Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Terminator Genisys

Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his iconic role in this wasteland of a sequel.

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Terminator
Paramount Pictures

Stop me if you've heard this story. And please stop any more filmmakers from telling it again. You know how it goes: In a post-apocalyptic future dominated by genocidal Skynet computers, a cyber-assassin is dispatched back to 1984 to terminate one Sarah Connor before she can give birth to pesky John Connor, who has grown up to lead a post-apocalyptic human resistance movement. One of these resisters, John's lieutenant, Kyle Reese, is also dispatched into the past, to protect Sarah and to trigger the story's freaky plot.  

This tale, first recounted in The Terminator, was effectively concluded by director James Cameron in his 1991 sequel, Judgment Day. Nevertheless, two non-Cameron sequels followed that one: the dumbed-down Rise of the Machines (2003) and the miserable Terminator Salvation (2009). Now, due mainly to rights-availability, we have Terminator Genisys, a movie that trashes the Terminator world with shameless time-travel mumbo jumbo, finessing one key event as a vague "nexus point," and non-explaining another with the news that "those files have been deleted." The picture also brings original Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger back to the franchise, but please don't get your hopes up.

Director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) opens with the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge (yet again) on August 29, 1997—the "Judgment Day" on which the Skynet computers take over. Taylor then leaps back to 1984 to recreate the scene in Cameron's first movie in which Schwarzenegger's original Terminator materialized in a dark alley amid a welter of crackling electricity. This is pretty cool, because when the Terminator once again rises up, we see that he really is the younger Arnold of 31 years ago—or as close as can be achieved with a combination of muscle-builder body double and digital face-mapping. Which is uncannily close.

But then the 67-year-old Arnie of today steps in to do battle with his scowling doppelganger ("I've been waiting for you!"). And then Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke)—once a gentle waitress, now a battle-hardened fighter—wheels in to repurpose a canonical line ("Come with me if you want to live!") while rescuing Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who's also newly arrived.

If it need be said, this is an alternative 1984 in which we now find ourselves—a year in which, as we soon see, almost anything goes. For example, Schwarzenegger's nice-guy Terminator ("I'm old, not obsolete") has been guarding Sarah since she was a little girl—forget all that stuff with Edward Furlong in T2. Also, Judgment Day has been postponed (to 2017—set your watches). And then there's the heroic John Connor (Jason Clarke), currently resident in the year 2029—he's a very different guy. (I won't spoil the big reveal; Paramount already did that for you in the movie's second trailer—fast-forward to 1:20 if you want.)

The movie suffers from a lack of star power. Schwarzenegger, playing a diminished version of his original character, no longer has the iconic heft that might have centered the film. Courtney (Divergent) and Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) are bland in different ways. And Emilia Clarke (Daenerys on Game of Thrones), although appealing in a pixie-ish Ellen Page manner, is insufficiently kickass. (Her GoT costar Lena Headey was more memorable in the role in the old Fox TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.)  

Given this charisma deficit, the movie's rampant CGI takes over. As it progresses, the picture sinks ever-deeper into extended chase scenes, endless fights (with characters still firing away at Terminators as if unaware that bullets can't kill them), and thunderous destruction. Working with a $170-million budget, director Taylor executes this stuff at a high technical level; but there's only so long you can care about it, and after a while the movie becomes a deadening mess. It's kind of sad. Naturally, a sequel is in the works.

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  1. Loder on a Wednesday?

    /faints

    1. Movie opens today…

  2. August 29, 1997?the “Judgment Day” on which the Skynet computers take over

    Didn’t T3 and/or 15th birthday pretty clearly establish that this didn’t happen in 1997?

    1. Maybe? I don’t remember. The Terminator franchise has turned into a great example of the problems with time travel sci-fi.

    2. I think they wrote off Terminator 3. I think everyone would be better off if we pretended Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation never existed.

      1. Meh – I like 3. Who’s with me??

        Never finished the other one.

