Terminator Genisys

Director: Alan Taylor (2015)

The psychotic cyborg franchise suffers a serious metal fatigue as it clanks into gear for a fifth time.

Despite a sprightly comedy turn by Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s a dull and stupid sci-fi clunker with a confused script, curious casting, a jokey tone and variable CGI.

It’s little more than a rusty collection of old parts bashed together in a wreckers yard and re-tooled as a generic family friendly action movie.

In 2029, the leader of the resistance John Connor (Jason Clarke), leads the war against the machines and the Skynet operating system.

Skynet sends a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) to the year 1984 to kill John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke). So John sends his trusted lieutenant Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect her.

What follows is a time-hopping mess full of routine action scenes devoid of character worthy of our interest.

It ends up in 2017 where the good guys have to save the future of mankind by attempting to unplug an app called genisys. That’s right, the big bad is an app.

The app is played by former Dr Who Matt Smith and it’s appearance and manner will seem familiar to anyone who remembers The Red Queen in Resident Evil (2002).

Because quantum nexus nonsense something, there are multiple versions of Terminators, explosions, cheap laughs and no chemistry between the romantic leads.

Emilia Clarke has the  unenviable task of replacing Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner. She lacks the ripped intensity, plays her part like a stroppy teen and isn’t given any opportunity to suggest she can carry a major movie.

Famous for her frequent nudity in the TV series Games of Thrones, fans of the show may be disappointed she is always fully dressed.

Courtney was in the most recent and most terrible entry in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day To Die Hard (2013). Here he’s awful: bland, smug and possessing less range and vitality than the robots.

Never more human than when he’s playing a robot, Schwarzenegger plays his once menacing character for broad, kiddie-friendly laughs.

It’s a vaudeville grandfather performance and I expected him to start handing out Wether’s Originals and pulling out silver pennies from behind a small child’s ears.

J.K. Simmons plays a bald cop, replacing Lance Henriksen who played a bald cop in the original film.

We see the Golden Gate Bridge destroyed in a tsunami of pixels. That’s not something I’ve seen in the cinema since Dwayne Johnson’s disaster movie San Andreas (2015) appeared last month.

Where the first two films arrogantly smashed their way into cinemas, this shuffles on with an apologetic air and tries to pander to the audience. And no-one likes a needy and pathetic kiss ass.

The Terminator (1984) was a ferocious sci-fi thriller and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was an SFX action spectacular.

Officially referred to as a reset not a reboot or a sequel, this film ejects Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009) form the canon. There was also a TV spin off show.

Both benefitted from James Cameron’s extraordinary storytelling but we have no such master-craftsman here. At one point the director is really confused and riffs on Cameron’s navy SEALs in space shoot ’em up Aliens (1986).

There’s lots of humour but little that’s funny, just a lot of knowing winks to the first film which may confuse anyone not familiar with the first film, made thirty years ago.

Skeletal robots are frequently walking out of exploding walls of fire.

Lines cherished in geekdom such as ‘I’ll be back’ and ‘Come with me if you want to live’ are delivered and followed by a pregnant pause, presumably for the audience to register and laugh.

But if this is your first Terminator film, it will be just a weirdly delivered line of no particular relevance.

It all makes little sense and by halfway through I didn’t care if the machines and Skynet won.

Dawn of the Planet of The Apes

Director: Matt Reeves (2014)

Few creatures are more terrifying than an angry ape with a grudge and a gun – and this spectacular sci-fi epic has a forest full of them.

It pits ape against human and each against their own kind in a series of hugely exciting battles.

The movie is also majestic to look at and the intelligent script touches on issues such as an energy-supply crisis and how the treatment of prisoners can lead to radicalisation.

It is ten years since super-intelligent chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis) escaped to the Californian forest.

His species has developed art, architecture and a peaceful society while a virus has devastated human civilisation.

In a sly nod to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the apes have rules marked on to a wall. No1 is: “Ape does not kill ape.”

Human survivor Malcolm (Jason Clarke) leads a recce into the apes’ domain looking to kickstart a hydro-electric dam.

There’s a bloody stand-off and in a desperate attempt to avoid more violence, Malcolm and Caesar tiptoe to a tentative truce.

In San Francisco, Dreyfuss (Gary Oldman) gives Malcolm three days to succeed or he’ll use his arsenal to annihilate the apes.

Meanwhile, the brutal Koba (Toby Kebbell) plots to overthrow Caesar, isolate his son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and make war on humans.

Serkis is brilliant as Caesar. With his heavy brow and slow deliberations he echoes Marlon Brando in The Godfather – but with added teeth and muscle.

Director Reeves cleverly uses long edits to create tension and put the audience at the very centre of the action such as when an ape on horseback attacks a tank.

Marvellous visuals, engaging performances and dramatic plot twists made this one of the action movies of 2014.