is even a new Kyle Reese that doesn’t die when he should. But the whole thing stinks and feels like not much more than an excuse to open the door up for a whole new series of shiny Terminator movie sequels. After all, if Disney can do it with their Marvel universe and Star Wars, why shouldn't our bean counters do the same?
If there is justice in this world, the rumours that have Terminator Genisys failing to make enough money to justify the risk of further sequels will turn out to be true. As for me, just like I refuse to recognise anything Star Wars past the first appearance of the Ewoks, I will continue to regard the first two Terminator movies as the only true Terminators.
Overall: Yet more meaningless entertainment from Hollywood. It’s not a bad catharsis for a brain made numb by a week of work, but it certainly isn’t good cinema either. 3 out of 5 terminated crabs.