No Hate But What We Make — TERMINATOR: GENISYS Arrives on 4K Blu

Thoughts on a flawed but fascinating addition to the franchise as it makes its UHD debut

Terminator: Genisys had an uphill battle. While James Cameron’s first two films in the series are inarguably genre classics, the latter sequels had failed to capture the same kind of stellar storytelling and fan love. And for the fourth time (counting the TV series), the franchise was again recasting its major players. The false starts and lack of consistency made for flimsy continuity and irritated fans, and nowhere is this more evident than in the character of John Connor, who has been played by a half dozen different actors, and never the same one twice.

The outlook continued to sour as Genisys was plagued by a ridiculous title, a PG-13 rating (in a traditionally R-rated franchise), and a laughably dorky photo shoot in Entertainment Weekly.

The movie came and went, generally earning poor to middling reviews and underperforming in the US (though worldwide sales made it a moderate global success).

It’s a movie that people love to hate, perhaps most notably for its mishandling of longtime character of John Connor in a way that really irked longtime fans (and worse, for spoiling the surprise of this in its trailers).

I rewatched Genisys in its new 4K edition, for the first time since its original Blu-ray release. Like many fans, I was a bit soured on certain aspects of the movie, but I generally liked it. On this rewatch, my appreciation only increased.

The film has problems, for sure. The aforementioned John Connor character arc (which I’ll not detail here) is definitely a drag, and the film’s action feels really neutered compared to the carnage of the franchise’s violent roots — even more so without the benefit of an unrated or R-rated home video cut, a violation of the tacitly agreed-upon compromise between fans and studios for this situation (see: Alien vs Predator, Expendables 3, Die Hard 4, and most obviously Terminator Salvation).

But for all its warts, Terminator: Genisys does some truly impressive stuff exceptionally well. The first act revisits an altered timeline from the original 1984 film, and everything about this sequence is incredible, recreating familiar scenes and putting a new spin on them, and introducing both the T-800 and T-1000 models. This makes for an extensive fan-service remix of both The Terminator and T2 in a way that is completely reverent to those films while also clearly establishing that the timeline has changed as a result of the machines’ further mucking with time travel in their quest to terminate Sarah Connor. More than mere callbacks, this is a revisitation even more impressive in scope than the return to the “Enchantment Under the Sea” sequence in Back To The Future Part II.

Another tie in to the series roots is shifting back to Sarah Connor as the primary protagonist, whereas the last couple films centered on John. One of the deeper themes of T2 is the Terminator’s ironic surrogate father role to John, and that theme comes front and center here not with John, but Sarah, who we learn was rescued by Arnold’s T-800 (“Pops”) as a child, and has stayed with him since, preparing for Judgment Day. We also see that with the benefit of time, the “learning computer” takes on more humanity in his relationships — an endearing continuation of an idea first explored in T2.

Emilia Clarke is about as great of a recasted Sarah Connor as one could ask for, and Arnold’s role is written in a way that is suitable to — and even narratively leans into — his age with a straightforward explanation. Being a “cybernetic organism – living tissue over a metal endoskeleton”, his external human biology ages normally. Lee Byung Hun and J. K. Simmons pop in for small but important roles, and really the whole cast is pretty on-target with one exception. Through no particular fault of his own, broad-bodied beefcake Jai Courtney feels astoundingly miscast as lanky tunnel rat Kyle Reese, especially considering the character was last played by Anton Yelchin (who I’d much rather have seen in the role).

A common take on Terminator: Genisys is that it’s the best film in the series since T2 (a quote to this effect even appears on the cover), and while that may mean little to fans who didn’t like Terminator 3 or Salvation, I think the sentiment is correct. Revisiting the film, I’m able to accept certain aspects of the film that I don’t care for, and really appreciate its attempt at franchise realignment.

The Package

Terminator Genisys comes in a new 3-disc 4K edition. The 4K disc houses only the movie, while the 2 Blu-rays collectively include both the film and the special features.

According to IMDB, the film has a 2K intermediate — as such, this is presumably a 2K upscale. That said, the transfer and the movie both look stellar — not surprising given that the Blu-ray was really strong as well.

Special Features and Extras

In the tradition of the franchise, the home video release is loaded with behind the scenes making of material, collectively making up a massive documentary that’s actually longer then the film itself.

Reset the Future: Constructing Terminator Genisys (2:20:25)

  • Paradigm Shift: Honoring the Past While Forging the Future (15:24)
  • Family Dynamics: The Acting Ensemble (15:51)
  • Old. Not Obsolete. Prosthetics & Special Make-Up(15:38)
  • Tactical Apparel: Costumes (11:43)
  • A Once and Future War: Stunts, Special Effects & Weapons (16:00)
  • Infiltration and Termination: Shooting in New Orleans and San Francisco (25:29)
  • Manipulating Matter: Visual Effects/The Post-Production Process (30:00)
  • Exiles in Time: Reflections and Looking Forward (10:16)

Battle on the Bridge: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown

  • Angle 1: Previsualization
  • Angle 2: On the Set
  • Angle 3: Previsualization/Final Film Composite

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:

All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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