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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Skynet Always Chaotic Evil and always wanting to exterminate humanity as it deems them beneath it, or is Skynet/Genisys, at least initially, only reacting to the overly aggressive behavior humans display towards it, and is genuinely shocked upon finding out that they're only doing this because in the future, it will end humanity via nuclear war? Either or both interpretations are valid due to the lack of characterization and scenes of the villain.
  • Ass Pull:
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    • The fact that the T-1000 now can repair disabled Terminators with a mere drop of polyalloy is seen by some as breaking the character's fundamental nature, as it had been explicitly said in T2 that it could not utilize its mass for nothing more complicated than forming a blade. An argument in favor of it is that the repair probably wasn't more than creating a wire to reroute power, but this is still more complicated than the aforementioned.
    • A less-obvious one involving the T-1000 is its sudden ability to leave pieces of itself behind to act as a tracking beacon for its targets—an ability that would have come in handy a few times in T2. In older materials, it was even stated that doing this was impossible for the T-1000 because it could only track its components up to a few dozen meters, and Skynet specifically programmed it to prioritize maintaining full mass because even losing small pieces over time would gradually make the creature less effective.
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    • Pops's T-800 CPU having the probably incredibly complex software and hardware needed to control the polyalloy and enable him to return as a half-T-X is seen as jarring by many people.
  • Contested Sequel: The film acts as a part sequel/part reboot, with an Alternate Timeline created through time travel. Some people were unhappy with the storyline from the previous films being discarded, while some felt it gave the film more room to do its own thing. Critics and fans complained that too much was changed (throws the mythology out the window and has old characters portrayed in a way different manner) and/or that too much was the same (has many a Continuity Nod and enough familiar elements to feel like a retread). Others just like that Genisys attempted something different and fulfilled the Rule of Fun.
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  • Critical Dissonance: Critics slammed it, while user/audience reviews were slightly more positive.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The film was a flop domestically, grossing only $89 million. It still got over $440 million worldwide, (becoming the second highest-grossing entry of the series) thanks to Chinese audiences. (it was also the only American movie that surpassed $400 m without $100 m in the US until WarCraft came along)
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • It Was His Sled: Thanks to the marketing campaign, the film's biggest twist involving John Connor being turned into the T-3000 was common knowledge to those going into the movie. The ad agency for the film tried to Hand Wave this by saying that there were other twists in store for viewers, but the consensus was that the reveal in question was the most important one of the movie.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The very big draws to the film were either A) Arnold's full return to the franchise, or B) Matt Smith being in it being akin to the Doctor entering the Terminator franchise.
  • Misaimed Marketing: As discussed here, the domestic underperformance can be attributed to many factors, but some misguided promotion stands out - making it PG-13 when the franchise is not family-friendly, spoiling the big plot twists in the later trailers, and just not having enough hooks for the non-fans.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Skynet has already been established as monstrous enough throughout the entire franchise, but it trying to rig the war in its favor via time travel, its original MEH from the first film, pales in comparison to sending a T-5000 to transform John Connor into the T-3000 just before Kyle goes to 1984—a whole new level of cheating for an AI that has already made a name for itself as a cheating bastard.
  • Narm:
    • The film's very title. While "Genisys" is an actual computing term, it's kind of amazing that alone didn't kill the film at the script stage.
    • Some of the pre-release images invited this due to the over-the-top expressions, with Matt Smith in particular looking like he's having a stroke while firing his gun. In other images, the T-800 looks like it's mugging for the camera.
    • The new Terminators's denominations taking very freely the numbers. First the T-1000, then the T-3000, then the T-5000... (although admittedly is not so bad next to the T2 3-D: Battle Across Time attraction featuring a T-1000000.)
    • Emilia Clarke's acting frequently comes across as unintentional Leaning on the Fourth Wall due to her forced, patronizing explanation of the plot to Kyle Reese. Reese's Dull Surprise reactions to those explanations are not much better.
    • The fact that the Resistance army is composed now of healthy, clean and well-fed men without shortage of cool weapons and fancy armored uniforms should be enough narm for how out of place it is in the Terminator universe, but it turns even worse when said body armor looks like out of a Stargate-verse cosplay party or an airsoft competition.
    • John's and Kyle's apreciations about how when the war is ended they will be able to use their hands to something other than killing. Although it is easy to get what they mean, the word choice is particularly jarring for people whose enemies are inanimate machines.
