Terminator Genisys: A Movie Review

I don’t write movie reviews. This is an Action Figure review site, after all. However, I’ve just seen a movie about which I want to write.

The movie in question (hey, that would be a catchy name for a movie review site, wouldn’t it?) is Terminator Genisys. I’m a pretty big fan of The Terminator and I’d probably rank Terminator 2 in my top five favorite movies.  It goes without saying that I was more than a little disappointed by the two films that followed. I’ve never actually been able to get all the way through T3, and most of Salvation left me cold. I had pretty much written the franchise off, and I kind of figured it was more or less dead.

When the first trailer for Genisys showed up, I was surprised. Somehow, I’d entirely missed the fact that another film was in production. It actually looked pretty decent, as if this might be the movie to turn the franchise around. I was optimistic, if cautiously so. I was still pretty excited, so when it started showing Tuesday night, I headed out to see it. Without saying too much, my optimism paid off and I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

THE ACTUAL REVIEW

Spoiler-Free:

First off, let’s address the film’s biggest draw: Arnold. His return to acting was one of the driving forces of getting the movie made, and a lot of the film’s marketing focused on his big return to the role. This time around, he takes up a part not unlike “Uncle Bob” in T2, operating as Sarah’s father figure “Pops.” The film seems to draw from the learning ability of the T-800’s CPU established in the extended cut of T2. Here it’s been in operation for a while, allowing Arnold to play a character with a little more warmth and human understanding. That’s not to say he’s completely abandoned his robotic nature, though; it makes its way to the forefront a few times, generally in the more action oriented scenes, but also in a few humorous moments.

The film has more than a few humorous moments, sprinkled throughout. It feels like they’ve gotten the mix of humor and drama right this time around. Part of what I enjoyed so much about T2 was its seamless blending of humor and serious moments. The movies that followed never got this balance down. T3 went too goofy and Salvation went too dreary and hopeless, resulting in both films suffering. Genisys gets it right.

Humor is one thing, but a movie is hardly a proper Terminator movie without some action. Genisys offers a nice selection of action sequences. There are lots of call backs to older movies (especially in the first battle with the T-1000) but there’s a lot of new stuff too, which keeps things interesting. Some sequences relied a little too heavily on CGI, but it never gets distracting to the point of pulling the viewer out of the film. The newest version of Terminator plays a big part in making the action feel new and exciting. One of my biggest problems with the last two films was the stagnation of the Terminators. The T-1000 offered a significant upgrade over the first film’s T-800, and this movie’s magnetically-charged nanite-powered Terminator felt like a worthy upgrade to the seemingly unstoppable T-1000.

I spoke about Arnold’s performance, but what about the rest of the cast? Well, if there’s a weak link, it’s probably Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese. The biggest issue is that he really doesn’t look like Kyle Reese. Michael Biehn has a particular look, especially in Terminator. He’s not a clean cut, stacked action hero. Jai Courtney kind of is. His performance isn’t terrible, and he had grown on me by the end of the film, but he still felt a little off. Perhaps if Anton Yelchin’s turn as Kyle in Salvation hadn’t been one of that film’s few redeeming qualities, I’d be more forgiving.

Emilia Clarke, on the other hand, feels like a pretty worthy successor to Linda Hamilton. She plays Sarah with a lot of strength and presence, calling back to the T2 version of the character, but she also manages to still play up a lot of the uncertainty we saw in Terminator, giving us the best of both worlds. She and Arnold Schwarzenegger have a lot of chemistry, which really helped to make the movie work.

Jason Clarke takes over from Christian Bale as John Connor, and is probably the strongest of the re-cast parts. He actually plays the role in such a way that you can understand how this guy could lead the resistance to victory.

Byung-hun Lee gives a good performance as the T-1000, though he feels a little under-utilized here. I’m not sure rehashing the plot of T2 would have been the best way to go, but I felt like he should have had a little more to do.

