Let me preface by saying I’m undeniably biased when it comes to the Terminator franchise and Arnold’s filmography in general. I’m a child of the 80’s and he was one of the titans of the bodybuilder action genre (alongside Sylvester Stallone). In other words, I’m amenable but not a complete diehard for Terminator. Having said that, I can justifiably say Terminator: Genisys is a serpentine guilty pleasure that retcons the series without utterly blemishing it.
First, we’ll denote the flaws. I despise anytime something ethereal and incorporeal like Skynet is given a tangible personification where it’s a hologram or not. The bickering between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor recalls egregious memories of Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Some of Arnold’s colloquial one-liners like “bite me” will not be stratified into the lexicon of memorably witty quotes anytime soon. Lastly, the edgy PTSD mania of Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor (ex. Linda Hamilton’s gumption was to assassinate congenial family man Miles Dyson with extreme prejudice in Terminator 2) has been softened and altogether expunged for this PG-13 overhaul.
Now onto the aspects that were noteworthy for full measure. The explanation for Arnold’s aging visage and greying hair is a clever method for integrating him back into the fold. As the unfortunately nicknamed “Pops”, Arnold has valiantly returned to his signature role with thousand-yard-stare aplomb (I thoroughly enjoyed his clip-loading competition with Kyle Reese) and his duel with the 1984 T-101 is an orgiastic pleasure to behold with extraordinary, non-waxy CGI.
The spoiler that caused fans to be apoplectic is an ingenious role reversal for Skynet’s Final Solution. Like Terminator 3, the action scenes encapsulate the burly girth and mass devastaion of what two juggernauts would cause if they collided with one another. J.K. Simmons is a glorious addition as the conspiracy theorist but he is thanklessly excised from the latter half. The deferential prequel of the assaultive 2017 warfare with the Terminators is conceptualized with practical puppetry for the android goosesteppers.
Although his direction is occasionally pedestrian, Alan Taylor does beguile us with a few nifty brawls including a T-100’s demise via an acid bath. In terms of the time-travel tech talk, the “nexus points” and dissertations about Sarah Connor’s predestination are intriguingly cerebral. It might be damning praise but Terminator Genisys is a hermetic, solidly whizz-bang sequel that is leaps and bounds over Salvation.
Rating: 3 out of 5