HOLLYWOOD—“I’ll be back.” Yep, it’s that classic line from “The Terminator” that has become a staple in pop culture, but also a bit overused in the franchise as well. In one of the rare incidents, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” proved that a sequel can seriously excel beyond its predecessor. Unfortunately, that can’t be said for “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” or “Terminator: Salvation.”
After being MIA for more than 6 years, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the role that made him a star as the T-800 who is tasked with protecting John Connor to ensure that the fate of the world is not overthrown by machines. “Terminator: Genisys” plays a bit with the notion of time travel once again.
I will admit the trailer spoiled a great narrative twist in the movie. Why the studio decided to leak such details about John Connor I have no clue, but as a viewer you are forced to role with it. It’s nice to see that this installment is much closer to the present than previous flicks, as it’s set in 2029. Connor is this time portrayed by Jason Clarke, who discovers Skynet is planning to attack in both the past and future. This prompts Connor to send Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to venture back into the past via a time machine to ensure the protection of Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke).
Clarke embodies a Sarah that is not as full-fledged bad-ass as Linda Hamilton’s portrayal was. She rather comes across child-like, which is quite unfortunate, especially for a character that caused a resurgence of bad-ass female action stars.
An action flick that jumps between the present and the past is always a good time. Reese learns upon arriving in the past that Sarah has already got the T-800 to work for her, while they find themselves in a pickle with the T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) out to destroy them. Does the T-1000 bring anything fresh to the table? Not really. I’ve always thought that if the series truly wanted to evolve it would bring back Arnold in a role that was beyond frightening. Make him the villain again, but with new skills and abilities that would blow the audience away.
Audiences might be a bit frustrated by the title of the movie, which is an inventive term for a computer program that will have access to all technology. The name is catchy, even if we prefer not to admit it. When I think of action, I always go back to the “Terminator” flicks. Why? They do precisely what they are supposed to do: entertain the hell out of the audience. In doing so, the film delivers some epic, visual spectacles. I mean, the Golden Gate Bridge scene is one that audiences will talk about for weeks.
With five films in, the “Terminator” franchise has reached a point where the epidemic must come front and center. This will indeed evolve the series and take the characters, whom audiences have come to love, to a new dimension. There’s not much character development, which is frustrating. Director Alan Taylor does bring a new life to the series, but not enough life to make it a classic. “Terminator: Genisys” is a fun movie, but it fails to give the audience anything that it hasn’t seen three times before.