JK Simmons and Matt Smith both give good performances in their respective roles. Simmons once again feels a little under-used, but the few scenes he does take part in use him pretty well. I’ll talk about Smith’s performance more in the spoiler section.

The film has a running theme of “old, but not obsolete.” This line is said more than once by Arnold’s Pops T-800, and it really
feels like it applies to the franchise as a whole as well. The movie strives to show us that this franchise may be old, but it’s not quite outmoded.

Spoilers after the jump.

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#0344: T800 Terminator

T800 TERMINATOR

THE TERMINATOR REACTION

The ReAction line is certainly a line of ups and downs. I appreciate what Funko are trying to do with the line. I like the style they’re aiming for, and I really love a lot of the properties they’ve managed to secure in this scale. That being said, a fair number of figures in the line haven’t been as good as they could have been. Of the four figures I’ve looked at from their Terminator line, one was good, two were alright, and one was downright bad. That’s not terrible, but it could be better. There’s one figure left in the series, based on one of the film’s more definitive looks. Has Funko managed to pull this one off?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Terminator was released as part of the first series of The Terminator ReAction Figures. He is just shy of 4 inches tall, making him the same height as the Tech Noir version and just a little shorter than the Endoskeleton, and he features the same 5 points of articulation standard for the line. The figure is based on what is probably the T800’s most distinctive look from the first movie, usually referred to as the “police shootout” version. It’s the look the character sports during his attack on the police station where Sarah and Kyle are being held. The figure, like just about every other ReAction figure, features a brand-new sculpt, and a very good one at that. While he doesn’t quite have the girth of Schwarzenegger in the movie, he very nicely translates the look into the Kenner aesthetic. There aren’t any strange proportions or issues of flatness on this sculpt. What’s more, the likeness on the head sculpt is pretty much spot on, which is certainly a change of pace with this line. Even little, seemingly-pointless things, like the slight bend of the arms, have been handled pitch-perfectly. The figure’s paint work is also pretty good. The glasses in place of painted eyes really helps, and I love the heavy shine they put on his jacket. The figure includes a Spas-12 Shotgun and a stockless M16, which are the two weapons he carries through the police station. Both are handled pretty nicely, though the M16 is a little lighter on the details than the other weapons in this series. Special thanks go out to Tim Marron of Timiscal Thoughts for helping me properly identify those weapons!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Just like every other figure in this set, the Terminator was ordered from Amazon. Thrilling story, right?

I had certain ideas about this set of figures when I ordered them. I knew Sarah would be the weak link. I figured the Endo would be my favorite, and I was looking forward to Kyle and the other Terminator. This one…eh, I just didn’t know. He’d probably be cool, right? Little did I know he’d end up being my favorite figure in the series. Heck, he’s my favorite figure in the entire ReAction line! This figure looks like he stepped right out of the Kenner Star Wars line, and that’s amazing. I hope that this figure is indicative of the future of the ReAction line, because he is a heavy step in the right direction!

