The Terminator ‘Genisys’ franchise reboot is fraught with plot anxieties and terrible acting but is also riddled with a strange, permeating nostalgia.
Let’s face it, everyone loves Arnold dearly, but we are losing track of the reason films should be made and more importantly, how they should be created. Fun is fun, all for fuck fun’s sake but endless repetition seems to be the primary directive in the movie business these days, especially when you possess a tried-and-true vehicle and only have to apply a few band-aids to make millions of dollars.
The year is 2015 … last week I reviewed a Jurassic Park movie, this week I’m reviewing a Terminator movie, and last I checked, we don’t have hoverboards or flying cars.
So what is our reward for living in a spiritually bankrupt era where the concept of the future invokes fear and anxiety in us — especially for Baby Boomers that refuse to take their bow and accept death — rather than excitement and prosperity? We get brands with proven track records at the box office. We get beaten over the head with nostalgia until our brains are turned to mush.
To be fair, Jurassic World has grossed 1.5 billion dollars plus worldwide, so clearly there was an audience salivating at the notion of seeing CGI-ed dinosaurs battle it out on the big screen (even if the movie was blah). But is there an audience drooling with the same sycophantic zeal to see yet another Terminator movie? Early reports are indicating that Terminator: Genisys will gross about 40 million dollars this weekend — the film cost 170 million to make.
Arnold once metaphorically (LOL) said, “Get the maid to the chopper!” Schwarzenegger now declares in Terminator: Genisys, “I’m old. Not obsolete.” The former is true. The latter, well … that’s just a lie.
To keep this 30 year-old franchise from being deleted from our hard drives, IE, our brains, the writers of Terminator: Genisys have cooked up the most asinine time travel plot in the history of cinema. IMO, when dealing with time travel, less is more, because quantum mechanics and physics aren’t nightly dinner conversation for most of us, but don’t fret, when a time traveling WTF moment arises in Terminator: Genisys, Ahnold is there to tell us how it all makes sense. The logic being: If the talking robot with an advanced CPU says it … IT MUST BE TRUE!
But it doesn’t, and the time travel aspect of the film is filled with gaping plot holes, like Sasha Grey‘s asshole gaping. And speaking of 30 years, let’s face it, when it comes to time travel movies, only one time travel movie is holding up to the cruel test of time: Back to the Future.
But enough talk about an excellent movie, back to the bad one.
Terminator: Genisys has replaced old characters with new stars, similar to Mad Max: Fury Road, only these new stars lack all the charisma and acting chops found in Fury Road’s cast.
Sarah Connor, once played the crazy-sexy-I-almost-sent-James-Cameron-to-an-early-grave-Linda Hamilton, is now played by Games of Thrones‘ resident rape girl, excuse me, “it” girl, Emilia Clarke. Clarke does a serviceable job as Sarah Connor, but her comedic timing needs work. Clarke also has a tendency to stare wide eyed at everything that is going on around her (this isn’t her fault, it’s the directors) and it’s a problem with Sarah’s “re-imagined” character.
According to the new time line, Sarah started her one-woman warrior training at the age of 9 under the tutelage of Arnold when he rescued her from a Terminator sent back in time by Skynet, ugh, ya know what? Fuck it, it doesn’t matter.
Seriously, it has nothing to do with the film’s main storyline. Clarke’s character flaws aside, her acting is Oscar-worthy compared to her costar, Jai Courtney.
Courtney plays Kyle Reese, the seminal seed that penetrates Sarah’s egg so she can give birth to John Connor — the man who leads the war against the machines in the future in the first and second Terminator films. Courtney’s dialogue is delivered on stilts and all his jokes fall painfully flat. Courtney is also given the honor of being Terminator: Genesis’ voice over; an homage to Cameron’s Terminator films, but the story isn’t his, it’s Sarah’s. Terminator is and always will be Sarah Connor’s story, so why he narrates the film is puzzling. Courtney, like his cardboard acting, has the body language of a machine. Ironic, the character given the most the lines about “being human” is really the guy who should be playing the robot.
Sarah might be the story, but Arnold is still the heart and soul of the Terminator franchise, and I’d be willing to bet my dog no one has made a richer living spitting out two or three words with such gusto and elan.
Nearing 70 and looking great for his age, Arnold still has the panache to cause an entire movie theater to burst into laughter. But when Arnold says his classic line, “I’ll be back,” deep down we have to reject the slight high of nostalgia it gives us, after all, the longer and longer we keep going back into the past with these reboots, re-imaginings, etc. … how will we know when we’ve arrived in the future?
WHEN THE DELOREAN HITS 88 MILES PER HOUR, THAT’S HOW!
But everyone feels the strange attraction to revisiting such past landscapes.
Memory is certainly one part, reminding us of mortality. Like commercials I guess, or game shows or insipid cultural situation-comedy trash TV repositories, the mind is numbed and sweet unconsciousness prevents us from thinking about our own petty lives for a while.
A spurious form of immortality, yes?