Terminator Salvation

tn_terminatorsalvationHere’s my TERMINATOR SALVATION review. Sorry it took me a few days – everybody else on the internet has already reviewed it two or three times each and moved on with their lives. I figured I ought to go the extra mile so my  review includes an optional soundtrack:

(note: I’m not really gonna pussyfoot around the spoilers in this one, so beware)

I got so much trouble on my mind. I refuse to lose my hope for McG. I had this fantasy – what if McG made an undeniably great TERMINATOR movie, and everybody who ever talked shit about him had to eat crow? They’d be so unprepared to admit they liked a McG movie that their minds would pop like balloons. It would be like reading in the newspaper that a squirrel had built a working rocket ship – just completely out of left field. They wouldn’t know what to do. “Well, his name makes me uncomfortable, but TERMINATOR SALVATION changed my life.” “You know, I went back and gave CHARLIE’S ANGELS FULL THROTTLE another look, it turns out it was ahead of its time. There was no way to really know back then that it was good, only Vern ever understood it, but now it works.”

Well, that ain’t happening. SALVATION doesn’t seem to be winning anybody over and even to the McG/McG-curious it’s somewhat of a disappointment. The sad part is that it really has some slices of that great sci-fi action movie I was holding out hope for. I absolutely love many aspects of it. It quickly draws you into this post-apocalyptic California and the war being waged there. Christian Bale as John Connor has a badass introduction landing his helicopter on a Terminator and shooting into its skull – the camera gives him a classic pan-up-from-the-feet hero shot as someone on a radio somewhere buzzes “Connor is on the ground!” There he is, this guy we’ve been hearing about since 1984, not yet the leader but he’s going into battle followed by 52 brothers, bruised, battered and scarred but hard.

mp_terminatorsalvationMcG obviously studied the battle scenes in CHILDREN OF MEN and went for a similar approach with lots of long shots, none of that bullshit quick-editing. The camera shakes you around but it feels like it’s dragging you along with it. It’s more like a theme park movie ride than some BOURNE shakycam shit – a real good balance of realistic-disorientation to visually-communicating-what-the-fuck-is-going-on. The movement is part of the action instead of the confusing-you-into-implying-action approach that I don’t like too much. Not sure if I mentioned that before.

Whatever its other problems are, the action scenes in this movie are A+. And they wisely spread the fights out with different types of robots – the “hunter killers” we’ve seen before, some new underwater wormy deals, a big one that gathers humans, and the unmanned motorcycles that I forget which talkbacker dubbed “murdercycles.” I like the murdercycles because they’re a pain in the ass for humans but when they do take them out it seems believable, those are the lowest robots on the Skynet foodchain (they even come out of another robot). This is smart because there could’ve easily been a future war movie where humans are constantly fighting armies of Terminator skeletons, and after they killed enough of them easily enough it would be like what happened with Aliens after so many sequels. It used to take a whole movie to barely kill one, now they seem easier to hunt than ducks.murdercycles

The visual effects are excellent and rarely look digital. If I’m not mistaken most of the Terminator stuff is life-sized puppets or costumes. And the photography is stunning. The lights were adjusted perfectly. I believe someone owes director of photography Shane Hurlbut an apology.

But there is a major problem with the script. It’s not your typical dumb Michael Bay or Stephen Sommers type of deal, no lame jokes and nothing too embarrassing. It’s just that the story feels incomplete and sometimes incoherent. There’s not enough there, it feels unfinished and cobbled together. A really entertaining action movie like a T2 is a carefully calculated machine that tells you who to care about, what to be afraid will happen to them, what they need to do, and meanwhile it builds a ferocious momentum, veers off in unexpected directions, but plows on through to a big conclusion. This ain’t that.

I’m just guessing but I think maybe it would be a good idea to send Michael Biehn back in time to protect the earlier draft of the script before Paul Haggis and Jonathan Nolan rewrote it. Back when Bale first signed on it was being reported that this new character “Marcus Wright” was the lead, and John Connor wasn’t in it very much. They rewrote it to make Connor more important, which sounded like a good idea at the time.