#0343: Kyle Reese

KYLE REESE

THE TERMINATOR REACTION

Well, yesterday’s review was a bit of a downer. Not every figure can be a winner, but it’s still sad to see it happen. It’s especially sad to see it happen with Funko’s ReAction line, because it’s already under enough criticism based just on the style choice alone. Fortunately, the figures seem to be improving as they keep going. I still have two figures left from the first series of The Terminator ReAction Figures, and fear not dear readers, it’s only an uphill stride from here. I’ve looked at the title character and the target, and today, I’ll be looking at the hero of The Terminator, Kyle Reese, the human resistance fighter sent back to save Sarah Connor. He also happens to be portrayed by Michael Biehn, also known for playing Hicks in James Cameron’s Aliens, and also the lunatic villain in Cameron’s The Abyss. Cameron just really likes this guy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted in the opening, Kyle was released as part of the first series of The Terminator ReAction Figures. Kyle is 3 ¾ inches in height and features the same basic 5 points of articulation as every other figure in this line. Obviously, he’s based on Kyle’s look in The Terminator, specifically his 1984 look. Kyle wears both a green and a blue jacket over the course of the movie. The figure goes with the green one, which is the one he wears earlier in the movie, most notably during his showdown with The Terminator at the Tech Noir club. The figure features a cloth piece to emulate the coat, which isn’t the greatest. The sleeves are really baggy, and the collar sits oddly, which makes it look more like a bath robe. Once it’s removed, the figure actually improves greatly. Kyle’s sculpt is unique to this figure. It’s not bad. Not the best ever, but not bad. Certainly better than the coat lets on. The torso is still a little too flat, like so many of the other ReAction figures. Aside from that, the rest of the sculpt is a pretty great translation of Kyle to the Kenner style. The etched stripes on the shirt look pretty great, and the proportions aren’t bad. The head is a little too generic to be a spot on Biehn, but it isn’t too far off. It’s close enough that you can tell who he’s supposed to be. Kyle’s paint is pretty good. It’s a little on the clean side, but that’s mostly to do with the style of the figure. There aren’t any issues with slop or bleed over, so that’s good. In addition to the removable jacket, Kyle includes his modified shotgun and a small revolver.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kyle was, surprisingly enough, flung at me by an angry homeless man while I was walking to class the other day. For real guys. It was weird…

Okay, not really. Like the rest of the series, I ordered Kyle from Amazon. I had initially been pretty excited for Kyle, but that excitement waned once the prototype pictures surfaced. However, I came across a few pictures of Kyle in-hand, especially without the coat, and that was enough to sway me back. Kyle isn’t without his issues, but he’s really not a bad figure, and he certainly makes me feel better after the very sad review I had to do for Sarah. If you’re a fan of The Terminator, you could do worse than this Kyle figure.

#0342: Sarah Connor

SARAH CONNOR

THE TERMINATOR REACTION

What separates Funko’s ReAction line from many of the other lines to tackle such licenses is the selection of characters Funko is releasing. See, Funko’s not just doing the one or two distinctive characters from a license. They’re also focusing on doing figures of characters never before released. Although The Terminator, has been granted a few figures of key players like the T800 and Kyle Reese, one figure that’s never been released is Sarah Connor, the Terminator’s intended target. Sure, she’s had a few figures based on her appearance in T2, but her original look has never been covered before. Funko has seen fit to release that particular version of the character in their Terminator line. Let’s see how that one turned out.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sarah was released in the first series of The Terminator ReAction Figures. She’s a little under 3 ¾ inches tall, making her one the shortest of The Terminator figures, and she has the standard 5 points of articulation. As I noted in the intro, she’s based on Sarah’s look from the first Terminator movie, specifically the look she is wearing while she and Kyle are on the run. For what it’s worth, Sarah’s sculpt is totally unique to this figure. That’s probably for the best, because simply put: it’s not very good. I suppose the body sculpt is alright, but she seems to be a little too frail looking. She also seems to slope outward from the top, not unlike a pear. One of the more defining things about Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah in the movies, is that she has somewhat broad shoulders. The sloping shoulders throw the whole figure off, and she ends up looking like she has really stubby arms. Unfortunately, the body sculpt is nothing compared to the head. Sarah suffers from a serious case of man-face, but not just any man-face, ugly man-face. Both of the T800s are prettier than this. Heck, Sloth from the Goonies line is prettier! On top of the bad face sculpt is what can lightly be described as a hair helmet. Sarah’s hair in the movie was pretty bad, but it didn’t look like this! All of that is rounded out by a neck that is definitely too long. Combined with the body, this sculpt gives Sarah a really odd look. In what is definitely a change for a Funko figure, the best part of this figure is her paint. She still has the problem of her eyes being set too far up that we saw on Kaylee, but otherwise, the paintwork isn’t bad. In fact, she’s gotten the proper white stripes on her shirt, which even the prototype lacked. Everything is nice and clean, and there aren’t any issues with slop or bleed over, so that’s pretty good. Sarah comes with no accessories, which is kind of a bummer. Was the upper half of an Endoskeleton too much to ask for?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sarah was another figure acquired via Amazon. Mostly, I bought Sarah because I was buying the rest of the set. I can’t really see why anyone would want this figure otherwise. Sadly, this is one of the worst figures Funko has put out so far. I really would like to focus on the figure’s positive qualities, but there really aren’t any to speak of. It’s nice to have finally gotten this version of Sarah, but the figure doesn’t really do much for the look. I’ve noticed that the biggest downfalls of what Funko has released seem to be the female figures, which is a shame.

