When Arnold Schwarzenegger took the stage at CInemaCon dressed in leather and sunglasses to announce 12 minutes of Terminator: Genisys footage I was hopeful. Nothing this movie has show so far has convinced me that it’s of interest, and I wanted this big clip package to finally win me over.
The footage wasn’t a scene but rather a Cliff’s notes version of what appears to be the first half or two-thirds of the movie. Moving at a fast pace the story takes us from Judgment Day to the final battle against the machines, where John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to save his mom. And then he is confronted by a T-1000, Sarah Connor saves him, etc etc etc.
Basically it was a 12 minute presentation that reiterated everything we already knew, including the fact that Kyle and Sarah Connor travel from the 80s to the year 2017, where they meet an evil robot John Connor. The footage showed some new stuff, including a bit more future war action, but there’s still nothing new that recontextualizes this film for me. It feels like a breakneck remake of the first two Terminator films told from the perspective of someone who sort of remembers the iconography but not the details.
Because the footage was so quickly paced I couldn’t get a sense of whether the action is even that interesting. A lot of it reminded me of set pieces from the first two films, and all of the conflicts seemed recycled as well. There’s getting away from a relentless Terminator in the 80s and then stopping Skynet before it goes online - yawn. The stuff that was new - like Kyle Reese volunteering to go back in time - simply doesn’t land, and it could be because it was so truncated or because the idea of a guy volunteering to go back in time because he fell in love with a picture of his best pal’s mom works better when you don’t actually SHOW it.
The one new piece that we saw that intrigued me had JK Simmons showing up as a policeman in a police station under siege (familiar?). He's funny and quickly agrees to help Sarah, Kyle and the good guy Terminator. He even makes a joke.
The footage we saw still holds back Matt Smith, whose role in the movie has been spoiled online but which Paramount is treating as a major reveal, so I’ll respect that. I wonder if the Matt Smith stuff is going to be what make Terminator: Genisys feel like its own movie, because nothing I have seen so far convinces me I need to see this film, let alone the whole new trilogy it’s trying to launch. I truly hope I’m wrong, but Genisys is leaving me very, very cold.