Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Terminator Genisys ★★

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     The issue with "Terminator Genisys," a film that can surely be seen as a desperate attempt to breathe life into a franchise that has undoubtedly become stale, is its indecision with regard to choosing a theme. (An onus that can ultimately be placed on our director, Alan Taylor, the newest individual to take the reigns of a series of films that has been nothing more than a revolving door in recent years, especially when it comes to that particular position of creative talent.) 

    "Genisys" hints at several themes that can be deemed worthy of attention: There are suggestions of moral implication and social concern (this is in reference to man's unwarranted tampering with technology, and the disastrous ramifications of a world that is "plugged in" religiously), inklings toward a story immersed in the struggle for human dignity, and several clues that lead to the iconic theme that permeated throughout the script of "T2: Judgment Day." (The latter would be that of the value of human nature.) 

    We even have a character in Sarah Conner who is blatantly utilized to provide audiences with a statement on gender, as she routinely strives to prove her capabilities and while she belches out dialogue that would normally be attributed to a male leading role. Yet, it becomes evident that although these subjects are touched upon briefly, they are simply of lesser importance when compared to the computer-generated extravaganza that captures our attention. (Practical special effects have not only been forgotten in this particular instance, but they seem to have never existed in the minds of our resident production design crew.) 

    The signals are present, but they are never fully exerted to the point of inference. (It is highly unlikely that audiences will go home with thoughts of technological unease or any of the aforementioned content, as opposed to dwelling on the mindless soul of the film itself.)

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    This all leads to an uninspired story (our plot relies heavily on the foundation built by James Cameron, with the addition of a storyline that can only be viewed as muddled) and to a handful of scenes characterized by poor direction--and even worse--dreadful acting. Any attempt by Taylor to enliven the picture with some sense of captivation comes off as duplicated or unoriginal, as even the most entertaining scene in the entire film (in which a school bus somersaults through the air) harkens back to a moment in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." It was not only performed better the first time around, but it certainly appeared more cinematic. 

    As far as the acting is concerned: If you have studied actors and actresses as long as I have, then the performances provided here should absolutely bring thoughts of compassion to your mind; they should bring forth feelings of sorrow--not only for the poor saps (editors) that had to sit in a darkened room, milling over the evenings dailies in a futile endeavor to choose the best takes of the day--but for Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who is destined to finish his career with below par supporting casts. 
    Jai Courtney, a young actor who has scored a few notable roles to date, obviously took the outside approach when committing to the character of Kyle Reese, as his brawny exterior overshadows any hint of conviction. His delivery of the dialogue and facial reactions are weak and feeble, which is quite a disappointment considering the extensiveness of his opportunities. (Dramatic moments come and go for Reese, with no accompanying enthusiasm from Courtney.) The young man makes Michael Biehn look like the Nicholson of his time. Emilia Clarke is Sarah Conner, the spirit of the "Terminator" franchise, and although she is similar to Linda Hamilton in appearance, she simply does not have the same range as an actress.

    Which brings us to Schwarzenegger, the original "Terminator" and an actor who has come a long way since the adolescent years of Austria. Arnold gives an adequate performance, considering the stark change in dialogue (one-liners seem to have been superseded by scientific technical jargon) and the surrounding talent, or lack thereof. Yet, with all of that being said, there is a lingering feeling of sadness when reminiscing over the veteran actor's golden years. Much like his character here, a T-800 who attempts to coax the audience into believing he is only "old, not obsolete," Schwarzenegger is clearly on thin ice when it comes to his ability to carry a franchise on his back. It would seem that our former Mr. Universe has finally met his match, and his name is Father Time.  

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