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Review: Terminator Genesys

Ros Hull

John Connor, leader of the human resistance in a future ruled by machines, sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, his mother. However when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be. imdb

I was ramping up for a really lovely rant before I saw this film. Kyle Reese is Michael Biehn – let no other attempt to play that part! I planned to start by groaning about remakes, move on to rubbishing this reboot before launching into a full dismissal of modern Hollywood. My theory being that the great Dream Machine is grinding to a halt, a victim of self-inflicted atrophy.

I might have even added that the only lively creativity left is in TV and illustrated that with the director of this film – Alan Taylor – who has made a lot of TV. From Game of Thrones to Sex in the City he was all about the box until he directed Thor: The Dark World.

The atrophy stems from this: many of the current directors of big, commercial Hollywood films started as fanboys. Geeks who salivated at the thought of a superhero movie or an action blockbuster and now that they are grown up they just want to make them. Again and again. Same, same but different. In any normal creative process they wouldn’t get to do this but the other side of the Dream Machine is the Money. And Money hates risk. So if it has already succeeded, surely it will succeed again.

Well, that was going to be my rant but I can’t. Although the question remains – did the world need a reboot of the original Terminator? I think the answer is ‘no’ … but this is not a bad film.

It is also a logical progression, in a wacky only-in-film way. As most of us know time isn’t static, it is more of a wibbly wobbly thing and if you can change the past, or in fact, fail to change the past, once – you might try again. Fair enough. The story that develops out of this idea is actually pretty good, pretty sound.

Quite enjoyable really.

The ways that seminal lines of dialogue, key ideas and humour, especially humour, from the original film are woven into this is fairly clever but it almost trips itself up when things become a bit too consciously meta. This moment, for me, came at the beginning of the film when I realised Matt Smith was standing behind John Connor. His one line of dialogue tells you who he is (if you pick up on it) and I may have grimaced a bit.

We live in such a self-aware world that those meta moments when one imaginary character consciously references another are no longer surprising. In one week of watching taped shows I have not only seen Linda Hamilton (the original Sarah Connor) extend an arm and saw ‘Come with me if you want to live’ (on Defiance); I have also seen Mark Hamill (on Flash) say ‘I am your father’!

On the plus side both Jason Clarke and Jai Courtenay do well in their roles and Emilia Clarke shows that she does not need dragons to kick serious butt. Arnie is really quite good too. The special effects are as special as you would expect (remember entire computer programs were invented to animate T2) and the mix of different types of terminators is entertaining.

But.

The first Terminator scared the (beep) out of me and broke my heart at the same time. The second left me trying to scrape my jaw off the ground two hours later.

This is good but it ain’t all that.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

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