The Dork Knight’s Terminator Genisys Review for Cosmic Comics
First of all, I’d like to thank Cosmic Comics for sending me to the Terminator Genisys screening. It’s been nearly a year since your Friendly Neighborhood Dork Knight’s last review, so the opportunity was much appreciated.
I always try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, typically not revealing more than what the movie trailers do, but for some reason the people in charge of marketing Terminator Genisys completely spoil a huge plot point in the second trailer that pissed off even the director of the film, so I’m actually going to be less spoilery than Paramount’s own marketing team. I only wish they hadn’t spoiled the surprise because Terminator Genisys would have been so much better for me as a fan. So check out my Terminator Genisys Review after watching the original spoiler-free trailer below.
Terminator Genisys Review
By now, we all know the story of The Terminator. Machines have taken over the world and only one man can stop them: John Connor. In order to keep their hold on our world, the machines send a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor, John’s mother, so he can never lead the resistance against them and thus keep their stronghold on our world. Unfortunately for the machines, things don’t go their way and we got Terminator 2: Judgment Day (possibly the greatest sequel ever made), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (possibly the worst sequel Schwarzenegger ever made), and Terminator Salvation, a movie so bad that Arnold himself says sucked.
Now we have Terminator Genisys, which either completely ignores or retcons the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation (good riddance I say) and sets up a whole new trilogy which is already green-lit to go. As James Cameron, co-writer and director of the first two Terminator films, is on record saying, “the new film…I think of as the third film” and clearly so do the writers of Terminator Genisys and I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is the lack of clearly defined rules for time travel within Terminator Genisys.
Time Travel Rules!
(But Only When There Are Time Travel Rules)
Alan Taylor, whose last directorial outing was Thor: The Dark World, delivers what could possibly be the most confusing time travel movie I’ve ever seen. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I went into this movie expecting a transitional reboot where the time travel events of the film would make it as if the previous films never took place, kind of like X-Men: Days of Future Past, which I loved, but the time travel in Terminator Genisys ended up being complete and total anarchy. There were no rules whatsoever and it hurts the film’s story because we need rules for something as complicated as time travel so we, the viewers, aren’t distracted from what’s on the screen with internal questions of “How, why, or what the hell is going on?” buzzing through our brains while we’re watching the movie. It makes it hard to suspend disbelief when distracted with confusing contradictions on the screen because no rules have been established or the rules we thought were set are turned upside down.
Dynamic Timeline Theory
For example, in Back to the Future there is only one timeline, but it is flexible. If someone travels back in time they can change the course of the past, present, and future. This is known as the Dynamic Timeline Theory, but we’ve all come to know this as the Butterfly Effect Theory. With this form of time travel, if you were to go back in time and keep your parents from hooking up as Marty almost did, you’d cease to exist; however, if you did that, one of those crazy paradoxes Doc Brown was always warning Marty about would take place and unravel the space-time continuum. I mean come on, how could you have time traveled if you never existed in the first place? Even though this time travel theory is arguably the most difficult to comprehend because of all the contradictions or paradoxes that could possibly arise, it’s probably my favorite time travel theory which is why I love Back to the Future and X-Men: Days of Future Past so much.
Multiverse Timeline Theory
The next set of time travel rules that have been seen and established in film are present in the latest two Star Trek films. Those films utilized the Multiverse Timeline Theory where time consists of infinite parallel universes, or alternate dimensions, where anything that can happen does in one timeline or another and when you time travel you’re not really traveling in time within your timeline, or dimension, but you are traveling to another time in an alternate dimension. With this form of time travel you prevent paradoxes, which I’m sure screenwriters love, but you also lose a big part of the appeal of time travel… for me anyway.
