The entire premise to the Terminator franchise has always been something of a perplexing one, which is so often the case where time travel is concerned. But with the original James Cameron endeavour, you were able to strip the narrative down to a simplistic, basic idea that was easy to follow – Sarah Connor gives birth to the future leader of the human resistance, so there’s a good guy striving to protect her, as a nasty old machine trying to destroy her. Easy. However in the latest offering, Terminator Genisys, the story becomes so convoluted (and though you can simplify to an extent where you merely want the good people to win and the bad people to lose), even determining which is which can be a struggle at times. This makes for a wildly unfulfilling experience that poses too many questions, and then spends the majority of its time attempting to answer them.

The events we witness shadow that of what we see in the very first Terminator picture, except from the perspective of Kyle Rees (Jai Courtney), who is sent back by John Connor (Jason Clarke) to protect the latter’s mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and ensure she is kept alive in order to give birth later down the line. However when arriving back in 1984, a series of unexpected happenings fracture the timeline, creating an unfamiliar version of the past where events are not quite as expected. Kyle’s first surprise is to see that a Terminator model (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is fighting their corner, leaving the three of them with the monumental task of ensuring Judgement Day never occurs.

One of the handy aspects to the Terminator franchise, is that given the way we drift through time, it allows for us to reconnect with these characters at various stages, with so many untold stories from this universe still remaining. It therefore seems somewhat odd for Alan Taylor’s feature to cover old ground, with some scenes shot identically to how they appeared in the first production. This all feels like a contrived attempt to appeal to the fans, which is also the case for the superfluous one-liners. What made ‘I’ll be back’ so special is that they had no idea it would catch on and be remembered forever – but it did, whereas in the case of Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier’s screenplay, it’s far too self-aware. At least one place where this title does come up trumps when compared to the others in the series, is within the special effects – as a film that certainly looks the part up on the big screen.

However the effects don’t count for an awful amount when the acting isn’t up to par, which is sadly the case. Who’d have thought that Arnie, playing a machine, no less, is the least wooden of all our protagonists. But the casting is all wrong – the beauty of Sarah and Kyle is that they’re normal, identifiable people. This idea that the future of mankind rests on the shoulders of two people just like you or I – but in this case, they’re almost too attractive, and unblemished – too Hollywood. Meanwhile, casting John Connor comes with its own set of problems, as his elusive presence always served the first two films so well. Of course we knew him as a child, but his status as an adult was legendary, he was like this super human, and even without any screen time, the adult John Connor was the important person in this entire story. However as we get to know him in Genisys, it seeks only in dispelling that myth somewhat.

As with science-fiction movies of this nature, a suspension of disbelief is imperative in order to get on board and invest in the tale at hand, but that simply becomes too much of a struggle when the narrative is so complex and tedious, and the characters so unsympathetic. It merely takes you out of the story, and when that happens there’s very little chance of going back. It seems the spelling mistake in the title was just the first of many issues.