Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys, the fifth instalment in the Terminator series, is a science fiction action film written by Laeta Kalogridis in partnership with Patrick Lussier and directed by Alan Taylor. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, reprising his role as the eponymous Terminator T-800, along with Emilia Clarke starring as Sarah Connor, Jason Clarke playing John Connor, and Jai Courtney portraying Kyle Reese. The film was produced by Skydance Productions and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

The film opens with the leader of the Resistance, John Connor, launching a decisive offensive against Skynet, a hostile artificial intelligence seeking to eliminate the human race by the use of Terminators.

Let’s get one thing straight right at the beginning – despite serious shortcomings, Terminator Genisys is not that bad and many of the undeservedly negative reviews and ridiculously low scores are result of chronic nostalgia of some old geezers stuck in the past. In fact, should the first three films in the series were never made (I choose to completely ignore the awful Terminator Salvation), Terminator Genisys would be probably an excellent film.

The problems is, they were made. And because of this, Terminator Genisys not only doesn’t bring anything new, original or noteworthy to the genre, but also ends up replaying the thousand-times seen action scenes, hundred-times played out scenarios and dozen-times heard gags, the first three films of the franchise became so notorious for.

In line with what Paramount announced will be a ‘total reboot’ of the franchise, Terminator Genisys begins similarly to the 1984 original, The Terminator, and follows Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter in the war against the machines controlled by the worldwide artificial intelligence Skynet, as the leader of the Resistance John Connor sends him back in time from 2029 to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor, from Skynet’s Terminators.

The film then diverges as Reese finds out that, in this timeline, someone has been sending Terminators willy-nilly back through time. So in addition to the original T-800 sent to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, another Terminator, this time T-1000, was apparently sent to 1973 to kill Sarah when she was still a child, because it was too hard to kill her as an adult. But then someone sent Guardian – a reprogrammed T-800 instructed to protect Sarah, who foiled the assassination attempt (though came too late to save Sarah’s father), and this ex-Terminator then raised Sarah, who affectionately named him ‘Pops’, to the hardened and fearsome warrior she later became.

T-800, the original model of Skynet’s Terminator makes his re-appearance in Terminator Genisys, as does the far more advanced shape-shifting T-1000.

Additionally, Skynet has also sent another T-1000 (played by Lee Byung-Hun) to intercept Kyle Reese when he arrives in 1984, with Sarah and Pops somehow anticipating his arrival and waiting ready to assist Kyle.

“Old – not obsolete. Not yet.” – utters Arnie as the Terminator. Let audiences be the judge of that.

And, as this wasn’t already complicated enough, back in the year 2029, just as Kyle Reese makes his jump to 1984, a young recruit named Alex Wright (portrayed by Matt Smith) reveals himself as T-5000 – a highly advanced Terminator and the embodiment of Skynet, who infiltrated the Resistance, and – wait for it – transforms John Connor by a mere touch (through some nanobot trickery, apparently), to yet another model of Terminator – half-human-half-robot T-3000, who is then sent to 2014 to take a job at Cyberdyne Systems in order to develop and protect Skynet (which by now goes under the name Genisys – clearly just to confuse everybody) from Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese who time-travel to 2017 where (or rather when) they reunite with Guardian (who just hangs around all those 33 years) to try and destroy Genisys mainframe located at Cyberdyne Systems. (Even though Sarah Connor originally planned to travel to the year 1997 to prevent Skynet from becoming self-aware, it took less than 5 minutes of persuasion by Kyle Reese, a total stranger to her, to change her mind and go along with his plan to travel to the year 2017 instead – apparently, due to the warning Kyle received in his childhood vision, telling him that Genisys is Skynet and it will come online in 2017).

Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) trying to shake off the shape-shifting T-1000 (portrayed by Lee Byung-Hun) sent by Skynet to intercept and kill Kyle on his arrival from the year 2029.

The final showdown in Cyberdyne’s headquarters sees Sarah, Kyle and Guardian doing their best to prevent Genisys from coming online, and John-Connor-cum-T-3000 doing his worst to stop them stopping him. In the end, good guys win, bad guys lose and Cyberdyne’s headquarters are destroyed in a massive explosion putting an end to Genisys/Skynet. By a sheer stroke of luck, the remnants of nearly-destroyed Guardian get thrown into a puddle of mimetic polyalloy, upgrading him from the old, rusty T-800 to a brand-new, shiny T-1000. The trio travels to Kyle’s childhood home, where Kyle tells his younger self about Genisys as a fail-safe measure to ensure that the timeline will be maintained and the events leading to his arrival from 2029 via 1984 to 2017 will repeat. Sarah, Kyle and Guardian then drive off into the country, where they live happily ever after…

…but wait a minute – if in this timeline Sarah and Kyle did not have sex in 1984, that would mean John Connor was never born (or, even if they – as Pops tactfully put it – eventually ‘mated’ in 2017, John would be in the year 2029 a mere 12-year-old boy, which would hardly make for a viable leader of the Resistance), so he would neither lead any offensive against Skynet, nor he would have sent Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah, and none of the above, or come to that, none of the events of the previous films, would have ever happened, right? Right???

Wrong. Paramount Pictures cares little about such trifling minutiae, and green-lit two additional sequels to Terminator Genisys long before the film even opened in cinemas, because all rights to the Terminator franchise are set to revert back to James Cameron in the year 2019 (as copyright reversion takes place after 35 years). Consequently, the ‘suits’ at Paramount are determined to squeeze as much money as possible out of the franchise before this happens – and nothing is going to stop them from doing so – not even a messed-up timeline or two.

“Old – not obsolete. Not yet.” – utters Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of T-800 / Guardian. Ultimately, the critics and audiences will be the judge of that.

So, if you are new to the Terminator universe, and the above described events didn’t confuse the living hell out of you, go and see Terminator Genisys – the likelihood is, you will enjoy it. But if you are a die-hard fan of the franchise, cherishing your fond memories from the ‘core’ films of the Terminator saga, consider spending your money on something else instead.

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A mid-credits scene reveals that the main core of Genisys was located in a secret subterranean vault and has survived the destruction of Cyberdyne’s headquarters, paving way for the two planned sequels scheduled for release in 2017 and 2018, with the main cast including Matt Smith and Arnold Schwarzenegger already confirmed to return for the first sequel.

TRIVIA: CGI-enhanced American bodybuilder Brett Azar body-doubles as young T-800, the original Terminator sent by Skynet from the year 2029 back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor.