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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: He’s back! (Like I was gonna avoid that one!) Arnold “Groping Governor” Schwarzenegger returns as everyone’s favorite T-101 (more or less) to help save newly-casted Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, along with our future, from a new T-1000 and a nasty Skynet. Terminator: Genisys!
- Young Ah-nold battles old (current) Ah-nold. That’s almost worth the admission alone. You know it’s major mix of CG referencing old footage, but it’s well done and a ton of fun. (EW had an article on how it was done.) Plus, they aged Arnold twice (no spoilers, but he time travels more than once) and both work. (“Old…but not obsolete.”)
- Before seeing this, I rewatched the first two. It helped a lot. (The third one, TERMINATOR: RISE OF THE MACHINES, isn’t really connected, for some reason, but I watched it anyway afterwards. Still fun. But from what I can remember, the previous reboot, TERMINATOR: SALVATION, is not connected.) There are sequences in GENISYS re-shot to match those in the first film, which are cool; plus there are tons of nods and references to those flicks. So I recommend checking out TERMINATOR and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY to add a layer of both understanding and fun.
- The hallmarks of every Terminator flick are the (ILM) special effects, chases and stunts. This one doesn’t disappoint. While there’s no helicopter chase or crane-truck flipping, there are plenty of chases and boom-booms (including a school bus chase). The liquid metal T-1000, while not doing anything really groundbreaking like the Robert Patrick one in T2 (or the improved—and hot—Kristanna Loken TX from RISE), was still scary cool. And the “hybrid Skynet Terminator” is even cooler.
- As with T2, this one has more funny dialog exchanges and humorous stuff, but not enough to be campy. (Still love the smile!) I prefer it over the more serious stuff.
- Destruction aplenty! The Golden Gate bridge and plenty of city buildings, cars, trucks, cop cars, military vehicles, and more get bombed, flamed, shot or blowed-up. And of course, lots of good hand-to-hand and cyborg-to-cyborg combat.
- Some of the casting is great: J.K. Simmons (aka J. Jonah Jameson in the Raimi SPIDER-MAN films) as a truth-seeking cop, and Byung-hun Lee as the T-1000 are the standouts. Jason Clarke (from DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) is good as John Connor, and GAME OF THRONES’ Emilia Clarke (no relation) as Sarah Connor is cute with a smokin-hot bod. Matt Smith is nice to see out of his DOCTOR WHO duds, but is barely there (see “Cons” below).
- As expected, there’s room for a sequel. Stay tuned during the first half of the credits for a quick setup (nothing else at the end).
- The mean, brain-dead, inconsiderate marketing morons who put together the second and later trailers ruined a big SPOILER for us. The first one (included at the top of this review) was just fine. The later ones only add confusion plus spoil a major reveal that doesn’t happen until about 45 minutes in. Idiots!!
- The plot…hoo boy! If you thought the first three (especially RISE) were complicated, this one will make yer head spin. And there are plenty of anomalies and holes. (For starters, if you’re going to destroy Skynet, why show up the day before it goes live, rather than before it’s even developed, like they did in T2? And in 2016, wouldn’t Skynet be in the cloud rather than all on servers?) Better to just turn off the gray matter and let the eyes enjoy.
- We get to see Reese’s naked butt, part of young Arnold’s, but not Sarah’s. (Arnold butt-lovers will be disappointed because there are CG shadows this time that keep everything covered.) And while there’s a nice bare cleavage shot while going thru the time stream, there aren’t any braless scenes like Hamilton had. If you got the smoke, let’s see some fire!
- Major casting boo-boos: Emilia Clarke is cute, petite and absolutely adorable. That’s not Sarah Connor! She looks like she’s barely five feet tall and a month out of high school (her character is only 20). She does shoot and fight okay, but Linda Hamilton set the bar high in T2. Even in the first film, she morphed from waitress to warrior pretty well, and in the sequel she was as tough as any future femme fatale, including most superheroes. Clarke is as believable as Howard Wolowitz would be as Arrow. What a waste! And while Jai Courtney (DIVERGENT, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, etc.) is a great macho-action guy, he doesn’t have the depth that Michael Biehn had as Reese. (At least the chicks will dig ‘im.)
- Speaking of, no cameos by Hamilton, Biehn or even Earl Boen as Dr. Silverman. Wasted opportunities.
- Back to casting: Matt Smith is on screen for like 35 seconds. And a few video/hologram shots. For that, they put him on the cover of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY? WTF?
- After watching the original TERMINATOR, you’ll really notice the lack of 80s fashion and hairstyles in this one, especially on Sarah. Maybe they didn’t want to spend the time/effort in research and finding vintage stuff; maybe they didn’t want viewers to focus on a dated-looking Sarah. Or maybe they didn’t care if anyone over 40 watched this.
- Special effects have come a long way, but really not as far as you think when you watch the other films. The jump from 1984 to ’91 was much larger than the one from 2003 to now. Other than the young Arnold vs. old, the Terminator effects themselves are really nothing new compared to previous films. (Fact is, I was more impressed with the TX in RISE OF THE MACHINES than the T-1000 here.)
- Seems like it could use some tightening time-wise. It’s not boring, but there’s a lot of crap crammed in here.
Despite the negatives, I had a good time, laughed at the funny parts and gaped/gasped at some of the effects and stunts. It’s a big amusement park ride full of killer robots, chases, guns and explosions. That’s pretty much all a macho guy like me wants in a flick. (But if yer budget is limited, see JURASSIC WORLD and rent this instead.) I didn’t see it in 3D, but the giant-size stunts are definitely more enjoyed on a giant screen with Dolby surround sound. Don’t think too much and you’ll have a blast (literally)!
P.S.: How about an ORIGINAL ART commission of Arnold, Sarah, or anyone else for your wall? No need to time travel because if you mention this review, you get 20th century rates—20 percent off! Order something now and he’ll get it to you after Comic-Con. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, James Cameron, Cyberdyne Systems, Skynet, the Resistance, the governor of California, or Terminators of any series. While Arnold may not be back, yer pal always will as long as there’s free beer!