He’s back! In this Terminator reboot, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his iconic T-800 cyborg, only this time he gets to age. Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) steps easily into the role of Sarah Connor and Jason Clarke (no relation) plays a grown up John Connor. Jai Courtney (Insurgent & Divergent) is the hero Kyle Reese sent back from the dystopian future to save humanity and fall in love with Sarah. A lot of the original elements are the same, but thankfully, the writers liked playing with the concept of time travel and they serve up a new story with a lot of familiar beats. It works as a stand alone, though probably is more fun if you’ve seen the original.
In case you missed the first ones: The machines have taken over the world and the humans led by John Connor are losing, so they send Kyle back to 1984 to help Sarah stop the incident that let the machines take over. But the machines have also sent back some killers to keep Kyle and Sarah from stopping their ascension. And here we diverge. Everything is on a different timeline. This time Arnold’s cyborg arrived when Sarah was just a kid and her parents were killed, and they’ve been together ever since. She calls him “Pops,” and he is there to protect her. And this cyborg ages, at one point admitting he’s “old, not obsolete,” though he is still capable of being one bad ass machine. And this time, Sarah and Kyle can’t save the world in 1984 because the incident they need to stop happens in 2017, so of course they must time travel (naked), while Arnold ages and meets them there for the big stunts and explosions-filled battle to save humanity.
Terminator Genisys is not going to go down as one of the great sci-fi flicks like the original. The story has some bumps and stretches, but it is entertaining, and it is fun to watch Arnold and wait for him to say, “I’ll be back.” It really is his film. The other actors are fine but not as good as the originals, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, and no one overshadows Arnold, though J. K. Simmons has a few nice comic moments as a cop who meets them first in 1984 and then again in 2017. Teenage boys will like it, and if you were a fan of the original and can handle the fact that a new director isn’t going to channel James Cameron, you’ll have fun.