SarahConnor2

#0341: The Terminator

THE TERMINATOR

THE TERMINATOR REACTION

Funko’s ReAction line has become one of the bigger splashes in the toy world, mostly due to the large scope of the line. Funko’s massive catalogue of licenses allows the line to have some serious pull. A lot of people are getting into it solely based on some properties getting their first toylines ever. One such license is James Cameron’s The Terminator. While its sequels weren’t short on toys, the original tends to only be seen through a stray figure here or there in a sequel’s line. Recent years of collector lines have added a few more figures from the first film, but never a purely devoted line. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the ReAction versions of the titular Terminator.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Terminator is part of the first series of The Terminator ReAction Figures line, which is part of Funko’s larger ReAction line. He stands just shy of 4 inches tall (making him shorter than the Endoskeleton, by the way) and features the standard 5 points of articulation. This figure is based on the Terminator’s “Tech Noir” look, which is the look he sports for the first half of the movie. It’s referred to as the “Tech Noir” look after the name of club that he first confronts Sarah Connor in. It’s the look he has for the longest stretch of the movie, but it isn’t usually considered the definitive Terminator look. The Terminator has an all-new sculpt, based on his look from the movie. It does a pretty good job translating the Terminator to the style, but it’s not perfect. He’s a little bit too skinny for Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator, especially at the neck. The head sort of looks like Schwarzenegger, but it’s not spot on. It’s like the Terminator, if he were a Vulcan. The paint on the Terminator is passable. He’s got a few areas of slop and bleed over, as well as some fuzzy lines. Then, of course, there’s the eyebrows, which are definitely not right. Still, as a whole, the paint is fine, and it seems to have summed up the Terminator’s look nicely. The Terminator includes an Uzi and Colt with a scope, both of which he is seen carrying in this particular outfit. They both are quite well sculpted, especially for the scale and style.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Terminator was another figure purchased from Amazon, along with the rest of the first series. While this isn’t the definitive Terminator look, it is a unique look. It looks pretty great with the rest of the set, and it’s not a bad figure in general. He’s not the best ReAction has to offer, but he’s far from the worst.

#0340: T800 Endoskeleton – Chrome

T800 ENDOSKELETON – CHROME

THE TERMINATOR REACTION

Well, it seems I’ve been bitten by the ReAction bug. I had mixed feelings about the quality of the Firefly figures, but the pros outweighed the cons, and just the sheer volume of characters available in the style meant it was pretty easy for Funko to pull me back in. One of the early properties announced for the line was James Cameron’s The Terminator, of which I’m a pretty big fan. I mean, it’s no Aliens, but it’s one of the top sci fi films of the 80s. It also has the notoriety of being one of the announced ReAction properties that was released somewhat closely to the figures of the style that this line is going for. Today, I’ll be getting under the skin of the titular Terminator, with the T800 Endoskeleton!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The T800 Endoskeleton was released as part of The Terminator ReAction Figures line, under Funko’s wider ReAction Figures umbrella. The Endoskeleton is 4 inches in height and features the line’s standard 5 points of articulation. The figure is of course based on the design of the T800, specifically from the first Terminator movie. However, this is the Chrome version of the figure, which more accurately coveys the sheen of the T800 in Terminator 2. That being said, the vac metalized look is probably more accurate to the Kenner style. Fortunately, Funko has given fans the choice between two different sheens. Anyway, the sculpt is all new to this figure, and it’s pretty great. It manages to capture the complex design of the T800, which at the same time maintaining the more simplistic aesthetic of the rest of the ReAction line. The head is a little on the large side, but it’s not too bad, and it maintains the same quality as the rest of the sculpt. Obviously, the Endoskeleton isn’t a design that requires much paint, especially in the case of a chromed version, but Funko hasn’t cheeped out. The head features properly painted eyes and teeth, both of which are very well done, with no slop or bleed over. The Endoskeleton includes no accessories. It would have been nice to get a plasma rifle or something, but the Endo isn’t actually seen wielding any weaponry until T2, so I guess the lack of accessories is accurate.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Endoskeleton was ordered from Amazon, along with the rest of the first series of The Terminator ReAction Figures. When the ReAction Figures were first announced, the chrome Endo was one of the first ones I really wanted. The Endo design is incredibly distinctive, and definitely one of the more memorable killer robot designs out there. The figure isn’t perfect. He feels a bit on the frail side, and I’m uncertain of how long the chrome will last. That being said, he’s a fun little figure, and I whole-heartedly recommend him to even moderate fans of The Terminator.

