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Terminator: Genisys Review

This review is a little bit later than I’d like, but chicken pox hit and hit hard, so I had to forego my originally scheduled trip to the multiplex for Terminator: Genisys. But, all that meant was that there would have to be a double bill with the other big release that was due the following week (Ant-Man). So, with no further delay or excuse…here we go….

"Goddamn time traveling robots! Covering up their goddamn tracks! I hate them!" - Detective O'Brien 

I guess I need to lay my cards on the table here, and state for the record that Arnold Schwarzenegger is, actually, my favourite film actor. I’ve followed his career since seeing Conan the Barbarian in the cinema back in 1982, and will go and see just about anything and everything he’s in, just because he’s in it. He makes no pretence about being an actor, what you see is what you get. He hasn’t made a film yet that hasn’t entertained me in some way. (Nope, even Batman and Robin has its use – just to revel in its awfulness.)

When Schwarzenegger became Governor of California, it seemed that his film career was over, but I still had all the DVDs. Then came the end of his term in office, and a cameo appearance in The Expendables, and a bigger role in its sequel, and a couple of direct to DVD movies which were fun to watch. Then came the announcement that the big guy was going to revisit his most iconic role.

Question was, could even Schwarzenegger pull off such a feat? Could he, now in his sixties, make a viable return as The Terminator, a role he first played thirty one years ago? The mind truly boggled at the concept. Was this too audacious, even for the Austrian Oak?

I mean a couple of direct to DVD action movies and limited appearances in an all star Expendables line up is one thing, but headlining a highly anticipated summer blockbuster in a franchise that has a huge fan base is another – right?

Yeah – he not only pulls this remarkable feat off, but it’s done smartly and credibly.

I’m not ageist by any means. Hell, at fifty five myself, I can’t afford to be. But the whole aging thing was a stumbling block. Schwarzenegger 2015 can’t pass for Schwarzenegger 1984, and y’know… killer robots don’t age. Or do they?

The handling of this whole problem was the crux of the plot.

The film starts off in the future, just before the Terminator is sent back in time to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor. Now upon his arrival in Los Angeles, the next several minutes are a word for word remake of the original Terminator movie, with a different, younger cast – BUT with a 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger. This, I presume is part old footage and part CGI, and it’s wholly convincing. From his arrival near the refuse truck to the point he meets the three thugs and delivers the line “Your clothes – give them to me” is an exact re-filming. Same with Kyle Reese’s arrival in the alley and the subsequent chase into the store by the cops.

At the point I was beginning to wonder if this whole thing was just a remake (having avoided all plot spoilers) everything changed.

Terminator 1984 is interrupted by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role as he looks today, in 2015. One of the cops chasing Reese into the store is a liquid metal Terminator from T2: Judgement Day. History has changed, and it’s about to get changed considerably more.

Okay – so how can there be two Terminators, and how come one’s well into middle age?

In this altered timeline, Sarah Connor became an orphan when a Terminator was sent from the future to kill her as a child, in 1973. At that point, ANOTHER Terminator was sent to protect her, this one, who’s looking older and has been nicknamed “Pops” by Sarah Connor as he raised her.

The aging issue is resolved because the killer robots as of course covered in living tissue. The robot skeleton won’t age, but the outer tissue will age normally. This is how we get to see the incredible spectacle early in the film of a young Schwarzenegger fighting a middle aged Schwarzenegger.

So, with the timeline now altered further, (and a villainous turn from a Time Lord, no less) and with a disturbing new Terminator in the mix, the mission becomes one of preventing Skynet from completely taking over the planet’s computerised infrastructure. This too is ingenious, moreso when you take into account that the internet which we all take so much for granted these days, didn’t actually exist for us back in the mid eighties.

The way Skynet is being empowered is by means of a commercially available computer program/operating system that basically links all your devices together, and is counting down to the time it goes “live” with millions of eager consumers waiting for this awesome facility that will do everything, apparently. For free. Eventually, as we know – it even takes over the defence computers and decides that we humans are the virus and wipes us out.

Call me cynical, call me alarmist if you must – but isn’t that just a little close to home?

This coming week, Microsoft are launching Windows 10 as a free upgrade to millions of us (myself included) and guess what? It’s going to standardise everything, Cortana will be talking to us through our laptops, harmonising our gadgets…… damn, it could be the dawn of Judgement Day.

If it is, though – make sure you see this movie before it happens. You’re guaranteed to walk away smiling in the knowledge that Arnold Schwarzenegger is truly the king of the action movie genre whatever life throws at him, he’ll be back. (However much that might illogically screw up timelines.) 


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