Thursday, July 2, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW Terminator Genisys (IMAX 3D)
Scrap Metal Movie Franchise Alert: Breached

Arnold Schwarzengger return as an older, more wise-cracking Terminator in Alan Taylor's sci-fi drama "Terminator Genisys".
  Paramount Pictures

Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Thursday, July 2, 2015

All pure junk metal and noise recycled from three of the first four “Terminator” films, Alan Taylor’s sci-fi drama “Terminator Genisys” is more mimic than movie.  It is loud and furious, populated by overblown visual effects that looked far better in “Terminator 2”, the best film of this now half-baked and overwrought franchise.  And the absurd twist in this joyless enterprise indicates that its writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier had run out of ideas and were desperate.  A lot of “Genisys” looks as if the writers said, “oh, let’s just try this, and see what happens, just for kicks.”

With each passing film “The Terminator” franchise is further tarnished, and “Genisys” pulls an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger out of the Terminator wilderness to grin and monotone amid messy, discordant backdrops.  Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is transported back to 1987, 1984, 1997, 2014, 2029 and 2017 — not necessarily in that order — to track down Skynet, the global computer which has morphed into something called Genisys.  The time-shifting alone confused me, and the film made no sense.  What on earth was going on here?, I wondered fruitlessly.  I didn’t care, and was indifferent to Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) having to save the world in 2017 so as to ensure that 1997 was safe — or is that the future? — and John Connor (Jason Clarke, no relation to Ms. Clarke) would bow down and say as the son to a parent younger than he: “thanks, Mom!”

There’s something anachronistic and redundant about “Terminator Genisys” and its save-the-world-from-machines mantra.  In 2015 machines have already taken over our everyday lives.  As humans we coexist with them.  That’s too polite.  Machines practically hypnotize us and govern our lives.  We barely look up from them when we walk across roads and down sidewalks or pavements.  We can’t take our eyes off them and can’t look humans in the eye.  We can’t even sleep without our portable machines aka iPhones nearby.  So how do we remain afraid of machines on the big screen? 

Admittedly machine-phobia in film was hatched decades back, but this once-good film franchise has reverted to the safety of failed ideas rather than dare to do something radically different and sensible.  It is fair to say that many moviegoers stopped taking “Terminator” films seriously after James Cameron’s 1991 sequel.  Three other films, including this latest one, have arrived since, to largely nonplussed audiences.  This new film is a dinosaur dressed up in special effects.  Like lipstick on a pig.

Ms. Clarke possesses some of the feral attributes Linda Hamilton was so proficient at conveying but because the former is petite and looks all of 15 at times in “Genisys” it’s queasy to watch Ms. Clarke and Mr. Courtney kiss.  It smacks of child molestation, and in IMAX 3D only magnifies the film’s deep flaws.  The damage isn’t contained, it sprawls.  Because “Genisys” is rushed and lazy everything looks exponentially bad, and it is.  Mr. Taylor’s film has the usually reliable Megan Ellison as an executive producer, although her older brother David gets the lion’s share of the blame for producing this lame, lifeless turkey.  Watching “Genisys” was painful, bordering on depressing.  Very painful indeed.  A film with such holes (and excessive bullet holes) didn’t deserve such a super-sized stage, or global tent-poling.  But alas, the money genie has long since been out of the bottle in Hollywood.

On another note, in “Genisys” there’s a 21st century America update in villain diversity where the T-1000 is concerned, with Lee Byung-hun in the role Robert Patrick had 24 years ago tomorrow.  Much of this new cast is Australian or British.  And Black women of any nationality appear to be extinct no matter what year “Genisys” finds itself shifting in.  No matter the cast, only J.K. Simmons’ and the former California governor’s few one-liners are of note — and even those aren’t especially memorable.  Which means it’s a Netflix date with “Genisys” if you absolutely must.  Perhaps “Terminator Genisys” will finally be the last hurrah for a franchise whose burial is long overdue.  Unless moviegoer money says otherwise.

Also with: Courtney B. Vance, Dayo Okeniyi, Sandrine Holt, Michael Gladis, Matt Smith, Gregory Alan Williams.

“Terminator Genisys” (IMAX 3D) is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language.

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