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Terminator Genisys (2015)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/10/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/29/2015
As the bulk of movies are self-contained stories, there's not much to justify the existence of most film series. Sometimes we are clamoring to see certain characters or storylines come back, but for the most part, it has more to do with big box office returns than the desire to continue a story. If a movie must insist on becoming a franchise, one would hope that the group of films would either knock it out of the park each time or at least strive to make each film as diverse as possible. The Terminator series certainly swings for the latter. While the entries peaked with 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the subsequent films have tried to offer us some variety which still existing with the Terminator universe. The latest offering, Terminator Genisys, does this by paying homage to the first film, while bringing in a new storyline.
Terminator Genisys opens in the year 2029, where we find freedom fighter John Connor (Jason Clarke) and his right-hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), striking a winning blow in their war against the machines. The rebels have discovered the machines greatest weapon, a time machine, and have taken control of it. Reese volunteers to travel to 1984 to warn Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), mimicking the events from The Terminator. But, when Reese arrives in 1984, things are quite different than he had expected. Sarah Connor isn't who he thought she would be and a T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is already there. Working together, Reese and Sarah will use time travel and their combined knowledge to try and stop SkyNet from ever existing. However, there is a new menace waiting for them. One which they will never see coming.
In order to simply justify its existence (beyond the effort to make money), Terminator Genisys needed to do something very different from the other films in the franchise. This notion only serves to make the opening all the more interesting. The film begins with an elaborate scene set in the future which shows the events which lead up to Kyle Reese being sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor. This whole thing plays comes across as something which James Cameron would have wanted to show in The Terminator had the budget allowed for it. So, this doesn't feel all that new. Then, the movie turns into what appears to be a shot-for-shot remake of the first film, as Reese arrives in 1984 Los Angeles, just as the original Terminator does. Director Alan Taylor pays a lot of attention to detail here and these scenes are a blast for fans of The Terminator, but again, this isn't anything new.
But, when Sarah Connor arrives on the scene, the story suddenly shifts and the new stuff arrives. Writers Patrick Lussier and Laeta Kalogridis have taken ideas and concepts from The Terminator and Terminator 2 and turned them on their heads, as the viewer is taken into a world which begins as very familiar and then moves further and further into its own constructs. With this head-fake, it become clear that the makers of Terminator Genisys wanted to lull the viewer into a false sense of security and then do something different. It also seems pretty apparent that Taylor, Lussier, and Kalogridis wanted to make the most convoluted time travel movie ever and I think this is where they may have lost some people. You don't have to work very hard to get filmgoers to complain about how confusing time travel can be, and Terminator Genisys raises the bar for paradoxes, alternate worlds, and new timelines. It takes a lot of focus to follow everything which is happening here (and it doesn't all make sense), and that may have been a turn off for people who only wanted action. But, there should have been more than enough here to satisfy them, as the action sequences are plentiful and well done.
The question must be asked: Was anyone asking for another Terminator film? Had the owner of the rights simply been waiting for Arnold to return to making movies so that they could release another chapter? I'm not sure, but I know that the film got lost in the sea of summer releases and barely made back half of its reported budget, which implies that the masses had no interest. Or again, perhaps it was bad word-of-mouth. I liked the chances that the movie took and that it opted to not simply be another clone of one of the earlier films. The story is complicated, but there is a payoff if you stick with it and it is great to see Arnold being both a badass and getting laughs as the T-800. If I had to question a part of the movie, it would be the casting. Neither Jason Clarke or Jai Courtney are particularly well-suited for their roles. And while they are two of the four leads, there's enough other stuff going on here to overlook that. So, if you decided to skip Terminator Genisys in theaters either because you'd heard bad things or didn't know what in the world the title meant, do yourself a favor and check it out.
Terminator Genisys needs a refresher course on "Stranger Danger" on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably blues and reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent, as we can make out textures on objects and the depth is notable. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences really shine here, as this is a loud track. The surround sound effects are very detailed, and we can easily pick out individual sounds. The stereo effects are nearly constant, and they do a great job of highlighting things coming from off-screen. The subwoofer is very powerful and we very every gunshot, punch, and explosion. This set also includes a Blu-ray 3D where the film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an MVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24/9 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The 3D effects look fantastic, as we are treated to great depth and a nice use of layering as people and objects pass by one another. This gives the image a very lifelike look comes very close to ViewMaster level 3D (for those of you old enough to get that reference). The colors look good, but the image is slightly dark here, but that's excusable given all that's going on with the 3D. The Disc carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 640 kbps. Yes, this is a giant step down in sound from the Blu-ray, but, again, it's worth it for the visuals.
The Terminator Genisys Blu-ray Disc contains a surprisingly small amount of extras. "Family Dynamics" (16 minutes) focuses on the actors in the film and contains interviews with the principal cast who discuss their roles in the movie and who these characters are and how they are different from previous films. Also, they pay tribute to the series. "Infiltration and Termination" (25 minutes) takes us on-set in New Orleans to examine how several key scenes from the film, placing an emphasis on stunts, visual effects, and the construction of sets. "Upgrades: VGX of Terminator Genisys" (15 minutes) grants us access to the visual FX studio and looks at how computer generated effects and layering were used to create the various effects in the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long