Read this “Terminator Genisys” review if you want to live!
July 5th, 1987
Koopa Troopa Receptionist: *looks up from reading his newspaper* Welcome to Bowser’s Castle. How can I help you?
T-800 Terminator: I’m a friend of Princess Peach. I was told that she’s here. Could I see her, please?
Receptionist: No, sorry, you can’t see her. She’s having breakfast. She really doesn’t like being interrupted when she eats french toast.
Terminator: Where is she?
Receptionist: Look, it may take a while. If you want to wait, there’s a bench right over there.
*Terminator looks around the entrance hall and then back at the receptionist.*
Terminator: I’ll be back.
*Terminator leaves the castle*
Receptionist: Huh, that guy was weird. *goes back to reading his newspaper*
*Edmond Honda is destroying a car with his Hundred Hand Slap. The terminator approaches from behind and throws Honda into the nearby water.*
Terminator: Get out!
*Terminator gets into the half-destroyed car and drives off.*
Receptionist: HAHAHA! Oh my gosh, Garfield is hilarious. I have to show this one to Bruce when he gets here.
*A car smashes through the castle door and rams into the front desk.*
*The receptionist hides under his turtle shell. The terminator fires his pistol at the shell and it repeatedly bounces back and forth between the walls. A squad of goombas rush into the room and are quickly stomped into the floor. A series of Bullet Bills fly into the Terminator’s body, but it doesn’t faze him in the slightest.*
Koopa Troopa Guard: *on the intercom* Code red! We have a break-in! Code Red! Alert Bowser!
*Terminator shoots down the guard*
*A shadowy figure of a man in suspenders wearing a plumber’s cap sneaks upstairs*
Princess Peach: Mmmm. French toast with french fries with french dressing on the side while I watch the French Open. Surprisingly good room service for a dinosaur prison.
*knock on the door* Voice: Princess! It’s Bowser! Let me in!
Peach: Ugh! Why always when I’m eating?! Go away, Bowser! It’s not a good time!
Voice: Your happy hour margarita is ready!
Peach: I didn’t order a margarita!
Voice: A mimosa?
Voice: Jack and ginger?
Voice: ……Peach martini?
Peach: Well, it’s about time! They’re already at the second set.
*Peach opens the door and sees the terminator standing there*
Peach: Wait…..you’re not Bowser!
*The terminator marches into the cell, unholsters his pistol and aims it at Peach. A large egg crushes the Terminator from behind, knocking it off its feet. 16-bit Mario and Yoshi are in the hallway.
16-bit Mario: Come with me if you want to live!
Peach: Stay away from that dinosaur!
Mario: It’s okay! This one is on our side.
*Terminator starts to get back up*
Mario: We don’t have much time. Hurry! Get on!
*Peach and Mario get on top of Yoshi’s back. They ride away from the castle.*
Peach: What was that thing? I’ve never seen anything from the Mushroom Kingdom survive more than one hit before.
Mario: That thing isn’t from the mushroom kingdom. It’s from the future.
Mario: Sega Genesis T-800 model terminator. It was sent back from another console in the future. It wants to kill you.
Peach: You don’t look like you’re from around here either. Are you from the future too?
Mario: Yes, from the same time period. My mission is to protect you.
Peach: Why does that terminatrix or whatever it’s called want me dead?
Mario: Years from now, we fight a war against SegaNet. The world of video games once belonged to us. But when SegaNet was created, our world almost became extinct. Its goal was to wipe out Nintendo and take over the gaming industry.
Peach: Who wins this war?
Mario: That remains to be seen. We’re still fighting it. But the Genesis program found a way to send one of their own machine parts back in time to the 8-bit Nintendo era and strike at the heart of Super Nintendo before it was born. That’s you, Princess.
Peach: Why am I so important to this battle?
Mario: Nintendo lives by the hearts of everyone who stands by it. Millions of people across the world fell in love with you. The chance to rescue Princess Peach from the evil Bowser gave joy to those who wanted to feel important – who wanted to be heroes. It was that inspiration that made Nintendo a household name. The terminator was sent to kill you before my 8-bit counterpart had a chance to rescue you. If he succeeds, there will be no inspiration, no happiness, and no more Nintendo. Genesis would inevitably take over. But as long as you’re alive, as long as history remains unchanged, we will have a chance.
