Terminator: Genisys

Those darn time-traveling robots are up to their old tricks, covering their tracks again. Certainly they've found a new, scary way to blend in better, though thankfully not the same sort of way they had in the last Terminator flick, which is probably better forgotten. It's a good time to forget anything about the previous Terminator movies that you might not have liked, of course, since everything's been rebooted and all you really need to know is the basic plot of the first movie. This makes it easier to bring in lots of new fans for what I'm sure they hope will be a very lucrative franchise.

So first there's Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Last Stand) in both old and young versions, and luckily the explanation for him looking old actually made sense. If it's actual human skin on the Terminator metal skeletons, it's bound to end up aging -- it's just that the Terminators don't usually last long enough for that to happen. This doesn't explain how the living metal T-1000 models time travel, but we'll skip that.

Then there's Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), the 76th person to play John Connor. I kind of liked his version, at least at the beginning. Things do get weirder as the plot progresses, which is no surprise to anyone who's seen or read any time travel story ever. Jai Courtney (Insurgent) makes a good Kyle Reese, too, all earnest and somewhat clueless about his real role in the whole mess -- which again, isn't really a problem since everything's reset anyway. This rebooting stuff can really come in handy sometimes.

Anyway, the horribly-spelled Genisys of the title refers to a new sort of program that will link together every gadget a person owns so that you're basically always online and ready to be harassed by spam emails, random instant messages, etc, yet somehow everyone seems to like the idea. Playing right into Skynet's virtual hands, they are. Emilia Clarke (no relation to Jason) as Sarah Connor has a great confused reaction at her first sight of 2017, staring at all the tablets and iPhones and murmuring wonderingly about how "everybody has one". They do up the time travel factor here, with a lot more people bouncing around from year to year, so you need to pay attention.

I'm a little reluctant to say much more about the plot lest I give too much away. Let's just say that the trailers weren't lying when they made it seem full of explosions, daring escapes, bus crashes, improbable events, and more explosions. Even the Doctor (which is to say Matt Smith) gets in on the action, though you have to look close to see him. J.K. Simmons (Megamind) has probably the most fun in the movie, though, playing a grizzled police detective named O'Brien. There's also a small part for Danny Dyson (Dayo Okeniyi, Hunger Games) all grown up and running Cyberdyne.

Of course the net has already exploded -- not with Skynet, thankfully, or at least I don't think so. No, these are the people tearing apart the plot looking for contradictions and inconsistencies, and I'll admit that there are a few points that are shaky at best. (I'll still give it a solid three and three-quarters out of five overall, though.) But one big plot point, namely who or what changed the timeline in the first place, is yet to be explained, and my guess is that it will either clear up a lot of the problems, or create so many more that this first batch of problems will seem insignificant. I'm hoping for the former, but you never know about these things. After all, the future apparently really isn't set.

Arnold "smiling".  It still needs work, as you might imagine.


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