Friday, July 3, 2015

TERMINATOR GENISYS REVIEW - "PROTECT MY SARAH"

Admittedly, I pre-judged this film when I saw the promotional photos last year. The promotional photos were so over the top and crazy. And perhaps that's the problem with this film--unrealistic expectations. Summertime is when hollywood feeds us dumb popcorn movie crap. Why would I ever expect anything different?

The original 'Terminator' was low budget, gritty, sleek, and violent. I believe it had a "R" rating, as have the subsequent two films (excluding 'Terminator: Salvation'). Unfortunately, 'Terminator: Genisys' has been rated PG-13 for the ultimate cash grab. The PG-13 rating means that 'Terminator: Genisys' is watered down in every way. I don't particularly like violent or sexually exploitative films, however, I do think that some films should be marketed to adults. Now be prepared...because I'm going to make my fifth or sixth 'Mad Max: Fury Road' reference now. 'Fury Road' was neither uber violent, nor were there any sex scenes, however, the movie was clearly not for the kiddos and the "R" rating reflected that.
Now instead of films like the original 'Terminator,' 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day,' or even 'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,' garnering a "R" rating, films like '50 Shades of Grey' get "R" ratings because if you're going to go "R" you might as well go all the way. Oh to be back to the days where films like the original 'Gremlins' were rated "R" because there was no such thing as PG-13. I may be the only person who thinks this, but I didn't think 'Rise of the Machines' was a bad film. I actually enjoyed that film. 'Terminator Salvation' is another matter. That movie was terrible, primarily because Christian Bale just screamed the whole time. 'Terminator; Genisys' is somewhere in between. It's not as gritty as the original 'Terminator' film, nor as epic as 'T2,' but it is better than both 'Rise of the Machines' and 'Salvation.'
Side note: If I recall correctly,the origins of the PG-13 rating came about when Steven Spielberg had the chutzpa to request a PG rating for 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.' You know the one where they ripped hearts out chests and ate monkey brains. Yeah that movie was really trippy. My least favorite Indy film. I remember seeing that movie on VHS as a kid and being really scared. No, no, that movie was not PG. Yet what's so crazy is that PG-13 movies are more violent than the "R" rated movies of the 1980s.
Anywhoo, back to our fair film. The first half of the film is nothing less than thrilling and is the best part of the film. We get our first ever look at Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and John Connor's (Jason Clarke) relationship. None of the four previous films have ever touched on this relationship, so it was fantastic to see their relationship on screen for the first time. We also get to see what it was like for Kyle Reese to time travel back to 1984. The entire first portion of the film is a perfect homage to the original 'Terminator' film...down to Kyle Reese stealing a homeless man's pants and Nike hightops from a department store.
It's here that the past as we know it has been altered. Kyle Reese is not accosted by two hapless cops, but by a liquid metal T-1000 terminator (Byung-hun Lee), which is a nod to a young Robert Patrick from 'T2.' The T-1000 is even in a cop uniform. Lee was last seen in 'Red 2' as a deadly assassin. He's pretty big in Korean cinema. Hopefully he will continue to get more mainstream American roles because he is nice to look at for the brief time he's onscreen. Sarah Connor and a T-800 terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrive on the scene to deal with the T-1000. They have already dealt with the original T-800 terminator (Brett Azar) and Arnold-look a like (thanks to CGI) who was sent back to kill Sarah in 1984.
After focusing on John Connor for the last few films, the franchise returns its focus to Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). This is perhaps the most clever twist and unfortunately the only bit of cleverness in the film. The timeline was altered once more when a T-1000 terminator went back to 1973 to kill Sarah as a child, while at the same time a second T-800 went back to 1973 to rescue her. It's this T-800, affectionately known as Pops, who has raised Sarah Connor into the butt kicker she is. In 1984, the 20 year old, isn't the sweet, unaware girl, as portrayed by Linda Hamilton in the first film. She's more akin to her persona in 'T2'-- tough, aggressive, and cautious.
Sarah and the T-800 rescue Kyle from the T-1000, however, Kyle ain't having it. "I'm supposed to rescue you" he continues to feign. Script writers go a bit mad here. In the hands of the hollywood script writer Sarah Connor is a feckless feminista who doesn't want a man to help her...not even to help her break free of her handcuffs, because a woman fighting for her life would really care if Kyle Reese was a better lock pick? Oh but wait, because even though Sarah is a bit of a man hater, she really just wants to settle down and have babies, right? We just saw this stereotype in 'Jurassic World,' Well, for your viewing pleasure...here it is again.
How about this...I consider myself to be a strong, educated woman, with a wonderful husband, a baby, and a career and I also happen to like chivalrous manly men. That supposed contradiction would make a hollywood script writer's head explode. I like when my husband takes out the garbage and builds things. I like it when a gentleman holds the door for me. According to the hollywood script writer, if a woman exhibits strength she must hate men. So there you have it. Say what you will about James Cameron, but at least he understood women better than some of these people.
This leads to the "will they or won't they" romcom scenes between Kyle and Sarah. The original relationship between Kyle and Sarah was passionate, tragic, and beautiful. The only word I can think of to describe Kyle and Sarah's relationship in 'Genisys' is angsty. Not exactly romantic. Once Kyle Reese gets past the fact that he's not saving Sarah anymore, it's here that the film flitters through time again, this time to 2017. There's a nice homage to the fantastic series 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles,' as Sarah and Kyle land in the middle of a busy highway. I think that's what happened in the first episode of TSCC if I recall correctly?
In 2017, Miles Dyson's son Danny (Dayo Okeniyi) has invented the Genisys app, which has unintentionally become the delivery mechanism for Skynet. The inclusion of the Dyson family was a nice nod to 'T2.' However, I would have liked to have seen Joe Morton reprise his role as Miles Dyson instead of Courtney B. Vance.
The movie was great up until this point. It's when the film goes "back to the future" that it starts to fall apart. The writers flip the script and make John Connor himself the main big bad, which completely defeats the purpose of the film and lends to its absurdity. Now it's like a time machine threw up and made 'Terminator: Genisys.' Had the film focused on the "present," which is technically 1984, the film would have had a wonderful retro nostalgic quality to it. It would have been equally interesting to explore the relationship between the T-800 and Sarah more thoroughly.
From left to right: Linda Hamilton, Emiliar Clarke, and Lena Headey
With regard to the acting, everyone does a great job, especially Schwarzenegger. I'm not a fan, but after his fourth outing as the T-800, he's got it down to a science. I'm also not a fan of Courtney, but he does a good job as the Kyle Reese. He's no Michael Biehn, but that's ok. I have to give Courtney the benefit of the doubt because I'm a big Kyle Reese/Michael Biehn fan. I'm not joking when I say if I ever have a second child they will be named Reese (either male or female) and not because of Reese Witherspooon. That's how much I love the character.
As for Emilia Clarke, she holds her own, but there is no comparison between her and Linda Hamilton. Hamilton brought the perfect mixture of charisma, vulnerability, panache, and dogged determination to the role of Sarah Connor. That said, Hamilton also had incredible material to work with. Emilia isn't so lucky. Emilia does a good job with what she has. Despite the script problems the mother of dragons is an awesome Sarah Connor. Like Hamilton, Lena Headey (Clarke's 'Game of Thrones' costar) was an exceptional Sarah Connor. Had Clarke been given a better script things may have been very different.
Side note: I will never forget when I first saw Linda Hamilton doing pull ups in 'T2.' That was only the second time I had seen muscles like that on a woman in a major motion picture. The first time was also in a James Cameron film, 'Aliens' (Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez). Hamilton is definitely a better known actress, so there's no doubt in my mind that Hamilton and Cameron) revolutionized women in film and television. It was shortly after 'T2' that 'Buffy' and 'Xena' came along and the rest if history.
Overall, it's a nice addition to the 'Terminator' franchise and a true love letter to the 'Terminator' fans. Unfortunately the new generation will not necessarily "get" nor care about all the homages. In my opinion, the main problem is that the film is rated PG-13, which didn't allow it to go into darker territory. Directed by 'Thor: The Dark World' director Alan Taylor, the film never stands on its own two feet. Now that I think on it, 'Thor: The Dark World' wasn't anything to write home about either.