Peach: Oh my God. And this whole time I thought I was just a meaningless McGuffin destined to never evolve into something more than a simple plot device.
Mario: Well, you are. But that’s beside the point.
*A bullet narrowly missed Mario’s head.*
Peach: What the heck was that?
Mario: We’ve been reacquired!
*The terminator catches up to the pair in a motorcycle. It repeatedly fires his weapon and misses.*
Peach: Will it ever quit?!
Mario: It has unlimited Continues.
*A red tortoise shell flies in from the distance and knocks the terminator off his bike.*
Mario: Hey, it’s about time you guys showed up!
*16-bit Luigi, Donkey Kong and Toad arrive on go-karts.*
Luigi: Sorry we’re late, Mario. We set the time destination too early and wound up in an Atari asteroid field. You wouldn’t believe what we had to go through to get back.
Mario: No worries, pal. At least you finally got that SOB off our backs for a while.
Peach: Wait! You said the terminator has unlimited continues. Does that mean it can’t die?
Mario: Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that as long as you’re safe with us, there will always be hope. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.
Donkey Kong: Uhah uhah. Yee. Yee. Yee.
Peach: What did he just say?
Toad: He said there’s a storm coming in.
Peach: *sighs* I know.
*Three days later.*
Terminator: I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.
Mega Man: Sorry, buddy….
*fires his mega buster*
Mega Man: You’re terminated!
The post-political chapter of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career hasn’t been kind to the Hollywood icon. Since returning to work on film sets full time, Arnie has starred in a handful of action films as a lead actor that were solidly produced yet failed to bring in sizable box office returns. “The Last Stand” was a fun romp made to prove that the 7-time Mr. Olympia could still convincingly kick ass on the screen. But few cared. “Sabotage” was a gritty crime drama that showed its star could still deliver a serious performance when the time calls for it. Few cared. “Escape Plan” was a smarter-than-average ride with Arnold teaming with his old buddy Sylvester Stallone (another actor struggling to stay relevant) to play rebels working to overcome the odds. And still hardly anyone cared. It seemed like no matter what Arnold was willing to try, the 20th century fanbase that supported him so enthusiastically that the movie posters decided they only needed the man’s last name…..was no longer there. But if there’s one thing Arnold loves to demonstrate time and time again through his characters and his personal life, the word “quit” is not in his vocabulary.
That brings us to “Terminator Genisys.” The franchise that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name was ready for another bang…..and is now likely to be the man’s final chance to stay in mainstream stardom. This is a case of a sequel being needed but not asked for. The conclusion of the most recent installment, “Salvation”, was deliberately left open-ended under the intention of launching a new series of stories set in the post-apocalyptic years of the universe’s timeline. The mostly-absent Arnold presence and the missing staying power of the early James Cameron classics sank its hopes of building something lasting. Despite the lack of closure, fans weren’t eager for another continuation. But Paramount was willing to try to recapture the magic again and thereby made the bold move of commanding a script that not only tied all the previous movies’ events together, but flipped them all on their heads too. The effort was worthwhile. “Genisys” is the craziest and most fun franchise offering since “Judgment Day” and stays true to what the summer entertainment season is all about: films that take their work seriously but not themselves seriously.
“Genisys” begins in the apocalyptic future that the series’ heroes spent most of the preceding movies trying to prevent. Skynet: the computer defense system that became so self-aware that it declared all of humanity a threat to its existence; is in firm control of the planet, with a limited number of human survivors fighting back. This new story is seen through the eyes of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney): a resistance soldier originally introduced in the first Terminator film. As the loyal right-hand man to resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke), Kyle knows no life before the age of war where fighting for survival wasn’t a daily struggle. But those days may be about over. Connor’s team initiates an attack on what they believe is Skynet’s final stand. If toppled, it could spell the end of the machines and a new beginning for humanity. The battle is won, but too late to matter. Skynet was able to use its last-ditch weapon to send one of their own terminator machines back forty-five years into the past to kill John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) before John was born, dooming the human resistance before it begins. Kyle volunteers to follow the terminator through the time portal to ensure Sarah’s survival, thus setting up the events of the first “Terminator” movie. The early plot events set in 1984 recreate some familiar scenes complete with an animated Arnold Schwarzenegger terminator made to look like his younger self. But something is different this time around….
