Terminator Genisys is a busy film. It tries very hard in a number of ways and not all of them successful. Its overall theme seems one of reinvesting the franchise with hope for the future and to give Arnold Schwarzenegger a platform for a renewal of his acting career after his dalliance with politics. Visually, it’s also very dense and the now almost obligatory block buster 3D effect does it no favours as the imagery you need to follow gets a bit buried in all the visual onslaught.
The story throws a lot your way and it relies quite a bit on the viewer’s past knowledge of the Terminator film series and its liberal take on time travel. Most of the plot twists originate from that ethos and they are at times hard to follow. It also features a progression of special effects as the early reels show simpler CGI while the later reels try their best to blow your mind with what’s now possible with zeros and ones.
The new cast play better with Arnie than they do with each other as the two new leads, Emilia Clarke (taking time away from her dragons) as Sarah Connor and Jason Clarke as John Connor have very little on-screen chemistry. The big guy gets all the good lines here but they are still a bit hit or miss. Technology both on-screen and implied is still the film’s star.
As a sampler of past points of interest in the Terminator series, Terminator Genisys is a nice way to reminisce as you get to revisit the original Arnie version, the liquid metal version and the later film’s mind tease of past and futures colliding. As a stand-alone experience it’s less successful. It’s still fun but just not a memorable as previous endeavours.