Terminator: Salvation

Wires Crossed

Posted on:  May 27, 2009


**** WARNING:  POTENTIAL SPOILERS! *******

I have to admit that the teaser trailer had me gripping since I first saw it.  
The last movie (Rise of the Machines) wasn’t bad but it certainly showed that the Terminator lore had slipped in terms of film making and story telling.  So what about this movie?  The trailers certainly showed that the level of film making had been upped.  And though McG’s reputation as a feature film director was still debatable, they did secure the services of one of Hollywood’s bankable leading men in Christian Bale.  The only real question is what kind of story would they tell in a world where the paradox of time, and the history of three previous movies will be foremost in the minds of the viewing public.
The brunt of initial reviews for TERMINATOR: SALVATION basically say the same thing:  Lots of action wrapped around a clunky narrative.  On Tuesday evening I went to see things for myself and unfortunately, I am sad to report that those reviews are spot on.
As far as the thrilling action is concerned, I would have to give McG some props.  The combat staging is well-done as well as the overall desaturated, grayed out look of post judgement day Southern California.  What baffled me is how the character moments in this film where not only poorly edited, but lacked a cohesive point of view.  What’s also interesting to me are the numerous missed opportunities to not only give the film some added depth, but to feel John Connor’s struggle, and through his eyes.  (Not to mention a rather graphically limp ending)
Amazingly the John Connor in this film is largely unsympathetic.  He is indeed the leader of the fledgling resistance against Skynet but in this world (and due to the rifts in time from the previous films) they are questioning whether his status as the de facto leader is a prophecy or a fallacy.   This is something they barely touch on that could have fueled real conflict yet John goes about his ways in a rather routine and soldierly fashion.   He’s basically become a droning military grunt whose apparently likable leadership qualities are lost on the audience.
What i’d really liked to have seen is John’s rise within the resistance and his struggle to find a balance between fate and prophecy.  This is something that had only been described in the previous films and would have probably been more compelling to see.
And what about the ending?  All I can say is that after going out on a limb for two acts and still thinking this movie wasn’t too bad, it took a turn for the worse.  It literally felt like the movie morphed into Resident Evil.  At least on that movie there where actual hordes of Zombies. Was it too much to ask to have more than 5 Terminators in the end battle?  After all this was Skynet??  The machines would have sicked every Terminator on our heroes but I guess they went on strike or on a union mandated smoke break or something.
So, see it for fun’s sake but if I were you, i’d take my duckets and spend it on Star Trek instead.