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    Terminator Genysis (2015): Movie Review

    "A nostalgic and clever homage to the original Terminator movie."

    After being devastated in San Andreas and in many recent films, the Golden Gate Bridge of San Franciso, California is once again rocked in director Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genysis. But the film is not about the destruction of this historic landmark; it is the return to the big screen of one of the most iconic robot figures in cinema. Serving as the fifth instalment of the Terminator movie franchise, the film feels like homage to the original movie, with some kind of disregard to the succeeding sequels.

    The film initially begins in 2029. Judgment Day had already happened with the awakening of Skynet in 1997, annihilating three billion people in the process. Lead by John Connor (Jason Clarke), revolutionaries have risen to destroy Skynet and its time machine weapon. However, the resistance fails and Skynet is able to send back a T-800 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), John’s mother. Lieutenant Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to pursue the Terminator but a disruption occurs when he starts to travel back in time.

    Reese arrives in 1984 and instead of meeting a waitress in distress, he encounters a rogue Sarah and her aging Terminator protector she calls Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger). After an unfortunate event when she was nine years old, Pops took her, raised her, and swore to protect her from all those who threaten her life. After an initial distrust, the trio finally agrees to travel to 2017 and stop the Genysis from going online, a program that serves as Skynet’s precursor. However, a surprise awaits them in the future as a Skynet-infected John Connor will shake everything they believe in. 

    Terminator Genysis is more than just an adventure action film as it incorporates elements of science fiction like robots, apocalypse, time travel and Cloud-like technology into it. As explained in the film, Genysis is an operating system that basically links electronic gadgets to each other along with all information uploaded into them. When it went online in 2017, it also gave way to the rise of Skynet and the Terminators which are programmed to eliminate humanity.

    The premise of the film is simple – while the enemies are intent of killing Sarah Connor in the past so that John may never be born, Sarah and her team also go after the roots of Skynet. It is straightforward until the movie messes with the timelines and events seem to cross each other. This intersection of multiple time timelines is quite chaotic and confusing as it contradicts the general premise. In one sequence, we see an old John and young Sarah and Kyle together; in another, we see an old Kyle giving his piece of wisdom to his young self. This is mind-boggling, resonant of Australian directors Michael and Peter Spierig’s 2014 film Predestination starring Ethan Hawke where the protagonist, villain, victim, love interest and everyone in it are the same person, made possible with one’s desire to change the timeline. While Predestination is spot on with this time travel agendum, Terminator Genysis feels unconvincing as other scientific blah-blahs are also involved.

    It is incontestable that Terminator Genysis has plenty of jaw-dropping and eye-popping visual effects and action sets. Some of its highest moments are the Terminator versus Terminator showdown in the beginning and the school bus drama at Golden Gate Bridge towards the end. The movie is also nostalgic as it recreated some scenes from the first film like the naked Schwarzenegger arriving and confronting some punks, and the liquid metal T-1000 reconstructing and reshaping itself. Though they put smile into our face, but at some point, it brings an uncomfortable feeling of sadness, much like when you have to recycle your brother’s clothes or toys.

    While Jai Courtney looks bland, Jason Clarke is impressive portraying as the devil behind the sleepy-eyed face. Divesting herself of her HBO’s Game of Thrones’ Daenerys persona, Emilia Clarke steps up by bringing the right angst and grit to Sarah Connors. Yet, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the runaway winner of the movie. He has the proper mix of strength, power, menace and humor. His silly smile brings comic relief to this action-serious movie. Though it is obvious that he has grown old, Schwarzenegger shows he is still capable, just like he said, “I’m old, not obsolete.”

    Despite anchoring its theme on the original movie, Terminator Genysis manages to become a movie of its own. It is ambitious as it cross-referenced several timelines, unlike other sequels which are content on scrapping from among the different periods. However, even with its decent narrative and action pieces, there is nothing much that the movie offered.


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