Technical assessment: 2 ½ - 3 stars
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
By 2029, Skynet has come online and taken over the world but with the Resistance led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) slowly winning over the machines. However, he knows Skynet will make a last ditch effort to save itself and deploy its secret weapon. (Thanks to his time traveling ability that enabled him to know past and future events.) So he sends his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Courtney) to travel back in 1094 and save his mother, Sarah (Clarke) from the Terminator. As Kyle is being transported in time, he witnesses the attack on John and unknowingly gets transported in an alternative 1984 timeline where Sarah has been raised by a protective Terminator she lovingly named Pops (Schwarzenegger) and no longer is the damsel in distress he is expecting. They travel in the future to stop the birth of Skynet but is greeted by a hostile John who has been transformed into a half human-half machine. John no longer is humanity's last hope but Skynet's.
Terminator Genisys puts forward a decent original storyline paying tribute to the James Cameron franchise. That it unrealistically mixes consequences and sensible plots if one were to follow the events of 1984, 1991 and 2003, can be forgiven since this is a time travel fiction. One can also overlook the bland portrayals of Courtney as Kyle Reese, Jason Clarke as John Connor and gawky attempts of Emilia Clarke to summon the spirit of Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor. What is unforgiveable is the presence of Schwarzenegger as the "old but not obsolete" Pops. His look, his one-liners and his delivery are old and obsolete. And no matter how many times these lines are injected in the screenplay, it brings more pity than laughter and awe. Arnold is no longer the masculine pride he was and should have had the dignity to choose roles that will be less of a joke. Story-wise, it could have been a lot better if John Connor's "world last hope" character has not been so screwed up. He is after all half machine and half human and the latter should have been made to win over. Over the years (and franchises), John Connor was raised and developed into a man willing to sacrifice himself for the salvation of mankind. It would have been appropriate if we saw a little struggle and an attempt from what was left of the human John to still do that. Oh, but this a Schwarzenegger movie, so naturally the last bravado should be about him.
The future is not permanently written on stone with people mainly acting out what is expected of them. Set aside time traveling, fate is never predetermined but is a consequence of decisions and actions made in the present. At best, we are called to live each day with intelligence and ethics so that our future will always be the better one. Since we do not have the capacity to go back in time and rewrite history, what we say and do today matters so much. With a little more struggle, one can find a few more glimpses of positivity in the film. Like how man's perpetual dependence on technology will be the cause of their downfall and enslavement. Technology is indeed powerful but can never be greater than mankind. It is refreshing to watch a macho action film where a woman calls the shot, is able to stand for herself and not just a shrieking damsel who needs to be saved and later taken as a romantic partner by the leading man. The movie has some heavy action scenes that may be a little violent and its plot may be confusing for the very young ones. Parents are cautioned to make sure only their older kids get to watch this.