Overly Reductive Plot Summary
Plot doesn't really enter into it at this point, does it?
Well, if we must... John & Sarah Conner along with Kyle Reese and a festive parade of ever-more-advanced robots continue their transtemporal, LA-razing battle against a slippery, mustache-twirling apocalypse that's always an inch or two ahead.
Continuing down the mess-with-the-past-and-everything-changes path of the other films without obliterating coherence.
Being still yet another tent-pole film that features a chaotic, earth-shattering sequence on The Golden Gate Bridge. Hold on. This one has multiple such sequences.
The Entire Film In 3 Images
Elements Of The Film (Ranked On A Silver Goop Monster Scale of 1 to 5)
- The film goes overboard trying to tie in elements in from previous films. While most of it works, having Danny Dyson head up Cyberdyne is just dumb. There is no force in heaven or hell that would convince Danny that Cyberdyne, the company his father died trying to dismantle because it would be the catalyst for the apocalypse, was a good idea.
- The snippy snappy super snarky dialog that has become the norm ever since Joss Whedon took on The Avengers does not work in this film. Battle-hardened renegade soldiers ribbing their way through a desperate fight against the extinction of humanity undermines the urgency of the situation. The witty barbs that get tossed back and forth don't sound like they're coming from Sarah or Kyle but from a room of writers who have been charged with "giving it some juice". This is a fight for the survival of mankind, not a roast.
- Perhaps my vision is tinted with nostalgia, but I seem to remember Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Robert Patrick and Edward Furlong as having significantly more screen presence than any of their modern counterparts. The new replacements are serviceable, but Schwarzenegger seems to be the only cast member able to command 2.35 with any meaningful authority.
- Time has been incredibly good to the T-1000. This interpretation of the classic villain is a visual treat, with much more detail and articulation in the liquid metal than was possible in 1991. The T-3000 gets some interesting scenes and design elements, but just can't steal the show from the mercurial menace of the second film.
- Somehow, against all odds, this story doesn't violently deconstruct the previous films. The deeper the series goes into revisionist looping, the harder it becomes to tie all the threads together. While this film employs a bit of arm-waving to distract from the inherent silliness of time travel, the mythos bending mostly works. Mostly.
Would You Have Been Proud If This Were Your Film?
Oh, absolutely! Without a doubt!
This is easily the best entry in the series since the second and continues with the best of the traditions established by James Cameron - excellent cinematography, moody LA-based action, gargantuan set pieces and stories that spin ever more complicated circles while still going absolutely nowhere.
The weakest point of Genisys is its cloying eagerness to please those who grew up on Terminator 2, with call-backs that range from clever to wince inducing. As the first in a proposed trilogy, we can only hope that future entries will find a more unique voice. With a story that is constantly on the brink of exhaustion from chasing its own tail, it'll take more than knowing winks to keep this train running.