90’s nostalgia is an unstoppable kill-bot not unlike the T-800 itself, and no one can deny the continued influence of 1991 masterpiece Terminator 2 on the current action blockbuster landscape. So just as that “other” early 90’s CGI trailblazer received an update this year, the one about dinosaurs or something, so does James Cameron’s time travel robo-pocalypse clusterfuck of a franchise return in Terminator Genisys.
Genisys is a crowd pleasing return to form for the franchise, and this is coming from someone who actually liked Terminator Salvation, my Christian Bale famboyism and enthusiasm for for buying toys of the titular murder machines notwithstanding. The storyline is all over the place, or should I say time, literally, but that’s always been the case with this series, and with time travel fiction in general.
Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke steps into John Connor’s well worn boots here, having finally bested Skynet in the future he sends back Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, something of a geek punching bag for his part in that last Die Hard debacle but just fine here) to defend his mother in the past and of course, ensure his birth, actually being his father and all (yes, today on Maury… ).
What they don’t know is that 1984 is now very different from the one depicted in the first film, a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, as awesomely Schwarzenegger-y as ever) having been sent back by a mysterious benefactor in the 70’s has been raising and protecting Sarah Connor (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke subbing for Linda Hamilton and perfectly mixing the T2 badass and the vulnerability of the T1 character) this whole time. So when Reese touches down in ’84, a perfect recreation of the first film, but unexpectedly pursued by a T-1000 (Byung-Hun Lee, GI Joe’s Storm Shadow, perfectly emulating Robert Patrick’s thousand yard stare), it’s Sarah and “Pops” asking him to come with them if he wants to live.
Don’t let the early negativity surrounding Genisys stop you from checking it out, it’s a more than worthy follow up to the first two films, and a hell of a lot of fun, maybe even more than this year’s critical and commercial darling Jurassic World, though I’m a huge mark for the franchise. Game of Thrones/Thor 2 director Alan Taylor admirably recreates Cameron’s gritty 1984 but makes series all his own when the story moves beyond that setting. Action set pieces are awe inspiring and rendered absolutely gorgeously, even more so in Imax 3D. The actors all step into these iconic roles efficiently and Uncle Bob himself is never better, triumphantly returning to the role that originally made him famous so many years ago.
Any way you slice it with your liquid metal knives and stabbing weapons, Genisys is a winner. Again, don’t let the internet’s assertion that this franchise should be lowered into a vat of molten metal and put out of it’s misery keep you from the theater for this one. There’s no fate but what you make for yourself, and though this franchise has definitely had some missteps in the past, it still deserves to say “I’ll be back” in the future.