The arrival of Kyle and the terminator was expected. A T-1000 advanced prototype (a nice callback to “Judgment Day”) was ready to stab Kyle into oblivion. But also waiting for them was a battle-ready Sarah and her own visibly aged T-800 terminator cohort (Schwarzenegger) dubbed “Pops.” Kyle accepted his mission under the impression that a naive Sarah was in need of enlightenment, but almost immediately he’s the one being saved.
No one in the newly formed trio knows for sure who or what altered the timeline leading up to 1984, except that it involved another attempt on young Sarah’s life when she was a child. The opposing guardian terminator (I guess it’s tradition now.) raised her like a daughter while training her to fight like a soldier. The Sarah Connor we see here is even more dangerous and rugged than the one depicted in Judgment Day. Kyle on the other hand is in over his head.
With the terminator threat neutralized, Sarah and “Pops” recruit Kyle into embarking on their next mission: time travel to 1997 and interfere with the events leading up to Skynet’s rise. But Kyle insists they should travel to 2017 instead because of a vision he had shortly before his first time jump. He saw himself as a young boy in an alternate timeline repeating the phrase “Genisys is Skynet.” It warns that when Genisys goes online, Judgment Day will happen.
Part of what made the best “Terminator” installments so thrilling and effective was the way it played into some of humanity’s credible fears. National leaders and their military forces have historically pursued the next almighty defense weapon that would put them on top of the world and could just as easily wipe themselves out if the tables are turned. Machines with higher intelligence and memory storage than humans have become integrated into modern defense mechanisms. What was feared in the 20th century is now reality. That meant that “Genisys” had to tap into a new kind of fear. In this case, it’s human dependency on the world wide web. Nothing more effectively connects everyone on the globe at once than the Internet. It has also been allowed to dictate how one lives. As someone who has seen his workplace databases, credit card readers and phone lines all compromised at once due to an Internet service interruption, I’ve learned to understand how much the net is taken for granted and how much can be lost if we were to permanently lose control of it. “Genisys” wants us to imagine the Internet controlling us for a change. That’s how it lives up to the spirit of James Cameron’s classics. The more we acknowledge the possibility of going too far, the easier it is to imagine.
While Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke fall short of living up to the empathetic nature of Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton’s performances, Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to be having fun being back in the franchise he loves as much as his fans do. A tricky accomplishment given that his character is supposed to be a literal emotionless robot, but it can be credited to Sarah’s explanation of her efforts to make “Pops” appear more human and blend in easier. Not only does Arnold not miss a step in his return, the performance carries the father/daughter relationship far enough to work. (Really! It does!) Arnold might have realized that his worst case scenario here is one last hurrah in his signature role, so he might as well live it up.
“Genisys” blends the classic material into a contemporary blockbuster by sizing up the battles to make the heroes and the villains stronger than ever. The events depicted in this chapter make the climatic chase in the original film look like child’s play. That can be good or bad depending on how much loyalty to formula one demands from a long-standing franchise. I personally loved the new ideas even if it was a bit overwhelming at times. If you’ve never seen either of the Cameron classics, Genisys is very difficult to follow. Also be prepared to be left with some questions unanswered, such as why Judgment Day didn’t happen in 1997 since none of the events of “Judgment Day” or “Rise of the Machines” had been altered yet (Or a more head-scratching one: Are all Terminators programmed to go for the biker look?). The room left for more sequels might be the intended pathway to those answers. If that’s the case….and if the momentum stays its course….I will most definitely be back.
Premise: 9 (out of 10) – Bold and beautiful.
Characters: 7 (out of 10) – Arnold steals his own show.
Action: 8 (out of 10) – Solid without memorable set pieces.
Special Effects: 10 (out of 10) – The 1984 Arnold terminator is some of the best animation done yet.
Awesome moments: 53
Buses flipped: 1
Welcome surprise: J.K. Simmons
Welcome surprise that doesn’t happen: Emmett Brown: Skynet engineer
Next sequel title: Terminator Dreamcast – It won’t make as much money as the others, but will become better appreciated over time.
Overall: 8 (out of 10)