Posted by:
Lawrence Napoli

Terminator: Genisys Review



No More Years

A Film Review of Terminator Genisys

Yes, yes I realize this film has been panned enough by everyone that it has played itself out of virtually every cinema, but I was able to catch a screening at the cheap theater recently, and I was thinking it might have some redeeming value seeing how it still has some connection to the Terminator legacy.  As it turns out, the popular vote regarding this example of Hollywood haberdashery was more or less, right on the money.  As always, I encourage my readers to make up their own minds with as much information as they have available to them and certainly not to simply take my word for it, but not only would I recommend not giving this film one single viewing, I’d recommend not even acknowledging its existence.  Well, that just about wraps up this review in terms of cutting to the chase, but for those of you who’d like to accompany me on a short, cathartic journey of ridicule over this formerly beloved franchise let us venture forth.

It is a pure and simple fact that this franchise has completely lost its way ever since James Cameron relinquished control after Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  To this day, it remains as one of the best sci-fi thrillers that not only bench presses tons of action, effects and stunts, but has some of the best social commentary regarding unbridled scientific research into artificial intelligence and an over-dependency on automation.  Sequels since have tinkered with gimmicks to keep an aging “Ahnold” in the fold, brainstormed with different killer robots and considered focusing on different characters of this inescapable temporal loop.  None of the post T2 sequels had the desperate tone and raw impact of its predecessors.  The same is easily said about Terminator Genisys, a film completely dependent on CG for spectacle, nostalgia for interest and Schwarzenegger for anyone else wondering how a 68 year old man can still sell “killer robot from the future” in a spoof-free presentation.  There is so much gobbledygook going on from a story perspective of this train wreck on celluloid that really getting into it negates this new bullet point analysis I am experimenting with.  So let’s dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the specifics.

Action Style

If the strategy for the approach to the entire action scheme could be summed up into one theme, it would be a battering ram.  Burly men throwing each other all over the place is great for the testosterone, but gets old pretty quickly – no matter how much gunfire and explosions are filling in the empty spaces.


Action Frame

Since there’s no pressing need to explain what the hell is going on to the audience, this film keeps the pacing up as locations constantly shift along with the prescribed angles to keep the hectic motion accelerating.


Lead Performance

Arnold needs to stop making these films.  His Austrian strongman antics and charm left him when he ceased being a strongman.  If this is the best Emilia Clarke can bring over from her experience with Game of Thrones, then, yikes! 


Supporting Performance

Jai Courtney is a better robot than a human being playing a robot for a Hollywood film production.  Jason Clarke is an actor with 2 sides: one that is deep and emotional (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and one that feasts on 2 dimensions (White House Down).  This film received the latter, but J.K. Simmons is a surprise cameo even if he’s used as a complete throwaway.



Average and respectable.


Sound F/X

See above.


 “Moving” = 16/33

Digital F/X

There’s a ton of CG going on throughout.  If it isn’t some kind of time travel effect, it’s some sort of robot battle or crazy chase sequence.  Not quite as plastic as the Star Wars Prequels, but that fake Arnold from the original Terminator sure was.


Special F/X

A Terminator film has a prerequisite amount of gunfire, explosions and car crashes, but digital effects lifted a heavier burden regarding all these categories.



Everyone is in street clothes all the time, but I guess I can be thankful they didn’t decide to over-sex Sarah Connor with combat jeggings.


Hair & Makeup

No, no, no.  Arnold looks too old and his hair looks too white and sparse.  I don’t care if the script calls for an acknowledgement of the organic elements of his Cyborg design as being worn over time.  They could have looked a hell of a lot better than that!



Lots of places to get transported to yields a bevy of contrasting locales.



Adequate, but also a bit simplified.  I feel like if I were planning a sewer ambush for that many years, I’d have a Mad Max film on steroids waiting for them – not what the audience witnessed here.


“Picture” = 22/33


So we have to go back in time to go forward in time because this time around things are different thanks to a McGuffin overshadowed by a new evolution in John Connor.  Is that right?



Humans vs. Terminators, Yay!  But this Storm Shadow Terminator is using the same liquid metal gags from 1991?  I don’t know whose tactics are more predictable, humans’ or Skynet’s?



A cool upgrade finally happens, but of course it’s too late to have any impact on the action and none of it really matters because the whole journey seemed to go from nowhere to nowhere.



Arnold’s robot is far too high on the talky-talky, which sets a self perpetuating trivial tone with how just about every character addresses each other.  I thought this was the end of the world people?!? 



Why the hell were we going back in time to go forward in time again?  Why couldn’t we have found a better way and destination with our own time travel device?  Where did Pops come from?  These are not the droids you’re looking for.


Character Uniqueness

Same Terminator Protector, same Sarah Connor, same Kyle Reese – simply played by less effective and talented actors.  Yes, 1991 Arnold was more talented than 2015 Arnold.


Character Relatability

For a ragtag group pulling out all the stops to save humanity, they sure struggle to ground their cause in any humanity.  No, I didn’t buy that shoehorned “romance” between Kyle and Sarah nor did I buy into the Terminator’s “paternal” relationship with Sarah.  Linda Hamilton did more with one scene staring into space with voiceover than everyone else did in this whole movie.


“Story” = 10/34

Overall MPS Rating:  48/100

Ugh!  Terminator Genisys?  More like Terminator Exodus, as in, never return to this franchise again unless James Cameron or someone who actually wants to say something meaningful is in charge of the production.  Of course, what will probably happen next is a stop motion, claymation Terminator voiced by Arnold because no amount of Futurama will be able to CG him walking across the screen, let alone blowing up the bad guys and saving the day.  Do yourselves a favor and just get T2 on Blu Ray and just watch that.