Friday, July 03, 2015

Now Designed to Bore!


That is the sad, crucial question that the clumsy Terminator Genisys begets.

Why did this Alan Taylor-helmed wannabe-blockbuster reboot have to even exist and why did it have to insist on being so complicated and awkward? Why did it have to effectively zap the excitement that would surround watching Emilia Clarke in like, anything ever again? I mean, her once-buzzy, seemingly inspired casting feels misguided now, which brings me to this follow-up Q: Will this – her just-a’ight take on Sarah friggin’ Connor – affect how we appreciate her on HBO’s Game of Thrones?

Nah. I revisited the show’s fifth season premiere after the poorly attended showing I caught, and it proved to be a good palate cleanser.

Why is this movie bumming me out this badly?

Terminator Genisys adds nada to the mythology that James Cameron birthed in 1984. If anything, this turkey jumbles it even further. If the goal was to restart som’in’ for millennials, rewriting time-travel canon at whim and with little to no regard for reason, then success, ’cause, y’ know...nostalgia and s--- (but really ’cause, y’!). If, however, the idea actually was to rework The Terminator and its earned sequel, 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, while honoring ’em and take that story down a new and inventive road, well then, as the kids would say today: #fail.

The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, were a fairly perfect cinematic pair. They told the story they wanted to tell, and while the second one teased the possibility of more (we got...meh in 2003), that combo’s been quite widely acknowledged as a fantastic example of why less should’ve been more.

But, y’ know...Hollywood.

Terminator Genisys begins in the not-so-distant future, in 2029. Skynet’s sentient, and it already has judged humanity: The machines have killed about 3 billion people and, for all intents, won its war against man. As he always does, John Connors leading the Human Resistance, and as played by Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), he is a towering presence that, unfortch, looks a tad outta place, like he belongs in a much different production because Clarke serves more Machiavelli than badass, which I guess works given the twist the movie’s trailers totally gave away leading to this weekend. As he also always does, John sends his most trusted ally, Kyle Reese (The Divergent Series Jai Courtney), back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (the Clarke a.k.a. Daenerys Targaryan), but not before Skynet sends a T-800 cyborg to kill her, and not before Matt Smith can reveal the nature of his mysterious role.

Look, what follows is a proper scramble of everything we’ve known until this point about that original T-800 traveling back to the ’80s, about the original timeline, and, I think, even about this new timeline.

He skipped 2009’s Terminator Salvation, but Arnold Schwarzenneger is back for his fourth go as the Terminator/protector, and that is what truly makes this one count. Thank goodness for him. Emilia Clarkes no Linda Hamilton, and as hard as he tries (and he tries hard), Courtney is no leading man.

In this one, Ahnuld plays Sarah’s beloved Pops because some unrevealed someone sent him back to when she was a kid to keep her from that moment on and prep her for the moment in ’84 when the original Terminator arrives in L.A. and for that of this movie’s Kyle’s.

Urgh. What’s next? Terminator VIctory: Rise of the Genisys of Salvation, in which a Terminator is sent back to kill Sarah Connor’s mom, and Ahnulder to protect her?

It’s all more convoluted than it has any right being, and way more ungainly than it needs to be. Pops is a protective old-school-dad type now, deadly but a papa bear, and his relationships with the surprisingly straight-manier Sarah and Kyle, especially, are set up for a brand of humor that hardly ever lands

End o’ the day, it’s a good thing Schwarzenneger’s still in this game. He is the welcome constant we need to put up with all these convenient alterna-timelines and what-is-Genisys? explanations that come outta nowhere and probably aren’t designed to go anywhere else than Yet Another Unnecessary Sequelville.

My Rating **

Photo: Paramount Pictures.

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