#0050: T-800

T-800 – BATTLE DAMAGED

TERMINATOR 2 (HOT TOYS)

Look at that!  50 reviews!  That’s pretty nifty!  Since this is review number 50, I thought I’d do something a bit different.  Today, I’ll be doing my first Hot Toys review.

For those of you that don’t know, Hot Toys is a toy company based in Hong Kong who are renowned for their almost life like 1/6 scale figures.  They cater strictly to those with a large amount of money to spend on such things, as each figure costs anywhere from $200 to $300 on average.   While many of their efforts are from more recent films, they’ve had a line of T2 figures running for a while.  I missed out on the initial T-800, but I picked up Sarah and the T-1000, and patiently awaited the release of the inevitable battle damage variant.  And now, here he is!

Given the higher level of detail present in this figure, I’ll be doing a slightly more in-depth review.  Think of it as a “deluxe review”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This is the Battle Damaged version of the T-800 from 1990’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  It’s the look that Arnold Schwarzenegger sports for the last third or so of the film.  The figure was released as part of the DX or Deluxe line, which is a subset of HT’s main Movie Masterpiece Series.  The T-800 is designated DX13, noting that he’s the 13th figure in the DX line.  He stands a little over 12 inches tall, and has a whole bunch of articulation.  I don’t have an exact count, because the costume covers most of the joints.

THE HEAD IN QUESTION

T-800CloseUp

I’ll be looking at the less damaged head that he’s wearing in the package here, and the more damage head over in the accessory section.  This head depicts what Arnold looks like towards the beginning of the steel mill sequence.  So he’s not completely unscathed, but most of his face is still there.  The head is made from two distinctly separate pieces, one making up the front of his head, and the other is a large panel that makes up the back of his head, and allows access to the PERS feature.  PERS stands for “Parallel Eye Rolling System,” and it allows the figures eyes to be positioned to look a variety of directions.  It’s an okay feature, but it can be cumbersome, and its access panel leaves a seam where the two pieces of the head join.  The likeness of the sculpt is really good, easily the best Schwarzenegger likeness that HT has produced.  There’s lots of fine detail work that adds to the likeness.  Paint tends to be one of HT’s strongest suits, and this figure falls in line with their other work, looking shockingly lifelike from some angles.

THE COSTUME IN QUESTION

This is a category I don’t have the most experience with, as I’m used to looking at figures with mostly sculpted parts, and that isn’t the case here.  He’s got a handful of sculpted parts, but most of the costume is made from various cloth materials.  As far as sculpted pieces, he’s got his hands, boots, and the exposed portion of his chest, showing the endoskeleton underneath.   These pieces are all sharply sculpted, and topped off the usual HT quality paint.

The rest of the work is tailoring.  Arnold’s got leather pants with a tear in the left knee to show the endo knee, a t-shirt with a tear showing the damaged torso, a belt, and it’s all topped off by Arnold’s trusty leather jacket, shown here with a plethora of tears and bullet holes that he acquires over the course of the film.  The pants and jacket don’t look to be real leather, but real leather can be quite cumbersome at this scale, so I don’t feel it’s an issue.    The shirt is cotton, and has been died to look as though it has bloodstains, which works very well.

