Sunday, July 5, 2015

Syan Vs Movies: Terminator Genisys

He said he’d be back.  He said “Hasta la vista, baby,” and la vista es ahora, bebe! The Terminator franchise has a new installment and its Genisys has begun in this sequel-reboot. Time-travel shenanigans to the max!     

This is the face the audience makes
when Pops is on the screen

Terminator: Genisys tells us the story of Kyle Reese being sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor, the mother of the leader of the resistance, from being killed by a murderous robot known as a Terminator.  …wait, that sounds super familiar, isn’t that the plot of the original Terminator?  I meant what I said about time-travel shenanigans.  Genisys is a sequel and a reboot simultaneously, showing that each step back in time fractures reality somewhat, creating multiple different timelines.  This explains why Judgment Day has moved from 1997 to 2017, and all sorts of dates in between. 

It very much follows the string theory, or as I prefer it: Dragon Ball rules, idea of time travel, where going back does not change that timeline, but merely creates a different reality with each choice and change.  So up to this point, the Terminator series has continually gone down a new fork in the road that disconnects from the original position from which they traveled.  Confusing? Probably. Time-travel is annoying like that sometimes.

Cuz Genisys does what Nintendon't
While Jai Courtney's Kyle Reese and Emilia Clarke's Sarah Connor are the primary leads in the movie, the real star of the show is, of course, Arnold Schwartzenegger as Pops the Guardian.  It is very reminiscent of the stoic Terminator of T2: Judgment Day who learned 90s lingo from a young John Connor, but instead with years and years of slow adaptation. Pops is understanding of emotion much more than that previous T-800, but his aging processor still does not perfectly allow him to blend in, as he routinely puts on a creepy smile, thinks it is normal to walk around with an enormous stuffed animal, or thinks it is purely logical to inquire if Sarah has yet mated with Reese to ensure the bloodline remains.  He puts in a lot of care, and has a fantastic bond with Sarah as a father figure. The symbolism of "old but not obsolete" is used effectively and makes you really care about Pops.

"I said I'd be back."

Courtney's Reese is hard to get behind because he is so abrasive.  Where the original Reese was battle-hardened but felt a need to protect Sarah that grew into love, this version seems a bit too rigid. He clashes with everyone and tries to make demands, without much charisma to make you really cheer for him.  It's a passable performance, but you will likely leave with Kyle Reese as the one character you didn't enjoy.

Emilia Clarke was fantastic as Sarah Connor.  Sarah Connor is one of the most iconic powerful heroines in all of movies, and Clarke's performance lives up to this.  She can fight for herself, she can use strategy to kill T-1000s, and she won't be forced to do anything she does not want to do.  However, she retains all femininity in the role and isn't merely reduced to playing a tomboy.  It's a fine line to walk, but she walks it well.  With her other primary role being the naive-to-the-point-of-idiotic-blindness Daenerys on Game of Thrones, it is good to see that she has some excellent versatility as an actor and having the opportunity to really kick some butt herself.

Easy with the yelling, lady!

Two other major players in the movie are John Connor (Jason Clarke) and Alex Wright (Matt Smith), both members of the Resistance in the future.  As shown in the trailers, the hero of the Resistance and greatest enemy of Skynet, John Connor has become a Terminator himself and been taken over.   Seeing Clarke play the role of Connor rationalizing why machines should rule is an amazing dichotomy from what John Connor stood for and makes for captivating viewing.  Meanwhile, Smith steals every scene in which he appears.  There is a fabulous use of the skills that he showed off in Doctor Who, specifically the episode Nightmare in Silver.  There is good reason he was not featured in any trailers and the character was kept under such tight-lipped protection, and I won't spoil it here, since it really pays off incredibly well in the movie.

One major difference in style between this film and previous Terminator movies is the level of comedy.  There are several genuinely funny moments throughout the movie, especially those that feature J.K. Simmons as a conspiracy theory-believing special investigator.  It keeps a great balance however, and is still very much an action movie with some incredible fight scenes.

Short version: Terminator: Genisys is a good action film, with lots of enjoyment to be had. It is interesting enough that you will likely become excited enough to see a sequel sooner than later, and if you have not seen any of the previous films, it definitely makes you want to see the original to really understand the references it makes.  However, it is far from perfect, and will not likely have a huge lasting impression upon you, and instead serve as a satisfying distraction and fun addition to the Terminator mythos.

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Look into other Syan Vs Movies reviews: Jurassic WorldSan AndreasTale of Princess KaguyaMad Max: Fury Road, and Ex Machina

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