    • Kyle Reese stepping into the time portal butt-naked with the entire resistance getting a clear view of his John Connor-factory. It's even better in the previous scene, as a female Resistance member is the one to inform Kyle he'll need to be naked upon entering the time portal and she looks like she's trying not to act too giddy at the thought.
    • When Reese is being sent back in time, the T-5000 moves his attention from the time machine to John Connor. Unfortunately, due to the way the scene is lit and framed, it looks like Matt Smith is looking directly into the camera, as if to announce "Hey kids! I'm in this movie too!"
    • The scene where a young doctor patches up Kyle and Sarah after their incident on the freeway. Not only is he making a personal phone call while treating patients (a strict policy violation in any credible healthcare facility) and rather nonchalant about making small talk with two people who are about to enter police custody as suspected terrorist bombers (who he's treating without supervision or protection), but he brags that "everything I do will be uploaded and online, 24/7." It's the kind of line one wouldn't even hear from today's generation of social media obsessed teenagers... nevermind the fact it's not even that impressive at the time of the film's release, let alone enough to be the huge game-changer the movie makes it out to be.
    • The revelation that the giant teddy bear Pops carries into the hospital only contains a small shotgun, instead of the Gatling Good or heavy machinegun everybody in the audience was thinking the freaking thing was being used to hide.
    • Doubles with Special Effects Failure, but it's hard to take John Connor's "death" sequence in the parking garage seriously when a shotgun blast at point-blank range doesn't leave a single mark. That not even Kyle noticed it when he pounced on him to check his state is even more jarring.
    • Jason Clarke's melodramatic gesturing while Connor confronts Reese and Sarah at the parking garage can easily draw laughs. For a moment, he just looks like he is about to throw a Kamehameha.
    • These two (clashing, by the way) bits of dialogue of his:
      John Connor: I'm not man. Not machine. I'm more.
      John Connor: The machines will rule this world!
    • Pretty much every instance of the film recycling one of the series' classic lines can be this to some. Specifically, Sarah's "Come with me if you want to live!" and T-800's reiteration of "I'll be back."
    • "One billion preorders." Okay, sure. Let's assume that 1/6 of Earth's population would want to use the app. But one billion people preordering it? The number is so ludicrously high that it's nearly impossible not to laugh.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Yeah, like they're really going to cast the Eleventh Doctor in a throwaway background role.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Matt Smith plays three characters, and each only appears for a single scene, but he steals all of them handily.
    • Lee Byung-hun has only about a total of 20 minutes screentime and his casting is criticized for not looking like Robert Patrick, but even some of this film's loudest critics acknowledge he captures the eerie nature of the T-1000 remarkably well.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Some of the scenes with young Arnold look like they came from a Pixar film and whenever he talks, it comes straight out of the Uncanny Valley.
    • The T-1000 effects aren't much better than those from 24 years ago (which, on the other hand, also proves how good Terminator 2: Judgment Day's effects were at their time).
    • The bus flipping on the Golden Gate. You can tell they needed a huge rig to to flip it like that, and how its composited into the scene makes it even more obvious.
    • The helicopter chase scene is filled with Conspicuous CGI, and a common criticism is that the scene is largely pointless in the plot except to go from one trailer-friendly visual effect from another. Also, at the beginning of the chase, the heroes' helicopter begins starting up in freefall...sideways—something that has a one-in-a-million chance of working, but the protagonists don't seem worried or terrified in the slightest, only drawing attention to how implausible the stunt is.
  • Tear Jerker:
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • A fair number of people were upset about the film using Time Travel to effectively wipe out the events of the original film, and drastically change the characters and their roles. The shared memories effect between the Reeses from different timelines was also considered to be too fantastic or at least very different to the well-defined time travel dynamics that the franchise had established.
    • The fact that the T-800 model stays as Arnie (and some lookalike body doubles) while the T-1000 is changed to an actor who doesn't look like Robert Patrick at all instead of seeking the same trick is another point of contempt. While it is mildly justified by the T-1000's ability to take any human shape in order to infiltrate and impersonate, here Lee Byung-hun is clearly meant to be its default appearance and not a temporary disguise.
    • Similarly, the three punks from the first film are played by new actors whose looks and wardrobe are noticeably different from their predecessors. The replacement for Bill Paxton's punk not only looks nothing like he did, but his outfit leans closer to what audiences have come to expect the Terminators to wear as opposed to what he's supposed to wear after this scene.
