When he last said 'I'll be back,' most people would have taken Arnold Schwarzenegger seriously. Why wouldn't they. After all, back in '91 and even '03, Arnie was at his primeval peak. Which is why the Terminator movies were sort of perfect for him - he did all the killing, the rest of the cast did all the emoting, plotting, crying, dying, et al.
The latest Terminator movie is cut from the same cloth. Despite being a reboot that skilfully reimagines the first two films (the third and fourth instalments Last Stand and Salvation are left out in the cold) the plot is understanding enough to ensure Schwarzenegger doesn't have to do much more than he did in the past three decades: look cool, smash stuff and belt out one-liners in the most deadpan of voices. But you've got to give him credit for one thing - agreeing to appear with a white wig as an ageing Terminator. Even at 67, Arnie's got all dat and then some, y'know? Unlike the last Terminator he played, where he told all and sundry that he was obsolete, decommissioned model, there's a lot more fire in him this time. Indignation even, when he says, 'I'm old. Not obsolote.' And this sort of applies for the franchise, as they look to make another couple of movies by 2018.
If you've seen the last four movies, especially Judgement Day and Terminator (1984), then there's enough re-shot content that will make it seem like a greatest hits compilation. The story kicks off from Kyle Reese's (Jai Courtney) introduction to John Connor (Jason Clarke) - leader of the resistance against the machines, saviour of mankind, etc, etc - after decades of battling Skynet, they mount a final assault on Skynet's HQ and for the briefest of moments you think they've won. But then sense prevails. We have an entire 120 odd minute movie ahead. Just before it 'falls' Skynet sends the T-800 Terminator (young, blonde Schwarzenegger).
This is where Reese is sent back through the time machine to make the whole 1984 film happen. Except that wouldn't make too much sense in 2015 would it? So as he's spinning through space and time, he sees John Connor being overpowered by the machines and suddenly things go very wrong. Alternate timelines can be a great way to reignite the spark in sagging franchises. It's also a fun way to get buffs interested to connecting the dots in all kinds of fun, weird ways.
And so, when Reese goes back to a time when Bon Jovi was entering his rebel phase, he's not the knight in shining armour to Sarah Connor (Emilia Clark). He's actually the slightly confounded maiden in distress. How? Someone sent a different Arnie back to 1973 and rescued Sarah from another Terminator who killer her parents. You'd think that growing up around serious-faced T-800 Arnie would make her a guerilla, but she's got a whole lot of spunk in her. She calls him 'Pops' for heavens sake. This version of Sarah is very different from the wretched, guerilla-style mom that we've become accustomed to. It's almost lovable, especially when it turns out Pops has some latent daddy feelings for her. Sniff.
In all the earlier movies, the whole time jump thing worked quite well because the sci-fi part was linear. It wasn't complicated, which is more that can be said for this version. However, with a slick time jump to the past, Terminator:Genisys manages to run through the reimagined past quite quickly. Things do get a little thin when Kyle insists that they don't go to the 90's to stop Judgement Day (the day when the machines took over) but fast forward to 2017 because that's when the new 'end-of-the-world' is coming. And in a whole new avatar that'll leave technophobes and conspiracy theorist with moist eyes. Sure, it doesn't quite have that raw, edgy feel that James Cameron began the franchise with, but this way a whole new generation will actually get to see what people believed was the pinnacle of robotic cool in the 80's and the 90's. Without laughing at the computer graphics.
A lot of people will complain that the action is stretched out and the sequences too long drawn. I'd say there's very little you can do especially when you want to savour Schwarzenegger's best. After all, the one-liners aren't quite hot If they don't come after LA is laid to waste, right? People may also complain that there one too many terminators prowling around (I lost count at 6), but considering Arnie dismembers them in as many different ways, more bang for the buck, I say.
Hasta La Vista Baby?