Since James Cameron's brilliant action flick TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY back in 1991, the subsequent films in the series have had seriously diminishing returns for me.
So it's exciting to see Arnold back in the role of the original Terminator, matched up with "Game of Thrones" Dragon queen Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, under the guidance of director Alan Taylor, a veteran of the best TV shows of the past decade, 'Thrones", "Sopranos" and "Lost".
The film starts off well, with flawless 2015 sound and visual effects showing the world post Skynet, and a long but involving narration bringing us up to speed on the world post-Judgement day.
Jason Clarke plays John Connor, leading a band of humans to destroy Skynet, knowing that he must stop them before they send the original terminator back to 1984, or the entire event will begin again.
But the original terminator goes back and in some of the films most clever moments, a young Arnold interacts with an older Arnold, who is now waiting in an altered timeline to battle the old one.
The film layers on so many conflicting timelines, overlapping realities and time hopping that you soon give up trying to follow the convoluted story line and just surrender to what pleasures the film will offer.
Those pleasures include JK Simmons as a detective that's been obsessed with the time traveling visitors since he was a young cop in 1984 and Schwarzenegger himself, who is clearly having a lot of fun recreating his role and doing it with real menace, humor and style. Arnold's the best thing about the movie. His "John Connor talks too much" line is one of the best one liners he's ever delivered.
BUT, the pleasures of the film are buried in a growing tide of head shakingly bad choices by the filmmakers.
Emilia Clarke, who I really enjoy on "Thrones" is weak in the Sarah role, a pale imitation of Linda Hamilton's bad-ass hero in T1 and T2.
Far worse is Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Divergent films) as Kyle Reese. He looks the part, but everytime he delivers the dialogue, its like a bad screen test. He's so horrible that it takes you out of some good scenes.
In all fairness, the screenplay saddles all the actors with some really bad dialogue, hopping back and forth from sanctimonious speeches to hopeful new catch phrases that land with a thud.
The action sequences in the police station and on the Golden Gate bridge are well staged, exciting and fun to watch, but the finale seems like a bad mashup of previous Terminator films that leaves you scratching your head on why the filmmakers bothered.
Somewhere there are film executives planning two more films in this new trilogy. Someone should send Arnold into their office to stop THAT before it happens.
Of course with a $90 million box office against a $155 million cost to make it, Genisys may have done what all the terminators never managed to do....kill John and Sarah Connor for good.
We'll give Arnold an A, but the film gets a C.