But Marcus (played by Sam Worthington from ROGUE, who I think is a really good screen presence and will be a huge star) turns out to have the more interesting story. He’s a death row inmate who donates his body to science (Cyberyne) and wakes up confused after Judgment Day. He runs into Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin from STAR TREK as the young version of Michael Biehn’s character) living an I AM LEGEND-like existence fighting Terminators in bombed out L.A. This is some seriously good shit and the early model Terminators look incredible. They wear clothes, too. Not nice ones, don’t worry. I like these guys. (actually upon further research it looks like this guy used to have skin and got blown up, he’s a battle damaged Terminator like Arnold at the end of the various movies. But he looks like a robot wearing a scarf.)

Marcus reluctantly travels with Kyle’s two-person chapter of the resistance, but Kyle ends up captured by machines. He’s gotta get out but that thought was thought before. Marcus tries to find a way to save him, which ends up meaning he has to find John Connor and get him on his side. That’s the story of the movie. The problem is they keep showing what Connor is up to before Marcus meets up with him – it’s like they had some kind of equal coverage laws to contend with. Bale has the gravitas to play the future leader of the resistance, but he mostly just yells and gets upset about things. He doesn’t have much of his mischievous sense of humor from youth (nuclear war’ll do that to you I guess) and it’s not like we see anything all that interesting or detailed about how their operation works, let alone an emotional story like he had in T2 with his relationship with his mom and robot stepdad. So it feels like he doesn’t have enough to do and he’s taking away from the main story.

If McG had stayed the course maybe it would’ve been great, because when he finally did show up you would think “Holy shit, that’s John Connor!” And Bale would be perfect for that.

t2peMy favorite John Connor moment is a quick little scene where he bags himself a murdercycle in a clever way. It shows how smart and fearless Connor is, it fits with his ATM-hacking youth and to my surprise it even answers a question I wondered about Connor: yes, he does still listen to Guns ‘n Roses. We never do learn if he’s still into Public Enemy. I might be the only one but I think it would’ve been great if they put some Public Enemy on the soundtrack, buzzing all distorted out of some broken radio. It just now occurred to me that shirt might’ve been some in-joke because their DJ was called Terminator X, but I always thought it made sense that the future leader of the resistance would grow up listening to that kind of music, questioning authority, fighting the power. And in fact being a white kid in California hearing ideas from black militants in New York. That’s the story of the John Connor generation. In TERMINATOR SALVATION we see how he has been influenced by Chuck D’s lyrics. His posse comes quick, because his posse’s got velocity. He’s even lethal when he’s unarmed ’cause he’s louder than a bomb. He’s got gusto, but only some he can trust, yo.

You also gotta wonder what happened to Danny Cooksey. I guess he probaly got blown up on Judgment Day. That would be weird if he was in this one. He’d still have to have the mullet for anybody to recognize him.

I like these characters, I love this world and the mayhem that takes place in it, but something feels missing because neither storyline really has enough meat to it. One is padded out and the other is short-shrifted. But other than just having a weak script I think McG’s first real blunder is toward the end when he has Skynet talk in the form of Helena Bonham Carter and explain everything. Not only is it bad storytelling but it’s just such an obvious mistake to take this terrifying inhuman entity and give it a human face like in RESIDENT EVIL. If you have to make it talk (and trust me McG, you don’t have to) at least come up with some creepy weird computery shit like HAL 9000 or something. The movie is so full of cool robot noises and distorted talk over radios and shit, they could’ve come up with something better than this for sure.

The ending of the movie kind of fits when I think about it in retrospect, but when it happened in the movie I just kind of thought “huh.” Doesn’t have the kick you’d like it to, and in my layman’s opinion does not seem medically accurate. So when Michael Biehn is protecting that first draft he should make sure the ending doesn’t get leaked either. I know my internet pal Drew McWeeny feels bad about spoiling the original ending on Ain’t It Cool while they were filming. He apologized to McG about it when he interviewed him. Drew’s always said he didn’t think it was the real ending, but it bummed me out when I read it because it sounded like it could’ve been kind of a cool surprise (it involved Connor dying and having his skin put on a robot body so he could still be an inspiration to the resistance). I guess they didn’t earn an ending like that, but at least it would’ve been shocking.

