The original Terminator was a neatly packed, self-contained film which told a well paced, sensibly plotted story and wrapped it up nicely with a clear, unambiguous ending.
Then seven years later everyone got together and made that very rare Hollywood thing – a decent sequel.
Most sequels are derivative, they leave audiences less fulfilled than the original and filmmakers, these days far more than in 1991 when Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released, conspire to leave the door at least partially open for yet another entry in the series.
Like the original, Judgement Day pretty much comes to a firm close. There are no dangling plot-lines waiting to be resolved, no seeding of a potential return to the apocalyptic future and its machine warriors.
But once that first sequel was released, Terminator ceased to be a single, standalone film and became a franchise where making another film in the series and, hopefully banking the cash, became more of a motive than making a decent movie.
And so, 12 years after Judgement Day, audiences found themselves sitting through the inanity of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and, six years after that, struggling to stay awake through the tedium of Terminator Salvation.
Now the franchise returns with Genisys, a with a brand-new entry which hits UK cinemas this week.
The new film takes its cue from Terminator TV spin-off The Sarah Connor Chronicles by creating a new timeline in which events take place, neatly allowing Director Alan Taylor to revisit familiar scenes and themes from past entries and the recasting of Sarah Connor, now played by Emilia Clarke.
This time round Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back in time to stop a T-800 (Schwarzenegger and youthful double) from killing 20-something Connor only to find she’s already prepared for the would-be assassin and has an unlikely partner – an older T-800 (Schwarzenegger) committed to keeping her alive.
From here on the film largely revisits the plot of Judgement Day, with Connor, the T-800 and Reese heading to Cyberdyne to take out Skynet before it launches its attack on mankind.
The alternative time-line plot is mostly hole-free and, like J.J Abrams’ Star Trek refresh, allows the filmmakers to respect the past while giving them ample room to tell their own story.
And the new cast members work hard to stamp their mark on the characters they’ve inherited while Schwarzenegger’s presence gives the film a sense of authenticity and belonging which was much missing from Salvation.
Fans will appreciate the film’s loud, bright explosions and large-scale action scenes which give the film a genuine sense of scale, but its seeming dependance on CGI for the big action pieces robs it of the inventiveness of the first two entries’ practical effects.
Nevertheless, Terminator Genisys is a credible and confident reboot of an often troubled franchise which succeeds in offering a decent, well told plot while leaving enough sense of menace that the promised sequel will, possibly for the first time in the series’ history, feel like an organic and natural development.