‘Terminator Genisys’ Reviews: Critics Nostalgic, Bored Over Reboot

Beside Arnold Schwarzenegger, performances in fifth installment of the franchise reach no better than “serviceable”

Last Updated: June 30, 2015 @ 3:04 PM

The latest installment in the “Terminator” franchise, director Alan Taylor‘s “Terminator Genisys” has been taking a beating from critics.

The latest attempt to revive the franchise starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which began in 1984 with James Cameron‘s “The Terminator” has been billed as obvious setup for more movies down the line.

“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,” wrote James Rocchi in his review for TheWrap. “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 Paramount release starring Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney and Schwarzenegger currently has a mere 25 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 10 positive reviews out of the 43 aggregated so far.

Critics agree that while it’s fun to see Schwarzenegger reprise his iconic role in the franchise, ‘Genisys’ suffers from a convoluted time travel storyline and unremarkable performances from the rest of the cast. Descriptions of Clarke’s turn as Sarah Connor never get more enthusiastic than “serviceable.”

Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips:
“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?”

Newark Star-Ledger critic Stephen Whitty:
“Yes, it’s good to see Das Arnie lumbering through this again, and he has some fun with the character (particularly in his awful attempts to be a bit more human, and smile). But petite, baby-faced Emilia Clarke never quite convinces as Sara (who’s already tough as nails by the time this film opens). And Jai Courtney and Jason Clarke are, respectively, smug and creepy as Kyle and John.”

Associated Press critic Jake Coyle:
“The ‘Terminator’ films are about a ceaseless, impossible quest to close the Pandora’s box of technology before it ruins us. But ‘Genisys’ is too busy remixing franchise favorites and setting up further sequels to devote much attention to the sci-fi anxieties that spurred it in the first place.”

Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty:
“The story isn’t just confusing, it’s a betrayal to anyone who’s invested brain cells in the Terminatorverse over the past 31 years. There are thickets of exposition about ‘quantum fields,’ ‘nexus points’ and a nefarious killer app called Genisys, but it doesn’t add up. And the new cast — Courtney and both Clarkes — don’t offer enough charisma to cover up all the nonsense. They’re the definition of ‘serviceable.’ Even the film’s Easter eggs for die-hard fans feel soft-boiled.”

Metro critic Matt Prigge:
“The shruggy emoticon ¯_(ツ)_/¯ is the prevailing attitude when it comes to everything in ‘Genisys,’ which keeps throwing twists and ideas and gun fights and chases at ya. Gadgets that can solve unusual problems are always being abruptly introduced, and characters, good and bad, are always able to abruptly return, unless they’re suddenly not.”

The Daily Beast critic Jen Yamato:
“The entire point of this $170 million exercise in studio-scale fanfic is to re-envision iconic characters and storylines in ‘What If?’ scenarios popular enough to carve out two or three more big-budget sequels. And so, meek characters become instant heroes, heroes become villains, and robots become human… kinda.”