Friday, July 3, 2015

#Recap - Terminator Genisys

So I just came back home from Terminator Genisys.

And it was... good. Nothing spectacular, mind you. But decent.

Spoilers ahead!
The film started pretty nice.

What really lost me in Salvation, to name the previous entry in the franchise, was a serious lack of focus, or objective if you will, and McG's amateurish direction. But here Alan Taylor proves he's a pretty decent filmmaker. Nothing spectacular like I wrote above, the best movie/sequel/film direction of the year still goes easily to Mad Max Fury Road, hands down!

But awful title aside, I found Genisys to be a pretty decent blockbuster flick. Full of great pieces, intriguing storyline and simply a great Terminator movie all around. With full on time travel shenanigans again!

With the release of the zombie drama film Maggie around the corner, this seems like a great time in Arnie's "second" film career. Now playing a much more father figure instead. And he's simply great at it.

I didn't mind the recastings of John Connor and Kyle Reese as much as I thought I would. We got here a much better Connor than Christian Bale ever was in Salvation. And Emilia Clarke worked surprisingly well as Sarah Connor in my eyes. Also the girl's super cute and can be badass!

The "future war" era looked much better than in the previous film, finally looking as it should once more. Blue-ysh. And not the awfully clean brown-ysh destroyed landscapes of Salvation which totally ruined the mood of the film in my eyes.

The story also felt a lot closer to those countless Terminator comics I reviewed here. With time travel, divergent timelines, various Terminator units sent back in time simultaneously, etc.

Also Lorne Balfe's music for the film was so much better than whatever Danny Elfman did on Salvation. A lot closer to what you'd expect from a Terminator movie. I specially loved how in the 1980s it sounded much closer to the original T1 score.

Really, the film felt like a big best of the series for all intends and purposes. Referencing all four movies in one way and another, heck even The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

A lot of the movie actually plays on T1, taking place in the 1980s in the first act. They recreated a lot of scenes shot for shot, even having to produce a new pair of vintage Nike shoes for one brief scene. T2 gets referenced and mixed in the bunch thanks to the arrival of the 1990s T-1000 in the 80s.

But actually there were a few scenes taking some cues from T3 as well, once John Connor gets infected and essentially becomes a hybrid cyborg his form is quite reminiscent of the T-X from that film. The final act plays rather close to T3, with the good T-800 climbing on the floor and trying to buy as much time as he can as our couple of heroes run to the fallout shelter.

The future scenes took some notes from Salvation as well, and not just as "what not to do", just see the "Spider-bots" in action (which reminded me of those spider-bot machines in the Bethesda FPS games). And we even got SkyNet taking on a more human form/hologram quite similarly, in pretty identical future facilities. At least we got a much better CGi young Arnold, thanks to a mix of Arnold's actual acting and the use of a real body builder for the body.

And speaking of Sarah Connor Chronicles (which I found the first season decent, but the 2nd season was simply really awful), our characters also jumped forward in time for no reason only to recreate the same "appearing in the middle of a road nude" scene. I found the rapidly evolving SkyNet/Genisys kind of reminiscent of the emergence of "John Henry" (if you're familiar with the show).

But the film was not without its flaws, so let's cover them here:

I was expecting a lot more. Maybe too much. Probably because I watched so many time travel-related films or just read one too many Terminator comics. I was expecting the storyline to go full BioShock Infinite with those talks of alternate timelines. But all we got were those very dispensable "flashbacks from another life" with Kyle.

Also the action could be a bit too frantic, and not in a good "Mad Max"-kind of way, and more "Michael Bay" than anything. But I blame this on our director here and his style. (Thor the Dark World annoyed me a couple of times for the same reason)

And the ending was a bit too happy for my taste. An happy ending in a Terminator film really? And why the need to bother talking to the young Kyle Reese when the entire film was about proving you could change the past/your fate and life wasn't a straight line but now open roads..!?

Now, speaking of time travel.

I really like how weird the overall plot. The film basically diverged from Terminator 1's original plot, sidestepping James Cameron's classic T2. But it also offered an alternative narrative to T3 and Salvation, covering similar topics but now taking place in a completely different way.

If T1 and 2 was about introducing Sarah to this world and preparing John Connor to his fate, T3 showed the inevitable Judgment Day taking place at the end. And Salvation saw the introduction of young Kyle Reese, destined to father John Connor one day, to his own older dad in the future. Mind boggling!

Well, Genisys showed Judgment Day taking place in the first few minutes of the place (quite similar to T3, launched from military bases all over the world). And then proceeded to introduce young Kyle Reese to his dad without the help of the Marcus-cyborg-character from Salvation. So, a big retcon, right?

Well my mind easily connected each film to one another without much problem and just ease, without thinking too much while watching the film actually.

I like to imagine each film can pretty easily take place one after the other, chronologically speaking of the release dates. People tended to call Salvation a prequel at the time, but really each subsequent time travel should diverge the series into a further timeline - if you will.

If T1 was a closed time loop, to allow any of the sequels taking place - yes, even T2 - you got to admit things can diverge. Basically each time someone travel back to the past you're simply diverging into another separate branch "in time". I mean, John's original father could have been a normal regular guy, before Kyle and the Terminator were sent back in time from their own future.

Which means originally no Terminator was sent into John Connor's childhood. You're still following me here? Good. No it gets tricky.

Which means time can be changed, but sometimes end up always happening. Like SkyNet, despite Terminator 2's resolution. Judgment Day simply takes place in another date, another time. The date can change from one film to another. Like it did in T3. SkyNet was then launched from the military later, and not from Cyberdyne as in T2's second timeline.

Salvation was never a prequel, but really the future of T3, even Kate Brewster was still present as John Connor's future wife during the war.

Why do I keep Genisys instead of a reboot then, despite the opener future clearly diverging from T3 and 4 (heck, there's even no Kate Brewster in sight now that I think about)? Because that's not the origin point of your story, but where the older T-800/Arnold comes from when he came back to the past to protect an 8 years old Sarah in the 1970s. Who sent him? No idea (just like we never got to see who sent anyone in all the previous films). But you could connect that timeline to Salvation easily.

And the older Schwarzie even mentions SkyNet trying to merge humans and robots with not much success - like someone called "Marcus" in Salvation? That works pretty easily now that I think about it. SkyNet probably decided to strike one last coup by sending a T-1000 to the past of the young Sarah Connor, the resistance just grabbed one of those awful CGi young Arnold from Salvation and sent it after it.

A sequel. Not a reboot!

Anyways, like I said the film was fun. The action was decent. The time travel was decent, even if a bit stupid here and there and I was probably expecting way too much more of that.

There's some questionable story details. Like Sarah insisting to go forward to 1997 and Kyle wanting to go to 2017. Why not earlier in time to really prevent it all from happening instead of the usual close calls you always see in this series?

And what did old T-800 Arnold do all this time waiting for them? "Work as a construction worked to become familiar with Cyberdyne"? Really? Why wait for Sarah and Kyle? Why not blow it up once construction was done (effectively killing John Connor right there !!)

All in all, I'd rate it equally as good T3 (yes, you read that right, "as good" and not "as bad", Terminator 3 was decent, accept it!). Not as good as James Cameron's original films. But certainly not as bad and unrewatchable as Salvation was.


  1. On en reparle par mail si tu veux, mais je suis 95% d'accord avec toi sur le review :3