Author’s note: this was a review that I wrote on facebook at the time of this movie’s release. After reading this again — two years later– I still agree with about 99% of what I had to say about it.
So, yeah, Terminator Genisys…
The short answer: Not as bad as I thought it was going to be be.
The long Answer: Considering the idea that just plain not doing another Terminator film was completely off the table, a reboot was kind of inevitable. The time travel continuity of the film franchise was so mangled after T2 that people eventually stopped caring (T1-T2 has Judgement Day set in 1997, then in T3 it`s 2006, then Salvation and the short lived Fox TV series pinned it to 2011). Genisys does us the favor of at least nuking that continuity sink-hole for good, but not before nuking L.A (again) to chronicle Skynet`s rise to power.
As its own film, Genisys is much better than Salvation; the latter mentioned film really just an example of Saving Private Ryan with robots, a.k.a Christian Bale: The Movie: The “We`re Fucking Done Professionally” TMZ Freakout World Tour. And when compared to Terminator 3, Genisys was, thematically-speaking, much better written than T3. Whereas Terminator one and two took the concept of “No Fate, But What We Make” and ran with it, Terminator 3 didn`t so much throw that idea out the window so much as stuff it in a rocket and shoot it at the sun. With the world once again ending in 1997, Skynet going full-blown Doc Brown in 2029, and the themes of free will and the idea that the future can be changed being brought back into the fold, Terminator finally gets the clean slate it so badly needed.
However, there are problems…Pop`s (Arnold as the T-800) origin and his reasons for helping the protagonists are a mystery. It`s one of the biggest plot-holes in the movie, not helped by the fact that there`s now a T-1000 running around in 1984 L.A looking to kill anybody who comes out of a time-bubble. How both cyborgs got dispatched to the more distant past– and in turn, beating out Kyle Reese whose original purpose for being sent back to protect Sarah Connor in 1984 is kind of negated — raises questions that not even the writers of Genisys may know the answers to. There`s also the fact that Sarah Connor and Pops already have a time-machine built, and sort of expect you to roll with it, while they get convinced by Kyle to use it to go into the future (2017) for no other reason except that Kyle saw a vision mid slip-stream.
In the end, the movie makes a creative effort to actually bring something new to the table and play with our expectations on the movie series itself. Using the idea of multiple, parallel realities, it also helps explain away most of the changes and gives new life to a franchise that was probably better off left alone after the second film. For better or worse, however, the Terminator franchise has become something that Hollywood producers and fans alike will keep coming back to despite every rational voice screaming “NO!” at the top of their lungs. With what Genisys is offering, perhaps, people will finally realize that James Cameron is not going to do another Terminator film, Hollywood won`t stop making these films as long as we keep going out to see them, and that Terminator Genisys is probably as close to perfect as we`re going to get in the post-Cameron movie series.