Tuesday, June 30, 2015



James Cameron's sci-fi classic gets rebooted in this Paramount production designed as the first installment in a new trilogy. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sc-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language)
Directed By: Alan Taylor
In Theaters: Jul 1, 2015 Wide
Runtime: 1 hr. 59 min.
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


I think there's a rule as to how a Terminator movie has to start and this is one of them ©Paramount Pictures

So another attempt at the Terminator franchise but this time it's a RetCon to the series not a Reboot... 

What's a RetCon? Well, it's short for Retroactive Continuity and it's usually used for when movie makers and other creatives want to use established characters and stories but can't for some reason make a sequel to the current narrative without making everyone who loved it or followed go, "Wait? What just happened? That doesn't make sense." Or when, in this case, the follow up to James Cameron's effort in making Terminator part of pop culture and movie history was nowhere near as good as what he did and sort of messed up the storyline enough that a follow up to those two sad efforts would just confuse if not disappoint any fan of the original two. If they weren't already disappointed by them I mean. 

Anyway, so it's a RetCon not a reboot as many were thinking it was going to be. I was thinking it too actually but after watching it I can tell you that it really isn't a reboot. So what's it about? Well...


This was a pretty cool looking battle scene but way too short with way too little robots. ©Paramount Pictures

Okay so the movie opens and it's the future and you're being told how wonderful it all is by Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) which is actually pretty dismal since the future he lives in humans are being hunted by Terminators. He get's saved from one by John Connor (Jason Clarke) and from that day on he becomes John's right hand man. Some years later Kyle is now all grown up and is fighting side by side with John against the machines and on this one fateful night their mission is to take down two of the machines facilities, their main defense grid and the other a facility that contains their time machine.

The attack goes as planned but just as they get to the time machine they managed to send a T-800 back to 1984. Realizing that this was the moment that the machines first tried to kill his mother before he was born he asks for volunteers. Kyle is chosen. (If you've seen the first two movies i.e. the only ones that matter, you'll know who all these characters are and what it's all about) So off Kyle goes back to 1984 to save John's mother from being killed by a Terminator who speaks English with an Austrian accent. 

Most time machines in movies weren't very large this one though looked like the reactor core in that Star Wars movie ©Paramount Pictures

Back in 1984 the Terminator arrives and goes off to find some clothes when he is interrupted by an older looking T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a fight breaks out between the two before someone puts a 50 caliber bullet into it's power core. Meanwhile, Kyle finds himself naked in an alley and goes ahead and steals a drunken homeless persons pants before making a run for it when the police show up. Except that the police officer isn't human, it's a T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun), the shape shifting liquid metal terminator from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). So he runs for his life and ends up in a closed clothing store where he is caught by a couple of cops. As the cops are escorting him out the T-1000 shows up kills one cop before a truck smashes into the store. It's Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) come to the rescue.

Completely confused by what's happening, since he was told to expect something else, Kyle of course freaks out when he spots the older T-800 in the truck but there's no time for explanations as they're being chased by the T-1000. When things quiet down a bit Kyle finds out that the 1984 that he's arrived in isn't the same as what John remembers. Apparently, someone from the future had tried to assassinate Sarah when she was nine and the old looking T-800 was sent to save her. They take Kyle back to their hideout where Sarah reveals to Kyle their plans now that the situation has changed. The plan now is to go back in time using a rudimentary time machine similar to the one that sent Kyle back to 1984 and go forward to 1997 and destroy Cyberdyne Systems before they release Skynet. Upon hearing this Kyle tells them that they need to go to 2017 instead. He tells them that during the time travel he experienced memories that he hadn't lived through but he knows to be his. The T-800 helpfully explains this as due to the fact that he traveled to a time that had changed from one he had expected to arrive in and possibly also due to the fact that just as he was about to travel back in time he saw John being attacked. The memories he has are from an alternate reality but he has them now because as he traveled it occurred at an important junction in the timeline that the memories were somehow now part of his own. Or that's how I can explain it. 

Time travel in this future sucks because you have to be naked. What if they sent you to a mountain top? ©Paramount Pictures

But before they can travel back in time the T-1000 shows up and all hell breaks loose as he tries to kill everyone with the help of the other T-800 that he's booted up using a little of his own liquid self. They finally stop him by trapping him in an area and raining down acid on him. 

Anyway, so off they go to 2017 and they arrive butt naked and hugging each other in the middle of an elevated highway. The cops show up and take them away to the hospital. While they wait around to be questioned John Connor shows up. Somehow the cops know him. This surprises both Kyle and Sarah and they question him to verify if it's really him. Satisfied they make their way out. Meanwhile, the T-800 is making his way to them and find the three of them talking in the parking lot. Without hesitating the T-800 shots John. But John doesn't stay down. He has been assimilated by the machines and he tells them why he is now in 2017. He's there to ensure that Genisys the new incarnation of Skynet is released thus ensuring that the machines future is secure. John tells them that if they join him they too will be assimilated but if they don't then he'll have to kill them. Of course they refuse and the T-800 goes toe-to-toe with John only managing to escape when John can't escape the magnets of an MRI at full power. 

