Forbes recently published an article questioning why people thought “Mad Max: Fury Road” was a hit while “Terminator Genisys” was a flop, despite both movies earning roughly the same amount of money. From a financial point of view, both movies may have made some money but not a lot, but from a critical point of view, it’s obvious why people think “Mad Max: Fury Road” was a hit while “Terminator Genisys” is not.
If you’ve seen both movies, you’ll notice that “Mad Max: Fury Road” is actually a good movie while “Terminator Genisys” is a mess. With “Mad Max: Fury Road,” you don’t really need to know much about the background of the previous Mad Max movies to enjoy it. With “Terminator Genisys,” you need to have seen the first two Terminator movies to understand what’s going on and even then it destroys your original ideas about the whole Terminator series.
“Terminator Genisys” starts off well by making us think John Connor is a good guy while Kyle Reese will be the hero just like the original “Terminator” movie. Then the movie throws in a slight twist and that’s where things start getting muddled that relies on the audience’s knowledge of the previous Terminator movies. Kyle lands in 1984 and immediately finds himself battle the liquid metal Terminator. Meanwhile the Terminator that originally went back in time runs into an older Terminator that promptly kills the evil Terminator.
Suddenly we have Terminators all over the place and the logic goes out the window. Kyle runs into a policeman who later becomes obsessed with understanding these time travelers, but this subplot never gets resolved. Just when we think the liquid metal Terminator will be the villain, he gets dissolved in acid almost as quickly as he appears. Then suddenly John Connor appears as the villain. With so many twists that change our view of who’s the hero and who’s the villain, the story makes little sense at all and shows what happens when you violate the basic structure of a story.
In “Mad Max: Fury Road,” we’re introduced to the hero and villain early in the story so we know exactly who to root for and who to root against. In “Terminator Genisys,” we think we know who the hero is but he turns out to be the villain. We also think we know who the villain is but one dies immediately and the other turns out to be the hero. Even worse, there’s no change in any of the heroes in “Terminator Genisys.” They remain exactly the same from the beginning to the end. All they do is go through lots of action and repetitive fighting.
In “Terminator 2,” the fighting taught us something new each time from learning the capabilities of the liquid metal Terminator to watching the hero learn he can defend his friends without killing. In “Terminator Genisys,” the fighting is repetitive, meaningless, and ultimately boring. More special effects and gunfire can’t create a more compelling story.
You can watch “Mad Max: Fury Road” and immediately understand who the hero and villain are and what each of them want. Best of all, you can see how the hero changes over time. In “Terminator Genisys,” there is no emotional change in the hero from start to finish and all the action scenes are either rehashed scenes from the older Terminator movies or short action sequences that rely on action instead of suspense, which makes the action scenes meaningless and boring.
“Terminator Genisys” is simply a boring movie while “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a far superior story. Watch both and see how “Terminator Genisys” violates the basic foundation of story structure and creates a lousy story experience as a result.