Leaving the movie I heard a woman talking about “they had him naked and with muscles, how did they do that, was that really Arnold?” A theater employee said matter of factly, “They digitally put his face on a body double.” She said, “Oh.” And I thought shit. There’s no magic anymore. We all got the press kit in our heads already, and if some lady is lucky enough not to know we have to tell her and ruin it.

I think that’s part of the problem here. We don’t have a self aware internet yet, but we have one that is too aware of the behind-the-scenes process of movies. This movie in particular I just knew too much going in, even though I purposely didn’t read any reviews or anything. You wouldn’t even have to have a computer to have it ruined – what would’ve been a mystery about the character of Marcus was given away very matter of factly in all the trailers. And that other cameo was covered thoroughly in all the entertainment news so I missed out on being thrilled by that. It looks really good but somehow isn’t built to as much of an exciting moment. But maybe it would’ve been a thrill if I didn’t read about it months ago.

And come to think of it, the trailers had more going on in them than the movie itself. The major theme of the first teaser and some of the others was that Connor starts realizing this future is not the one his mother warned him about, things are changing and he has to find out why. Not in the movie though.

At the same time I think McG may be too aware of and concerned about what we’re gonna say on the internet. He was sure to mention in all the interviews that Jonathan Nolan was working on the script. I don’t think it was just a P.R. move, but a genuine attempt to make a movie that would please nerds. A nice gesture, but just because the guy was one of the writers of DARK KNIGHT doesn’t mean he should be rewriting the movie while you’re fucking filming it. This is a lesson that should’ve been learned a thousand times in Hollywood by now, but still it keeps coming up. You write a good script first, then you start filming. Put that on a laminated card and keep it in your wallet.

(for some interesting somewhat-related points I recommend this piece by Drew McW where he uses the tenth anniversary of Star Wars Presents Phantom Menace as a jumping off point to talk about the current state of “geek” culture, movies aimed at “geeks” and the idea of prequels)

Because so much of TERMINATOR SALVATION is so appealing to me I’d like to think it’s just a slight miscalculation, a swing and a miss, a good try but failed effort. But I also fear McG might only partially understand the mechanics of this kind of movie. He knows how to put together good shots and sequences but not an entire story. And so far there is no proof of an ability to have much beneath the shiny surface. I said the same thing of Zack Snyder though and he’s started to show some signs of progress, so I won’t write off ol’ three-letters yet.

At least I feel like it was a sincere effort. Compared to TERMINATOR 3 this one is more admirable. It’s not a variation on the T2 template of “new more advanced model of Terminator comes back from the future to kill John Connor, Arnold Terminator protects him,” it’s its own thing. It has a drastically different story, look and setting, and does fine without (real) Schwarzenegger. Visually and effects-wise it’s much more impressive than T3.

On the other hand, T3 is more consistently entertaining. It never reaches the same heights, and it has more embarrassing moments (some lame attempts at comic relief), but it stays fun throughout and builds to a good ending instead of just stumbling clumsily to a conclusion. So I’m not gonna argue for either one being better. Maybe if T3 and TS had a baby and it got a good enough education it would be the worthy sequel of Ts 1-2.

a couple of postscripts:

1.  I don’t think the PG-13 was a problem, it still seemed pretty intense. But the sad thing is I only saw one kid at the movie and he was with his parents who could’ve gotten him into it if it was R. So what the fuck were they thinkin man, shoulda made that fucker hard-R.

2. My sympathies to Terry Crewes. I know he was supposed to be in it, and after Bale’s anger incident he was the go-to TERMINATOR SALVATION co-star to stick up for Bale in the press. In the movie I only noticed him in one scene leaning dead against a wall. Not one of his better roles, in my opinion. (Maybe he got the Michael Jai White in KILL BILL treatment.)

