Terminator Genisys Review Round-Up: Arnie's Back, But Should He Be?

By Gerald Lynch on at

Terminator Genisys review embargoes have lifted, and the critics have all but terminated hopes of the fifth film in the franchise living up to its earlier stellar predecessors.

Starring an ageing Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800 Terminator, Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese and Jason Clarke as John Connor, it's a reboot-come-sequel that uses some timeline trickery to pave a canon-free path for further films in the series.

While the proposed Conan sequel makes a lot of sense, there's always been a lingering doubt about how Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest turn as the time-travelling killing machine would end up. And, going by this first wave of Terminator Genisys review verdicts, some of those concerns seem to have been well founded.

We've rounded up a selection of choice cuts from critics reviews, which, aside from a few notable exceptions, sadly seem to wish that Arnie had never came back.

Terminator Genisys Review Verdicts

More or less rewriting everything we thought we knew about the Connor genealogy, the properties of liquid metal, and the rules of post-1984 time travel, this f/x-encrusted reboot feels at once back-to-basics and confoundingly revisionist, teeming with alternate timelines and rejiggered character histories (the most perplexing of which finds Sarah Connor now continually referring to Schwarzenegger’s Terminator as “Pops”). Consider it the 3D blockbuster equivalent of disruptive technology, 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.

[...] The “Terminator” franchise, by now, has become its own worst Skynet — a monument to self-regeneration that endlessly repackages the same old thrills in ever sleeker, sexier models, and that gladly screws with its own past to ensure its future survival. You can’t quite call it obsolete, perhaps, but damned if it doesn’t feel awfully futile.

Variety - Justin Chang

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 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.

Hollywood Reporter - Todd McCarthy

terminator genisys review

Just as Jurassic World was the best Jurassic Park film since the original, Terminator Genisys is the best Terminator movie since James Cameron‘s two original films. Finally, the Terminator series has a worthy sequel to T2: Judgement Day. What I like about Genisys is that it is a clever take on the idea of the reboot/sequel, which really takes advantage of the series’ time travel premise to make things fresh again. Genisys also marks a return to the humour and heart that Arnold brought to the series in Judgement Day. However…

Satisfying as this sequel may be, if you’re expecting a film on the level of Terminator 2: Judgement Day you will be very disappointed. T2 is a masterwork of science fiction action cinema which featured milestones in visual effects, and this film can’t compare, nor should it — I don’t feel it’s fair to compare this film with Cameron’s sequel. So no, Genisys doesn’t feature innovative visual effects giving us something we’ve never seen before. And no, Genisys isn’t a grand slam like T2 was, but like Jurassic World it is a fun Summer movie which does a good job of rebooting the franchise.

SlashFilm - Peter Sciretta

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.

The Wrap - James Rocchi

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.

Screen Daily - Tim Grierson