Not more that a couple of hours after time traveling and this thing comes after you. And you had to rob a hobo of his pants. ©Paramount Pictures

They regroup back at an old bunker that the T-800 has stockpiled with weapons of all sorts. Their plan now is still the same, get to Cyberdyne and blow everything up before Genisys is released but things are now complicated as John is on their side. While they prepare John shows up and things go from quiet to all not so quiet when they have to blow him up along with everything in their hideout to escape from him. But of course John doesn't die here so he chases them all the way down to the famous San Francisco bridge where they drop John into the ocean in a school bus and immediately get arrested by the police. 

At the police station all three are interrogated and even the present time Kyle Reese and his family are brought in to identify him. During the interrogation of the T-800 though things start happening again as the T-800 senses something amiss in the observation room past the one-way mirror. He breaks his cuffs and breaks through the wall and as he does so John reveals himself as one of the investigators. Again the T-800 dukes it out with John. In all this mess another man makes himself useful to both Kyle and Sarah, as he helps them escape and returns to them all their weapons and then some. The man turns out to be the cop that survived the T-1000 attack the night Kyle took refuge in the clothing store. 

You'd think the machines would learn to make the heads not come off so easily. ©Paramount Pictures

All three manage to escape to the roof where they borrow the police's helicopter. But their escape is short lived when John arrives and begins shooting at them. They manage to take off but with John in close pursuit in another helicopter. They chase continues all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge where they manage to outmaneuver John and take a shot at him which slows him down a bit and allows them to get above and behind him. Once above him the T-800 jumps out the helicopter and decides to do an impression of a guided missile. The T-800 crashes into John and the helicopter and they all crash down quite conveniently on the front door of the Cyberdyne System offices. 

Meanwhile, Kyle and Sarah have also landed and are making their way to where Cyberdyne keeps their server and Genisys. But they get stopped by John. Who in turn after being hit by lots of bullets gets impaled by one of the landing skids of the crashed helicopter courtesy of the T-800. So now all three are reunited and they rush to where the servers are and try to place enough explosives to blow everything to smithereens. But just as they get done placing them John shows up and of course ends up fighting the T-800 while Sarah and Kyle make their escape. They fight all the way to the section where John who has been working with Cyberdyne and helping them create Genisys has also built the same time machine from the future. There the T-800 holds him on the transfer pad while Kyle activates the machine. Since the machine is only halfway finished it doesn't send them anywhere but instead begins to rip both John and the T-800 apart, while that's happening Kyle and Sarah make their escape to find refuge from the ensuing explosion. 

This is not the smile you want to see after almost losing your life. ©Paramount Pictures

When everything finally goes boom, Kyle and Sarah find themselves trapped in the underground bunker beneath the Cyberdyne offices. Their escape happens when the door is ripped apart by the T-800 who now has upgraded himself with a shape-shifting liquid metal body. How you ask? Well for whatever reason John had decided to not only build a time machine for Cyberdyne but also begin prototypes for the T-1000 which takes shape in the form of a pool around the time machine. Why no actual T-1000? Apparently he didn't have the processing power for it at that time. How did the T-800 get the new body? Well, during the hold-John-down-while-he-and-the-T-800-gets-destroyed moment his head got knocked off just in time and landed in the pool of liquid metal. 

So now all three are reunited yet again and they head off into an uncertain future but before that Kyle visits his young self to give him some advice. 

At at the very end just halfway through the credits you find out that Genisys hasn't been totally wiped out but somewhere deep in Cyberdyne there's another back up of it. 

The End. Or what I remember of it,

It's really hard to take her seriously even when she's using big ass guns when she looks this adorable. ©Paramount Pictures

So could this movie breath new life into this flailing franchise? (Or what I thought about the movie...)

Well, sort of. Overall I thought it was a pretty good movie. Far better than the previous two that tried to cash in on the franchise but didn't have the right mix of things I guess that made the first two the cult favorites that they are. Yes there are explosions and Arnold is there with his catchphrase but it felt wrong. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) was about what happened after the events of Terminator 2 with John still a young man trying to stop Judgement Day from happening but replacing Edward Furlong with Nick Stahl just didn't go over so well and then them trying to slot in a love affair that supposedly in the future his love interest becomes the leader of the rebellion was also sort of a disappointment since that would change everything we knew about the future. Also the Terminator that was sent to kill John was incredibly ridiculous in that it was somewhat of a downgrade from the liquid metal terminator that we got in Terminator 2. Then came Terminator Salvation (2009) which completely ignored the events of the previous movie and instead decided to tell the story of John Connor as leader of the rebellion and how he came about a new sort of Terminator who thought it was human. Also John Connor is told to find Kyle Reese and to send him back to the past to save his mother. So when a true fan of the franchise sat down and saw both movies they were obviously unimpressed and in fact let down by the many plot holes and short cuts they took just to make another Terminator movie to cash in on the franchise. 

