The Genisys of a Debacle

Terminator Genisys has nukes. Shame it doesn’t use them on itself. An embarrassment to once a proud and intelligent sci-fi series, Genisys has few redeeming qualities as is stretches itself into a nostalgia trap. Only the action scenes have any worth and even those become absurd. Worse, Sarah Connor is a shell of former heroine exterior, sexualized and weak. Considering Genisys a cash-in is offensive to money. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]

There are concerns with Terminator Genisys technically, beginning with sagging black levels. The sequel’s depth is not terrible, but in a summer which produced some sterling and outright dominating contrast, Genisys is below that standard. Color grading, which is big on blue, impacts the full frame. Blacks lose their blackness; the shade is pale.

While well defined too, the oddball is the hospital near the dead center hour mark. Facial definition is suddenly lost. Emilia Clarke is excessively smoothed over. Jason Clarke is as well. End results feel entirely digital. Genisys is otherwise excellent in presenting fidelity, capturing extensive minutiae whether in the mid-range or up close. Consistency is pleasing. City exteriors or valley fly-bys hold details without aliasing or noise.

Credit goes to Paramount’s compression here, an AVC encode as everything is these days. Genisys slings particles, electrical beams, sparks, and debris everywhere. The material being processed is a definite challenge. Artifacts go unseen.

… the competitiveness of 2015’s disc output batters this latest Terminator, especially for a series which has been demo material for decades.

When the film finally opens up a touch during a showpiece school bus chase, Genisys is able to become the visual blockbuster expected from this seasonal onslaught. Colors, while now slanted toward orange, feel natural in their saturation. Contrast is lively. Black levels stop being an eye sore. While never a disaster (or close), the competitiveness of 2015’s disc output batters this latest Terminator, especially for a series which has been demo material for decades.

The bigger surprise is 3D, a loaded and well thought out presentation which smartly keeps images layered. Foreground effects can be simple. Planes of glass, embers, debris piles; there’s plenty to utilize. Then the majority of scenarios take place in locations with potential. Underground bunkers are well extended. The interior basement of what will become Skynet has layers on top of layers. Space feels natural and mapping on faces is perfect.

Action is strong too. The school bus hanging from a bridge would not be the same without the effects. Simulated height gives the sequence an added intensity. Guns poke toward the frame and a few egregious pop out moments – a Terminator head flying toward the camera, a metal shard doing the same – give Genisys that ridiculous edge. Conversions continue to impress. [xrr rating=4/5 label=2D-Video] [xrr rating=4/5 label=3D-Video]

His final form @ 1:48:08

Dolby Atmos and TrueHD (reviewed) options are included on the disc, beginning with bass which runs far too hot. Opening logos sound overcranked and the Terminator five note theme has no high end. It’s a collection of gurgling bass which can be identified only because the theme is iconic. Then the track settles down. Bass tightens. Audio becomes rich. Suddenly Genisys turns into the king of Terminator sound.

While the heavier audio of time travel entry creates an audible continuity error, the impact is superb. Each step through time is greeted by a thundering burst and heavy surround use as electricity crackles. All of the surrounds are granted work. Shoot outs are happy to play in this space. Gunfire spreads wide and takes advantage of the available dynamic range. Shotguns are boomy, without losing the ping of discarded shells as they hit the ground.

Heading into the final half hour, controlled chaos reigns. A flipping school bus conquers all of the old school Terminator demo sequences – the canal run from Terminator 2 pales. Prior, smashing cars extend into stereos or rears as needed. Accuracy is notable. Goofy as the helicopter chase is that follows, those machines travel the full width of the soundfield. As a close, Terminators punch Terminators and the LFE sounds stronger than it would for a Godzilla footstep for a San Andreas earthquake. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Three bonus features carry similar editing and appearances. Chances are the 55-minutes total were a single documentary originally, but then split. Family Dynamics discusses casting and personalities on set. While all smiles as these usually are, information is presented in a way to make it a fun watch. Infiltration and Termination follows location shoots, action set pieces, and set building. A surprising amount of this movie was physically constructed. Upgrades peers into the VFX process. These are unusually great bonuses. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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