Thursday, June 4, 2009

Terminator Salvation

It's incredibly hard to belive that it has been twenty five years since the first Terminator movie, twenty five! I was only ten at the time, and no I didn't see it when it first came out, but it wasn't too long before I was hooked. By the time the second one came out, I was a junior in high school and saw T2 probably fifteen times in the theater (thanks to a friend who worked as an usher). I had also watched the first one several times at this point as well, I was hooked on the story and the Terminator mythos in general. Flash forward another whopping twelve years and you have Rise of the Machines, which I was skeptical about at first, but after a couple of viewings I realized it was the most cohesive of the trio and really cemented a lot of the loose plot and storylines that had bouncing around.

Now we have the latest, fueled by moody Christian Bale and pop-action director MCG. The latter made me wince, and I didn't want to see my beloved franchise get the Charlie's Angels treatment. To his credit, he went a serious route to the movie, and approached this storied franchise with attention to detail and reverence (for lack of a better term) to the mythos that's been a quarter of a century in the making.

Perhaps the goal was too ambitious, or perhaps too many loose ends were attempted to be tied only to create new ones; whatever the case the movie was solidly...average. Which is a shame in my book. Christian Bale as John Connor was great casting, but he simply didn't have enough of either a screen presence, or sheer screen time. For being the one and only, I felt little for the character from an attachment standpoint. I cared because I knew it was John Connor, but the movie didn't help reinforce that.

We got more of a glimpse than ever before into the machine controlled future of mankind, an elaboration of what has been only glimpses and flashbacks in the past. But it still felt like glimpses in the movie. Although all of the action took place in the future, it still felt like we didn't get to see the big picture. There was a lot going on with the storyline, and the dialog was heavy to boot, but it felt both forced at times, and overwhelming in trying to sort out, let alone all of the questions based on time paradoxes.

After walking out of the movie, I was still trying to piece together which time line accounted for what, which Terminator model was responsible for what, etc. I couldn't sit back and just take it in, it required more work than it should have. Many of the questions I had post-viewing were fairly common among the fan base, so much so that the director answers a few of the most glaring ones in this interview. On the one hand I give him judos for fielding this questions that the fans obviously wanted to know, but on the other hand it kind shows where the film itself failed to address these obvious issues during the film.

Let's face it, if you're even a passing fan of the franchise, or have seen seen at least two of the three previous films, you'll go see this one...even if you've heard bad things about it. It is a solid addition to the overall tale woven so far, it's required viewing for any Terminator fan for sure. The Sarah Connor Chronicles shot itself in the foot by turning its back on T3, an audacious move for a television show to try and trump a motion picture. This newest installment puts the series back in order, basically the TV show becomes non-canon at best. I liked Terminator Salvation, and I perhaps went into it with more hope than I should have, it was enjoyable, but I wasn't blow away by it. Too often though we throw "enjoyable" out there as if what we see only has to meet this criteria and its job is done. When you've got the weight of a metal exoskeleton such as this however, you need to more than just "entertain".

For an informative read on just the cyborg itself, click here


  1. I liked Terminator Salvation, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit though I am a bit of a Christian Bale fan so that might account for some of it. I have read some other critiques of the movie and have learned some interesting things. I agree that Christian Bale was the perfect choice for John Connor, and unlike the other choices to date I think he will with stick with the character through the rest of the Trilogy.

    However this movie was not supposed to be about John Connor, but the other characters and it is rumored that Bale knew that when he signed on and then exerted some of his influence to get more of a staring part. The end was changed actually to accommodate Bale and that stuff was not meant I believe to come up until movie 2.

    We will see how things progress but I have a good amount of hope for the future of the Terminator storyline.

  2. I think I may need another go round on the big screen to soak it all in a little more. It was nice to see Connor kind of in the 'rookie' role and not yet the ultimate leader of the resistance, and yeah, I'm starting to become a Christian Bale fan myself.

  3. I agree with HuronBH. I have a lot of hope for the future Terminator installments. I think the rewrites to give John Connor more presence and more screen time threw the movie a little off-kilter but, on the other hand, casting a solid actor like Bale was a good choice.

    It made the movie more character-driven and less your standard action fare. Of course, I too am a Bale fan and could be a bit biased about that.

  4. I knew Bale wasn't going to be the star, but I didn't know he was originally going to have an even more minor screen presence. That actually might've made more sense if he was a little more suppressed.

    So the pregnant red headed doctor love interest is the same girl from the third movie, right?

    I'm looking forward to the rest, I think they had a lot of catch-up and consolidation housecleaning to achieve in this first one, but now they are good to go.