First Reviews for Terminator: Genisys Beg Us to Terminate the Franchise

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 - 11:05AM
Terminator: Genisys
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 - 11:05AM
First Reviews for Terminator: Genisys Beg Us to Terminate the Franchise
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Apparently, there's a line in which Arnold Schwarzenegger says "I'm old, not obsolete," in Terminator: Genisys. I know that because the first reviews are all quoting the line, for the sole purpose of contradicting it. Arnie may not be obsolete, but the Terminator franchise is, if the inert, perfunctory Genisys is any indication. According to the first few reviews, the sequel is an exercise in cynicism, with exhausting, rote action, one-note characterizations, and a ridiculously convoluted timeline that plays like a transparent attempt to justify the movie's existence.

Don't come back: time to terminate the Terminator

While Arnie still makes an impressive action hero, the franchise itself has "diminishing returns":

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 of how keen the public is to see basically the same old thing in a new (but very similar) bottle.THR

"I'm old, not obsolete," mutters Arnold Schwarzenegger's aging android in "Terminator Genisys," and his words could be a wishful mantra for this nervy, silly, almost admirably misguided attempt to give the 31-year-old franchise a massive cybernetic facelift... It is, on the face of it, a ludicrous and faintly depressing spectacle, like watching a "Terminator" highlights reel stiffly enacted by Hollywood's latest bright young things... 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

T-800's "I'll be back" promise becomes a curse 31 years later in [the] flimsy fifth film of [this] interminable franchise... 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

The movie's greatest attraction remains Schwarzenegger. It's both inventive and a little desperate that the filmmakers have figured out how to include the 67-year-old actor as the still-imposing android... Schwarzenegger is still right at home as the stiff metal man, but the grey in his hair and the wrinkles on his face provoke an undeniable poignancy, acknowledging that no machine (or franchise or Hollywood star) is indestructible. - Screen International

The timeline struggles to make sense of itself

Apparently, the film spends about half its running time justifying its own existence, as the characters give boring, clunky exposition to explain the needlessly convoluted timeline:

Terminator Genisys becomes little more than its strenuous, sometimes skillful navigation through a well-established chronology, with even Arnold Schwarzenegger's game return more a case of diminishing returns than fresh reinvention.Screen International

Here's a sequel in which characters spend so much time discussing the narrative's internal logic, but only rarely are the explanations entertaining in and of themselves. Instead, the expository dialogue feels like a stopgap measure, an excuse to rationalise the fact that there's yet another Terminator sequel while pushing us along to the next action set piece.Screen International

You've seen all the action scenes before

While the action sequences are competently shot and entertaining, they are also completely devoid of imagination, going through the motions of every action movie trope you can think of:

The what-the-hell invention of the first half gives way to a growing sense of desperation in the second, as our heroes find themselves running from one skirmish to the next, while the baddies keep showing up and finding new ways to say "You can't win!" before going up in flames.Variety

Action scenes are accumulated as if mandated by a stop-watch and almost invariably seem like warmed-over versions of stuff we've seen before, in Terminator entries and elsewhere... How many times have we seen the Golden Gate Bridge destroyed in a big budget movie over the past years? Has there been time to rebuild it since San Andreas a few weeks ago? And let's not forget Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness, Godzilla and Rise of the Planet of the Apes just before that. Well, it happens again here as part of the nuke attack that's part of the back-story that must be altered if humanity is be given another chance.THR

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 Wrap

The characters are pale imitations of the ones who came before

It's unclear whether the actors are somewhat to blame, or whether they did their best with what they were given. But everyone seems to agree that the script's characterizations are paper-thin, and a disservice to iconic characters like Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor:

While she can be feisty at moments, Clarke can't do much to give dimension to the very one-note character of Sarah, and that goes double for Courtney as Reese, a role even more devoid of depth or wrinkles, physical or otherwise.THR

Those comforting, familiar pleasures are undercut by a script that is nimbler in its logistics than in its treatment of its characters. Best known from her work on TV's Game Of Thrones (a show on which Taylor has served as a director), Emilia Clarke can't quite capture Sarah's bruising, haunted quality, a combination of brawn and vulnerability that came effortlessly to the role's original portrayer, Linda Hamilton. Instead, we get a simplistic Sarah who's a wisecracking, gun-toting smartass. This tendency toward one-dimensional characterisations affects most of the film's main protagonists, whether it's Schwarzenegger's intentionally robotic turn as the Guardian or Courtney's Reese, who is neither compelling nor appealing enough to be an empathetic reluctant hero. - Screen International

If these reviews are to be trusted, then Terminator: Genisys may not do anything more than divert our attention for a couple of hours and make us nostalgic for Terminator 1 and 2. And just to completely ruin your day, here's an honest trailer that might convince you T2 wasn't as good as you remember:

Terminator: Genisys hits theaters on July 1.
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Terminator: Genisys