The Terminator franchise has undergone a lot of changes in the last 30 years, but one thing has always remained constant – Arnold Schwarzenegger (in one form of another). The veteran actor has been the anchor of the series and makes a more prominent return in Terminator: Genisys, the fifth entry since the 1984 origin, but does it stand tall as an action blockbuster that lives up to its heritage?
The film itself has found itself in a rather difficult position. In an age full of reboots and re-imaginings, it would be easy to assume that Genisys is somewhat of a reboot, given that the plot does retread on some of the same beats as the original Terminator. The funny thing is that these are some of the best parts of the film.
Genisys does a great job at pulling up some serious nostalgia-inducing moments that long-time fans will cheer at, but throws everything on its head soon after, adding a new twist to the franchise-familiar time-travel scenario.
For a film of this genre, it’s easy to put together the pieces are predict the outcome, but Genisys does manage to throw some curve-balls along the way, and it’s somewhat thanks to its often-convoluted storyline, which leaves a lot of routes open for alternate narratives.
While the story chugs along nicely, the characters aren’t exactly the most animated, and we’re not even talking about Arnold’s robotic hero. Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, and Emilia Clarke do a decent job at filling the shoes of the franchise’s heroes and heroine, but they don’t exactly set the scenes alight in between the big set-pieces.
But as we’ve learnt time and time again, the real stars here are the action sequences, which are pretty spectacular. A lot of the chaos has that physical-feel thanks to the use of real props and practical effects, but the CGI is incredible too, giving new-life to the red-eyed killing-machines and over-the-top explosions. There are some incredible moments that will leave you on the edge of your seat, and some great sequences that reinstall that horror-element that existed in the old films.
This leaves Terminator: Genisys a little bit of a mixed bag. On hand hand, there’s some truly spectacular action scenes that will be memorable even in the high standards of the franchise, but they’re littered between some relatively dull and uninspiring character moments that feature little to no chemistry between the actors. It’s a sequel that is a fun, standalone popcorn blockbuster, but not a revitalisation of the Terminator name.