First Reviews for ‘Terminator Genisys’ are Out and They Aren’t Exactly Glowing

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys
Paramount Pictures

I’m really curious to know how many people out there actually want to see Terminator Genisys. I was intrigued by the idea for a while, back when Annapurna Pictures‘ own Megan Ellison was directly involved in the film’s production, but as soon as she began distancing herself from the project (she is listed as an executive producer), so did I. Maybe that is a me being a bit unfair to this latest Terminator installment, but as I did with Jurassic World — the latest extension of another franchise I adore — I’ve decided to keep my expectations low.

A couple weeks ago, James Cameron Yahoo Movies, acknowledging that although he doesn’t care for the third or fourth installments of the franchise he started, Genisys is “very respectful of the first two films.” Cameron further suggests he feels “like this is a renaissance,” and urges, “If you like the Terminator films, you’re going to love this movie.” Those are strong words from the man who started it all, but thus far the early reviews don’t seem to align with Cameron’s statements.

Over at Variety, Justin Chang wrote, “Fan uproar aside, the series’ underlying mythology is hardly an inviolable one, and for a while it’s easy to admire screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier for daring to shake things up and reframe the events of the earlier films from a bizarre new perspective.” Ultimately, however, Chang adds, “For all its initial playfulness, the script never rises to the level of surreal, cortex-tickling pleasure it seems to be aiming for.” He concludes the film is “like watching a Terminator highlights reel stiffly enacted by Hollywood’s latest bright young things,” and that at the end of the day, “You can’t quite call [the franchise] obsolete, perhaps, but damned if it doesn’t feel awfully futile.”

Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter had a similar but more damning take on Alan Taylor‘s cyborg blockbuster. “Arnold Schwarzenegger once again declares, ‘I’ll be back,’ in this fifth installment of the Terminator franchise, but 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.”

And then there is James Rocchi, whose review for The Wrap isn’t positive but it feels slightly more so than the others, though he closes, “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. In 1984’s The Terminator, machines came back from the future to wipe out humanity; with Terminator Genisys a whole franchise comes back from the past to water down summer moviegoing.”

So yeah, not exactly the praise you might have hoped for given Cameron’s apparent love for the film, but there are a few other reviews out there, including a somewhat positive one at Screen Daily — “Terminator Genisys becomes little more than its strenuous, sometimes skillful navigation through a well-established chronology” — as well as a positive one at /Film, where Peter Sciretta acknowledges Terminator Genisys is quite obviously intended to set up future installments but adds this latest installment “provides a worthy sequel to T2: Judgement Day, rebooting the future of the Terminator franchise in some interesting ways.”

I’ll be very interested to see what others think of the film once more reviews hit the web, but for now, I feel like tempering expectations was the right decision for me. I really do love The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and if Jurassic World taught me anything, it’s that a love of the original film(s) in a franchise doesn’t necessarily lead to a love of its newest installment, no matter how positive the reviews wind up; and unfortunately, the reviews for Terminator Genisys aren’t exactly giving me much hope.