Despite the iffyness of this film, I'm quite certain it will receive a sequel and was alluded to as such in the ending. Yes, 'Jurassic World' was a craptastic popcorn flick, but at least it was a stand alone film. I can't say the same for 'Terminator: Genisys.' 'Terminator: Gensisys' stands on the shoulders of its predecessors and clings on for dear life. However, if you're a die hard 'Terminator' fan then you will enjoy this film.

THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS

24 comments:

  1. PG-13 is such a cop-out. That takes away all the intensity as well. (Which is the main reason Fury Road is rated R - it's INTENSE.)
    I really liked the third Terminator film as well. It gets such a bad rap. The fourth was horrible.
    With all that time-jumping, it sounds like a convoluted mess. I'll watch it eventually, but not sure I want my memory of the first Terminator altered by a new time line.
    And it was refreshing to hear your take on a strong woman. You sound like my wife. She's very strong but still likes me to get doors for her and treat her like the lady she is.
    Have a happy Fourth!

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    1. Ha, thanks Alex! Yes, I thought I was one of the few people who liked T3. I'm glad I'm in good company. Yes, the PG-13 kinda ruined this movie, but if you're a Terminator fan I think you will still enjoy it.

      I really don't think Hollywood understands women. Some of these screenwriters think that if a woman is strong then she dislikes men. That couldn't be further from the truth. The two are not mutually exclusive. One of the strongest women on television was President Roslin from Battlestar Galactica. I never saw her drop kick anyone, but she was one of the most powerful characters on television. I also loved Gina Carano in Haywire. So I think strong women come in all types, just like men. Unfortunately hollywood just doesn't get women.

