When I first heard about Terminator: Genisys (TG) I was both skeptical and excited. Skeptical because I know that Hollywood is going through a phase where they're grabbing at anything that can rake in the cash and any franchise that already has a fan base is big game.
I was also skeptical because I was afraid it would end up as a "star vehicle" for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The way Terminator 3 was just a machine to boost popularity during his election, I felt that TG might be just something done to get him back into the game. Not that there's too much wrong with the later, he does need to make a come back some how and what better way than to reprise his most iconic role.
The excitement I felt for the news of TG was from me being such a massive fan boy of the Terminator franchise. T1 and T2 are near perfect movies for me and seeing them as a kid shaped my taste in so many mediums.
Once I laid my eyes on the early trailers I was very hopeful. The film looked to be at the very least an decent action movie and for all the story and time theory the Terminator films try to cram into themselves, at the heart of it their main attraction for me is the action.
Sadly though before the film even came out we had the bullshit plot reveal in the trailer. A plot point so essential to the over-all enjoyment of the movie that even the films director Alan Taylor (Thor the Dark World/ Game of Thrones) couldn't believe got out. So right of the bat there was some serious controversy with the film's story. As a Terminator fan it was a major step away from the films backbone in a sense, but I was still keen.
Then the early reviews got out and the film was pretty much panned across the board. Bad reviews were coming from "fans of the series" and even a few sites whose words I hold as the bible truth pulled no punches when it came to trashing the film.
Despite all this I was pretty much set on watching the film for myself. Now this might come as a surprise to some, considering I used to host a film review show, but I'm not a fan of going to the movies. Mostly because I like watching movies that I know and lover over and over again. It takes a very special film to get me out of to the films.
So last night I went to watch Terminator: Genisys with pretty much no expectations except to re-enforce the negative reviews the film already has.
And you know what?
I can't believe the shit reviews. Let me preface what's to come by saying that though there might be things to hate in this film, as a Terminator fan there are a lot of things to love.
I thought TG was the best film in the franchise since Terminator 2 and that's saying a lot. It may not be the best Terminator movie because that's highly debatable between T1and T2, and it may not be the best sequel because that's definitely T2. But as a Terminator Film, it stands right up there with the first two films and it has become the unofficial Trilogy for me.
Terminator: Genisys knows it's got big Arnie size boots to fill, and it makes no quarrels with letting us know that it knows the first two films are great because the way the film is made, the first half of it pretty much lives in the original Cameron films shadow.
Now there's going to be some spoilers here, but nothing as major as what has already been leaked through the trailers.
Because of the way the film is made and its plot unfolds, to me the first bit of TG plays out like a love letter to Terminator fans.
The opening scene which features a battle between the human resistance and Skynets hordes of machines is finally getting the visual respect it deserves. Sure the SFX isn't the best, but these days we know CGI when we see it. What turns this around is that we get to see something we've only ever heard whispers of in the previous movies and that's the turning point in the war against the machines.
In fact we get to see the fall of Skynet as told by Reese in the first film. This is the Resistance victory that promoted Skynet to send a Terminator back in time to kill Sara Corner. We get to see it unfold... with a twist of course.
What follows this is pretty much Terminator Nostalgia as we see pretty much the opening of Terminator one redone. The fan boy in me jumped like a giddy school girl as I tried to figure out whether the scenes were Arnie's T-800 arriving in the past was redone or simply touched up versions of the original. Either would be awesome.
Then we have the film's Kyle Reese follow suit, arriving in 1984 and from here any avid fan would know that film makers were going out of their way to put in nods to the orginal series.
There is a bit where a cop car pulls up to investigate the light show from Reese's appearance and it is spot on a replica shot of the cop car pulling up to investigate the T-1000s appearance in the second film.
It's also important to note that Terminator 2 also suffered from a trailer reveal of it's plot and if we hadn't seen Robert Patrick's character as the baddy in the T2 trailer it would have been safe to assume he was the good guy and Arnie was the bad Terminator again.
I got all that from that cop car simply pulling up.
Then we have the bit in the clothing shop where Kyle is being escorted out by two cops and he gives a confused glance at a silver store mannequin. This same gesture was done by the T-1000 in Terminator 2 for-shadowing it's full silver body appearance to come.
I honestly could go on with this list of nods but the point is for the Terminator fan in me these were just awesome (The smile gag from T2, the ability to learn after removing the chip), but it doesn't end with all this nostalgia of course because we have a franchise to reboot so half way through the film decides to rear in it's own identity and by now I am so pumped by all the fan service the film has already given me that I am open to where ever the film wants to go. It's almost as though the film makers wanted to prove that they know "Terminator" before they showed us what they had in mind for it's future.
I also liked the way Arnie was not the aggressive killing machine he was in the first two films and despite his age was forced to be in the third film. Here the film gives us a reason for his aging and slower reflexes and this created a solemn moment for me as a fan of not just Terminator but of the Governator himself, moments that even made me sad at times.
This coupled with suggest that the T-800 may actually be learning how to feel and take responsibility of who it is protecting at almost an emotional level, sounds like a silly bull shit sci fi moment, but you know what? We're dealing with time traveling robots here, lets not get hung up on robot logic.
Movie logic wise though the film doesn't suffer. We have characters doing what we'd pretty much expect them to do without looking stupid. By the time we get to the "John Conner Reveal" I can buy it. In fact I'm kind of glad they leaked this in the trailer because it's such a "WTF" moment that instead of brooding over it at the movies, knowing about it before you go in makes it easier to accept.
"Easier" is used sparingly though because I'm still not a 100% sold on the "John is over of them now" thing because a part of me feels like it robs us of the the films "back bone" and that is that everything we do in these movies is to protect John.
But then again, to turn that idea on its head. I respect that.
There isn't much else I can tell you about what I liked with out telling you the about the whole movies, but for me as an action film and a Terminator Sequel/ prequel / reboot, TG really delivered. So for the life of me I do know what critics and film goers were expecting to give the film such harsh reviews.
But then again Fast 7 got about 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. A movie about cars and action that barely has a 2 min race in the opening and no action till about 35mins into the damn movie. Even then the action is spread so far apart that it tries to up the drama factor even though none of these movies are known for it's stars acting ability.
Terminator: Genisys on the other hand knows exactly what it is and doesn't let up. It might even be by some standards a by-the-book action flick, but the thing about these "by the book" films is that they come in flavors and this one is Terminator Flavor.
Let me end this by saying that Terminator: Genisys may not be the best Terminator film, but it is a better entry in the series compared to what's come after Cameron's T1 and T2. If you are a fan of the series or just in the mood for a good action film, Terminator: Genisys hits the spot.