“Terminator Genisys”: Film Review

The Terminator films are about efforts to alter the timelines or sequences of events, and that’s exactly what this latest installment of the Terminator series brings: an altered sequence of how the events in the original Terminator installment might have gone.
I couldn’t tell whether I was watching scenes lifted completely from the first 1984 film or scenes that had been re-shot to look identical (“Wash day tomorrow, nothing clean – right?”), but the sense of deja vu was unsettling, and even more unsettling was when the scenes would suddenly take a left turn into an altered timeline, leaving me somewhat disoriented. Fight scene choreography seems to mirror footage from earlier films, taking you deeper into the sense of strange time-echoes.
Even Matt Smith as Skynet/T-5000 serves well to add to the uncanniness – as one of the actors playing Doctor Who in the long-running British sci-fi TV show about a time traveling alien who often muddles up the timeline (“wobbly-wobbly timey-wimey” as he puts it), his inclusion in the Terminator series has something poetic about it.
At times Emilia Clarke (familiar as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones) even looks like Sarah Connor, but an altered, harder-edged, Sarah Connor.
Old Governor Schwarzenegger quips and wisecracks like any other action film Arnie character we’ve seen since the 80s. Clarke’s Sarah Connor adds a new dimension to the character. Jason Clarke (“Everest,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” Zero Dark Thirty”) is a convincing John Connor. Jai Courtney is a less convincing Kyle Reese.
You have nuclear holocausts, striding armies of old-style terminators, crazy airborne Skynet machines, a T1000, new T-3000 and T-5000 model Terminators, car chases, hand-to-hand combat, and a delightful “reconnect with the alien pilot in Prometheus”-style moment when you see the original time-travel device that sent the first Terminator back to 1984 in the first place.
It’s not a ground-breaking piece of film-making that will cause you to examine your soul or wonder what you’re doing with your life, unless you pause to wonder why you’re taking a couple of hours of your life to see this film, but what do you expect? It’s a Terminator film!
Watch it.

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