To all Terminator fans, listen up: the Terminator franchise has returned to theatres, brining with it all of the original characters you know and love, and doing its fans the favour of ignoring the timeline of events which occurred in Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation. Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally returned to the franchise, bringing with him the character he was born to play. Like the previous three films, he delivers a performance of hilarious one-liners and iconic machine-on-machine combat that made the original series famous. And who better to accompany him than the new fiery and petite Sarah Conner, played by Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke?
In this film, however, the Terminator must now protect both Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese from two new threats that have set out to start Judgement Day through more modern means known to audience members in 2015: a Siri-like computer program created by Skynet called Genisys, and Sarah Conner’s son-turned-Terminator John Connor. The film’s plot is quite convoluted at times, and struggles from its attempt to create a new threat to the human race while also attempting to explain time travel schematics and build new character relations and development all at once. Nevertheless, the action sequences are very entertaining and suspenseful, and good performances from all four principal characters which make for an overall enjoyable film.
Audiences will love both the actress and the character Emilia Clarke portrays for virtually the same reasons as to why they have come to like her television character, Khaleesi: She is fiercely independent, brave, beautiful, while also possessing qualities of protectiveness and sympathy to those she loves and fights alongside. When Kyle Reese first meets Sarah, his initial reaction parallels that of the audience: we are pleasantly surprised by her ability to take on a highly advanced Terminator when we have been told prior to this scene that she will be innocent and naïve (much like the first Terminator film). The role reversal that is seen in this movie which entails Sarah Connor’s protective position over Kyle Reese as well as her superior knowledge on the current threat upon his arrival allow both Kyle Reese and the audience to develop a new admiration towards the character that has not been seen before. And although she is the shortest in height of the four principal cast members, her unyielding, tough-as-nails attitude makes even the Terminator unwilling to come into direct conflict with her.
Another new actor portrayal of a classic Terminator character that I found worthy of note is from Australian actor Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Great Gatsby). In the role of John Connor, Jason Clarke takes the role into an unexpected twist, in which the leader of the resistance, humanity’s last hope, has become the greatest adversary that the protagonists have ever encountered. Jason Clarke’s performance makes for a John Connor that is both feared and pitiable at the same time, making his character arc the most intriguing in the film.
Jai Courtney is probably the weakest of the four cast members. He does not display the emotional depth or amiability found in the other cast members, despite possessing the physique and hard-nosed appearance required of the role. Nevertheless, he does prove to be an agreeable match for Sarah Connor, though a stronger actor would have assisted in the development of a more convincing love-interest to Sarah and lifelong friend of John Connor.
Overall, Terminator: Genisys is an exciting, suspenseful film that should please Terminator fans. It remains true to the spirit of the original franchise (especially with the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger) while also bringing in new conflicts and character development that we have not seen before. I would not compare this film with the two groundbreaking originals by visionary director James Cameron, as this movie simply intended to be a continuation of the story and characters that the first two films created. Nevertheless, this film retains the true spirit of the Terminator films, with a solid cast and great visual effects that will leave Terminator fans, who, having endured Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation, will exit the theatres uttering the same words spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger when he first appears on the screen: “I’ve been waiting for you”.