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Arnold Is Back, As Is the Humor and Heart

I rewatched Terminator 2: Judgement Day last week, and while the visual effects were unmatched for its time and the action sequences are still amazing, I found what made the film so entertaining was the relationship between young John Connor and The Terminator – the heart and humor of a young child trying to teach a machine how to be more human.

And as I said before, these are key aspects that Terminator Salvation lacked and I am happy to report that Genisys has both. In Genisys, Arnold is again the main attraction. The dynamic is changed a bit, as Kyle Reese is from a future where Terminators hunt and kill humans, so its more about Reese’s relationship with accepting an enemy as his friend. But Arnold has some really humorous moments in this film which will have you laughing out loud.

Terminator Genisys

The Backstory Presents a Missed Opportunity

A flashback in the film shows Arnold’s new “guardian” Terminator saving and taking in young Sarah Connor. Part of me wishes they had made that story the first installment of this new trilogy. I think the dynamic of Arnold taking in and trying to train a young girl to become the badass that he needs Sarah Connor to be could have been great. And that dynamic could have again played off of the T2 relationship of a young child trying to teach a Terminator what it means to be human,

I should also mention JK Simmons, who has been almost completely absent from the marketing due to his role mostly being a part of the second half of the film, is very funny in the movie. His character will be a fun surprise for audiences.

Skynet

Skynet’s Origin Is Cleverly Reimagined, But the Execution Is Disappointing

The film reimagines how Skynet and the Artificial Intelligence uprising leads to the future war. In this story (very minor plot details follow), the government doesn’t force Skynet upon us but the clever idea is that Skynet is essentially Apple — we aren’t fighting it’s adoption but instead waiting in lines around the block for the right to purchase it and welcome it into our lives. Thats a really timely clever idea, but unfortunately the explanation of what Genisys is in the film feels far more obvious and boring.

In the film, Genisys is an operating system that would connect all our devices through the cloud (something we’ve had for a while already, years before the timeline in the movie). I think it would have been smarter to present a vision of Genisys that actually sounded like something not already available, and maybe even something cool that audiences would relate to wanting in their lives (even though they know the end game).

I could easily imagine it being presented as an advanced artificial intelligence operating system, like Siri version 3 or something, which organizes your life and uses all your devices to connect and make decisions for you. When you’re headed home, it knows what temperature to make your apartment, and it knows to put a certain show from your DVR on the television because you’re going to want to watch it. And storewide, presenting Genisys as some kind of new artificial intelligence software would make more sense than just presenting it as a cloud connected operating system.

Terminator Genisys Jai Courtney

This Is Kyle Reese’s Story

The interesting thing about this story is it is presented through the eyes of Kyle Reese. Although you wouldn’t know it when looking at any of the posters for the film. You would think it may have been easier to reboot The Terminator franchise with John Connor or Sarah Connor in the spotlight. The choice of making Kyle Reese the lead allows many interesting things to occur with this story, which I won’t spoil in this reaction.

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Jai Courtney Has No Charisma or Chemistry

There one major issue I have with Terminator Genisys is that Jai Courtney is a boring action star and has almost no charisma on screen. As Game of ThronesEmilia Clarke tries to make the love story work, I don’t feel any chemistry between the two actors. Courtney, who is even handed some funny lines that should pop, delivers them so horribly that the audience in my press screening was left in stunned silence.

I’m still not sure what Hollywood seems to see in Jai Courtney. To be fair, I have yet to watch the Starz’ TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand which seems to be the main source of the actor’s buzz. (I guess it could be akin to wondering why Hollywood tried to push Taylor Kitsch as a major star a few years back without seeing Friday Night Lights.) So far I’ve been very unimpressed by Courtney, who seems to be handed franchise after franchise. First he was John McClane’s son in the Die Hard series, then he appeared in the Divergent series, and now he’s a lead in the Terminator franchise. Does this guy have a fan following? I’ve seen nothing but negative responses to his big blockbuster roles thus far.

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.