James Cameron will be spinning in his Deepsea Challenger. Actually, he’s probably not. $$$.
Going to the cinema on your own is fine, rather enjoyable at times actually. Going to the cinema on your own because no one associated with you will pay actual money to sit through your choice of picture is usually a sign that you’re in for a bad time. Not even faint nostalgia could drag my companions along to witness Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys, and when later I confirmed the stark reality of their suspicions they were hardly surprised, merely shrugging with an air of common sense, their $18 safe and secure from the hands of Paramount and Co. So I called this taking one for the team, a vaguely satisfying justification for what was essentially a waste of mine, and everyone else in the world’s time.
The latest flogging of a long destroyed franchise, Genisys is so far removed from the original concept and development of James Cameron’s first two flicks, that, like Jurassic World, it’s simply a shallow interpretation of continuation; part-lazy sequel, part-lazy reboot – which ultimately adds up to little more than a series of audience drawing one-liners and visual throwbacks. It’s great to see Arnie back on the big screen after all these years, and there is at least some rarely well-reasoned exposition thrown in to deal with his aging real life self, but he still inevitably falls far closer to the unfortunate T-800 of T3, rather than his timeless T2 counterpart. The great thing about T2 is that most of the one-liners, despite their cheesy-as-hell nature, didn’t feel too forced. “I’ll be back”, for example, was a well embedded, almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment during the Cyberdyne standoff/tear gas sequence, blending perfectly with the tone of the scene, instead of the blatant OH LOOK HE SAID THE LINE rehash included here. Playing the Terminator for laughs saw the whole thing basically end quality-wise less than five minutes into T3, yet a whole twelve years later they’re still reeling out the same, tired old jokes. He’s a machine in a human world – yeah, we got it, cheers.
The main man isn’t alone – pretty much every character is badly written and poorly performed across the board. Where the umpteenth incarnation of John Connor is concerned, it’s rather ironic that the most interesting interpretation and least irritating portrayal of his character remains immortalised in child form almost twenty-five years on (*tips hat to Eddie Furlong*). Emilia Clarke does her best as Sarah Connor, but she’s a fairly limited actress at best. Character-wise too, it’s a poor piece of casting. Even in her original 1984 days as normal, working, social gal, Sarah was a bit of tomboy who wasn’t merely presented as a standout looker as such. She also looked like she lived in the mid-1980s. Now Sarah is, erm, Emilia Clark, featuring shoehorned boob shots with little to differentiate character from actress. It’s all fairly patronising toward both the character and audience, made worse by Clarke struggling to make any sort of memorable mark. Considering Taylor directed her previously in Game of Thrones, it’s a shame he wasn’t able to drag a third dimension out of her this time around. Having said that, it’s hardly her fault the script is as limited and cringe-worthy as it is. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, the dull 21st century action-man personified) is clean-shaven. This alone makes his character untenable. Oh and J.K. Simmons is in there somewhere as a total wreck-head who somehow, in 2017, is still holding down a job as a relatively elevated (i.e. plain clothed) police detective, despite driving around while permanently off his tits on the sauce.
Virtually every other aspect of the film fails miserably. There’s nothing even remotely iconic, though not through lack of trying. I won’t go into detail regarding the various holes present across the plot, timeline, and characters – the internet has long beaten me to the punch – let’s just say they’re abundant throughout. The comparisons to Jurassic World are obvious, but what grinds my gears a tad is the fact that, unlike our dinosaur chums, the Terminator mythology at least has some sort of room for expansion. Now they already fucked that up of course with Bale and Salvation, but instead of giving it another go it was decided the following production would go down the quick buck route of regurgitating the same old shit from back in the day and hoping people would go for it. Even then the powers that be manage to insult the spirit of originals still further by persisting with overly cartoony (and shit CGI-based) violence rather than actual violence, purely to secure a PG-13/12A rating, thus squeezing every last penny from theatregoers by making it acceptable to bring the kiddies along. Fuck off.