        1. Other than the “Terminator gotta find some clothes that fit” scene which I thought was quite funny I didn’t really find it all that interesting.

        2. T3 wasn’t terrible, just very forgettable.

          1. That’s accurate. Mostly it’s not up to the standards of the first one. People aren’t likely to watch over and over.

        3. Yeah, I still like 3.

        4. No, 3 was crap.

  3. I was going to see it today, since I’m on day 3 of my between jobs vacation, but now…

    I actually like the Sarah Connor Chronicles, I wish it would have had a longer run.

    1. I liked the Sarah Connor Chronicles too. Summer Glau… mmm…

      1. Mmm, yes. I’m thinking that if I were a teenage John Conner I would sooner or later have had to see if she was “fully functional”.

      2. They needed to have an episode in which Glau and Headey are undercover, at the beach. Then work something into the plot so they must wear string bikinis and oil each other up, a lot.

    2. I was really curious to see where that show was going. Too bad it ended.

  4. After the credits roll, Kurt takes a deep drag of his clove cigarette, adjusts his turtleneck and drinks deep of his venti Fair-Trade cappuccino. “My word!” he thinks to himself. “Why do I subject myself to these action movies? Mere pap for the common masses!” He shakes his head mournfully. “What happened to the glory that was fine cinema? Why does no one ever emulate the great Fellini by using a gorilla on roller-skates to observe the decadence of the late Tudor dynasty? Or honor Warhol by having a drag queen drop a deuce onto a picture of Rose Kennedy to symbolize the scourge of illiteracy of the Rain Forest tribes? Truly, the end of civilization is upon us…”

    1. +1 Not sure if I agree with your characterization of Kurt, but I like your style none-the-less.

      Consider changing fair-trade cappuccino to oolong green tea.

      1. I’ve had an irrational loathing of Loder ever since he got picked up by MTV from Rolling Stone. To me, it was the beginning of MTV’s slide from pop culture icon to pretentious and self-indulgent drivel. Maybe I’m going a bit over the top with it, but I do see Loder as a “culture vulture” elitist who’d give a bad review to something that just isn’t hip enough. Something that even legendary film snob Roger Ebert wouldn’t do.

      2. oolong green tea

        Is that a thing now? What’s next, Dark Light Roast coffee?

    2. Am hurt. Please see recent “Mad Max: Fury Road” review…

      1. Correction noted 🙂

  5. [Emilia Clarke’s] GoT costar Lena Headey was more memorable in the role in the old Fox TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    This series (especially in the second season) ended up being a fine TV show. I really hated that FOX cancelled it.

    1. I really hated that FOX cancelled it.

      Fox does that. RE: Firefly

      1. Yeah, you’d think that after a while they’d give it more careful thought. Sci-fi fans are a fiercely loyal bunch (sometimes to the point of insanity).

        1. “These crazy science-fictioney writers are doing it all wrong! They aren’t using the Tried-n-True techniques we use to produce all our Dramas and Comedies and Reality Shows! They just keep mumbling about character development and world building and story arcs! Fire ’em and get some real professional writing committees.”

  6. It’s like somebody in Hollywood said “hey, I bet you can’t make a worse movie than Terminator: Salvation” and Alan Taylor took that bet and ran with it. He and McG ought to be blacklisted from Hollywood forever.

    1. McG should go back to his roots producing the most McG-ish music he can.

  7. Peter Griffin to Christian Bale – “I don’t get why we need another Terminator.”

  8. Rise of the Wheelchair.

    1. T6 will have the T-1000 sent back in time to 1991 where it kills the studio exec in charge of T2 and takes his place and orders a re-write of T2. Another T-1000 takes the place of the hack writer who his hired to rewrite the script. The script starts to resemble more of a Home Alone/RomCom mashup. “I’ll be back” is uttered after a particularly tender love scene in reference to the refractory period.

      1. “You’ve never seen anything like it. Men made up to look like monsters. Monsters made up to look like men. Look-alike men made up to look different. Different men made up to look alike. No expense has been pared… spared on the pan shtick, pan stick. No expense has been spared flying in the world’s greatest makeup man….”

