Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
This reboot/sequel (do these words even matter these days?) absolutely gets one thing right, which is playing quite adeptly with time travel and alternate realities. The Terminator films have always been oddly reluctant to play with time travel considering that they're about time travel, but this one dives in head-first, giving us alternate versions of the future and the past and an entirely new present, jumping around so much that even the characters start to get a little lost. Just as 2009's Star Trek found a clever way to incorporate an elderly Leonard Nimoy, this one uses time travel to justify the presence of a gray-haired Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrinkled but still muscled, returning to his most successful role. His T-800 in this film is inessential but still welcome.
Unfortunately, even a great story can be undone by poor execution. This movies rushes from scene to scene so rapidly that it barely has time to breathe or to provide the necessary expository dialogue establishing how characters know where to go. Every scene, even the expensive action sequences, feel hurried and undermined by a studio insistent on a 2-hour running time. Some of the roles (like J.K. Simmons's detective) feel like important scenes were cut out. And the CGI! Not since this shit have I seen such weightless, fake-looking CGI in an action movie. Characters and vehicles and assorted large debris go flying through the air and bouncing off of the ground with no weight or sense of impact. There's zero thrill to be found in the action because there's zero sense that anything is really happening.
Maybe the biggest problem of all is built into the premise: After five movies and several seasons of a TV series, there's no spark left in these characters, alternate-timeline or otherwise. We've seen Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese and John Connor killed and resurrected, and Skynet and Terminators destroyed and reformed, so many times now that any further adventures feel pointless. There's a good moment in The Dark Knight when the Joker points out that he and Batman are doomed to keep fighting each other forever, but Batman thrives on reinvention. The Terminator films are not nearly that durable nor that flexible. They just keep repeating themselves without changing or bringing anything new to the mix. The series needs a fresh approach beyond just "more time travel," or it needs to end.
Scott Hardie: more by Scott