terminator genisysParamount Pictures
2015
PG-13

“Just make sure you show up. I don’t want to have to steal someone’s pants again.”

In the war of man against machine, Sgt. Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984 by resistance leader John Connor to protect his young mother, Sarah Connor. However, this time unexpected events have altered the past and threaten the future for all mankind. Now Reese must join forces with Sarah and her Guardian to save the world and stop the next evolution of Terminators.

So, here we are, with a fifth installment in the franchise that will not die, this one titled Terminator Genisys. And why is Genesis spelled with a “Y”, you may ask? I have no earthly idea. Because poor literacy is kewl, I guess. All apologies to Linkara, there. This time around, there’s more time travel shenanigans, more Ah-nold, more Terminators, and more headaches.

When this particular Terminator sequel came out, the outcry against this was rather loud, with proclamations of this being the very worst in the series, and that this is the movie that will finally kill the franchise dead. Which is funny, because I remember the same outcry done with both Terminator III: Rise Of The Machines, and then for Terminator: Salvation. But, I digress. What I found interesting was how they managed to write in the former Governator explaining how his aged visage got that way. Hint: Bio-SCIENCE! Anyway, the movie…

We begin things off in THE FUTURE, where we get a flashback of one Kyle Reese’s childhood in the machine war-ravaged land, being rescued by a very not Christian Bale-looking John Connor. Flash forward a bit, and we see a much more grown-up Reese accompanying Connor in his final push against the Machines and take down the A.I. Big Brain itself, resulting in the freedom of mankind once more. They succeed, but not before Skynet sends back a T-800 series you may be familiar with to terminate one Sarah Connor in 1984. So, of course, John Connor sends Kyle Reese back to that year, but before Reese blips off to THE PAST, he witnesses a much more advanced T-5000 series Terminator kill Connor. Reese then finds himself in the first Terminator movie…kinda…only he’s now being chased by a T-1000, until he’s picked up by a much more badass-than-expected Sarah Connor in a van and makes a getaway. Seems that the first T-800 was already taken out by Miss Connor and “Pops”, a similar T-800 sent back when she was 9 years old to protect her growing up.

Yeah, you might want to grab some headache medicine about now. Things are gonna get even more brain-hurty.

After your usual comedy of misunderstandings between Reese and Pops, they manage to off the T-1000 with an acid bath, and then show off their own home-made time machine they probably cobbled together from an article from Popular Mechanics or something. Sarah wants to fast forward to 1997, the original year when Skynet gains sentience and kicks off the Armageddon that nearly wipes out mankind, and take care of the problem at the root. Kyle at least is geeky enough to realize that the time stream has been altered, and the future might not be the future they would originally expect. Oh, and Kyle’s getting messages from his younger self that technically never existed. Yet. You thought I was kidding bout the headache medicine, didn’t you?

So, Kyle and Sarah decide to jump further ahead to 2017, completely surpassing whatever year Terminator III took place in, because why would you want to reference that movie? They show up neekid in the middle of a busy highway in San Francisco, missing a pickup by Pops by that much, and are taken into custody, because you just can’t wander around the streets of San Francisco all nakie nowadays. This isn’t the 60s, you know. There, they learn of the new way Skynet is going to come alive and take control of the world’s interwebs: Genisys, which is a hot new up-coming app that was created by the kid of that guy who was killed helping destroy the Cyberdyne offices back in Terminator 2. It’s supposed to link everything, and make everything something-something, Millennials like it. Of course, they manage to break out of their handcuffs, where they are then rescued by John Connor.

I’m going to pause once again to let you take another pull from whatever it is you’re using to maintain your mental stability, here. Go on, I’ll wait. Good? Let’s proceed, then…

It turns out, though, that this is the John Connor that was supposedly killed in THE FUTURE! that Kyle witnessed before going off to THE PAST!, only instead Connor has been taken over by Skynet directly by way of millions upon millions of nanobots. So then, Pops finally shows up, they manage to get away due to magnets (how do they work? Sorry…couldn’t resist), and Pops takes them to another super-secret base he set up while waiting for Kyle and Sarah to show up in THE FUT…er, THE PRESENT! Doesn’t have quite the same ring, here. Anyway, they make a bunch of bombs and load up a bunch of weapons and ammo, take off in a stolen school bus, battles the T-3000 (Connor, in case you were wondering), makes it to the Cyberdyne headquarters, fights the T-3000 a bunch more, they set up bombs, the AI messes with their heads, Pops looks like he was taken out, it looks like they may have lost but BOOM! they actually win at the last minute. Pops comes back with some upgrades that will make you groan, Future Kyle meets Present Kyle, all without ripping the fabric of space and time somehow, and everyone goes off to live happily ever after. Then a mid-credit sequel bait scene, and The End. For now.

The thing about being a fan of time travel movies and stories, is there’s a tendency to try and make sense of the “science” part of the “fiction”. I’m not even going to try to organize my thoughts enough to even begin to explain, but needless to say Terminator: Genisys has quite a few holes in it. They’re relatively entertaining holes, but holes none-the-less.

As to the charge that this movie ruined the franchise? I would have to say “no”. It did, however, try really, really hard to reboot the franchise, and came up really, really short by doing so. So now we have a Sarah Connor who was raised by the T-800 Ah-nuld model since a girl, which was never really explained who sent that one back to do so. Maybe that was a point that was going to be explored in a possible sequel, but that’s not going to happen now. So, I’m going to call it now: It was an old and curmudgeon-y Edward Furlong who sent it back. No reason. You can’t prove it wasn’t.

The parts that were recreated from the first movie I thought were done really well, and as an action movie in and of itself, Terminator: Genisys succeeds greatly. It’s just that the plot was expecting too much in the Suspension Of Disbelief area, that I had to pause more than once to make sense of things. And I’m rather good at picking up on wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimy things like that. Co’mon, you didn’t think I would go without at least one Doctor Who reference, did you?

Overall, I think Terminator: Genisys is worth checking out as a budget rental, or free streaming on Amazon or whatever service you have. It’s not terrible, but the first two Terminator movies are in no danger of being usurped as the best of the franchise any time soon.

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