While the quality has sometimes waivered, the Terminator movies have always managed to be engaging and intriguing. But while the same can be said about the latest (and, sadly, possibly last) installment, Terminator Genisys, the wavering comes not in the movie itself, but in the extras included, and not included, in the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, the 3D Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and especially the DVD.
A reboot in the mold of Star Trek, Terminator Genisys begins before the events of first Terminator, when John Connor (here played by Jason Clarke from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) sent Kyle Reese (Divergent‘s Jai Courtney) back in time to save his mommy. Except that when the time machine kicks in, Reese sees Connor being attacked by a Terminator (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith), and when he arrives in 1984, Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke from Game Of Thrones) is a not a waitress but a hardened warrior who’s been waiting for him, with a friendly Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in tow.
Directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), Terminator Genisys is an exciting, action packed sci-fi flick, one that has spectacular stunts, wild battles, and huge set pieces. But it’s also a twisty, time travelling tale that takes this sci-fi series into a new and rather interesting direction.
Oh, and yes, it does have all the familiar catchphrases, though unlike the latter Die Hard movies, their use never seems forced and, in one instance, cleverly takes the piss out of its repeated usage.
Of course, it helps that those catchphrases are uttered by some fine actors. Emilia Clarke is absolutely fabulous as Sarah Conner, and comes across just as tough as Linda Hamilton did when she played the role in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, while also being as likeable as Hamilton was in the original Terminator.
Then, of course, there’s Ahnuld, who’s as good here as he always is in these movies. I wouldn’t say this is the role he was born to play…but only because that cliché is itself cliché to say about Schwarzenegger and the Terminator movies.
Terminator Genisys also has a lot of fun nods for longtime fans of the series, which I won’t spoil, though I would suggest that you watch the other movies, especially the first one, before viewing this, just so you see how they’re all connected. It’s not necessary for comprehension, especially if you have the first movie committed to memory, but it will make you smile more when you watch this one.
As much fun as Terminator Genisys may be, though, it’s not without its problems. And I don’t just mean because some woman in the future talks about tin foil in a microwave despite being too young to remember microwaves. Or tin foil.
For starters, the otherwise great cast is somewhat tempered by Courtney, who isn’t terrible or anything, but is certainly not as magnetic as Emilia Clarke or Schwarzenegger. Also, while there are some genuinely funny moments, there are a couple groan-inducing ones, such as when an otherwise clever police photographing scene is ruined by the rote use of that “Bad Boys” song from Cops. Good thing it doesn’t last long.
But the biggest problem with Terminator Genisys is it presents some interesting questions it never gets around to answering because this was obviously made with a sequel in mind.
As for how the film looks on the Blu-rays and DVD, Terminator Genisys is a visually stimulating movie, and the Blu-rays capture that well. It also does a good job with the 3D edition, though as with so many 3D movies these days, the added dimension doesn’t actually add much.
The Terminator Genisys Blu-rays and DVD also sound great, in large part because the sound mix has clearly been balanced for home use. Unlike so many movie Blu-rays and DVDs, which just present the sound as it was mixed for large theaters, Terminator Genisys features a less dynamic mix, which means the loud parts aren’t so much louder than the soft ones that you have to watch this with one finger on the volume button.
Along with the movie, the Terminator Genisys Blu-rays have three making-of featurettes: “Family Dynamics,” a fifteen minute look at the cast that has interviews with them, Taylor, and the producers; “Infiltration And Termination,” which spends nearly half an hour on the shooting of the movie; and the self-explanatory fifteen-minute-long “Upgrades: VFX Of Terminator Genisys.” All of which are fairly typical, and about as entertaining and informative as these things usually are, but they’re hardly unique. They also don’t answer the obvious question as to why they cast Jason Clarke and Courtney as John Connor and Kyle Reese, respectfully, instead of bringing back Christian Bale and Anton Yelchin, who played those roles in the previous movie, Terminator Salvation.
As for the DVD of Terminator Genisys, it has…nothing. Not a damn thing but the movie.
While the lack of extras on the DVD is the most egregious mistake of this collection, it is sadly not the only thing that should’ve been better. For starters, the three making-of pieces should’ve been combined into a single featurette. Especially since “Family Dynamics” goes on a bit too long.
The Terminator Genisys Blu-rays and DVD could also use a commentary track. But only if it features Emilia Clarke and Schwarzenegger, and not just Taylor, since commentaries that only feature the director or the director with other people from the crew but not the cast tend to be rather dry.
Last, but not least, the Terminator Genisys Blu-ray and DVD doesn’t have the film’s original trailers, which it should, even though the trailers were annoyingly spoilery.
While the Terminator Genisys Blu-rays aren’t great, and the DVD is even worse, it’s the movie that matters, and in that regard, all of them do a fine job of presenting the latest (and hopefully not last) movie in this epic sci-fi series. Sure, it’s not the best of the five, but by bringing the spirit of the films intact while adding new ideas, it’s still a fun thrill ride for fans of this series.