Thursday Night Movie Club
Terminator Genisys
star rating graphicstar rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 1 July 2015

Director: Alan Taylor
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jason Clarke
Emilia Clarke
Jai Courtney
J.K. Simmons
Dayo Okeniyi
Matt Smith
Courtney B. Vance
Byung-hun Lee
Michael Gladis
Sandrine Holt
Wayne Bastrup
Gregory Alan Williams
Otto Sanchez
Matty Ferraro
Bryant Prince
John Connor
Sarah Connor
Kyle Reese
Danny Dyson
Miles Dyson
Cop / T-1000
Lt. Matias
Detective Cheung
Young O'Brien
Detective Harding
Detective Timmons
Agent Janssen
Young Kyle
Terminator Genisys movie poster Terminator Genisys movie poster Terminator Genisys movie poster
T-100 in Terminator GenisysThe original Terminator series toyed with alternate realities that always ended with Skynet wreaking havoc only to be eventually thwarted by John Connor. Terminator Genisys begins with young Kyle Reese (Bryant Prince) being rescued from a Terminator (killer robot) by John Connor (Jason Clarke).

As Reese grows, Connor takes a special liking to the young man. Connor gives Reese a photo of his mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Reese (Jai Courtney) becomes Connor's right-hand-man, although Reese never knows why. Then comes the fateful night when Connor and the remaining humans destroy Skynet Central Command in the Rocky Mountains. Reese is wondering why Connor isn't there to be a part of history.

Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke in Terminator GenisysHowever, this John Connor has the experience of surviving from the previous attacks on his mother and himself so many years before. This John Connor knows things he should not know, chiefly that Skynet has been secretly building a time-displacement machine as a last resort. Connor knows the device will be activated that night. The machine must be destroyed!

Reese and Connor arrive moments too late. A T-100 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has already been sent back to the year 1984 to terminate Sarah Connor. Everyone under Connor's command asks to be the one sent back to fight the Terminator. Reese "convinces" Connor that his knowledge of Sarah make him the perfect candidate. Reese is chosen.

Jason Clarke as John Connor in Terminator GenisysMidway through the procedure, Connor is suddenly attacked by a new form of Terminator (Matt Smith). Once again, the time line is altered drastically. As Reese tumbles back in time, he is suddenly having flashbacks/memories of his past that never existed. Staying with Reese is a particularly puzzling memory: Remember Genisys. Something has gone terribly wrong!

In 1984, The T-100 has arrived. But before it can attack the three delinquents, a familiar voice stops him. "I've been waiting for you." Turning around, The Terminator encounters a much older looking version of himself. Before the audience can react to this change of events, the battle between the two T-100 models is on! The older model T-100 is clearly over matched. He is saved from destruction by an attractive young woman.

Meanwhile, Reese is having his own problems. He lands in the right place and is immediately chased by a police officer. The officer slashes at Reese with his arm that has morphed into a long, sharp blade. Before the audience can react to this change of events, Reese escapes and the chase is on.

Reese is all but dead at the hands of a Terminator model he doesn't know exists. Suddenly, he is rescued by an attractive young woman who yells, "Come with me if you want to live!" Reese is saved by Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), looking nothing like the girl in the photo. As it turns out, Reese needs a lot more protecting than Sarah. Something has definitely gone very wrong. The time line is completely out of whack.

T-100 in Terminator GenisysConfusing matters further for Reese, Sarah has befriended the older model T-100 that she calls Poppy (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The T-100 saved Sarah from another Terminator when she was a young girl. As this Terminator model is covered in living tissue, the terminator is showing his age. The past is catching up with a future that was changed by events in the future. This is a brave, new world.