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2009 at 3:22 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

88 Responses to “Terminator Salvation”

  1. CrustaceanHate

    May 24th, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Man, you’ve been pumping out the reviews lately. Good stuff. You mentioned Zack Snyder showing “signs of progress”… are you talking about WATCHMEN? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it, even if it is based on a childrens comic strip.

  2. I’d give it a 5/10. The special effects (including Arnold) and the action were spectacular. I loved the scene at the gas station with the giant terminator. I feel that the movie didn’t have much to offer besides that. It was magical to see Michael Ironside, but he wasn’t in it nearly enough for my liking.

  3. @bryan

    Michael Ironside would fuck you up for describing his presence as “magical”. Just a warning, man.

  4. Michael Ironside was in THE MACHINIST with Christian Bale, and he had a prosthetic arm. Also he had a prosthetic arm in STARSHIP TROOPERS. Therefore, Michael Ironside is a Terminator, and Christian Bale is a Starship Trooper.

  5. One issue I had with this movie was the, “I’ll be back” and “Come with me if you want to live” lines. I didn’t catch a “Hasta la vista, baby” and that’s probably for the best.

    They’re already honoring the originals by making a sequel, there’s no need to add nerd pandering catch phrases.

    Other than that I loved it. Yes. I said, “loved it”.

  6. man Vern, you really do tell it like it is, excellent review

  7. Hamilton Geyser

    May 24th, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    i blame Bale for demanding a bigger role, and in the process ruining the movie. oh, and McG and company for not having balls to stand up for the story and telling Bale and geeks pissed at COnnor’s death to go fuck themselves.

    this movie could have worked as Kyle and Marcus’ movie. Instead the movie we got was a bastardised mix of reshoots and rewrites.

  8. I loved that EPK where Bale “assisted” McG in editing SALVATION daily.

    More like “ordering”, much like how Tom Cruise basically recut the 2nd MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie behind John Woo’s back.

  9. CrustaceanHate

    May 24th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Unrelated to TERMINATOR NO COLON SALVATION, but are you going to be reviewing the martial arts films DAY OF THE PANTHER and STRIKE OF THE PANTHER as part of your Brian Trenchard-Smith studies? They were filmed back-to-back in my home city (Perth, Western Australia). Be amazed as Jason Blade (Ed Stazak) fights kung fu fighters in pig masks and moonwalking ninjas, all while wearing high-waisted pants. Time to face the PANTHER, Vern!

  10. BringingSexyBack

    May 24th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Vern – as always your writing is super professional. Why is this not published on AICN? McG hasn’t redeemed himself fully in my eyes but I was thoroughly entertained by TS despite its many problems. It bests T2, desimates T3. Bale, Worthington, Bloodgood and Yelchin gave it their all. Others gave half-hearted perfs. I think that’s one source of its problems. Anyway thanks for the writeup, you always rock Vern.

  11. BSB…bests T2? Geez, you and laserpants need to start a club…The best action sequence wasn’t even directed by McGinty, and the critics, all critics, not just fanboy talkbackers, ORDINARY CRITICS have SAVAGED the movie…its hilarious that you continue to believe its just fanboys who are causing this movie to sink…

    Meanwhile T2 happily occupies a position of being one of the great SciFi movies of the last century (#8 on AFI’s top ten), meanwhile, T:$ is doomed to go down the shitter and McGinty will not be directing the inevitable sequel (unfortunately)

  12. I thought that was Terry Crews! Man that was distracting. And I thought the real star of the film was the sound design. Some of those robots made some crazy and fairly frightening noises.

  13. I was a sucker for the Charlie’s Angels films, never got the the hate Mcg gets. While I love Terminator, story wise it was always a little fucked. Looking forward to this.

