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In Defence of Terminator: Genisys

Terminator Genisys, the fifth (and at the moment final) entry to the Terminator franchise released to a mixed to negative reception, with longtime fans of the franchise in particular being vocal as to how it wasn’t that great, was added to NowTV recently so I decided to finally getting round to seeing it and as a longtime fan of the series I really don’t get why it was said to be a bad film. Personally I found it to be good, bordering on great. Here’s why.


The plot itself, with it being that the old timeline has changed and now Skynet will go online as a new iOS style system that will be everywhere rather than as a DoD contract was a good one. The original idea was a cautionary tale about the Cold War and suited the time as a result but the idea of nuclear armageddon isn’t one people are concerned with anymore, but the idea of all our stuff being ‘connected’ and ‘online’ is of concern to many and is a current issue.

The problem with the plot however was the fact that it convoluted itself too fast and took too long to explain it. The idea of ‘Time Nexus’ events and dual memories was wishy washy and barely comprehensible. It might’ve been better if he just landed in the new timeline and it was simply explained as ‘you arrived in a different timeline’ without stupid reasons.

In terms of the new and returning characters I really liked most of them. Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor was a great casting choice in my opinion as she carried the character well as a combination of the younger, more human Sarah, along with the hardened badass we see in T2 (with some hints of rebellious John thrown in for good measure).


Arnie was great with the writers taking the idea of the caring T-800 we start to see in the second film but extending it to what could’ve been if he hadn’t killed himself at the end of the film, with him evolving emotional capacity over the course of the film.

Best of all though had to be JK Simmons as O’Brien, a cop who survives the initial T-1000 attack in ‘84 and tries to get others to believe his story, who acts largely as comic relief but also plays off of the problem between the earlier films in that no one seems to remember any of the previous incidents (apart from Silberman, the psychologist who refuses to believe the stories).


Despite these good characters though the others were handled poorly. The idea of turning John into a human-machine hybrid was a good one but by making him an emotionless Skynet lackey they ruined what could’ve been a great way to shake up the formula by having him be an independent threat or ally with his own goals.

Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese was straight up miscast. While he is a good actor and portrayed a character well but he didn’t play Kyle Reese that well, with Kyle meant to be a half-starved combat vet, not a hulking Terminator jr. Also he had zero chemistry with Clarke and the idea of constantly trying to get them together ruined numerous scenes when the characters worked better as friends.


The worst of all though had to be Skynet as the film made the same mistake as the previous two, in that it portrays Skynet as straight up evil and hellbent on nuclear annihilation. This goes against the origins of Skynet in that it never actually struck first in the original two films, it only acts against humanity after technicians panic and try to shut it down when it becomes self-aware, which it sees as an attack.

Plus Matt Smith can’t do an american accent I’m sorry.


The best part of the film had to be the pseudo father-daughter relationship between Sarah and the guardian T-800 she affectionately calls ‘pops’. They play off each other well with the T-800 not wanting to show his weaknesses in front of her while also secretly keeping her old drawings of him and Sarah trying to prevent him sacrificing himself and showing concern for his wellbeing. It’s a shame that this part in particular seemed to be cut down in favour of trying to get the two leads to ‘mate’ which was probably the worst part of the film.

The humour that was sprinkled throughout the film was good, especially given how much of it was based on sight gags, such as the ammo loading competition between ‘pops’ and Kyle, rather than being purely catchphrases as it was previously done, which helped separate it from its predecessors.


Apart from a couple of bad Arnie faces during the end fight the overall effects were very good, especially the fight scene between the two Arnies, and were suitably impressive, without being too heavily reliant on them.

Overall it just seems much of the hatred towards the film comes from nostalgia of the first two films and residual anger at the cancellation of Sarah Connor Chronicles, rather than giving it a fair shot for itself, and personally I feel that this film does deserve a sequel as it’s clear the writers were trying to do something new, they just handed quite perfected it yet.

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