MOVIE MAN

Arnold comes back once again to Terminate stuff

By Movie Man | Published Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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Nothing hurts your head more than a time travel movie.

There’s all kinds of crazy rules (depending on the film’s conceit): you can’t touch yourself in the future or past; you can’t step on anything; things will get wonky in the future if you fiddle with any past event.

It’s that latter one that the Terminator series deals with.

ABOUT THE FILM

This is the fifth Terminator movie.

The original in 1984 was one of those movies that became a must-see for sci-fi nerds, and it remains one of the essentials for anyone seeking out the genre’s Golden Era canon (with the original Star Wars trilogy, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Blade Runner,” and … well, we’ll just stop there or we’ll fill up the page).

The original “Terminator” cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger as a star.

It took a while before the Terminator returned. But it did return, and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was exceptional, winning four Oscars. That rare super-sequel didn’t arrive until 1991, but it’s even more beloved than the original.

Then things got funky. Fans didn’t dig “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine,” and the fourth Terminator film also got dissed by die-hards. Arnold-free “Terminator Salvation” was treated by fans a lot like “Rise of the Machines,” and it looked like the series might peter out.

No chance. Now here’s “Terminator Genisys.” It too, unfortunately, is not bound for the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame, even with the return of Arnold.

THE PLOT (SPOILER)

Future warriors are fighting Skynet – a man-made computer system that took over humanity. But wouldn’t it be nice to stop Skynet from ever being created?

John Connor (Jason Clarke) is alive and the leader of the revolution, so his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) must have survived in the past, which was a big part of defeating the machines.

To stop the creation of Skynet, Connor sends back his No. 1 soldier and buddy, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), to again make sure Sarah is safe while figuring out how to stop the software’s initial implementation.

However, 1984 is different now. The original Terminator (Schwarzenegger) is now protecting Sarah – who calls him Pops and is aging thanks to being covered with human skin – and the trio eventually is dodging not only that melty-shape-shifting Terminator but a now-evil Connor.

Genisys is the worldwide software program that will connect every personal and electronic device on earth that will lead to the rise of the machines, so the threesome head out to destroy the program before it can go online.

They succeed – or do they?

WHAT WORKS

The Movie Man will fess up: He’s an Arnold fan. There’s something endearing about seeing the Austrian Oak still striding menacingly, still able to tangle with much more fearsome Terminators.

And all the computer generation is spectacular.

Emilia Clarke also holds her own as Sarah Connor – something most fanboys won’t admit because of the love of the original Sarah, Linda Hamilton. But Clarke is just fine.

Kudos to the writers for trying to make some sense of the time travel mythology, even if you eventually bail out from tired-head.

Fans will enjoy Easter eggs from former movies.

BEST SCENE

Sarah, Kyle and Pops get arrested. In a quick snippet of a sequence, the generic “Bad Boys” theme from the TV show “Cops” plays while the trio is shown getting their mug shots. Kyle comes first. Then teeny Sarah is followed by a towering Pops. The juxtaposition of height is capped when Pops tries on his painfully fake toothy smile for the camera.

It’s a scene that seems like it came from outer space – a rare laugh-out-loud sequence from left field.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

Boo to the poor character development of a conspiracy theory cop played by the great J.K. Simmons. He gets a nice introduction then goes away. Bummer.

“Genisys” feels rushed. And that makes it boring sometimes.

The ballyhooed early fight where Arnold battles an earlier version of himself sets up great but doesn’t go anywhere, and it’s the worst CG of the movie.

All the fights look the same, with people and machines throwing each other around, back and forth.

There’s a stinger about a minute into the end credits, and it’s the most unsurprising, sequel-setting-up extra scene ever.

THE RATING

Terminator purists lament that a true movie in the series must be R-rated. This one’s a PG-13 with one f-bomb and some non-explicit nudity – both homages to the original.

SUMMING UP

Oh, well. Another Terminator that’s not bad but not great – just another couple of hours spent in the cool of a theater in the hot summertime.

NEXT UP

“Minions”

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