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Terminator Salvation

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on December 30, 2009


I’m a big fan of Terminator 2. I don’t remember the first Terminator movie that well (shame, I know. I need to rent that one…). I like to pretend that Terminator 3 didn’t happen, but unfortunately I had to think about it during Terminator Salvation. Here’s the thing for me: I can’t reconcile the time travel in this series. Yes, I can do it for Back To The Future, but I feel like Terminator almost shot itself in the foot from the get-go with the idea that John Connor had to send Kyle Reese back in time to save his mother, whom Kyle then impregnated and, thus, became John’s father. John had to exist before Kyle existed, especially since Kyle is a teenager in this film. So John had to exist independently of Kyle’s existence somehow, which makes no sense to me. We literally had to pause the film in order to discuss how this worked, and I was not convinced.

(HOLY SHIT THERE’S A BUTTON FOR MAKING ONLY PART OF MY POST VISIBLE ON THE FRONT PAGE! I think I should use this from now on. Let me know what you think!)

Anyway, the driving force of the film is about saving Kyle to save John, who is supposedly “The One”, capable of saving humanity. Actually, that’s pretty much the film. It shows us the future from which Kyle was sent, it shows us what happened to John and Kate from T3 (who were basically holed up in a vault in order to make babies, which they started working on according to Kate’s belly), and it shows us how the machines got smarter. The major point of the film is to set us up for how the previous films came to be. That’s the deal with prequels, in case you didn’t get the memo.

It’s like a zombie film, but with robots. You have the desolate towns where any human activity immediately alerts the evil things to their location. You have the scavengers who learned how to stay alive and have some sort of home created for themselves in the shell of some building. You have the talk of trying to reach the “safe place” where there’s military presence or just a large number of people who have managed to create a stronghold against the baddies in this particular area. You even have the head shot ordeal, which seemed to be the one thing that disabled the robots (unless they exploded, which probably lead to their heads being destroyed, anyway). The action scenes are pretty decent. Lots of explosions! Also, they do provide us with an Arnold fix, so don’t you worry your pretty little heads about that. Unfortunately, they throw in a bit too much of the “remember this from the other films?” which just came off as silly instead of clever.

Christian Bale plays John Connor, and the first words out of his mouth had me cracking up. He shouted single-word responses into a helicopter transmitter, and it might have been the poorest performance I have ever seen from him. Is that a bit unfair of me to say for a short scene with minimal dialogue? Perhaps, but it was simply cringe-worthy. And then, soon after he’s recused, Sam Worthington comes bursting out of the flames SCREAMING to the heavens–AND IT WAS AWESOME. His scream out-performed Christian Bale! I don’t think Bale is a great actor, though, so that’s not terribly surprising. I saw this film before I saw Avatar (the night before, in fact), but I recognized Sam Worthington from all the press. This was my introduction to him, and I liked him a lot. As I said in my Avatar post, he seems to do the whole human-hybrid thing pretty well, and his character goes through similar paths in both films (though there are some significant differences). In both, he sort of didn’t give a damn about the world. He was a simple, tough guy who didn’t have much emotional depth to him and was pretty much awesome at fighting. And then he starts to feel for others! And he actively fights for good! And he has purpose! AND HE HAS A STRONG HEART! *TEAR* In all seriousness, I thought Sam Worthington’s performance made this movie, despite his accent lapses. John Connor may be the focus of the plot, but Marcus Wright, the human-machine hybrid, was the star. I cared a lot more about him than I did about John.

There were a lot of typical post-apocalyptic scenarios that played out in this film. There are the people who will fuck over fellow mankind when all they need is help (or were just looking for food/supplies and are happy to move along without a fuss). There are the leaders of the resistance who pull rank over our “hero” (John Connor, though I think Marcus is the true hero). Our hero manages to thwart the leaders’ plans and pull off his risky scheme. And so on. But, I didn’t really expect anything mind-blowing in the plot, and there was enough going on to keep me entertained without feeling too pissy about the clichés.

As for Kyle, I was surprised to see Anton Yelchin in this film. I saw him in Charlie Bartlett, and he’s a good little performer. I say “little” because he has a slight build and he’s my younger sister’s age. He was fun to watch as the savvy teen who managed to keep himself and a mute little girl alive for so long. I enjoyed that Kyle was so young compared to his son. And it was funny to see a father-son relationship inverted in a non-hokey way (a la some sort of body-swapping or whatnot). But man, that’s gotta be weird for John. “Hey man… you’re my father. Yeah, it’s a bit hard to explain. Listen, you’re going to have to grow up a bit more and become more man-like. Then I’m going to send you back to the past to protect AND–and this is key–impregnate my mom so that I can exist in order for this conversation to take place. Also, you’re going to die soon after. But it’s cool because you’ve fathered ME, and I am supposed to save humanity!” Ah, father-son bonding.

You might notice that I have yet to mention the film’s director, McG, in my review (well, until right now). That’s because I didn’t really notice his directing. Oh, Helena Bonham Carter has a small role in the film, too. That chick is just getting in on EVERY major franchise, isn’t she?

Recommended? Well, it depends. It’s not a great movie, and not even a totally awesome action film, so it’s hard to say whether or not you should see it. I think it’s an enjoyable blockbuster. If you’re into the Terminator Universe, then yes. It is infinitely better than T3, (which doesn’t really say much, actually) so it’s more satisfying than the last film offered. They are clearly leaving room for at least one sequel, which makes the film a bit of a let down at the end. But what I DO recommend to everyone is this awesome techno-remix of Christian Bale’s infamous rant from the Terminator Salvation set!



2 Responses to “Terminator Salvation”

  1. That girl that you know said

    I gotta say, I actually enjoyed this one. And I do think it makes for a decent action flick. Now, I can recognize the fact that, in terms of the Terminator franchise, this is not the best addition, especially because of some of the inconsistencies and the lack of development of the Terminator story. However, I still found it fun and worth watching.

    Also, when it comes to killing Terminators, I don’t think it is about head shots. Even with those, it takes a lot of ammo to kill one. There is a spot in the back of the head, I believe, that will disable the terminator, but not destroy it. I think. Unless I just made that part up.

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      I don’t know, I still feel like it’s basically a “destroying the brainstem” sort of thing. I mean, the brainstem is really right at the base of the neck, which is where I think they were hitting the Terminators when targeting their “weak spot”.

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