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  2. I plan on seeing it later this month, so I just skimmed your review.
    One question I have is where is Matt Smith? I haven't seen many promotional pictures with him in it lately.
    I am assuming he only has a minor role in the film. You know me If Doctor Who allums are in something I immediately get more excited. ;-)

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    1. Ha, you know I left Matt out of this review, b/c it's kind of a major spoiler. Also, he has a very small role. I think he only has a few lines. The other aspects of the film were given away in the trailers so I didn't have an issue revealing them. I have no idea why Matt took such a prominent role in the promotional materials. It makes no sense. I hope this is a gateway for Matt to get other roles in hollywood.

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    2. Cool, thanks for not spoiling it.
      Maybe he can be in the next Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebulas cybernetic boyfriend. ;-)

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    3. I love Matt so I certainly hope so. He's such a great actor. He deserved a better role in this movie!

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  3. I have little desire to see this, but I'm sure one day when it hits cable I'll watch it because I'm bored.

    I feel bad for Clarke. Hamilton's performance is so iconic that you can only pale by comparison.

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    1. It's true unfortunately. Hamilton's performances were just so good it's difficult for anyone to ever fill her shoes. It's also a matter of material. Hamilton had two fantastic scripts to work with. I think you'll enjoy this movie. It was a fun popcorn movie, not to be taken seriously, but I do wish it was better.

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  4. This is actually one of the kindest reviews of this one I read, most people seem to downright hate that Courtney guy and Clarke...well let's say I too think she is miscast.

    How is Sarah Connor Chronicles?

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    1. Hi Sati! I don't think Emilia is bad per se, but I do agree that she was miscast. I think the material was subpar, which hurt her performance. I really enjoyed The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It was probably one of my favorite shows of all time. The only problem is that it wasn't treated very well from Fox so it only received 2 seasons. It was cancelled abruptly like 'Firefly' so it has a cult status now.

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    2. Yeah I know it was canceled but it looks pretty badass so I may give it a shot. Lena was definitely a better fit than Emilia who is a bit too angelic looking for the part.

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    3. Emilia was definitely not a good fit. Lena was so wonderful because she has this natural tough beauty to her face. I don't know how to describe it.

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  5. I'm seeing this tomorrow so I didn't read the whole review. That said you make a good point about the rating. I'm not a huge fan of violence and language but I recognize sometimes it serves the story.The third movie was terrible but the fourth had merits. Hopefully it's better than the worst one. Cameron's skills are hard to beat.

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    1. Hi Maurice! Since you're a Terminator fan I think you're going to enjoy it. The first half of the film is a lot of fun to watch.

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  6. I love Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor! But I really like your take on the strong woman, I agree 100% being strong doesn't mean hating men. I'm a strong woman who loves a strong man! Great review!

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    1. Hi Yolanda! Thank you for your comment. I loved Hamilton's Sarah Connor. She was definitely a hard act to follow. Yes, there are definitely some gender issues in hollywood. I really don't know how women who work in hollywood deal with that. We need more female script writers!

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  7. I didn't realize right away the GoT connection but then I thought of how good Lena Headey was as Sarah Connor in the TV series. Wish she had been cast here as she's genuinely bad ass! Clarke seems too sweet for the role.

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    1. Ha, yes. Lena and Emilia have now been Sarah Connor! I think Lena would have done an awesome job in a film. They didn't necessarily have to reboot the franchise. They could have picked up somewhere else with Lena. I loved Lena as Sarah.

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  8. Okay, I enjoyed it... it was messy and there was a lot of the "I'll Be Back to the Future II", (I am trying to copyright the phrase)... the original like you said was gritty and there was more heart in the main Sarah/Reese characters. Arnold has come a long way making his "terminator" from monster to machine to man to still being a machine... for me the most human cross over. This film set up the next film (if we are lucky) to what is next for the surviving cast of TG:5... I was one of the only people who liked "Salvation" at least it seemed they were heading a direction. Same with the new film, it's heading somewhere and like the third film that was a continuation from the second... which then got smashed by the TV show, that then the TV show got smashed by "Salvation"... and now the new smashed all but the first film. It might confusing, but when you are playing with time and time travel... like a good Star Trek film, it can all change...

    In the time I wrote this mess, I have been in two time shifts... :)

    Jeremy

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    1. Hi Jeremy! Thanks! I agree. Arnold was probably the best thing in this movie. He was really great. The rest of it was "meh." I really wanted to like Salvation, but it was so angsty. Bale was just awful in that film. I think he was going through some serious issues. Wasn't that the movie he flipped out on? I wouldn't mind a sequel as I love the franchise, but I hope they get a better script writer next time.

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  9. He'll be back! Fingers crossed, the next Terminator will be rated for adults giving us that frantic race of high speed killer machines we all so desperately crave.

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    1. I hope the next one is rated for adults! PG-13 totally sucked!

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  10. In the new Terminator, Sarah Conner looks like a child.

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    1. I think she's supposed to be 20 years old. Emilia does have a teeny bopper thing going on in that movie. I don't remember if Linda Hamilton was supposed to be 20 years old in the original 'Terminator.' I think Linda was in her late 20s at the time the original 'Terminator' was released so she felt believable to me. To be fair to Emilia, I think she is also in her late 20s. Admittedly they could have made her look a little older.

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