Sequel-itis: when everything in the original movie’s been endlessly overexposed.
Alien sequel-itis: We know when the alien opens its yap out comes a tongue that has teeth on it, and it bites people’s faces off. We’ve seen that too many times now. That’s not scary anymore.
Predator: We know when a predator starts fiddling with its prehistoric glyph LED 2-way wrist-radio, something’s about to go boom! Yawn.
What do we know about “Terminator” movies? When the T-1000 model terminator gets shot in the face, it will grow its face back immediately. Double yawn.
And we definitely, definitely, definitely know that Ah-nuld will tell someone “I’ll be back.” It once carried humorous dread; now it’s a seriously tired running gag.
“Terminator Genisys” does not join “Jurassic World” in the category of summer blockbusters that successfully warm up their own movie-cliché leftovers. You will not feel the cinematic equivalent of “I’m so glad I made this fresh garlic bread to go with this is tasty, tasty leftover spaghetti from two days ago.” No.
“Terminator Genisys” is the “quint-quel” of the 1984 James Cameron-directed “The Terminator,” from whence the franchise cameth.
It’s got the usual metal-skeleton killers, mercury-metal-morpher killers, the harried hero, the harried mother of the hero, the harried hero’s harried right-hand man, Harrier Jump Jets, wait, no, I mean, Hunter-Killer gunships, numerous instances of bare-naked time travel, and much metal pipe terminator-on-terminator face bashing. So that their metal skulls might protrude through their synth-flesh and terrify you. It will not.
Here’s the whole plot right here: When hero John Connor, leader of the human resistance against computer intelligence bent on destroying mankind (Skynet), figures out that Skynet’s transported another metal goop-terminator (an Asian knock-off of Robert Patrick’s T-1000) back to 1984 to terminate his mom Sarah (so he’d never be born), he dispatches aforementioned right-hand man Kyle Reese back there too, to protect mom and put a stop to a new, stand-alone time-space version of this same old tired story.
The dastardly Skynet, formerly a military program, is now a smartphone app. Can you anticipate the “killer app” joke? We’re supposed to become uneasy that the soon-to-be-available Genisys app is mirroring our current real-world tech situation: when all the apps and programs and machines and gizmos in the world are all synched up and talking to each other … that’s Skynet. And Skynet is just another name for … Armageddon. The machines will rule.
Throw in a lot more and varied robots, more alternate timelines, buff T-800 terminators that sport CGI-enhanced versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Olympia bod, and a new gray-haired version of Arnold that’s sensitive to ageism jokes: “I am old but not obsolete.”
There’s a trend in movies lately, of characters made of nanotechnology. So now, the upgrade of the liquid-mercury terminator (which still gloopily morphs itself—ho-hum—sword hands and crowbar hands), the current-model terminator, is made of teensy nanoparticles that proliferate with alacrity, like Johnny Depp’s character in “Transcendence,” Scarlett Johansson’s in “Lucy,” and the nanobots in “Big Hero 6.”
Clarke vs. Hamilton
With Emilia Clarke taking the Linda Hamilton role of Sarah Connor (the two actresses do share a certain pouffy-lip-ness), “Genisys” was clearly trying to steal a little mojo from HBO’s much rawer “Game of Thrones” series.
The reason this doesn’t work is that even though I’ve watched most of “Thrones” and know the actress’s name, I was in a nagging, subconscious state of “Where have I seen that actress before?” They should have kept her bleached-blond “Thrones” hair, the better to recognize her with.
Best Kept Refrigerated
The crux of the whole problem—Arnold’s T-800 terminator is in protector mode here. Again. It worked with Edward Furlong in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” kinda sorta. But a terminator is best served cold.
Sarah Connor’s even gone so far as to try to teach Schwarzenegger’s T-800 to smile. Maybe it looked good on paper. It’s not good. You don’t warm up a terminator. If the terminator is not dangerous, it’s in danger of becoming a goofball.
Furthermore, the first three films were R-rated, which made them inherently dangerous, if decrescendo-ing in quality from the original. In a classic blockbuster bid for box office, “Genisys” was rated PG-13. Which means they made it for kids. So they goofballed the terminator, to feed it to kids, to make more money, and served it up lukewarm, like three-week old, fuzzy-mold spaghetti with no fresh garlic bread.
Arnold just doesn’t have it anymore. Insane charisma used to drip off him. Much of it was tied to that gargantuan-bicipital “We’ve-never-seen-such-a-bod-before!” spectacle, which he was fully aware of, and in command of.
We now recognize that it was a steroidal charisma. Because now that the steroidal bod is gone, and he’s been the governator—he’s too old for this game, and his “acting” (such as it was) is altogether out the window. Put the governator terminator out to da pass-chuh.
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith, Byung-hun Lee
Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Release Date: July 1
2.5 stars out of 5