Terminator Genisys does a wonderful job reusing material from the first two Terminator films and turning it on its head. As a young girl, the T-100 told Sarah she will mate with Kyle Reese from the future and that their son will be the savior John Connor. Like John Connor, the older T-100 Terminator also has more knowledge about future events and technologies than it should possess. Sarah has lived in seclusion with her protector, fighting the T-1000, and dreading the day Kyle Reese enters her life. Sarah has no intention of falling in love with Reese, let alone have sex with him. Reese, on the other hand, has no idea what the future has planned for him.

Because Terminator Genisys changes the Terminator mythology, director Alan Taylor and screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier add a lot more humor than the previous films. The hulking T-100 walking into a police station holding a huge, stuffed Teddy Bear is one example. The T-100's feeble attempts at a friendly smile are hilarious. The T-100's best line, "I'll be back!", has a unique use here.

All Reese knows about the T-100 is that they are killers. He promptly grabs a gun and attacks the T-100. Sarah screams, "Don't kill him!" Is she talking to Reese or the T-100? As Reese's unconscious body crumbles to the ground, the T-100 deadpans, "He's not dead." As the T-100, Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been better.

J.K. Simmons as O'Brien in Terminator GenisysTerminator Genisys has one truly great tender and touching scene. Sarah and the T-100 have been building their own time-displacement machine in order to stop Skynet in the future. Only human flesh can survive the machine's use. As Sarah and Reese begin removing their clothes, separated by a storage rack, Reese tells Sarah why he came back for her. Reese is still clueless about his future with Sarah.

The irony of the situation is very affecting. As each layer of clothing comes off, Sarah becomes increasingly nervous and afraid. Until she slowly realizes what Reese is saying. John Connor told Reese a lot about his mother. Without any ups and extras, Reese calmly pledges his life to protect Sarah. He came back to save her. He will stop at nothing until she is safe. There might be more to Reese than just a man who has spent his entire life fighting Terminators.

Once again, Terminator: Genisys involves Cyberdyne Systems and their development of Skynet. Cyberdyne is always trying to be on the cutting edge of human evolution and technological breakthroughs, is at the center of the story. Because of the shift in the time line, the events of Terminator 1-3 did not occur.

Sarah and the T-100 have been building their own time-displacement machine to travel to 1997 to stop Skynet's initial attack from "Terminator 2". Because of his memories while traveling back in time, Reese believes the battle will be in 2017. Skynet is launching a new computer operating system called "Genisys". Genisys will run on every device on the planet. Sarah and Reese must stop the world-wide launch. Genisys is the precursor to Skynet.

Since the time line has been altered, nothing in Terminator: Genisys comes as a complete surprise. There are some interesting surprises but nothing comes off as Earth shattering. There is, of course, the obligatory "new" Terminator series with a new and improved arsenal. Of course, no matter what the cyborgs do, they are no match for human ingenuity.

Terminator: Genisys is very entertaining. Some surprises are true surprises. John Connor is attacked in his moment of triumph setting the time line in a tail spin. Unfortunately, director Alan Taylor and the screen writers use this to "upgrade" the jokes, putting a new spin on an old joke.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-100 in Terminator GenisysArnold Schwarzenegger has never been better. The actor is getting long in the tooth. The screen writers use this advantageously. The old T-100 is not what it used to be. The living tissue surrounding the T-100 is aging. The cyborg machinery has seen better days after years of combat against more modern terminator models. "I'm getting too old for this" is a clever line.

The interesting aspect of the Terminator series is also what is bogging it down. Time travel and ever-changing time lines are becoming old. The plot lines are all the same. Cyberdyne Systems comes up with a new version of Skynet. A small band of humans, who happen to know the future, are the only ones who can reset the future and restore the original time line. This seems like a job for Doctor Who. Despite John Connor's best efforts, the machines of the future always find a way to confound him. Fortunately, there will always be Sarah and Kyle Reese around to save the day.

Any future Terminator films would come as a complete surprise. Why bother? How many times can one retell the same story, reuse the same jokes, and pretend the next installment will be completely "new"?

Money always trumps common sense. With the improvement of digital technology, Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-100 can be digitized through motion capture. Time will tell.