THE ACCESSORIES IN QUESTION

The T-800 comes with a large selection of accessories.  They are:

  • Fully damaged Head
  • Alternate left forearm to depict missing left arm
  • Spare Jacket sans lower left arm
  • 6 interchangeable hands
  • Bandoiler
  • Grenade Launcher
  • 13  Grenades (This includes the one in the grenade launcher chamber)
  • Machine Gun
  • Pistol
  • Steel Rod
  • T-1000 statue with interchangeable heads
  • Light-Up Display Stand

First up is the second head sculpt.  It looks to be the same face as on the other head, only with additional damage to depict the T-800 from the end of the film after he’s taken a severe beating at the hands of the T-1000.  Instead of two moving eyes like the other head, this one’s got one moving regular eye, and one light-up robotic eye.  The light is quite bright, and looks pretty good, but I doubt it would be practical for long term display.

The extra head is complimented by the spare left forearm and jacket, which complete the T-800’s final look from the film.  The Jacket is pretty much the same as the regular one, just with the lower portion of the left sleeve removed.  The forearm depicts the T-800’s damaged left arm, after it gets stuck in a gear at the steel mill.  The endo bits are well sculpted, and the paint makes them look appropriately bloody.  The piece swaps out, but it can take a bit of force.

The T-800 comes packaged wearing a pair of relaxed hands, but he also includes 6 additional poses.  The hands include:  Fists (R and L), Thumbs up (R), Gripping (R), and trigger finger (R and L).  The work well with the various accessories, but I really think the thumbs up in particular is cool.  It comes from a key scene, but could have easily been over looked.

The T-800 comes with his bandolier, which features slots for 12 of the 13 grenades (the last one goes in the grenade launcher).  The grenades are well sculpted and look to be proper scale.  The bandolier looks right, and has a nice amount of battle damage to match the rest of the figure.

The T-800 is armed with a grenade launcher, a pistol, a machine gun, and a steel rod.  The grenade launcher is the main attraction here, and it lives up to expectations.  It features a damaged stock, which is accurate to the movie, and can be opened and loaded with a grenade, which is a really nice touch.  The pistol has a sliding stock , a hinged lever, and a removable clip.  The machine gun should have a removable magazine, but mine was missing from the box.  I’m hoping to get a replacement.  The steel rod is … well, a steel rod, only made of plastic.  So, yeah…

The biggest accessory is the statue of the T-1000 in his liquid metal state.  It’s a rather basic sculpt, which fits, and it’s sculpted to be posed holding the T-800’s fist.  It has two different heads, one smooth and mostly featureless, the other depicting the likeness of Robert Patrick.  The Robert Patrick head is an exclusive piece to those that were able to get the exclusive version from the Sideshow website.  The whole thing is vac-metalized* to properly depict the T-1000’s chrome like finish.

Lastly, the T-800 includes a light up display stand.  It’s sculpted to look like grating from the steel mill, and has a nice metal name plate that features the film and figure name.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy was a gift from my parents for my 21st birthday, in July.  He arrived yesterday.  Yeah, not my parents’ fault in the slightest, as Hot Toys is notorious for announcing a release date for an item, and then not releasing said item for 4-5 months after the fact.  But, it doesn’t matter, because this guy’s worth the wait, especially now that my T2 collection is pretty much complete (aside from John Connor, and Kyle Reese, and Miles Dyson and….yeah, I have a problem).

*Vac-Metalizing is short for Vacuum Metalizing and refers to a process commonly used on toys to give them the appearance of being made of shiny metal.  The process is performed in a chamber from which the air is vacuumed out.  Metal vapor, typically made from aluminum is added and bonds which whatever is in the chamber.  And yes, it is much more important for me to know that than it is for me to know stupid math.