Movie Review: ‘TERMINATOR GENISYS’ – Half the Salvation This Franchise Needed


Preston Barta // Features Editor

Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason ClarkeByung-hun Lee and J.K. Simmons

It’s been 24 years since we were last graced with a truly great Terminator film (unless you count the rather appealing short-lived television series), but sadly, that doesn’t change with TERMINATOR GENISYS.

With Arnold Schwarzenegger back, James Cameron’s official seal of approval, and one of the visual filmmakers behind some of the best episodes of GAME OF THRONES (director Alan Taylor) at the helm, expectations were astronomical. And, yes, admittedly, GENISYS does have a great start and first half. It showed promise of mixing entertainment with art, like Cameron did all those years ago. However, somewhere down the line it loses sight of what’s important and wanders into complete nonsense, arriving somewhere just… typical.

As said, GENISYS starts strong by familiarizing you with what’s been going on. How John Connor (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) need to go back in time to 1984 to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke)– like the first TERMINATOR, except we don’t get their side of the story. However, things have changed and Kyle finds the situation to be incredibly different than he expected. Instead of a poof-haired waitress, Sarah is a hardened, pony-tailed warrior that is hungry for metal, trained since childhood by a good Terminator (Schwarzeneggar, of course).

Sarah knows what is to come. She knows about Judgement Day and how she must “mate” with Kyle to have her son, John. This news sends her and Kyle on a time-traveling quest to stop Skynet again and once and for all– but things (as you could have guessed) don’t go according to plan. But needn’t worry, because whenever you screw up, there’s time travel and different timelines that can save the day. Don’t think too hard; it’ll drive you mad.

Arnold is back in TERMINATOR GENISYS. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Arnold is back in TERMINATOR GENISYS. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Despite its screenplay stumbles (once John Connor comes back into play in the second half), GENISYS moves at full tilt and remains a gripping and entertaining summer blockbuster. Even if the action is rather fit for a mediocre Marvel film (see Taylor’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD), the cast do add to the film’s attention-grabbing luster. While they don’t steal the roles away from the original actors, the new faces bring life back to them and are fine in the parts.

GENISYS came to the silver screen with much anticipation, and it comes as little surprise that it fell somewhat short. It had many ideas circling around in its brain, such as multiple realities, but when it came to pen and paper, it wound up rather messy and unfocused.

There are many things that are presented but never fully explored (almost all at the end). And people could probably argue that it’ll all be brought up in the inevitable sequel (stay after the credits), but it’s a cheap thing to do. It also suffers from pushing too hard on the comedic elements at times, such as the Terminator smiling and using the COPS theme song that feels like we’re grabbing silly moments from TERMINATOR 3 (and that proved to not be a good idea), while other moments are played completely straight.

So, no, this isn’t really TERMINATOR‘s salvation, but it remains an entertaining movie that is worth seeing if you have ever loved this franchise. Like JURASSIC WORLD, it’s just OK and fun if not taken seriously.

TERMINATOR GENISYS opens tonight at 7 p.m. in participating theaters, and everywhere tomorrow (7/1).

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.