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Terminator Genisys

Year: 2015
Studio: Paramount
Director: Alan Taylor
Writer: Laeta Kalogridis/Patrick Lussier
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, J K Simmons, Matt Smith, Courtney B Vance

Another one I can't understand so many people hating. I guess the first two films were just so classic anything else that's come after but isn't up to those extraordinary standards just seems so much worse by comparison.

I thought at the very least it might generate a bit more slack for Terminator: Salvation, which was just as maligned. That at least had a distinctive style and aesthetic as a bleached, sand-blasted war movie. This film has no such soul, and aside from some connections to the first movie, it's descends into just another over-plotted CGI slugfest pretty quickly. Now Schwarzenegger's little more than a laughing stock you can't even criticise him for being part of it.

I found one aspect in particular very enjoyable, and that was the way the story stitched itself to the events from the first film that kicked the entire Terminator story off. It was a visual treat to see the young, naked CGI Arnie show up at Griffith Observatory with the 'what the hell' garbage truck driver and the three taunting punks who are put in their place.

At the same moment Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) arrives somewhere downtown, stealing the pair of pants from the tramp, breaking into the department store to find shoes, etc.

But things quickly turn unexpected for both. When the T-800 is about to lay the smack down on the punks, a much older version of the same model (the real Schwarzenegger) shows up, telling it he's been waiting for it and starting a blistering fight. At the same time, one of the cops pursuing Reese downtown suddenly grows the unmistakable steel arm spikes of the liquid metal T-1000, intending to put them to very effective use on him.

But let's back up. When the film opens we get to see the moment in 2019 where John Connor (Jason Clarke), Reese and the rest of the human resistance infiltrate the machine stronghold and find the time displacement equipment. They realise the machines – who already know they've lost – have sent a T-800 back to 1984 to take care of the young Sarah Connor, so they send Kyle back to protect her.

But when he arrives, Sarah (Emilia Clarke) is anything but the shrinking violet waitress we remember Linda Hamilton as. She's not only battle hardened and ready, she's been protected ever since she was nine by the T-800 she calls 'pops' after her parents were killed.

Turns out someone has sent more agents back even further than 1984 to destroy and likewise to protect Sarah. But after that, everything descends into a story that's both confusing because of all the time travel obfuscation and mildly entertaining if a bit soulless, too much like every other tentpole out there.

When Kyle and Sarah transport to the modern day (to do something I can't remember), John Connor is already here, posing as an FBI agent but revealing to everyone's shock he's actually a new model of Terminator himself, apparently having been co-opted by some cyberbug at the moment they sent Kyle back to 1984.

It's up to Kyle, Sarah and pops to save the day, which means stopping Skynet before it launches as an Internet of Things-like global operating system called Genisys.

There are some cool stunts and action sequences, but like so many franchises, The Terminator name has been one of diminishing returns. It's just lucky for Schwarzenegger that it (along with Conan) still exists – the way his other post-govenorship films have performed, he probably needs all the cash he can get for Maria Shriver's divorce settlement.

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