I could mention that there are spoilers in this post, which there are, but if you’ve seen the trailers then it’s basically all been spoiled already anyway!

I’ll be totally honest, I really wasn’t all that bothered about watching this film. I just wasn’t all that optimistic. The first movie trailer that came out, at the end of last year I think, was actually laughable in my opinion. The John Connor and Kyle Reese moments looked really cheesy and wooden, the shot of them running with guns looked hilarious and amateurish, the clips of Sarah Connor and Arnie looked predictable and unoriginal, and the redoing of the first movie’s storyline just really didn’t jive with me one little bit. Not a good start.

Then the next trailer I saw actually looked a little bit better. The action sequences looked pretty well done, the plot seemed to have slightly more depth, and then boom… John Connor is a baddie? It seemed to be going a bit wacky and over the top, I really wasn’t sure about it at all, but I was intrigued. I’ve later heard that the director didn’t even know that they were going to spoil the John Connor surprise in the trailer. It was meant to be something that was a surprise in the same way that you thought that Arnie was a baddie in T2 until he shot the T-1000.

I loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And this is much more of a time-travel movie than any of its predecessors.
So I went to see the film thinking that I really wouldn’t like it, and you know what? I loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I won’t watch it again and again like I would T1 or T2 but I really did enjoy every minute of it. I am someone who majorly loves the first two Terminator films, and I am very protective of reboots or modern sequels not doing justice to old franchises. But I thought this film was actually very respectful to the old movies. Some people may laugh at that, because I’ve heard from several sources that this film ‘craps all over the Terminator-lore’ and I can see how it can be seen that way, but actually I think it does it with respect for the lore. It does in some ways completely rewrite and offer a new twist to the old lore, but it’s a time travel movie, it can do that. In fact this is much more of a time-travel movie than any of its predecessors.

But let’s back up and talk about John Connor and Kyle Reese, who kick the film off. I really didn’t find either of them all that likeable at the start. Reese didn’t seem to have much depth and there was something about Connor that I just didn’t warm to either. In retrospect I think you were maybe meant to be slightly unsure about Connor because they could have been setting him up for the big turn later in the film. And I actually really liked him later on as the baddie. But Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese just seemed a very strange choice. His character seemed whiny and annoying for a lot of the film and he just really wasn’t even on the same page as Michael Biehn at all. Strange, when they obviously took pains to try to make Clarke’s Sarah Connor have shades of Linda Hamilton’s Connor, that they didn’t try to replicate Biehn even a little. This representation of Kyle Reese was the only bit of the film that let me down.

Emily Clarke as Sarah Connor was a big success too in my eyes. Again she’s getting some flak on the internet but I felt she had just enough of Linda Hamilton in her performance to believe in the character and she was able to bring a lot of herself too, because this was a very different Sarah Connor. I really wasn’t all that optimistic after seeing the trailer but after seeing the film I think that she did well. It’s a tough job to take on such an iconic role but I felt that she made it her own.

Next comes Arnie. You can’t have a Terminator movie without Arnie. I think that’s what we’ve learnt.
And as they say, two Arnies are better than one. The 80s Arnie was pretty phenomenal. If that scene was totally a ‘synthespian’ then it really is incredible. And it was great to see young Arnie fight old Arnie. Throughout the film they dangerously straddled the line of trying to make the Arnie Terminator funny, with some amusing one-liners and awkward smiles, and they just about pulled it off. It’s also just great to have so many Terminators running around. I think there are 4 Terminators in the film if you count John Connor. There’s the young Arnie, the old Arnie, the T-1000 cop and John Connor. Seeing them all fight together is great. A lot of people have a problem with the old Terminator appearing aged but I totally bought it. Their explanation worked for me and I felt the old Terminator became a character you could really warm to.

Although the time travel doesn’t get too complex it’s still cool to see it used several times in this film. I’m a huge sucker for time travel as you will know if you saw my Time Travel Week last year, and it’s used here pretty cleverly, not just to rewrite and complicate what has gone before but instead it starts a whole new timeline. That’s why I don’t feel it craps all over the Terminator-lore. The old lore is still totally relevant and you can still watch the old movies without their stories being affected. This latest film just gives an alternate future, an alternate timeline. There are lots of nods to the original movies but again it’s not done in a cheesy or patronising way. Even Jurassic World was slightly too obvious with some of its references to Jurassic Park, but Terminator Genisys recreated some scenes shot for shot (as it was part of the storylien) and also just had things like some camera angles or shot compositions mirroring some from the first two films. I felt it did it with style and a lot of respect. I remember watching one shot when the camera tracks alongside the fork from a forklift truck and I thought to myself that that looked like a very 80s shot. Perhaps I was subconsciously remembering a similar shot from the first Terminator movie because I soon realised that this was one of the scenes that they were recreating. All the recreation of the 80s stuff seemed great and didn’t seem out of place at all. Strangely, when they went into the future to 2017 it sounded like it was really far in to the future but it suddenly hit me that it’s only 2 years away! Again the only bit that pulled me out was Kyle Reese, when he did the thing in the shop when he places the shoes against his feet to check the size. It just looked like he was just going through the motions of trying to replicate something rather than doing it for real. But hey, I’m really nit-picking there. One bit I really liked about the time travel aspect was how the old Arnie had to live for 33 years on his own in order to meet up with Sarah and Kyle again. I love things like that in time travel stories and I’d love to see a short film based on that old Arnie doing things like getting a job at Skynet, interacting with humans every day, doing his laundry etc.

Some of the action scenes are really well done. Often we are desensitised these days to things blowing up or people fighting but I felt this movie did things very well and had a few surprises. There were a couple of moments that made us jump and some of the fight scenes are fantastic. There’s an awesome moment in particular when John Connor is fighting the old Arnie and he’s kind of phasing him through him and it looks totally like a move that Yoshimitsu would do in Tekken, which is extremely cool. I also kind of liked the link they made between everyone being head down into their mobiles and the Internet of Things connecting everything together and how that could lead to the beginnings of Skynet. That was a nice connection to current trends.

In summary, I tend to like my Terminator movies slightly darker, grittier and heavier than this and with better use of the Terminator music. This one was slightly more a popcorn action film, but for what it was I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m really surprised I’m saying this, because I thought the trailers were terrible, but I really did enjoy it. It’s not a perfect movie and it’s not totally in the same tone as the first two films, but it’s definitely the third best film, it’s a great fun ‘montage’ of the first two films in some ways, with some new bits added, and it’s a great way to explore the Terminator universe a bit more. Even if you’re a serious old-school Terminator fan I think if you go along with an open mind then you could really enjoy it.