Friday, 3 July 2015

Review: Terminator Genisys

World of Blackout Film Review

Terminator Genisys (3D) Poster

Terminator Genisys (3D)
Cert: 12A / 126 mins / Dir. Alan Taylor / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

The doors of Cyberdyne Systems impressive headquarters burst inwards spraying glass and chrome over the figures already in reception. Sarah Connor looks on in grim worry as the T-800 Terminator unit javelins a 12-foot metal rod into the insane, mutated being which used to be her son, impaling him into the bank of monitors behind. "John Connor talks too much…" he quips in his Austrian accent, and the audience is inclined to agree. Except the audience had already reached that conclusion around 90 minutes earlier…

Yes, Terminator Genisys is here. And the fifth cinematic chapter in a sprawling multimedia franchise with a worldwide fan-base for 31-years-and-counting opened tonight to an expectant audience of 19 people*1. James Cameron must be turning in his swimming pool.

This time we're taken right back to 1984 Los Angeles, to remix the beats of the original movie, once again manhandling a timeline which has been treated with barely-concealed contempt since the 2003-outing. From that point onwards, each new chapter has re-cast the protagonists (Arnie aside, obviously), and completely altered the characters themselves as a result. The most painful casualty here is Emilia Clarke, who proves herself to be a competent enough action heroine; she's just not 'Sarah Connor'.

Speaking of casting, how do you top hiring an Australian actor who hasn't got the charisma or gravitas to co-lead a Terminator film? Simple! You get two of them! Courtney and Clarke at least manage to keep the accents well under control, but that's about it, with stretches of grandiose dialogue that's not only woodenly delivered, but would still be completely out-of-character for Kyle Reese and John Connor even if it wasn't. And then there's poor old Matt Smith; stunt-casting in its purest form, they could have got the janitor to play that part.

The trailer is a fairly accurate bellwether of the film itself (although the shoehorned-in catchphrases aren't as jarring in the full movie). What director Alan Taylor brings us is around one-third homage to James Cameron's masterpiece, two-thirds scrabbling around on the floor looking for a direction in which to take the franchise. The fight/battle sequences are quite delightful, as are the lovingly re-created scenes from the first movie.

So much time is spent on bringing the audience a 12A action-blockbuster that screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier seem to forget that the audience have met these characters before, so are expecting a little thematic continuity, if nothing else. Worst culprit (spoilers): at the film's climax, Sarah Connor is forced to destroy not only the hybrid monster which used to be the son she hasn't had yet, but also the T-800 surrogate-father who has protected her for ten years. She essentially kills her own father and son to save a future without either of them, and the script doesn't even acknowledge the emotional weight of this act.

Despite the horrendous early-scores which are creeping in, I didn't actively dislike Genisys, and I think the core screenplay is an intriguing concept. It's just poorly executed and hobbled by woeful miscasting and a horrendous script.

If anything, the film feels like it's trying a bit too hard to connect with its 1984 progenitor. Although after the po-faced mess of Terminator Salvation that's not necessarily a bad thing, but the events of 1991's classic Judgement Day are also wiped out as collateral damage. Hey, that's time-travel, right?

Not quite as awful as some would have you believe, Terminator Genisys would have been a perfectly acceptable addition to the canon had it been made in 1996, before the timeline got so convoluted. But y'know, it wasn't. Too little, too late.

Oh, and there's a mid-credits scene, if you're interested. FYI. Keep your 3D glasses out for it, though.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Not really, to be honest.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Rent it and watch it back-to-back with The Terminator.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
In Jai Courtney's case, there's no such thing…

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It doesn't.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Maybe a little.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Jason Clarke starred (perhaps the wrong word, admittedly) in 2014's Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes alongside Andy Serkis, due to perform Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And I'm not kidding, they didn't even play the Arnie/Compare The Market promo beforehand. The one which has been running in cinemas for months, now. The one which has been subliminally promoting this very film. Is this so that we don't laugh at Arnold before Genisys starts? So that we remember to take his character more seriously?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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