To say the Terminator franchise has been a troubled one these past two entries would be like saying there’s a distinctive taste difference between vanilla and chocolate ice cream. It’s simply that apparent. Just when you thought Terminator Salvation was going to reinvigorate the franchise, production of a fifth film went right down the toilet slapped with bankruptcy forcing the property to once again go up for sale. The question was who’s going to buy it? You? Me? Why not Annapurna Pictures with distribution help from Paramount? And then there’s that spelling of “Genisys” in this film’s title to deal with. Oh well! You can’t win them all. I suppose in the end we should all be thanking the Gods for even letting a fifth film in this troubled Terminator franchise to exist, right? Absolutely!
So I guess you can say Terminator Genisys serves as both a sequel to the previous films in the series and also a reboot. How’s that you ask? I’ll get to that pain point in a moment, don’t you worry. However, this time out there’s no Linda Hamilton, Christian Bale or even James Cameron involved, instead it’s a production directed by Alan Taylor off a script written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier. There is one familiar face though! Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his breakout role in more ways than one. He always told us he’d be back, right? Well, he is! Arnold joins newcomers Jason Clarke (a favorite of mine), Emilia Clarke (the dragon lady), Jai Courtney, Lee Byung-hun, Matt Smith and J. K. Simmons.
One thing to note, before even going into this one, is that James Cameron did go on record after seeing Terminator Genisys to say it’s “extremely respectful of the first two movies.” He also showed his support of it. Don’t ask me. With two watches under my belt now I’m not sure what he’s smoking and makes me worried about the future of the Avatar franchise, but I digress. So I guess armed with that much knowledge we should all at least give it a chance, right? I mean here’s a Terminator film that tries its hardest to match the tone and colors of the first two films since after all this is billed as Terminator “Genisys.” If you’ve seen the trailers, then you already know events do go back in time to the periods of the first two legendary films. And that’s where things got a bit scary for me, not to mention the acting of Emilia Clarke in the trailers. Were my expectations too high of what a fifth film in the franchise should be like? Was I being too harsh on Clarke and the elderly quips of Schwarzenegger? This much and more I at least hoped to address with viewing this film twice now. The results of giving it the benefit of the doubt can be found below.
All in all, Terminator Genisys is a lot of fun, but it’s an absurd kind of fun traveling down a familiar, however, very bumpy road. What I mean by that is both complicated and convoluted, much like the film’s plot. There is a lot of ridiculousness going on, not to mention plot holes abound that we’re all supposed to just shrug off as who really cares, but the action pieces and the Terminator fanfare, lore and charm are prevalent throughout casting a shadow on just about everything else. In other words, the story, albeit a very familiar one, takes a back seat to all here. Does that make sense? Did I mention the slapstick comedy? No I did not! Not yet that is.
There has always been comedic moments in the Terminator franchise, from the “I’ll be back” to Arnold’s non-verbal gestures, but Terminator Genisys amps the comedy to all new high levels. They never resist capitalizing on a joke that fans of the first two films would pick up like a cup of water in a desert. However, that’s also a plus here because that’s all part of that Terminator fanfare, lore and charm I mentioned up above. That’s what makes this adventure a fun one, albeit familiar and often chaotic at times. What makes it chaotic? Oh boy! Now that’s a loaded question.
The chaos comes from much of the same problems that plagued X-Men: Days of Future Past, the time travel woes. Whenever you do a time travel film, and let’s face it, that’s what Terminator franchise is all about, things can get very messy and convoluted if you’re not careful. Well there’s a lot of that going on around here in Terminator Genisys, messiness that is. But don’t fret! It can all be explained with that whole alternate timeline lingo. You know, a convent alibi. Time travel, when done right in movies, is brilliant (see Predestination as an example of one). However, when done wrong, time travel can destroy films. There ain’t no hole big enough to dig your way out of the problems associated with alternate timelines in Terminator Genisys. Thank God it’s a lot of fun, right Kori? And it can all be addressed sloppily in a sixth film. That’s right! There might be a part six. However, even if it does bomb, can’t we just go back and erase this new timeline to make it so the events in the film Terminator Genisys never happened or are rendered irrelevant? LOL. I am just kidding. Or am I?
