Has the once intriguing premise of “The Terminator” franchise finally run out of steam? That’s the question that will be answered by audiences next week when “Terminator Genisys” arrives in cinemas, promising to rewrite the timelines and start the series anew. But according to the first batch of reviews, perhaps this is one blockbuster property that didn’t need to say “I’ll be back.”
The trades have the first word on the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, and the word is that it’s mildly entertaining at best and completely unnecessary at worst. But Paramount has high hopes, with THR revealing a “little surprise insert during the end titles” that promises another installment.
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Here’s what they had to say, followed by a new featurette and some TV spots:
Variety: 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 (which makes the appearance of J.K. Simmons all the more welcome in the minor role of a police detective). Yet while “Terminator Genesis” is far from a perfect movie, it may well be a perfect product of its time and place, one that ably reflects the ruthless economy of the industry in general and the thematic logic of this series in particular. 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.
Screen Daily: Not since Back To The Future II audaciously set its story partly within the confines of its first instalment has a sequel so shoehorned its narrative inside pre-existing material. A working knowledge of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the two films made by Cameron, will go a long way towards appreciating what Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) very nearly pulls off in Genisys, which is to tweak our understanding of the franchise’s major characters, have a chuckle at its insolence and deliver a gripping Terminator movie in its own right….Genisys never lacks for forward momentum or precision action filmmaking. But 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 by explaining that the character’s human casing ages even though the robot inside doesn’t. 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.
The Hollywood Reporter: [The] time-jumping contrivance plays well enough, but what actually goes on in the scenes set 14 years hence feels rote and unimaginative. 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. The first three films in the series were R-rated and viscerally benefited from it; this one is rated PG-13 and its action scenes feel like diluted rehashes, obligatory and devoid of visual creativity in the way the violence is staged and photographed….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: 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.