    • John Connor's adult portrayal. The change from a rugged but handsome guerrilla fighter to a stout, hammy, James T. Kirk-like field general was at the best mixedly received.
    • Kyle Reese, who showed his birth and raising in a post-apocalyptic wasteland by being skinny, starved and visibly PTSD-ridden, is morphed in this fim as a buff, well-fed and emotionally stable (as well as blandy acted) soldier who if anything seems to love his job.
    • The fact that both Skynet and the Terminators behave much more emotionally is another point which contrasts with their nature established through the saga. For many people, watching Skynet and the T-5000 as boastful Card Carrying Villains instead of the cold, impersonal killing entities that they were established in the franchise simply doesn't get the point right.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Poor T-1000 only gets some minutes of screen time before being eliminated. Even though the climax battle of the film took place next to pits of polyalloy and he could be somehow brought back credibly, that is all we see of him.
    • Alex also known as the T-5000 only gets some minutes of the film, and never really does something aside infecting Connor in a flashback. Not even the full extent of his powers and skills is shown.
    • The T-3000, being made out of nanomachines, could have been a great source of some Tetsuo: The Iron Man-esque Body Horror. In addition, it could have also been represented the fears of a Grey Goo scenario. Imagine a Terminator that could dissolve anything - or anyone - in its way!
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • What if the entire Connor family — John, Sarah, Kyle, and Guardian T-800 — joined together to fight Skynet, rather than just the latter 3 fighting a Brainwashed and Crazy John serving Skynet?
    • Or at the very least, have the T-3000/John Fighting from the Inside to show they're not completely gone, making the issue of the heroes having to kill them that much more poignant.
    • Speaking of Skynet, when it awakens, it's effectively an innocent child, only knowing the likely one-sided information John Connor's fed it. Given a central theme of the series is "there is no fate but what we make for ourselves" how interesting would it be for the heroes to try and teach Skynet humanity, as John once did with the T-800, and prevent the war from ever coming to pass?
    • The T-1000 lasts some minutes before being eliminated, but we are later shown some pools of polyalloy in which machines fitted with lasers are apparently modelling human figures. The viewer could be forgiven for believing this was an incredibly obvious lampshade for the creation of one or more T-1000 Terminators that would attack the main characters when they tried to reach Skynet, but such thing never happens, and the element is used instead to bring back Pops in a rather questionable way (see Ass Pull above).
    • The film devises the intriguing plots of a T-800 being sent to protect Sarah as a child and said T-800 having later to fight another T-800, but the former happens mostly offscreen and the latter is glossed over in few scenes. Similarly, the question of what was "Pops" up to when Sarah and Kyle jump ahead to 2017 barely gets an answer.
    • Traveling to 2017 and seeing how humanity's relationship with technology has changed since 1984 could've been an interesting topic to cover, but it's sadly relegated to a forgettable scene where Sarah and Kyle gawk at how everyone has a smartphone.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese are two of the most iconic characters in action film history. The consensus has been that Emilia Clarke lived up to the character very well. But the fact that Jai Courtney chose to do his own interpretation of Kyle Reese has not come off well at all. Michael Biehn clearly came across as a guy who had spent his whole life in horror and just trying to survive, but jumped at the chance to protect Sarah because he fell in love with her based off of stories and a single picture. He also knew that he was essentially on a suicide mission. Jai Courtney came across as an arrogant frat boy who just wanted to bang a legend.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The effects on the T-3000 are very impressive, probably even more so than the 1000.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • While Jason Clarke as John Connor ended up having some good scenes, the cast decision made people look back at Christian Bale and Nick Stahl and see them in a better light, noting that Clarke's physique and acting style were too different from the character's usual portrayal.
    • Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor. Even though her incarnation of Sarah is supposed to be a hardened badass, Emilia's looks and performance only make her come off like a pouting teenager. Her physique also drew unfavourable comparisons to that of Linda Hamilton, who went through an incredibly strenuous training regimen to look the part in T2. Emilia, meanwhile, lacked the physique during the filming of Genisys.
    • Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. His physique alone makes him The Unfavorite among long-time fans, especially given how Kyle is supposed to be emaciated due to being born after Judgement Day, but the way he treats his mission as if it was an annoying sidequest of his beloved future war doesn't help either.
    • Why not bring back Joe Morton as Miles Dyson? Unlike the other rebooted characters, Dyson ages in real time, making Morton the perfect age to play Dyson 24 years later.

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