'Terminator Genisys' Early Reviews: A Lackluster Franchise Revival [Updated]

Terminator: Genisys - Emilia Clarke and Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Summer 2015 Movie Season has thus given rise to two successful franchise revivals, in the forms of the critical darling Mad Max: Fury Road and the box office record-stomping Jurassic World. Next in line is Terminator Genisys, the fifth Terminator movie installment overall and the first one to include Arnold Schwarzenegger in the flesh (as opposed to his CGI body double, a la Terminator Salvation) since Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released in 2003. Will Summer 2015 go three for three for franchise relaunches?

Online reactions to Paramount Pictures' Genisys marketing campaign have been overall lukewarm at best, with Paramount's decision to reveal key plot points from the film in trailers, TV spots, and even posters not inspiring much confidence either (read: it seems like the studio is throwing whatever it can at the wall, in the hope that something sticks). The Genisys review embargo has now been lifted, but the first wave of critic reactions isn't going to improve the movie's current outlook, either.

Here is the official Terminator Genisys synopsis, for those just tuning in:

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future…

You can check out the Terminator Genisys trailer below (beware of SPOILERS), then read what critics are saying about the film so far (note: for the full movie reviews, click on the corresponding links).


Variety - Justin Chang

[Termiantor Genisys is a] nervy, silly, almost admirably misguided attempt to give the 31-year-old franchise a massive cybernetic facelift... [And] while online fans have already voiced their displeasure, the movie’s willingness to veer crazily off-course feels less objectionable than the monotony and sense of self-parody that kick in long before the whimper of a finish.

THR - Todd McCarthy

[Terminator Genisys] will serve as a good litmus of how keen the public is to see basically the same old thing in a new (but very similar) bottle... The film just lumbers along, often tediously; there's no sense that the scenario has been carefully kneaded, structured and shaped by attentive dramatists. Visually, we've seen these images, or many like them, so many times before, and the score accentuates the retread feel with its monotonous thudding.

The Wrap - James Rocchi

The stunts and CGI and attendant action scenes are all simply fine; there’s nothing here with the stark simple power of “The Terminator” or the strong-but-strange brilliant inventions of “Terminator 2.” Instead, it’s all less-than-spectacular “spectacle” and plot convolutions twisting around themselves at the whim of the summer’s least interesting killer artificial intelligence... The least inspiring thing about “Terminator Genisys” is how it’s a fifth film that doesn’t improve or expand on the prior four so much as it’s meant to clearly set up Part Six, Part Seven and possibly even more.

Screen Daily - Tim Grierson

Terminator Genisys is a reasonably entertaining and niftily executed sci-fi action-thriller, and yet its ingenuity and craftsmanship are all in service of justifying its existence, resulting in a sequel that can be appreciated for its cleverness but otherwise regarded with a certain amount of ambivalence.

Update: On a more optimistic note, here's what the review from Peter Sciretta at /Film has to say about Genisys:

[Terminator Genisys] provides a worthy sequel to T2: Judgement Day, rebooting the future of the Terminator franchise in some interesting ways. However, Alan Taylor’s film can not compare to the James Cameron classic, and if you’re expecting another T2 you will be very disappointed. Genisys honors the first two Cameron films in a number of ways, and you would really benefit by revisiting The Terminator before seeing this movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is this film’s main attraction, bringing humor and heart back to the franchise, which were missing from both Terminator Salvation and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Terminator Genisys Arnold Schwarzenegger

Collider's Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub posted on Twitter about Genisys, saying it's "easily the 3rd best in franchise" and it "feels like it's in the Cameron universe," echoing the sentiment that was expressed by Terminator 1 & 2 director James Cameron about the film. Nonetheless, thus far it sounds like director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) and screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) may not have the next 20th century franchise revival hit on their hands. Case in point, The Wrap's review asserts that Jurassic World "did a much better job of putting a sharp, cynical edge on the familiar parts of an older franchise," compared to how Genisys handles a similar task.

A sixth Terminator movie is tentatively slated to begin production in early 2016, but that's dependent on Genisys proving to be a sufficient commercial success to justify the further continuation of the sci-fi/action franchise. It's certainly possible that word of mouth for Genisys will improve as more people see it and/or that the box office returns will make up the difference, but right now the outlook isn't so encouraging for this particular series revival/relaunch.

Terminator: Genisys opens in U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2015.

Source: Various (see the included links)

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