        “Just a minute! just a minute! What about the plot?”

        “The what?”

        1. The plot-writing committee is in their closet in the basement.

  9. Huh. Considered seeing with #1 son. We’ll stick to our orig plan to see the latest Dino movie. What’s it called? That one.

    1. Depending on the #1’s age, check out Inside Out. Tell him it’s about figuring out girls.

  10. Maybe someone could do “The Warriors II – Eclectic Boogaloo”. I’d see that.

  11. i Thought Matt Smith had a lead role..I cant find anything on what his part is, if hes been cut or if its some big secret…

  12. “The movie suffers from a lack of star power”

    DON’T YOU TALK ABOUT JAI COURTNEY LIKE THAT

  13. I’d rather see Escape from Mars where Kurt Russell turns in a Rooster Cogburnish performance as Snake Plissken, who is sent to Mars to rescue Pluto Nash from Khan Noonien Singh.

    1. Or Welcome Back Khan, where Khan returns to the 1990s via time travel and decides that humanity won’t be worth dominating until he’s improved the breed. So he becomes a teacher at his old high school, which, it turns out, was in the inner city of the large American city where he was decanted.

      1. I’m strangely interested in this concept

        1. The principal, of course, will be played by William Shatner. Not as Kirk, but his distant ancestor, James T. Woodman.

      2. “This is fifth period English!”

        1. “Mr. Lewis, with grades like this, you will be buried alive. Buried alive.”

          1. “Up your nose with a rubber eel.”

            1. Nice one.

              “Mr. Horseshack, you are in a position to demand nothing. I, on the other hand, am in a position to grant nothing.”

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  15. I had a feeling this movie was going to be crap, and the second I found out that it was going to be PG-13, I was certain of it.

    The original one was a pretty great example of a sci-fi movie that in my opinion was a horror film, and T2 was far less scarey and more just a really good sci-fi action movie.

    Everything else has been downhill. I don’t understand the need to move the franchise to Pg-13. The same thing with the Die Hard franchise.

    1. They needed a less-sophisticated audience. These days people old enough to see R-rated movies are aware of what’s actually going on real-world, and thus are too “Genesys? Big deal. The IRS will take them out.”

  16. I had a feeling this movie was going to be crap, and the second I found out that it was going to be PG-13, I was certain of it.

    The original one was a pretty great example of a sci-fi movie that in my opinion was a horror film, and T2 was far less scarey and more just a really good sci-fi action movie.

    Everything else has been downhill. I don’t understand the need to move the franchise to Pg-13. The same thing with the Die Hard franchise.

    1. I thought Live Free or Die Hard (PG-13) was better than A Good Day to Die Hard (which went back to R).

      1. You’re right; however, any movie is a better movie than A Good Day to Die Hard.

  17. If it need be said, this is an alternative 1984 in which we now find ourselves?a year in which, as we soon see, almost anything goes.

    Do they at least stop by Biff’s casino?

  18. it wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. I did enjoy the movie for what it was, but it did over glamorize on the SciFi aspect of it all.

  19. Arnold Who?

    1. Horshack.

  20. Ok, I’m willing to suspend disbelief regarding the ridiculousness of the whole Skynet scenario (why does Skynet have to kill every human? It’s just as dumb as The Matrix using human bodies to generate energy… Why not use some other futuristic and efficient method like fusion?). I’m able to suspend disbelief regarding time travel scenarios, because this isn’t meant to be a fucking physics thesis, it’s just a movie. I suspend disbelief on. Many other grounds because this movie, like so many others is just meant to be fun sensory overload.

    Enjoy the absurdity the of it all, that’s why The Terminator franchise still exists.

  21. (with characters still firing away at Terminators as if unaware that bullets can’t kill them), and thunderous destruction.

    Next version should be about a terminator going after a young John Connor stranded at home by Sarah over the Christmas holiday. Hilarious destruction ensues!

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