Terminator Genisys, out now on Blu-ray (3D and 2D) and DVD, sounded like a bad idea the moment I saw the behind-the-scenes footage over a year ago, first teaser, then the first trailer, then the ‘living one-sheet poster‘ then… and so on. Perhaps if they’d concentrated on a plot that made sense, it would’ve had a reason to exist.
This film is, basically, as much a disappointment as online dating.
We start in 2029 where the resistance against the machines, led by a suitably scarfaced John Connor (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes‘ Jason Clarke) tracks down the baddies to a big time machine thingy which they plan to take down tonight and destory. Except they won’t, because one of them has to go back to 1984 and chase after the Terminator which we know went back in the first film. And that the man to go back is Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney).
But just at the moment of going back to the once-present, while he’s tossing and turning inside the time machine as it lifts him up and twists him around, he spots something bad happening. Alas, at that point it’s like seeing someone being mugged on a train station platform just as your train is leaving – you can’t do a thing about it, and especially if you’re going back in time you can’t report it on arrival as it won’t have happened. Confused? You won’t be until after this episode of Soap! …or something.
What follows for the next 30-40 minutes is basically a mash-up of the first two films, or how they might appear if redone by a five-year-old after an imbibing of Sunny Delight, an afternoon of Minecraft and some Class A drugs. Some of this might’ve worked if they’d found actors to look somewhat like the originals. Courtney is nothing like Biehn, and sadly gets more work these days, while Byung-hun Lee plays the T-1000. Since when was the T-1000 Korean? I know this is an alternate past, but since the future didn’t know about the alternate past before sending any machines or humans back, how have they changed the T-1000? I’m probably thinking about this a lot more than the scriptwriters did. However, even the then-futuristic machine’s SFX don’t seem as good as when they were first used in 1991. In fact, despite the first teaser for this coming out a year before the movie’s release, the whole shebang still feels like a rush job.
From then on, the film jumps about in time like a dont-know-what, and seems to be making it up as it goes along.
Since Terminator 2, we’ve had Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, which was very poor indeed, and Terminator Salvation which was completely forgettable. In fact, the only thing I can remember about the latter was Christian Bale kicking off on-set, and BBC Breakfast accidentally reporting it…
At times when all the CRASH!BANG!WALLOP! was going on, it felt like I was going through a bad halluciogenic nightmare… as if you can have a good one(!)
While watching this, it made the RoboCop reboot and Stallone’s fourth Rambo films feel like masterpieces, and all the endless smashing up of stuff was reminiscent of the most tedious parts of Man of Steel. In fact, this is so bad that even Taken 3 is better than Terminator Genisys!
Elsewhere, we have too many self-referential moments, just one being Arnie crawling along the floor a la the first Terminator movie, and there’s a big plot change about halfway through, but… if you’ve seen the trailer then you already know what it is, so I’ll put it in a spoiler tag below if you want to know in advance. I do know that director Alan Taylor put this in especially as a big twist during the film, only to be discovered when you see it, but the studio thought they knew best and put it in the trailer!
Here’s also a spoiler tag around where ‘Genisys‘ comes from. It’s not a spoiler, really, since it’s just a plot device, but if you want to know where the title comes from, again without seeing the film first…
For a Terminator film, it seems daft to have this as a 12A-certificate where my 6-year-old nephew could go and see it, but while it seemed surprisingly violent with people and baddies being thrown about, it’s no more so than a typical Marvel film these days. There’s also only one f-word in it – the same line used in the first film, ending with a reference to a bottom, but why isn’t it repeated back? Oh, the suspense(!)
And while you can seemingly have male buttock nudity in a 12A movie, there’s no chance of Emilia Clarke showing any ‘T&A’ in this film (shame since she displays no acting ability).
Since it’s mostly a rehash of the first two films, perhaps I should’ve offered to pay with the same money when I bought my tickets for those two? (Well, for Terminator 2, at least, since I was 12 when The Terminator was released)
It isn’t Jai Courtney’s first stinker to star in the fifth in a film franchise and where his character has also been played by someone else, since here he takes Michael Biehn’s character of Kyle Reese, yet in A Good Day To Die Hard, he was Jack McClane, formerly John McClane Jr, played in 1988’s original Die Hard movie by a kid called Noah Land. Who has since made zero films. A shame the same cannot be said of Jai.
