With the release of the sci-fi blockbuster Terminator Salvation looming, the inevitable first and early reviews for the movie have been made available. And the words are not as positive as you might be hoping or thinking.

There aren’t enough reviews to even call this even a handful, but the three that there are, from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and a college website – “One of these things is not like the others…” – join together for an overall verdict of “mixed.” Variety and College Times are quite positive (with reservations), but THR is… well, let’s just say less positive about it. Check out some excerpts from the trio of reviews:

Variety

Darker, grimmer and more stylistically single-minded than its two relatively giddy predecessors, “Terminator Salvation” boasts the kind of singular vision that distinguished the James Cameron original, the full-throttle kinetics of “Speed” and an old-fashioned regard for human (and humanoid) heroics. Only pic’s relentlessly doomsday tone — accessorized by helmer McG’s grimy, gun-metal palette — might keep auds from flocking like lemmings to the apocalypse.

McG… exhibits an unexpected flair for the dreadful, abrupt and awesome. What we get here — which was perhaps missing on the relatively sunny mental landscapes of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” — is a sense of real horror: When humans are snatched up like Cheez-Doodles by skyscraper-sized Go-bots, there’s no slo-mo relief or stalling. Stuff happens as it might were the world actually overtaken by demonic appliances.

Christian Bale… is, once again, a movie star playing second fiddle. Heath Ledger stole “The Dark Knight” away from him and Sam Worthington (who will appear in Cameron’s “Avatar” this Christmas) heists “Terminator Salvation” from Bale…

McG’s direction is always intelligent… The script by John Brancato and Michael Ferris occasionally goes off the rails… the obligatory borrowing from the previous movies (“Come with me if you want to live,” “I’ll be back …”) tend to upset the mood created within McG’s bleached-out world, which is very deliberate and doesn’t need the comic relief.

The Hollywood Reporter

The machines rise to the occasion. Too bad the dramatic element’s just as robotic.

…while incoming director McG (the “Charlie’s Angels” movies) certainly gets a rise out of the machinery in the post-apocalyptic thriller, there’s little sign of life where the flatly executed human component is concerned.

Although director McG manages to keep the machinery humming 18 years after James Cameron’s “Judgment Day” and its liquid metal raised the F/X stakes considerably, anchoring it in any sort of satisfying dramatic context is another story.

“Rise of the Machine” scripters John Brancato & Michael Ferris fail to give Bale and Worthington much opportunity to stand out from all the monochromatic rubble…

But at the end of the day, despite the still-potent landscape provided by cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, production designer Martin Laing and visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson — the film is dedicated to the late Stan Winston, who designed the first T-800 — and that rumbling, propulsive Danny Elfman score, an inescapable truth remains: It’s just not the same without the Governator.

College Times

Does the series still fare well even with the time change and nearly complete cast makeover? What may come as a surprise to many is yes, Terminator: Salvation is still a good entry and a marked improvement over its third predecessor that may not exactly set the sci-fi genre ablaze with its effects or plot line but progresses the saga in an interesting direction with good action to boot.

Perhaps the biggest mistakes that McG’s entry makes is based more on lack of innovation and ambition. Terminator: Salvation is definitely big and spectacular as an action sci-fi movie, yet it lacks the punch and complete terror that came with the first two entries.

Terminator: Salvation has a lot of great action sequences that effectively ramp up in the amount of effects and fights seen on screen. Tensions run high when a massive robot starts to take human prisoners or through a one-on-one showdown between human versus robot. It is non-stop and gritty…

All in all, neither action nor Terminator fans should be displeased with McG’s work. Anyone expecting a genre-defining, science fiction film as explosive as the first two Terminators, though, are going in with too high of expectations.

Although these are only three of the hundreds of reviews that will eventually be published about the new Terminator, it’s still a bit on the disappointing side to see so many weaknesses pointed out. Obviously since it’s the guy who gave us the Charlie’s Angels movies who’s bringing us this film, it’s not going to be one of the all-time classics (like the first two in the series are). But from the trailers it really does look like one amazing movie.

That’s skilled trailer editors, for ya’…

I expect the movie to fall somewhere in between the level of Terminator 2 and a silly, over-the-top throwaway movie. At the very least it will be an entertaining movie, especially if you just treat it as what it essentially is – a summer blockbuster.

If you want to read the full reviews highlighted in this post, you can head over to Variety, THR and College Times.

What do you make of the mixed nature of the first reviews for Terminator Salvation? Is it what you expected from the movie?

Terminator Salvation is scheduled to open this Thursday in the US, and on June 3rd in the UK.

Sources: Variety, THR and College Times