Arnold Schwarzenegger is ba-a-ack in his signature role for Terminator Genisys, but the question you may have by the end is why anybody bothered.
The television ads have been proclaiming that this is the Terminator you’ve been waiting for, but if you examine them closely, two of the three endorsements are by James Cameron, the writer-director of the first and arguably the best Terminator (though many confess a fondness for the second one). Ulterior motives, anyone?
If you liked the first two films, you should be prepared to abandon any of the mythology that has emerged from them, for Terminator Genisys upends everything and propels the saga into “infinite” directions—or so the makers would have you to believe. In a reprise of the first film’s opening, a Terminator from a futuristic battlefield has been sent to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). The futuristic resistance fighter Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is also sent back to 1984 by the leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) to rescue Sarah—armed with the knowledge that he’ll likely be sacrificed in order to preserve the future of the Resistance. What Kyle will soon discover is that timelines have already been altered, as Sarah already has a protector she calls Pops (Schwarzenegger), a Terminator reprogrammed to protect her. She is also unwilling to mate with Reese, and instead proposes they time travel to 1997 to destroy Skynet aka Genisys, a global program ostensibly designed to unite all elements of technology—but really has a far more destructive purpose in mind…
Enough with the exposition. What people really want to know is how Ah-nold has held up and is the film any good?
The film has many flaws—the action is at once overblown and lacking in real excitement. It also works hard to subvert your expectations without substituting anything fresh or innovative. Emilia Clarke is a feisty Sarah (though making nowhere near Linda Hamilton’s impact), while Jason Clarke is good enough as Connor to make the viewer wish he had been used more. J.K. Simmons also contributes a nice turn as a policeman who becomes one of Reese’s main allies. Unfortunately, there is Jai Courtney as Reese, lacking presence and anything resembling a likable persona. One wishes that the Terminator would dispatch him, and early on. As for Schwarzenegger, while the actor and character are undeniably aging, with the characters including “Pops” making reference to it, he is still the best thing in the film—recycled wisecracks, forced smile and all. He manages to create some semblance of humanity amidst the wreckage that is Terminator Genisys.
If you’re seeking a “family film” that you can enjoy even without young’uns, you should head to Pixar’s Inside Out, a charming, funny and poignant animated tale.
The film’s premise hinges on the concept of emotions such as Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust as distinct personalities operating within all of us out of the command center in our minds. Joy, as winningly voiced by Amy Poehler is the de facto leader of these emotions as they affect Riley, a young girl from Minnesota whose idyllic life is thrown into an upheaval after the family moves to San Francisco. Maintaining Riley’s emotional well-being is a challenge, made even more so when Sadness (voiced by Phylis Smith) tinkers with Riley’s memories, resulting in Joy and Sadness being sucked out of Headquarters and into the deep recesses of Riley’s mind, where the only hope of returning to Headquarters is to catch the “train of thought” that operates only when Riley is awake.
Rather than confuse you more, I can only suggest that you see Inside Out. The voice talent is superb, from Poehler and Smith, to Lewis Black’s magnificent rants as Anger, and Richard Kind’s Bing Bong, Riley’s helpful, long lost imaginary friend. The animation is on a par with Pixar’s best work, the themes regarding the importance of family, friendship, and emotional balance are deftly depicted, and the situations are engaging and emotionally satisfying. It’s one of the year’s best films, animated or otherwise.