Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Terminator Genisys Review: A Refreshing Restart to Terminator Series

Since the 1980's, The Terminator franchise has played a major role in both movies and pop culture. From film's concept of time travel to the movie's catchphrases, Terminator's impact on the world cannot be denied.  So after 6 years since the last film, hitting theaters is the fifth installment to the Terminator franchise: Terminator Genisys. Directed by Alan Taylor, Genisys would take a note from Abram's Star Trek and reboot the series with the use of time travel. Seeing that the time is a element in the series, this idea could work; and it seemed to only make sense to reboot the franchise.  However the question I ask today is did Terminator Genisys bring new life to the action series or is this franchise truly terminated?

Genisys starts with resistance leader John Conner (Jason Clarke) fighting against the machines alongside his friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney). The war has reached its climax as John's initiates his plan to send Kyle back in time to 1984 where the soldier can save Sarah Conner from the Terminator that was sent to kill her. Kyle agrees to go back into the past; but when he arrives, Kyle finds himself in a new 1984. Once arriving Kyle finds a battle harden Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke) who has prepared to face the machines with  the aid of her guardian T-800 "Pops" (Arnold Schwarzenegger). After being informed of the new events, Kyle and Sarah must travel to the year 2017 to prevent Skynet from activating; but stopping the corrupt system will not be easy as the three come face to face with a cybernetic John Conner.

Terminator has always had a simple story behind its films; and it has both work for and against the series. Yet when it comes to the tale of Genisys, the story behind this reboot was surprisingly refreshing. This was not to say that the plot was flawless as it did suffer from some issues. When it came to the time travel element of the story, there were some questionable points in the movie's logic; though I give it credit for plot attempt to explain itself. Then again seeing that we are dealing with a time travel story, there were bound to be some holes in the film's plot. The other issue was the story's pacing. While the movie did give itself enough time to clarify its details, I felt that Genisys' plot moved too quickly in places. Aside from these criticisms, I found plenty of things to like about this story. There was sense of culmination in this plot as several elements that have made the Terminator series what it is were definitely present in this story. If this story was not a reboot, then I felt this could have easily been used as an ending to the series as I felt a lot of the series' plot points came full circle in Genisys.. However that does not seemed to be the case as the plot did set itself up for more films,and I do not have a problem with that decision. All things considering, I feel that Genisys' plot did enough to get me invested for more Terminator films.

A definite highlight to Terminator Genisys was its cast. I felt that there was a particular energy in the actors' delivery, and it made the movie's familiar characters refreshing to see again. I liked the film's characterization of Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese. It was a matter of role reversal as Sarah was in Kyle's position in the film first and vice versa. I found this direction to be effective as it gave both characters new development to work with, and the performances from Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney provided enough energy for both protagonists. Arnold was definitely in a different position in this installment as Pops was more of a supporting character. This was not bad thing as it gave a new take on this pop culture figure, and it gave Arnold something new to do in his iconic role. I really must commend the movie for making John Conner into the main antagonist. Not only did this character give the movie a new kind of Terminator, but John's corruption gave this hero a new direction  and it created  solid conflict for both Sarah and Kyle. All in all, John was a different kind of villain for the Terminator series. Add a supporting cast that features J.K Simmons, Lee Byung-Hun and Matt Smith and you have a fitting ensemble for this decorated franchise.

Unfortunately one of the film's more questionable elements was its effects. There were moments where the effects were really good, but there were also where sequences that could have looked better. This was due to movie excessive, yet understandable, use of cgi. Yet as I said, the movie had its share of good effects; particularly in the area of makeup. So even though the effects were far from perfect, I did not find this factor to be a massive distraction. When it came to Genisys' action: while it may not have been as gritting as the sequences from the first Terminator films, this element was among one of the movie's more entertaining factors. From the chase sequences to the film's fights scene, it was hard for me not to be thrilled by the action element of Genisys. I also found the music fitting for the movie. It may not have been the classic score from Brad Fiedel, but the music by Lorne Balfe did manage to work for the reboot. When it came to technical elements of Terminator Genisys, I think  Alan Taylor's direction is to thank for more of these factors working. It felt as though the director was going for something new for the series, while staying true to the Terminator franchise.

I was surprised at how much I came out liking Terminator Genisys. The movie is far from perfect and it by no means exceeds its predecessor. However the movie took risk in its story and characters; and while these elements could have been stronger, they stilled managed to work to the film's benefit. Add this with the film's wit as well as its action and you have a fairly entertaining blockbuster. In the end Terminator Genisys may not be the strongest reboot that I have seen, but this installment was still a fitting restart for the Terminator franchise.

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