Thursday, November 5, 2015

In short: Terminator Genisys (2015)

Given that I’m not an admirer of contemporary Hollywood’s REBOOT EVERYTHING motto (we all know how Uncle Ben died by now, right?), I didn’t go into Alan Taylor’s reboot of the Terminator franchise with too much hope; of course, seeing as this would be a stupid intro if I wasn’t positively surprised by the film, nobody’ll be surprised to hear I was indeed positively surprised by it. Surprise.

Thinking about it, the Terminator movies were actually one case where a reboot made sense, it being a franchise whose entries beyond the first two movies and some of the comics were not very good anyway. Furthermore the last two films have pretty much stuffed the meta-plot with so much nonsense burning down what came before was probably the best option.

The film doesn’t just reboot though, but actually remixes and remodels parts of the first two films in clever and surprising ways that can also keep the good parts of what came before canonical thanks to the vagaries of time travel. The film’s first half in particular is blockbuster action cinema at its most playful, breaking up the big dumb (and rather fun) action scenes with often delightful twists on scenes we knew know from earlier films without letting the film become a mere series of ironic quotations. Taylor keeps the pace up nicely, and while some of the CGI looks a bit shoddy to my eyes, he manages to keep the increasingly silly action (the helicopter chase really is too dumb to believe) fun despite its rampant stupidity. The film’s second half isn’t quite as successful with the self-referentiality and awesome time-travel nonsense but it stays a seriously effective spectacle that knows how to keep small bits of humanity in play in between the explosions. There’s nothing deep here, yet Genisys never has that Michael Bay air of utter loathing for the intelligence of its audience; and it actually knows how to time silly one-liners.


Steven Millan said...

TERMINATOR:GENESYS doesn't top T2 in any way,but it does have its moments(via those clever twists and spins on the original film) and it wisely keeps Arnold alive and upgraded for any future films.

Ben said...

I watched this one in-flight on a recent plane journey, just because I was curious to see how they managed to explain a Terminator getting old, and was also pleasantly surprised.

Which is not saying much, as I was expecting pretty much the worst film imaginable, but, in between a very poor opening 20 minutes and a very poor closing 20 minutes, there were many "actually, this kind of works, I'm kind of having... fun?" moments; the big action scene on the Golden Gate Bridge, the character of the old cop obsessed with the terminator battle he witnessed years ago, even some of Arnie's "being human" moments - these all felt like things that could have been part of an actual good movie, which is more than I was expecting.