Terminator Genisys – Christian Movie Review
There’s a memorable “The Onion” article in which the mysteriously, infamously recluse author J.D. Salinger finally breaks his silence and speaks to the public about new writing that he’s doing. Is he writing a sequel to “Catcher in the Rye?” Is he writing a new masterpiece? The next great American novel?
He’s writing Terminator fan fiction.
Because he’s a huge Terminator fan. Apparently.
That, of course, is not factual. It is a satirical article written to make people laugh. But I will say this: J.D. Salinger would have loved “Terminator: Genisys.”
It’s a Terminator movie made for Terminator fans, pure and simple — well, especially for Terminator fans who loved the 1984 film and its masterful sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance for this PG-13 rated film…
Sexual Content/Nudity/Themes of Sexuality and Romance: When characters time travel, they have to be naked, apparently. There are multiple instances of this, so there’s lots of alleged naked people, but only two scenes of actual nudity: a man’s buttocks are seen in one, and a 90% of a woman’s breasts are seen in another (though, apparently, it wasn’t given an R rating because her nipples were not visible). In another scene, a woman strips down, and we see a very sensual outline of her naked body when her shadow is cast against the wall. A man and woman kiss passionately. A naked woman clings to a naked man for safety while time traveling.
Violence/Gore: Multiple characters get impaled with the T-1000 arms that transform into blades. We see the blades run through the bodies and come out the other side. In one particularly violent scene, after a man is run through, the villain holds the dead man up with his blade for a few moments. None of this shows very much blood or detailed close-ups of the wounds or gore. That’s probably why it was only given PG-13. Countless explosions, gun shots, and fighting, mostly with killer robots. A few people get wounded by gun shots.
Language: The now typical PG-13 formula: one f-word and a steady stream of “lesser” swear words from beginning to end (s-words, hell, d-words, etc.).
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: None. Everyone is too busy fighting killer robots and trying to save or end the world. One character is described as a drunk, but he is never seen drinking.
Intense/Frightening Content: The T-1000 characters are fairly frightening. They shape-shift to look like humans, and when someone shoots them their human bodies distort and twist into unsettling shapes.
(Review continues below)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
It has an incredibly dizzying array of time travel twists that the screenplay just kind of vomits all over you in the first 30 minutes or so. I found it a little off-putting and forced at first, and I was feeling unfavorable toward the film. Some of the dialogue in the early scenes was, well, just bad, frankly — even for this genre. The screenplay, at first, just felt clunky and over-stuffed in the first half. My “bad movie” button began to blink with its warning light.
But then the second half of the second act, and then the final act, really came together and meshed in a surprisingly entertaining way. For the “blatant action movie” genre, this film recovered from its stiff, rather confusing start and had a satisfying feel to it. And, also surprising, by the end they had succeeded in making Arnold’s Terminator character endearing to the point of provoking genuine emotion in the audience, much as he did in Terminator 2. (Emilia Clarke’s performance certainly had something to do with that too.)
Oh, and they also threw J.K. Simmons in there, one of my favorite actors all-time, and that also helped push the movie over the edge for me.
And Arnold was genuinely funny in several scenes. I liked the way they wrote his Terminator character in this movie. They really made him lovable.
I will say this: if you’re a dedicated Terminator fan, you will be (for the most part) pleasantly surprised — even delighted — with this film. It actually uses scenes from the original 1984 film — even reshooting/recreating them in very clever ways from different angles — in a way that I found engaging, fun, and nostalgia-inducing for hardcore Terminator fans (like J.D. Salinger).
This also has a downside: if you’re not a fan of the Terminator films or you just don’t know them — i.e. if you’ve never seen any of them before this — you will struggle with keeping up and making sense of it, especially in the first half. I’d recommend reading up on the earlier films in Wikipedia. They throw a dizzying amount of references and old scenes from the first two films into “Terminator: Genisys” and weave them together in a complex, fast-paced manner. However, by the third act, they slow down, hold your hand a little with the plot development, and give everyone a chance to catch up and grasp what is happening before the film’s finale.
And, though I won’t give anything away, the movie does do some very dramatic (and, I’ll admit it, kind of cool) surprises that are major twists to the entire Terminator series. J.D. Salinger will likely be talking about it for weeks, maybe even months.
Although not as good as “Judgment Day,” “Genisys” holds its own and delivers the class
ic Terminator goods with power, humor, surprising twists, and a fair amount of action movie fun by its conclusion (despite a rocky start).
(And Schwarzeneggar’s hilarous, reoccuring “nice to see you” line might become a part of Arnold’s pantheon of famous movie lines.)
Worldviews, Subtext, Symbolism, Themes of Redemption, Social Commentary, Etc.
Not sure how deep you can go with the Terminator series, with its intellectually complex killer robot motif, but I did notice a few things that would fit under this category. Skynet, at one point, says, “It took humans millions of years to evolve, but it only took me five minutes,” or something along those lines. No one disagrees with Mr. Skynet or sits down to have an earnest debate about origin, so I can only presume that the film holds the assumption that the theory of macro-evolution is indeed fact. Not surprising, really. Most sci-fi/dystopian/apocalypse movies from Hollywood hold to the naturalistic, nihilistic view of life and humanity’s origin.
Like “Jurassic World,” this film also throws in a little cultural commentary about how dependent we’ve become on our smart devices and on the Internet. Humanity’s dangerous dependance on technology has always been a motif in this series, but “Genisys” applies it to our current Smart Device Age with an acidic tone that, in my opinion, subtly hits the mark — i.e. our addiction to our screens and our obsession with the convenience and comfort of technology leads to the end of the world. That might be a little over-dramatic, but when I see people walking into traffic unintentionally because they’re too busy looking at their phones, I begin to wonder if the “Genisys” premise isn’t too far-fetched after all.
The heroes in the film are bravely self-sacrificing in their decisions, which was a positive element of the story. They weren’t thinking of themselves. They were constantly prioritizing their choices around what would be best for the others around them and for the world, even if that means losing their lives in the process.
Conclusion: It’s Not a Masterpiece, But Terminator Fans (And Most Action Movie Fans) Will Enjoy It
If you’re a Terminator fan, you will likely find at least a few things to enjoy in “Genisys.” If you’re not a Terminator fan, it’ll be more hit and miss. Personally, I did appreciate that they did not make this an R-rated film like the previous films in the series. And, I will admit it, I was a fairly big fan of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and of the premise of the series in general, and though this fifth Terminator film isn’t even in the same universe of quality as some recent action movie masterpieces like “Mad Max: Fury Road,” I was actually surprised about how much I enjoyed “Genisys.”
My rating for “Terminator Genisys”: [usr 6]
Note about my ratings:
1 star = one of the worst movies ever made (the stuff of bad movie legends), and it usually (not always) has below 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
2-3 stars = a mostly bad movie that has a handful of nice moments; it usually falls between (but not always — as is the case with “Spy”) 10-30% on Rotten Tomatoes
4-6 stars = a decent movie with some flaws, overall. Four stars mean its flaws outweigh the good. Five stars mean equal good, equal bad. Six stars mean it’s a fairly good movie, with some great moments even, that outweigh a few flaws. A 4-6 star rating usually means it falls between 30-59% on Rotten Tomatoes (but not always).
7-9 stars = a rare rating reserved only for the best movies of that year; and a film must have a Fresh Tomato rating (60% or higher) on Rotten Tomatoes to be given 7 stars or higher.
10 stars = one of the best films of all time, right up there with the all-time greats (i.e. Casablanca, The African Queen, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode IV, Indiana Jones, etc.).
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