Review: Terminator Genisys

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DIR: Alan Taylor • WRI:  Brian Lynch • PRO: Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri  • ED: Claire Dodgson • MUS: Heitor Pereira • CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke

 

So. Here we are again with the fifth Terminator film – and that’s not including the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Arnie is back from his sojourn in California politics, and the lead is the waifish Daenerys from Game of Thrones, (with dark hair) but what on earth can they do to reboot/remake this story so that it’s different from what’s gone before?

Quite a lot, as it turns out – though it’s damned confusing.

We start in the future, where soldier Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is the right hand man of John Connor (Jason Clarke). Reese is the erstwhile hero of the tale; after going back in time from 2029 and battling the original Terminator, he saved Sarah so that she could later give birth to John, the man who would lead the humans against the killing machines of Skynet, a computer entity that became part of our everyday lives – and then took over.

That takeover theme is continued here – SPOILER ALERT – through an all-pervasive phone/tablet computer system everyone runs their lives off. The latest super version, Genisys, is about to be launched and make our entire lives connected in every possible way. Sounds somewhat fruit-related, right?

It’s one of several sharp moments in this film – there are homages and lines that pay tribute to what’s gone before of course – but I’ll keep the JK Simmons twist to myself; it’s a bit of a cracker.

Back to this film though, where initially we see all as it should be: kind of. Moments before Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah, he sees John being grabbed by someone with bad intentions – but who and what? Arriving back in 1984, Reese is soon being chased by the silver mercury-style shape shifting cop T-1000 (Byung Hun-Lee) – only now it’s Sarah (Emilia Clarke) telling him “come with me if you want to live.”

She doesn’t need protection anymore; the original (naked) Terminator who just arrived was killed by Guardian (Schwarzenegger), who came back in time even before 1984, and has become Sarah’s surrogate father (she rather awkwardly calls him “pops”).

Nothing is what it seems now, and soon Reese and Sarah are flying back to future San Francisco to try and stop the whole Skynet horror happening at all; they’ll meet Guardian there in a few decades. He’s delayed by traffic though and they’re arrested, but then, miraculously, Connor appears – he’s made it through time too…. or has he?

You really need a pen and paper to keep up with the convoluted twists and turns of what’s happened in the past, present and future here: all you need to know is that Reese and Sarah are the parents of Connor, the man who is set to save the world – expect that now he’s about to destroy it.

Forget all that though; you’re here for action, and there’s plenty of it. Arnie – as usual with few lines and the only laughs – gets battered all over the place, there’s a good scene on the Golden Gate Bridge, and the metal Connor is a great twist on the evolved machines.

The liquid T-1000 is great too, and though Clarke herself is such a tiny waif that she seems more like a young teen than a hardcore battler – and the forced “family” humour moments seem exactly that – while it’s a touch on the long side, there’s enough entertainment here for a Terminator fan to be happy with before the inevitable next installment.

James Bartlett

 

12A(See IFCO for details)
125 minutes

Terminator Genisys is released 3rd July 2015

Terminator Genisys– Official Website

 

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The Water Diviner

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DIR: Russell Crowe • WRI: Andrew Knight, Andrew Anastasios PRO: Troy Lum, Andrew Mason, Keith Rodger • DOP: Andrew Lesnie • ED: Matt Villa • MUS: David Hirschfelder • DES: Chris Kennedy • CAST: Isabel Lucas, Jai Courtney, Olga Kurylenko, Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe goes Oscar hunting in the director’s chair with The Water Diviner, a historical fiction about a father’s search for his dead sons after the WWI battle at the Ottoman. It’s clear early on that Crowe doesn’t have the subtle subjective hand to make such done-to-death subject matter any more compelling than what has gone before it.

 

Olga Kurlyenko is great to look at but can’t act. Russell Crowe can act and does his usual thing of being gruff and charmingly unapproachable, but his mood fluctuates too inappropriately in this. You watch it and can’t help but wish there was a better director to navigate the tone. But no, it’s Crowe that’s calling the shots. Admittedly though, there are some nice shots in it, with some nifty tracking across the scenery, particularly in his home that engages and might even surprise. Structurally the film is solid but becomes predictable and towards the end just downright pedestrian.

 

Like in any war movie the battle scenes are key. In this film they are terrible. Not for the want of trying, they’re shot at considerable scale and there’s no little amount of energy shown when the Aussies and Turks throw down. But, blurred slow motion has been outmoded since the turn of the last century and it’s largely used to compensate for an action scene’s lack of tension. Neither does Crowe feel the need to bother with such gimmicks as filmic realism. All I’ll say is this, if you shoot someones face from absolute point-blank range, it’s going to do more damage than a cut on the forehead.

 

The title refers to Russell Crowe’s less than holistic profession of someone who uses his senses to detect water underground and plunge it out. The efficacy of this is something the movie is pretty ambivalent about, but sees enough to allow Crowe’s character to suss out his sons remains in the rubble four years after they were killed. That’s fine, family connections and all that, but you can’t help but think the title was dreamed up as a way to shift the story along in order to draw some blood. One of the opening scenes with Crowe using his apparatus (coat-hanger) to find water and dig it out is dangerously close to the introduction in Their Will Be Blood. Possible spoilers here, but Russell Crowe is no Daniel Plainview. And he’s certainly no Paul Thomas Anderson.

 

It’s a perfectly serviceable film, it’s nowhere near bad enough to get angry at, it plays it safe enough to avoid offending, but it surely made it into cinemas because the director is Superman’s dad.

 

And that’s the frustration of this movie – I really, really wanted to care. Even if that meant expending energy in hating it rather than just thinking it was okay. Nothing. You can tell that Crowe had good intentions, this was more than an Aussie flag-waving exercise for him, he wanted to tell a story. But he doesn’t have the tools to do it, and no amount of twisted coat-hangers is going to change that.

Shane Hennessy

15A (See IFCO for details)
111 minutes

The Water Diviner is released 3rd April 2015

The Water Diviner – Official Website

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