I guess at this point I have to look at this one out of some kind of obligation, or maybe it's just a sort of morbid intrigue to see how low things can get. With that title it's not hard to imagine what's in store. Like the Die Hard series it was already on its last legs by the forth instalment. So to add that last straw another round of robot action only vaguely resembling James Cameron's original film has been thrown together, because they can I suppose. They even include Jai Courtney here just to make the comparison in quality obvious, which was nice of them. The series which was once kind of clever and included some great characters is now pretty much free of any character at all, and badly wants to be seen as thought provoking science fiction but instead is packed with nonsensical techno babble and time travel sub plots that are just laughable. Studios beating a dead horse is always unpleasant to see, and this is no exception.
While T3 was almost a parody and Salvation seemed to be more of a Transformers spin off, most fans were probably hoping that the owners of this franchise would eventually see what they'd been doing wrong. Finally they'd make a simple 90 minute action film about the wasteland survivors of L.A. 2029. It would be easy to build on the ideas which had always been glimpsed in flashbacks and intro sequences. The last entry kind of hinted it was coming, and for all its problems at least they steered away from yet another chase movie in the present day. This time of course they've instead decided on a half measure that sits somewhere in the realm of pseudo-remake, meaning they can just rehash a whole bunch of dialogue and action beats and pretend this is all a clever twist on things. It's far from it as you might have gathered. Altered timelines might have been a thing not so long ago with the 2009 Star Trek film coming to mind, but this isn't a full reboot and just sort of flounders around somewhere in between resulting in a big nothing.
Emilia Clarke fails to fill the boots of Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor, and I think it's questionable whether she could even fill her ice-cream stained waitress outfit. Courtney as Kyle Reese is also another charisma free misfire, who seems to be almost as big (and nearly as robotic) as the 800 Series infiltrators, a huge difference from the scrawny original who had the look of someone that had been living in the ruined sewers of the wasteland. Maybe both of the actors have a following, I can't say. Arnold is, well, back of course, and a lot of the story elements seem to have been tailored to allow his appearance as an older man. It's a nice idea but the execution of this, as with much of the rest is very lacking. He still has some charm on screen but maybe they should have thought of another character to give all the exposition to, not a great idea.
The rest, as an action movie is just bland and lacking impact. There are several scenes lifted from the original film's opening that have so-so CGI and awful replacement actors for the punks Arnold ran into back in 1984. It's a sign of things to come. After the same old future war intro where now for some reason everything is lit in atmosphere draining red lights and robotic spiders drop out of the sky, it quickly devolves into even more of the same. Like a greatest hits, done by a bad cover band. Maybe it's some attempt at fan service, but it's all pretty lazy with dialogue sound bites popping up every so often to remind you of better films you could be watching. They eventually get to the obligatory 'new Terminator' model which chases the heroes with little effectiveness, and there are more robot punching scenes, explosions, helicopters and highway chases along the way. Any sense of story is both over complicated and overly stupid at the same time. There's no pacing, no sense of impending doom, and new elements about Skynet coming online just feel like a poor attempt at being topical without any real thinking applied. It's all just pretty sad and pathetic, maybe they should finally stop trying to find that alternate source of power and let it go offline.
SAN ANDREAS (2015)
It's weird to see such a throwback Roland Emmerich style disaster movie being made now, but here it is. I'm not sure the residents of California would be into seeing real life possibilities played out like this, though it's all done in such a ridiculous fashion that maybe nobody is taking notice. At one point Ray (Dwayne Johnson) drives a speedboat up the incoming wave of a giant tsunami, dodging freight containers as he goes. This and many more unintentionally amusing moments are pretty much the whole thing. In fact there are a lot of vehicle set pieces that involve suddenly dodging objects that seem kind of big not to see coming. Set up as a Fire and Rescue helicopter pilot he soon avoids doing his job to save his wife and daughter as the people below are killed in their thousands by the effects of a super earthquake. But it will be okay if he doesn't have to go through a divorce. The opening provides a family break up melodrama letting us know how the movie will end and who will die, and the rest is a series of ever escalating spectacle scenes. A lot of them are fun to see of course with some impressive visual effects sequences. But it's laughably one dimensional, even if there is fun to be had in that alone.