Thursday, July 2, 2015

Terminator Genisys Review

"He traveled back in time to kill Sarah Conner, so now we will travel back in time to save her. Except then we have to travel forward in time. No, even more forward in time, that's not far enough. Yeah, judgment day was in 1997 originally but now it is later on. It's an alternate timeline because the first timeline no longer applies. Nevermind, it's all nonsense so just go with it. When you find her, she will be young and beautiful and innocent and not even know how to hold a gun. Except then you will find her and she will be crashing trucks through walls and holding a giant gun and acting all bad ass and shit. This ain't her first rodeo, I reckon. Yeah, I know I said it would be her first rodeo, but I was wrong. Fuck, I wasn't born yet back then, excuse me for being a little off on the progression of my mother and her ability to be awesome. Whatever, people paid 14 dollars for a ticket to see old ass Schwarzenegger and the cute girl from Game of Thrones, no one gives a shit if the writing is bad. Just go shoot some robots in the face."

Okay, perhaps that wasn't fair of me. The above quote didn't actually come from the new film Terminator Genisys. I know, shocking right? It seemed so real. No, this was just my exaggerated way of pointing out just how over-complicated and messy the screenplay was for this film. People, sometimes less is more. This is a movie that could have thrived with a lot less misguided ambition in the storytelling, because not only did a lot of the film not make sense at first glance, even after the characters literally try to explain what is going on to you (and there is plenty of this), I still call bullshit. Not buying it.

The work of director Christopher Nolan gets a fair amount of flack for the amount of dialogue devoted to explaining complicated plot points and scientific terminology, but I never mind it because I always believe in the words and the characters saying them. The man makes intelligent films that actually feel intelligent because I buy what they are selling. I'm not buying what Terminator Genisys was selling, at least on a screenplay level. A ridiculous amount of time was spent on characters doing their best to make the audience understand what the hell was happening to the point that such dialogue killed any momentum the film was building through some actually pretty cool action sequences.

The good news is, despite all of this negativity above, I actually didn't hate the film. I just didn't really like it either. The best way I can describe it overall is painfully mediocre and my fear is that it will end up disappearing into the same void as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and that other Salvation one that I never saw. The type of film that doesn't do enough right or enough wrong to really stand out for any reason, good or bad. It's just a sometimes pretty bad, sometimes pretty good but mostly forgettable feature.

One thing that did work for me were the ties to the original two and massively popular films, which is ironic because I expected these little cute nods and references to be annoying and I wasn't bothered at all by them. In fact I did find some nostalgia that warmed me up a bit, which was a nice respite from the plot that was so complicated it was borderline exhausting. 

I was never really bored or totally bummed about what was playing out in front of me, but I also wasn't ever overly enthused. Terminator Genisys is just a fine but not so special movie, which if you consider how low my expectations were when I walked in? I'll take it I suppose.


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