Fixed Timeline Theory
The final set of time travel rules that I’m familiar with in film is the Fixed Timeline Theory or, as anyone who has taken Elementary Temporal Mechanics at Starfleet Academy knows it as, the Predestination Paradox Theory. The rules here are simple: time and everything in it is fixed. If you time travel, it is because you were always destined to and no matter what you can’t cheat fate. There is no way for the time traveler to change the past from what he or she knows, only to play a part in its unfolding. The first thing I think of regarding this theory is Quantum Leap, but ironically enough, this was the set of rules The Terminator followed. In fact, you can learn more about this theory and it’s rules at Terminator Wiki.
New Rules: Terminator Genisys Time Travel Theory
Take what we want from those previous three rules, add in some “nexus” points, and throw the rest out the window in order to “explain” the setup for one action sequence after another. And boy, do they do that. At the end of it all, you have non-stop action sequences that kept me on the edge of my seat and my heart pounding for much of Terminator Genisys, without a coherent story or plausible plot. But who needs a story or a plot when you have Ahnold back as The Terminator?
Arnold’s Back Baby!
Now that I have my major gripe out of the way, on to what I liked. I may have just spent the previous 700 or so words bitching about time travel, but in all fairness Terminator Genisys does acknowledge that there are many unanswered questions in the final moments of the film and invites us to find the answers with them. This, coupled with the fact that there will be two more of these films, has me hopeful that they will explain how all of this works. Regardless of that, it’s a great summer movie. As a fan of Arnold’s and the first two Terminator films, I was simply giddy to see scenes from the original re-shot nearly scene for scene and to see the amazing CG work that allowed for some Arnold on Arnold action.
Terminator Genisys Review
(For Real This Time)
The movie starts out in 2029, when the machines are in control and John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and the rest of the resistance to the fateful moment where Skynet is defeated and must send a T-800 Terminator (CG Arnold) back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) to ensure that John is never born. Just as it was in the original 1984 film, The Terminator, Kyle Reese is then sent back in time to stop the T-800, save Sarah Connor, and “mate” (see the movie to figure out why that’s in quotes) with her so John Connor can exist, but then things change. Instead of Kyle saving Sarah from the T-800, we get Sarah saving Kyle from a T-1000, and a new (but aged) T-800 named Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) taking on the original T-800. The first act of the movie is completely awesome. I could watch it over and over again. The effects are great, the fight scenes are magnificent, and seeing Arnold back in the role he was born to play was pure joy as a fan. The 3D, even though it was done in post, was pretty damn good too.
The second act of the film takes us back to the future (pun intended), but it’s no future that’s ever been seen before in the Terminator Universe. This is where the time travel logic gets wonky and I start asking myself mind-numbing questions about how this or that is possible. Once I decided to push pause on my brain and just enjoy the ride I was able to, but those questions still lingered. During this act, after what would have been one of the greatest twists in cinema history, had the geniuses at Paramount Marketing not ruined it with that second trailer and all other subsequent marketing, the dynamic of everything changes. I still refuse to ruin it for those of you who are lucky enough to have not had it ruined for you already and I’d like to add that I don’t think revealing what they did added one more ass to the theater seats. If anything, it turned some moviegoers off, but I digress.
The final act of the film pits Pops against a new Terminator threat from even further in the future. By this point I gave up trying to figure out the time travel logic and just let Arnold take the wheel. To steal a line from Kyle Reese in the movie, “Time travel makes my head hurt.” The final BOSS fight, if you will, is pretty bad ass and even evoked a similar emotional response in me that the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day did. By the end of the movie, all I could tell myself (and all three of you who made it this far into my review) is this is not the entire story. A complete story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is just the beginning. As a fan, I just have to trust that all of the questions I have will be answered by the time this new trilogy is over in 2018. That said, the ending reminds us that the future is not set. There is no fate but that which we make for ourselves and more importantly…
ARNOLD WILL BE BACK!
Overall, I give Terminator Genisys 4 out of 5 stars.
Paramount Pictures & Skydance Productions’ Terminator Genisys has a running time of 126 minutes and was written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier and was directed by Alan Taylor. Terminator Genisys opens in theaters today (July 1, 2015) and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, Matt Smith, Byung-Hun Lee, and JK Simmons.
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