When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured time-line. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including a new T-800 terminator, the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future...
Review by Louise Keller:
I'm old, not obsolete is the newest Arnie catch phrase in this Terminator 3D reimagining, in which the storyline dabbles with time frames and characters through an onslaught of special effects. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the best thing in the film, offering generous doses of self-deprecating humour, and miraculously appearing in different guises at different ages. Why the filmmakers opted for him to be called Pops by Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) is a puzzle. It jars, but Arnie's hammy grin is sheer comedy. As for the plot, it's a muddle with a mix of some inspired grand scale ideas that mess with our heads, although there's an aspect that is simply too clever for its own good. The repetition grates somewhat, overly using the key liquid metal effects from earlier films; much of the big explosion spectacle becomes tedious in the end.
With narration by Jai Courtney's Kyle Reese, the film begins well, setting up expectations for the events to come. It is LA 2029 and a facially scarred John Connor (Jason Clarke) is the inspiring leader fighting against the machines that rose up after Judgment Day's nuclear fire in 1997. Kyle's mission is to go back to 1984 to rescue Sarah. (The phrase 'I came across time for you, Sarah' still rings in our ears from James Cameron's 1984 The Terminator.)
Courtney is appealing and well cast; the twists begin from the outset when he finds that Sarah is not the vulnerable waitress he is told to expect. Diminutive Clarke (Game of Thrones) is a great find. Not only does she physically resemble Linda Hamilton (the original and definitive Sarah), but brings a potent mix of vulnerability and strength. As expected, at the heart of the story is the relationship between Sarah and Kyle: its unexpected development is nicely done. Clarke manages the complexities of John Connor well and watch out for Korean star Kyung-hu Lee as the determined T-1000 with the lethal blades. J.K. Simmons does not have enough to do, but is a welcome addition to the cast.
The plot involving Skynet and Genisys, the technology that is more than an operating system becomes overly complex through the onslaught of special effects. The sequence in which a bus in which Sarah and Kyle are travelling dangles from the Golden Gate bridge is edge of seat - I especially like the way the perspective of the camera changes as the scene plays out before the bus jackknifes into the water. My favourite moment is the confrontation between today's Schwarzenegger and the Schwarzenegger from 1984: the ageing Guardian Terminator versus the youthful evil T-800. Ah the magic of technology!
The juggling and changing of key plot points from earlier films will be a point of contention for fans who may not like the tampering of the original storyline. Bringing an element of insecurity to the trajectory of a classic 31 year-old franchise is risky. One thing is for sure: the franchise should have ended some time ago. While the first two films boasted such clear storytelling, this is a whirlwind of revamped ideas jumbled all together and thrown into a Terminator blender.
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TERMINATOR GENISYS (M)
CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Lussier, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith
PRODUCER: David Ellison, Dana Goldberg
DIRECTOR: Alan Taylor
SCRIPT: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kramer Morgenthau
EDITOR: Roger Barton
MUSIC: Lorne Balfe
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Neil Spisak
RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 1, 2015