For me, Terminator Genisys is just a watered down, summer blockbuster fun. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that label. It’s just that we have seen this EXACT frickin’ storyline before. Why not just kill off Sarah’s parents? Better safe than sorry no? Why did you have to take two of the most favorite films from my childhood and ruin them with your alternate timeline because you had nothing better to write about? Is that a way to start off a new franchise? I think not. There’s too much of this “ghost in the machine” going on in here too. I was hoping for something fresh and cultivated with new ideas, story arcs and dilemmas. But fret not, it is absurd fun to be had. LOL. Ain’t that a kick in the nuts? If it wasn’t fun, I’d be having a field day ripping this film apart, but I digress.
So let’s spend a bit talking about all the major players involved here. Obviously, it’s no secret, Arnold is back. But who is he back as? Ah! Isn’t that a loaded question. Arghh. It irks me a bit and will probably frustrate you, but like it or not, he is shoehorned in this storyline with the name “Pops.” Yes! You heard me right. He’s pretty much Sarah Connor’s father figure, albeit a Terminator, ever since she was 9 years old. How is that possible? Good question! Filmmakers…you care to shed some light on that one? I thought not! However, don’t you worry your sweet bottom here as Arnold is back and funnier than ever. Sure there are a lot of Expendables like jokes and cracks at the expense of his age, but as he says in the film “I’m old, not obsolete.” Ain’t that the truth. Arnold cracked me up in here and his Terminator charisma shines brightly throughout in this film. If it weren’t for him, this would be an unwatchable mess for me. Arnold makes this one. He owns it!
While Arnold still has his game, clearly, let’s focus on the efforts of Jason, Jai and Emilia next. While the former is excellent in anything he does, Terminator Genisys being no exception, the middle one is bit goofy in this re-casted role of Kyle Reese, but he makes it fun nonetheless. Clarke, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. The role of Sarah Conner has always been that of a very independent and strong woman. I still feel like this gal is still riding dragons in this one. Her acting is deplorable at times and only plausible at best others. I really wanted more strength and charisma in her iconic character, but alas I got none of that. The trailers don’t lie. When she points a gun and sprays bullets, it’s not supposed to be funny is it? I don’t feel like she could harm an ant.
As far as the effects go they are done well, but let’s face it. Not much has changed the past 30 years here in this franchise. The technology we are scraping the surface here within is still very much the same as what’s in the first two films. That’s where it gets a bit boring. So it should come as no surprise that the effects look better in this day and age compared to 30 years ago, but bigger and grander? No. Not really. The exception being the character that Jason Clarke inhabits, but if you’ve seen last year’s Lucy, it’s really no different. So in other words, don’t expect Terminator Genisys to break any new grounds in FX like its earlier predecessors once did.
Last but not least let’s talk story, or as I said above, the lack of. Yes. There is a story, but it’s nothing new at all. It all has to do with the first Terminator film and here is where the respect comes into play that Cameron went on record discussing. It’s cool how they seemingly blended new footage with old, etc., but man did they ever destroy the Terminator timeline we all knew and loved so much. It’s a whole new ballgame now, albeit not a fresh one. The plot is simple. Skynet has been defeated in the future so they send the original Terminator model back in time to kill Sarah Connor in 1985. You see the similarity to the first film? Bingo! If you guessed the plot’s the same, you’re right! We do time jump a bit and land in 2017. It’s here where we learn what the name “Genisys” implies and/or what it refers to. Don’t worry, I’m not about to spoil anything for you. I will say this though, there is a mid-credits zinger so if you weren’t throughly disgusted with the feature, stick around and see the very predictable set up for a possible sixth film in the franchise. Yawn.
So even though it seems like I’m bashing and ragging on Terminator Genisys every chance I get I still very much had a lot of fun with it. It’s the absurd summer kind of blockbuster fun that makes me escape every day life. We all need that at times. I just wanted more I guess. And I would have been much happier if it didn’t butcher the first two films I so dearly loved in my life. However, despite my grief and complaints, Arnold is the real star here. The spotlight belongs on him. He makes this franchise and without him I don’t think there would be much life in this series. It would flat line instantly. With that being said, how does the film look and sound on the Blu-ray format? I thought you’d never ask that! Come on! I’ll tell you all about it below.
- Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Clarity/Detail: Clarity and detail is absolutely impeccable when it wants to be. All one has to do is look at the machines to see this is a presentation not to be messed with. I mean just look at that nasty scar on John Connor’s face. Heck even the puddles in the concrete grooves on the pavement are faithfully rendered in this one. Like Bush said it’s the “little things that kill.”
- Depth: The depth of field is crazy insane from the various tunnels our characters traverse down to the opening landscapes. I really loved how deep everything felt in this one, the picture, not the story. Haha.
- Black Levels: For the most part, black levels are all deep and inky throughout. I say for the most part because there were a few borderline scenes, but not enough to ding this one over.
- Color Reproduction: The colors are all rich and vivid when called upon despite the darkness in the presentation and the overall tone. Fire, and the blues and reds of the machines all pop in contrast against the darker moments in this one. If you know me, then you know I love that contrast! Pop!
- Flesh Tones: The flesh tones are all natural and authentic looking throughout.
- Noise/Artifacts: This one is free of any nasty noise, white specks or any other blemishes that would distract you from enjoying the presentation, not the story. Haha.
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
- Dynamics: This is an action movie first and foremost. You better believe the dynamics of this track, equipped with Dolby Atmos, are off the hook, crazy insane…in a good way of course. There’s not many lulls within, but when there are even the quietest of moments rock with this track.
- Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is king here. It’s like Anakin Skywalker, it brings balance to the Force in every which way it’s employed here from explosions and fight sequences to bass thumping and miscellaneous supplemental effects.
- Surround Sound Presentation: Like the LFE channel, the rears get worked time and a half here. Everything happens all around you like the score, helicopters, voices, gun fire, explosions, ambience…do I need to go or do you get the picture? The audio track makes the lackluster story that much better. That ain’t no joke!
- Dialogue Reproduction: Spoken words are clear and intelligible throughout.
The Terminator Genisys Blu-ray Combo Packs with Digital HD (redeemable for both UV and iTunes) include nearly an hour of bonus content, featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and filmmakers, including the director of the first two films, James Cameron. You also get to take an in-depth look at the stunning visual effects and jaw-dropping action sequences, the recreation of iconic scenes from the original film, and more. Come on! Let’s discuss these in much more detail.
- Family Dynamics (HD, 15:51) – This one is all about casting Terminator Genisys and how the actors filled some of the most iconic roles in cinematic history as well as Arnold’s charisma. J.K. jokes about how he’s the lone American in this production. Haha. I love this guy! Arnold jokes how he got to keep his clothes on in the first Terminator film. LOL.
- Infiltration and Termination (HD, 25:29) – Go behind-the-scenes to San Francisco and New Orleans in a first-hand look at filming locations. It’s funny to hear how New Orleans is stuck in another time period so downtown New Orleans looks more like old downtown LA than the real location does. Everyone films in New Orleans, don’t they? Should be nothing new to learn. It was really cool to go behind-the-scenes of the D-Day like war sequence in the film’s opening. Alan Taylor seems really smitten with Arnold.
- Upgrades: VFX of Terminator Genisys (HD, 15:07) – Here we get to delve into the revolutionary visual effects behind the movie’s incredible action sequences, both old improvements and new.
Terminator Genisys is one of those scenarios where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That means that when you add together all of the parts that make up Terminator Genisys, it is greater than it seems like it should be. Does that mean you should buy the Blu-ray? I would say err on the side of caution. For fans who don’t want their childhood destroyed, maybe a rental is more appropriate. For the collectors out there who also suffer from being a completist, then you know you have to hit that pre-order link down below. It could have been so much better, I know, but IT IS WHAT IS…blockbuster popcorn fun, not necessarily done right, but Arnold makes it fun. It’s also a terrific looking and bombastic sounding Blu-ray too. So that ought to count for something, eh? You know what to do. In Arnold’s famous words, I declare to all of you, “I’ll be back.”
Declares War on Blu-ray