Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Running Time: 126 mins.
Premise: Re-tracing the events from the first Terminator, Resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to save his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), from being terminated. But, when Reese gets there, he finds out that Sarah has been protected by a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) for years, and, together, they time travel to 2017 to avert Judgment Day.
Behind-the-Scenes: Producers Megan and David Ellison paid upwards of $20 million to obtain the rights to the Terminator franchise so they could reboot it. James Cameron, director of the first two films, went on a promotional junket to sing the praises of the film, calling it the first worthy follow-up to T2. Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) directs.
The Good: By plucking some of the greatest action beats from Terminator 1 and 2 in its first hour, fans of the series will find themselves instantly engaged, if not won over. Arnold is back in his most iconic role, and proves himself to be, as his character says, "old but not obsolete." Nice to see him here, even if he is relegated to just a background player. The reported budget for the film is $155 million, so there's plenty of spectacle on screen. We get to see more of the future war against Skynet, and it's vividly rendered.
The Bad: The script is a complete mess, full of plot holes you could drive a truck through. If there's any pleasure to be had in the storytelling, you better not think too hard about any of it. Characters travel back and forth in time, building their own time machines, and the mechanics of all that time jumping is at times simplistic and exhausting. The little humor there is here doesn't work [when our main characters get arrested, the "Bad Boys" theme plays while they get their mugshots taken. GROAN.] Game of Thrones' Clarke fails to summon the gritty determination and strength of her character, and looks like a little kid trying to act tough. Courtney is no better as Reese, giving a wholly unremarkable performance. The big plot twist involving John Connor was spoiled in the trailers and poster, so there are no real surprises. The action is standard-issue, with no memorable sequences.
Should You See It?: No. Franchise completists will have to see it, but for everyone else, this reboot is a dud. Time to put this series to bed.
Star Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Terminator Salvation
Worse Than: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
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