Matt Smith‘s character has a secret, of sorts, which I’m not going to reveal here, but surely the most pressing confusion is why he’s been listed in the credits as “Matthew Smith”? He’s been known for years as Matt Smith in Doctor Who, and also in Ryan Gosling’s Lost River. And all video gamers will know that Matthew Smith is the genius who wrote Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, and interviewed recently in the superb From Bedrooms To Billions.
It wasn’t all bad, though, as there were at least a handful of laughs along the way, mostly based around time travel – which is a little lazy, and mostly thanks to JK Simmons as cop O’Brien, far away from his BAFTA and Oscar-winning performance in Whiplash, but putting in an amusing turn if albeit too briefly. There’s also an amusing response quip from Sarah Connor (Game Of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke, this time round), “Story of my life”, yet in this case, it IS about her life.
Once I have mastered time travel, I will send a machine back to when this project was first thought of, and kill all those responsible. You’ll know I have been successful because the film will not exist and, thus, neither will this review. Ah, the perfect crime!
However, while in the summer that would’ve made the worst film of the year to be Taken 3, both have since been overtaken by the risible remake of Poltergeist, which had zero merit.
Finally, 3D or not 3D? I saw this in 2D in the cinema – since the 3D was all done in post-production, and I’ve since seen it again in both 3D and 2D, but while the early battle against Skynet is reasonable in 3D, there’s nothing much else to get excited about. Even if you normally prefer 3D, while some of the distance effects are okay in the conversion, the close-up ones are poorly done as the 3D effect falls apart the closer it gets. Hence, if you must see this film, watch it in 2D.
And if you like staying through the end credits, sometimes in the hope of a post-credits sequence, there is one here, which a lot of people missed on my theatrical screening…
When it comes to the presentation of this film, it’s presented in the original 2.35:1 ratio and in 1080p high definition and is pin-sharp throughout and looking absolutely stunning. At least that’s one thing where you won’t be disappointed in this purchase.
The sound is presented in Dolby Atmos for this who have such technical ability, but I watched it in DTS 5.1 and the crash/bang/wallop is all over the show, giving your speakers a great workout, so Paramount have done a fantastic job with this transfer.
For such a big movie, there isn’t too much going on with the extras. They last about an hour, but for something with a budget of $155m, there should be a lot more here:
- Family Dynamics: The Acting Ensemble (15:51): Chat with the cast and crew – a general making-of with on-set footage.
- Infiltration and Termination (25:29): Filming on-set in New Orleans and San Francisco, plus special effects.
- Upgrades: VFX of Terminatory Genisys (15:01): And more of the special effects.
The menu mixes clips from the film with the theme. There are 18 chapters to the film which is a reasonable amount, although as I work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes that would equate to 25 if I was being strict.
Dialogue comes in six languages – English (this being the only one in Dolby Atmos), German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese – while subtitles are available in 11 flavours: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.
Running time: 126 minutes
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Released: November 2nd 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos (English only), Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: Dolby Atmos (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese), English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K) (3.4K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Alan Taylor
Producers: David Ellison and Dana Goldberg
Screenplay: Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier
Music: Lorne Balfe
Guardian: Arnold Schwarzenegger
John Connor: Jason Clarke
Sarah Connor: Emilia Clarke
Kyle Reese: Jai Courtney
O’Brien: JK Simmons
Danny Dyson: Dayo Okeniyi
Alex: Matt Smith
Miles Dyson: Courtney B Vance
T-1000: Byung-hun Lee
Lt. Matias: Michael Gladis
Detective Cheung: Sandrine Holt
Young O’Brien: Wayne Bastrup
Detective Harding: Gregory Alan Williams
Detective Timmons: Otto Sanchez
Agent Janssen: Matty Ferraro
Agent Burke: Griff Furst
Skynet – 10 yrs old: Ian Etheridge
Skynet – 12 / 14 yrs old: Nolan Gross
Skynet – 18 yrs old: Seth Meriwether
Perry: Afemo Omilami
Kyle’s Dad: Mark Adam
Kyle’s Mom: Kerry O’Malley
Young Sarah Connor: Willa Taylor
Guardian – Young / Terminator T-800: Brett Azar
Derelict: Thomas Francis Murphy
Punk #1: John Edward Lee
Punk #2: Christion Troxell
Punk #3: Luke Sexton
Refugee / Terminator: Aaron V Williamson
Garbage Man: Ernest Wells
Young Kyle Reese: Bryant Prince
Commander Hanz: Matthew Gallagher
Young John Connor: Douglas Smith
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.