Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Terminator Salvation review

expectations: low but hopeful
expectations met?: i should have kept them even lower and abandoned all hope

i'm having trouble getting over just how incredibly stupid Terminator Salvation is. i'm gonna drop some spoilers here while i rant about the holes in the plot, so if you're intent on seeing this like i was despite the bad word of mouth, just keep your expectations rock bottom low.

terminator salvation is bland. it takes no risks in its direction, storytelling, cinematography, action or production design. McG showed he had some flair in Charlie's Angels but that movie was supposed to be lighthearted fun and the director finds himself sorely mismatched here. no characters or plots are developed or pushed beyond what we remember from the previous films. using T2 as the benchmark, the "humanity" for lack of a better word, is completely absent from terminator salvation and the plot lacks focus, which is a huge problem for a story that's supposed to be about saving the human race. i won't fault the actors too much as they don't really have much to work with. sam worthington delivers the best performance. christian bale seems dimmed somehow. actually, anton yelchin as kyle reese bugged me the most because he acts like one of the wide eyed young postal carriers from The Postman. if you've seen that movie then you know exactly what i'm talking about. maybe we'll get to see him transform into a badass as the series continues, which it shouldn't.

and now on to the stupidity.

let's set aside all the divergent theories on time travel and follow only the logic laid out in the movie. skynet wants john connor dead because he's going to be the leader of the resistance. skynet wants kyle reese dead because he'll eventually get sent into the past and become john connor's father. kill kyle reese and reset the timeline. but the terminator/human hybrid, marcus wright, spends a good 30 minutes traveling around with reese, helping him survive. marcus is identified early on by a skynet tracker while being pursued, as is kyle reese i recall, and yet he's not activated somehow to kill reese? we know the machines can communicate with each other and near the end we find out that the machines can clearly identify marcus as one of their own. once reese is captured and again indentified, why isn't he immediately killed, thus securing the future for skynet? there's no point in using him for bait if killing him will really prevent john connor from ever being born in the first place. skynet is like a rube goldberg machine hatching this overly complex plot to lure john connor to skynet so he can fight a digital arnold schwarzenegger and pander to the series' fanbase.

we'll give the film the benefit of the doubt and say that marcus malfunctioned, could not transmit his whereabouts or be tracked and was not acting under any programming because he truly believes himself to be human. we can be even more generous and say that since he was a prototype he design was flawed, meaning they left him with too much humanity and not enough control, so it was by luck that he succeeded in getting to connor and reese. then why, when skynet gives him a new body/repairs him near the end, don't they simply reset him so he can't foil their plans? once connor and reese are trapped at skynet, marcus serves no purpose, right? Terminator Salvation tries to absolve itself of its own faulty logic by having the voice of sarah connor say that one could go crazy trying to figure out the paradoxes of time travel and john connor saying this is not the future his mother told him about, but it seems a lame excuse at best considering how often this movie insults the audience's intelligence.

and why the hell is it so difficult to kill john connor? skynet seems to be mostly unprotected during the finale but several terminators throughout the movie get the drop on john connor and instead of simply snapping his neck or crushing his skull with a single blow, they choose to throw him against walls and various other objects. my memory of the previous films in the franchise, even the underrated third film, is that the terminators do not fuck around like that. they might pause dramatically, but they have no intention of playing around with their prey before killing it. strangely, john connor seems to be able to take just as much physical punishment as marcus does and without the benefit of cybernetic enhancement.

did i mention that there is a pounding on the chest CPR scene to revive what is essentially a dying machine in this film? and marcus' sacrifice at the end? i can't begin to describe how asinine and meaningless it feels.

i think that's about it. if i come up with more ways to insult terminator salvation, i'll update this review.


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