It was fun seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger again as the badass Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator sent back in time to meet Sarah Connor. This time Connor is played by Emilia Clarke, Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones now, here, mother of hero John Connor in Terminator Genisys the latest in the machina apocalypse franchise started by Schwarzenegger and James Cameron in 1984.
Like many time looping plots, the film struggles to bend logic without breaking it and fails in a few instances thanks to the inherently intractable notion of one travelling to the past to interact with people who influenced your life. But, on that, it is important to stress the difference between walking into a theatre, one arm around a bucket of popcorn, to enjoy a movie and writing a ‘critical’ review about one.
We enjoyed all the Back to the Future films, right? And none of the BttF films would have been the real things had Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd not been in them to reprise Marty McFly and Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown, right? Well, that’s the whole essence around why T Genisys works – because Ahnnold is in it.
There’s too much going on and enough chemistry amongst the cast to be too fussed about the parallel timelines you need to keep track of anyway. If you want scientifically-correct sci-fi, go see Gravity or Interstellar (both of which are brilliant, by the way). Most importantly, T Genisys is a movie for true Terminator fans. A lot of the humour and bell-ringing moments that dot the film speak to an audience presumably armed with context gained from the previous Terminator films. Gen Y people need to do their homework before seeing this one.
The one thing about T Genisys that might resonate amongst younger viewers is a real future that our smartphone- and connectivity-obsessed lot might actually be facing. The allusions to Google, and its Android spawn living in our devices and what sort of thing feeding on the data collected through these (and the coming “internet of things” marketers are all hyped up about) might be growing in Silicon Valley’s server farms are quite baldly on exhibit in the movie. Then again, things like that tend to fly over the heads of the A.D.D. Generation, whose members spend their days hunched over a little touch screen feeding our future Skynet.
And then, also introduced to the Skynet arsenal is nanotechnology — used to turn the John Connor that Kyle Reese leaves behind in the future into one of them by employing a swarm of nano-agents to effect the transformation at the cellular level of John’s person. Nanotechnology is seen by today’s artificial intelligence (AI) apocalypse prophets (an esteemed lot that includes Tesla founder Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and uber-cosmologist Stephen Hawking) as the likely physical means with which runaway AI may one day inadvertently drive humanity to extinction as it reengineers the planet to specs more conducive to machine existence.
Unlike in T Genisys, once machines achieve human intelligence and surpass it to become superintelligent, they will quickly skip any need to interact with humans at all. In a sense, Cameron’s Terminator world is actually an optimistic one — where machines are caught in a prolonged physical war for planetary domination with people. The reality may be vastly different. Why create humanoid or even animal-like robots when smaller microscopic nano-units can easily destroy humanity? Michael Crichton already envisioned the dangers of this technology in his 2002 book Prey.
But that’s jumping beyond the whole point behind the audio-visual delight that is Terminator Genisys. An entertaining world enacted by an entertaining cast! Leave the science to the over- analysers.
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