I don’t usually post reviews of movies, but I thought I should do it just this once, with all the weird press this movie is getting.
First off, the marketing on this movie has been ATROCIOUS, and as such the movie is suffering accordingly. So far, given its weak domestic opening weekend, its total projected earnings is only about $85M. The movie cost $155M to make, so if that prediction pans out the movie will end up losing 70 million dollars, pretty much killing any possibility of any further movies in the franchise.
Let’s get one thing straight: I do not want that to happen.
Currently, the movie sits at a 39/100 for press reviews on Metacritic with mostly mixed to negative reviews, but the user reviews sit solidly at a 6.9/10, with very positive scores. Needless to say, something is wrong with this scenario. And that something is legacy media.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this ordeal, it’s that most press reviewers are old, jaded, cynical, and hopelessly nostalgic about the “classics” they grew up with. As such, they see something like Terminator Genisys that so creatively twists apart and transforms what they think of as untouchable and it turns their collective stomachs.
This movie is not aimed at them.
Instead, this is aimed at a younger audience, a more flexible audience, an audience that grew up with time-travel science-fiction and is wired to easily understand things like Doctor Who and Back to the Future and X-Men and Star Trek and Bioshock Infinite. What the aging press reviewers think of as “incomprehensible” and “confusing” is old hat in the modern media ecosystem, where nuclear apocalypses are as common as a Starbucks, and evil robots and killer AIs are often yawn-inducing. What Terminator Genisys does so brilliantly is take an old, dusty game board filled with pieces that would never work in today’s concept-drenched society, and instead of simply dusting it off and applying a fresh coat of paint, it destroys the entire board and creates a whole new game with all-new rules to play by.
In short, it takes the Terminator formula of “cyborg sent back in time to kill person who will save the future” and exaggerates it to its logical extreme, creating a mind-bending multiverse so advanced it almost rips the space-time continuum apart. This changes so much about the Terminator world that it even calls its core concepts into question, and while it doesn’t exactly “wrestle” with the deeper aspects, the implications of such existential doubt are still there. Such as: Will “Judgment Day” even happen? Will Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor even get along, let alone fall in love, now that their respective situations are so different? Is John Connor still the savior of humanity? Is SKYNET even really evil any more?
But that’s not all that’s changed. The writing, too, is vastly different from the gory ultra-violence and too-serious ‘80s brooding one would expect from a Terminator film. Instead, it’s sleekly propelled by adrenaline-fueled–if bloodless–action and extremely fast-paced, self-aware, character-focused dialogue that made me laugh almost consistently, much to my pleasant surprise.
The acting is pretty fair to excellent all-around as well, with Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones) playing an excellently badass Sarah Connor and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself playing “Pops,” an aging (and surprisingly whimsical) T-800 unit sent to protect her. Jai Courtney plays a pretty great Kyle Reese, and although his acting has been criticized, he’s just doing an impression of Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese from the original Terminator). Matt Smith (Doctor Who) has a pretty important–but spoilerific–role, and he pretty much nails it (even if his American accent is a bit spotty at times).
The main thing to take away from this is that it is not really a Terminator movie in the way you’d expect. Instead, it guts the works and remakes it from the inside out to fit a more modern, more in-touch audience. I’d recommend it especially to people who enjoy modern superhero movies and more self-aware, brainy, character-driven stories. You don’t even have to watch any of the previous movies to understand what’s going on; the movie does have quite a few nods to the originals, but it does a great job of explaining itself on its own. Arguably, it might even be better if you go into the movie with an open mind and refuse to hold the old movies to such nostalgic heights.
So do yourself a favor and go see this movie. If you love it, great! If you hate it, fine by me. But I really want to see where all this is planned to go, and in order for that to happen, this movie needs much more love.
Reviewers are dumb and old
If you like slick action and witty writing, you will love this movie
You don’t have to see the previous movies
James Cameron, the franchise creator, gave his thumbs-up even if reviewers don’t
That’s a huge deal
This movie is flopping in theaters due to bad press and terrible marketing
It’s up to social media for this movie to find its audience
Signal boost the crap out of this to save Terminator