'Terminator: Genisys': What the Critics Are Saying

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in the fifth franchise installment alongside Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke and J.K. Simmons.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in Terminator: Genisys, this time in a time-jumping adventure with Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke and J.K. Simmons.

Directed by Alan Taylor, the Paramount release is expected to gross $45 to $55 million over the five-day July Fourth weekend, opening opposite the stripper sequel Magic Mike XXL with Channing Tatum and competing against holdovers Jurassic World and Inside Out.

See what top critics are saying about Terminator: Genisys.

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy writes, "Enough already. Spending half its time showing unkillable cyborg characters getting shot up only to quickly heal themselves, and the other half trying to explain a plot that rewrites the entire series, Terminator: Genisys will serve as a good litmus test of how keen the public is to see basically the same old thing in a new (but very similar) bottle. ... The sorry track record of the star's six post-gubernatorial features means that a lot is riding on the box office of this continuation of his most popular franchise. Thanks to the visual effects equivalent of expert plastic surgery, the actor, who was 37 when the first series entry was released in 1984 and is now 67, more or less convincingly spans that time frame in terms of looks as he helps Sarah Connor and her son John try to save humankind — and themselves — from the victory of the machines.

"Series fans will relish the care with which director Taylor and his team re-create in the flashback the feel of James Cameron's original," he continues. "This time-jumping contrivance plays well enough, but what actually goes on in the scenes set 14 years hence feels rote and unimaginative. Action scenes are accumulated as if mandated by a stopwatch and almost invariably seem like warmed-over versions of stuff we've seen before in Terminator entries and elsewhere. The first three films in the series were R-rated and viscerally benefited from it; this one is rated PG-13 and its action scenes feel like diluted rehashes, obligatory and devoid of visual creativity in the same way the violence feel staged and photographed." Plus, "[Emilia] Clarke can't do much to give dimension to the very one-note character of Sarah, and that goes double for Courtney as Reese, a role even more devoid of depth or wrinkles, physical or otherwise. That leaves it to Arnold to save the day, but age has given him a vocal in addition to physical stiffness; he's still imposing and amusing up to a point, but he can't dominate the way he did 30 years ago."

Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips writes, "This screwy revision of the previous Terminator movies is so muddled and yakky, you may find yourself rooting for the apocalypse. ... Made on a reported (and mystifying, given its lack of visual imagination) budget of $170 million, Terminator Genisys doesn't take any pokes or try any dark satire in its technology-enslavement angle. This is strictly business, and dull business at that, for all the metal/flesh impalings and a bus dangling from the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is destroyed in the flashback prologue, and got creamed in San Andreas earlier this year. Does landmark status count for anything in California?" Altogether, Phillips calls it "a very expensive and very poorly written movie."

Boldly calling the movie a "waste of time travel," Sara Stewart of The New York Post rants, "It's hard for Terminator Genisys to have too much heft when its subtitle is, essentially, 'Rise of the App.' … Reese as central narrator is new, but the stolid Courtney (Insurgent) lacks the charisma for it. He's the kind of no-nonsense guy you can believe might have been excited about getting Genisys for his 12th birthday. … There's a saying in time-travel sci-fi that the process degrades the traveler, and the Terminator movies have been through too many plot-accelerators, shedding brain cells along the way. Director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) lacks the vision of a James Cameron, and what's left is a mechanical shell of a good idea. … The rest is a remix of Cameron's greatest hits."

Drew McWeeny at HitFix similarly docks the remake, stating, "While I'm even willing to concede that this is probably better than either Terminator: Rise of the Machines or Terminator Salvation, that is such a low bar that I'm not sure I'd consider it a compliment. … From moment to moment, Terminator: Genisys is decently produced, and there are a few beats here and there that are clever or decently staged. But taken as a whole, Terminator: Genisys is representative of the worst of franchise filmmaking, and as someone who fell in love with the original Terminator in a theater in 1984, it sickens me. I had a palpable reaction of disgust tonight, one that I masked until I dropped off my kids. … Alan Taylor's work as a director looks exactly like what a studio movie is supposed to look like right now, complete with an almost pathological distaste for the way physics works, but once he's done doing the Cameron shot-for-shot remake, his own sense of style seems to be completely generic. There's no joy in this filmmaking."

Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post is a bit more positive, stating in his review: "Part sequel, part reboot and part remake, Genisys is both seriously fun and seriously flawed. At the same time, it makes for a decent follow-up, at least to the first two films, which are generally considered to be the franchise's best. … There are also many pleasures, the deepest of which come courtesy of Schwarzenegger's enduringly fun bionic warrior, which, like a classic wooden roller coaster, gives a reliably rousing, if at this point somewhat rickety, ride."

Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson also praised the film, giving it 2½ out of four stars, adding: "It does at times have the feel of a film that's struggling to justify its tortured conception. But somewhere in all that scramble it manages to hit the reboot button in a clever way. Genisys pays appropriate homage to the two good films that came before it … while also effectively starting things over again. … There is actually a good deal of humor in Genisys, probably the product of the filmmakers realizing that, at this point, a grim, strictly serious movie about robot time travel starring an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger as an aging cyborg probably wasn't going to work.

Henry Barnes of The Guardian gave the franchise's fifth film two out of five stars. "The reality is that Terminator Genisys is part remake, part reboot, mostly failure. Sold simultaneously on the promise of returning to the franchise's roots and innovating for a new generation, instead, Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor's sequel apes the first two films' iconicism, but falls short of achieving any in its own right. … Salvation was boring, but Genisys makes you sad. Risk-averse Hollywood has made a crash-test dummy of a once great franchise, simply throwing everything at it to see what it stands. … Genisys's alternate-universe yarn smacks of a particular desperation: the nuclear option in Hollywood's War on Jeopardy.

Ty Burr of Boston Globe also gave the film two out of four stars, writing: "Terminator: Genisys is a Rubik's Cube in full three-dimensional spin. 'Convoluted' doesn't begin to describe this movie, with its narrative switchbacks and chronological fake-outs, alternate timelines, and drastic character reversals. It's a brain-cramp disguised as a summer blockbuster, the baroque Back to the Future II of the Terminator series. Is it entertaining? Reasonably so, in a helter-skelter fashion. More often than not, the movie's simply exhausting. … Terminator: Genisys is a well-made action extravaganza that suffers only from its busy-bee plot and the underwhelming impact of the two leads. Courtney is a bland stand-in for Michael Biehn's original Kyle Reese, and once you've witnessed Linda Hamilton's ferocious mama-bear intensity in Terminator 2, [Emilia] Clarke's Sarah Connor can't help but seem a soft-bellied pretender in comparison."

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