Terminator Genisys ★★★½

"Those Goddamn time traveling robots!" ~ Detective O'Brien

I was a big fan of James Cameron's original "Terminator" and I thought his "T2: Judgment Day" was a pretty solid sequel. When Jonathan Mostow brought out "T3: Rise of the Machines," I dutifully went to see what I hoped would be the finale of the franchise; the saga was clearly sagging under its own weight and its star Arnold Schwartzenegger had to go off and play a new role as the Governator of Califonya.

With that in mind, I totally skipped the Fox television series called "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." And when director McG came along with yet another theatrical installment, "Terminator Salvation," sans Arnie, and I also gave it a pass. I'd seen enough.

But now we've got the reboot from director Alan Taylor and, done with politics, the big guy is back. So what the heck -- call me a sucker -- I went ahead and gave it a watch today and was pleasantly surprised.

This version is chock full of tributes to the original trilogy, including appearances by both the original assassin Terminator T-800 Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 and the protective T-800 Guardian, both played by the ex-Guv, and a new T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee) composed of a liquid metal, mimetic poly-alloy (nanorobotics).

Bus chase? Check. Helicopter chase? Check. Lots of explosions? Check. Time travel? Multi-check. In fact, the timelines get a bit confusing, despite valiant attempts to work explanations into the dialog. The main upgrades here are the introduction of two new Terminator models, the T-3000 "John" (Jason Clarke) and the T-5000 "Alex" (Matt Smith), and a depiction of the origin of the rouge intelligence Skynet portrayed as Cyberdyne's "Genisys," a global operating system being embraced by the unsuspecting world public in 2017.

On the downside, the chemistry between the mother of the resistance Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and future soldier Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) never gets much traction, despite a scene where they travel through time together in the buff. We don't get nearly enough of Police Detective O'Brien (J.K. Simmons), either. Also, the humor is uneven, varying from inside jokes like Sarah's reaction ("What?") to the T-800 saying "I'll be back" to the theme song from from "Cops" playing when Sarah and Kyle get arrested.

But hey ... it's summer and this is a blockbuster to be seen on a big screen in the air-conditioned theater on a hot weekday afternoon. Quite entertaining.

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