There will be Terminator purists who insist that this fifth entry in the series breaks the rules of the Terminator universe. But it's hard to tell if that's something they're going to hate or celebrate. Here are my thoughts: This is top-shelf science fiction. There are no rules.
Neither a remake nor a prequel nor a sequel, it's kind of a reinvention of the first two films, but with all sorts of new futures and pasts. Yet for the first half-hour or so, it appears that we're reliving the first film from a different point of view. There's John Connor (Jason Clarke) in 2029, pumping up his rebel followers with a rousing pep talk about how "this is the night we take back our world" from the machines. But suddenly, pieces that we didn't know were missing from that first film are filled in.
Simple things like explaining how the malevolent artificial intelligence system Skynet devised and used the first "tactical time weapon" to send a T-800 Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke, who you know better in a blonde wig as Khaleesi on Game of Thrones) and how Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteered to follow the Terminator and protect Sarah.
Then there are the direct similarities: big, blue time-travel orbs; both the T-800 (a convincingly young-looking Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Reese arriving naked; some dialogue, including "Your clothes, give them to me." But by the time the line "Come with me if you want to live" is uttered by an unexpected source, you know that something unusual is going on here. And the moment that discovery kicks in is when this movie takes off, with really cool new plot twists all over the place.
The script freely jumps around in time, with a crucial stop in 2017, and it's liberally filled with theoretical gibberish concerning nexus points and other vaguely scientific subject matter, most of it spouted with dry comic delivery by Arnold, who totally embraces the role again and really nails it. Both Jason Clarke and Courtney are also in game-on mode, but Emilia Clarke, playing it tough while letting a hint of vulnerability show through, steals the show, taking over the role of Sarah Connor the way Tom Hardy recently did with Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road.
What is Genisys? An operating system that's going to connect everything with everything else, including Skynet. What's more important is that this film absolutely rocks. ♦