Then of course they announced this movie, Terminator Genisys. A lot of the fans were probably rolling their eyes when they heard about it. I knew I did. I was expecting another pathetic attempt and was looking forward to seeing how bad it would turn out. I actually didn't follow the development of it that much. The only thing I knew of it was from watching the trailers and it would seem the production team kept a pretty tight lid on what the movie was going to be about. Which was a good thing. Fans can be very vocal and sometimes that can be a bad thing. But sitting down and watching this movie I was sort of surprised. I thought it was really quite good. 

So this happens and the T-800 looks like it's struggling trying to pull them up. ©Paramount Pictures

Let's start with the story. This movie completely ignores anything that happened in Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation, or at least that's what I believe and that's a good thing. Trying to reference those movies would make this movie impossible to make. So they kept it to the first two and it works. They brought back the T-1000 which was why Terminator 2 was such a cool movie. I wished they brought back Robert Patrick to play the role but I guess that would be asking too much and trying to explain why the T-1000 now looks older wouldn't make much sense. Bad enough that the explanation for the T-800 looking older is that his organic skin ages like human skin does. How the heck would it do that? Human skin grows and ages because of genetics and of course our body making new skin from inside out using the food we eat. How the heck does a robot do that? But that doesn't really get in the way of the movie. Then there's the way that the T-800 and Kyle Reese show up in 1984 which of course is the same way in the original movie. And there's also the scene where assimilated John Connor chases after the trio while riding on a big bad motorcycle like the T-800 did in Terminator 2. All these little things make it, at least for us who love the first two movies, like a homecoming of sorts. It's the same thing that was done in Jurassic World and it worked there too. 

Then there's the time travel thing. There's a fair bit of it and it'll confuse some people I guess but they've found a way to link the story to the two original while trying to make sure that they have enough maneuvering room for a follow up sequel. The reason I believe we loved the first two was because of two characters without which things would fall apart, of course there's Arnold playing the T-800 but the other very important character was Sarah Connor played by Linda Hamilton. She played Sarah Connor well that any other person trying to play that role would have been a disappointment. The same goes for Edward Furlong who played the teenage John Connor. When I first heard that Emilia Clarke was going to play the role I was incredibly skeptical. I mean, how would that even work? But as you watch the movie and the explain how the timeline and reality has changed due to all the Terminators being sent into the past you sort of begin to accept her. Also it helps that she's pretty incredible in the role. I was suitably impressed by her performance. The only thing that was hard to get over was how she looked. Linda Hamilton always had that look like she could kick ass if you pushed her too hard and by the second movie she looked the part too but Emilia Clarke has such an adorable face that it makes it hard to believe that she can too at times. 

That's him leaving bits of himself as he walks away. This terminator is ruined by magnets. ©Paramount Pictures

Then there's Jai Courtney who plays Kyle Reese who was originally played by Michael Biehn then for whatever reason played by Anton Yelchin in Terminator Salvation.  He does a pretty good job as well. Of course the most important character after Sarah and the T-800 is John Connor. Without John Connor the Terminator franchise would have stopped with Terminator 2. He's the reason for the movie. He's the one that sends Kyle back to save his mother from the Terminator in the first movie and he was also the one that sent back the T-800 to save his teenage self and his mother in Terminator 2. In Terminator 3 he went from a tough as nails teenager with a smart mouth to a sort of whiny young adult who is now homeless and for whatever reason sort of a coward. Also like I said before now the target is his future wife and to save herself and him his future wife sends the very same Terminator that killed his future self after reprogramming it. This time around John Connor is an adult and played quite well by Jason Clarke, He has this disarming charm to him that when he plays the friendly mentor or when he is reunited with Sarah it feels real but when he tries to murder them his change is just as real, becoming the cold machine that he's become. It was pretty good. 

All in all I would say this was a pretty good follow up to the first two movies. In fact, this should have been the third movie in the franchise. The story ties-in with the first two pretty well and the use of a diverging alternate timeline does make some sort of sense (this story mechanism has been used before if not explained before, go watch Back to the Future Part 2) and it leaves enough space as I said before for following sequels to diverge away from the original two while still being able to reference it in a way. 

He's made out of black dust. Can do pretty much everything the T-1000 does but not made out of liquid metal. Still pretty cool though. ©Paramount Pictures

Who should watch this movie? Well, if you are a fan of the franchise definitely go watch it and you can go without ever having to remember the third and fourth one. If you're not a fan and are not familiar with the franchise and the story then you might feel a little lost. If you do want to watch it you will be entertained but to really understand it you will need to watch the first two movies after it. If you're looking for an action movie like the sort that summer blockbuster used to be like then this is it but like I said before do your homework or you will be left confused and wondering. Also bring your science hat there too as it can get complicated at times when they explain the time thing. 

So basically I'm saying this is a good action movie to watch but you need to know a few things prior to going. If you do that then you'll appreciate it even more. So with that I'd give this movie a very decent 3.5 out of 5. I love The Terminator and love Terminator 2 even more, and this is a good follow up to those two while opening up an interesting future for the franchise. If handled well.


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