  14. Great review Vern.
    Is Anton Yelchin believable as an action badass type ?

    Regarding Drew´s article, he needs to take personal responsiblity for helping to create the fanboy movement that hollywood is mining for easy money these days. The ¨script reviews¨ and so on at websites like AICN are a huge part of the problem. Just let the movie get made and stop behaving like you own it!!!

  15. This movie doesn’t come out until a week on Friday in the UK. It’s one of the few movies I’m looking forward to this summer, outside of it there’s Drag Me To Hell and Moon, the later of which I may well not get a chance to see. As long as it’s a decent action movie, I can live with any other flaws and not feel like I’ve wasted either my time nor the cost of my ticket. From your review it sounds like that is the case, and at the risk of sounding like a sycophant, I trust your opinion on such matters far more than any other critic.

    I thought T3 was OK, I guess, but I didn’t like the Terminatrix or whatever it was called and found that character a bit cringeworthy. I just find it a bit embarassing when they try to sex up “geeky” things like robots, vampires ect. in a Species kind of way (Seven of Nine on Star Trek and so forth).

    I think it might have been cool if they had made John into a mythical, Ramboesque soldier who we don’t see much of until it gets nearer the climax. I guess there’s always the inevitable reboot they’ll announce three years from now.

  16. I loved this movie. My only problem was poor Terry Crewes getting the short shrift.

  17. solongyoubastard

    May 25th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    We actually don’t know if John Connor listens to GNR, we just know he likes that one song. He REALLY likes that song considering it’s over 25 years later and he held onto the CD through the nuclear apocalypse…that says something for the band’s longevity (or, you know, the longevity of that one song.) Or it could just be a coincidence, that’s the song that happened to be playing on the radio at the time he set up the diversion for the murdercycle, except I’m guessing there probably aren’t any radio stations still up and running.

    Or are there? The biggest problem I had with the general world of the film was that the devastation didn’t seem nearly as bad as it should have. Thinking back to the future “flashbacks” in T1 and the beginning of T2, everything looked so completely hopeless, enough for you to really root for Sarah/John to survive: whatever it takes to avoid this horrible outcome. You could argue that “yeah well remember that was the result of Judgement Day, but they prevented that from happening in T2 and in T3 they move it up to 2004 and it’s a completely new apocalypse so it wouldn’t necessarily be as bad as it looked in the first two movies” but still…jets and ‘copters flying around? A submarine? Global communication for all resistance HQs?

    What I would’ve liked to have seen would be people on the brink: starving, going a little nuts, desperate to survive. Something that the catchphrase “Come with me if you want to live” truly evokes: a world where hope is lost, where they’d have no choice but to look to John Connor to save them. They did a good job establishing that kind of reality in The Matrix – one so grim that some people would rather delve into a phony world to escape from it – but here the struggle of everyday life should have felt more brutal. A little dirt makeup on Bryce Howard’s nose did not convince me.

    Maybe things’ll get worse for the survivors in the inevitably sequels, and to be fair it’s not wrong for McG to spend more time and effort on action set pieces than the human condition – I just thought the movie could have worked harder to make you feel for these guys and realize how badly they need someone to lead them to victory.

    That said, I argee that Worthington’s gonna be a great leading man: at worst, this was a great $150 million preview for Avatar.

  18. solongyoubastard

    May 25th, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Hopefully Terry Crews will get more screentime in Gamer, which I saw the preview for at TS and had to look up at home afterwards to make sure that was him.

  19. Vern, I was looking forward to your review. You never disappoint.

    When I came out of the theater, I just felt…sigh. So many things fell flat. I really wanted to be drawn into this world–and I was close, thanks to Kyle Reese–but there was so much keeping me out. Everyone’s going on about Sam Worthington, but for me, he was meh. Charming? Sure. A presence on the screen? Okay. But I’m not really feeling the wondrous movie star dudeness of him, I guess. Or maybe I’m only projecting my disappointment about Marcus being the main character. I tried not to spoil myself before this movie, so the fact that he was actually the lead took me aback. I wasn’t prepared to care about him, and the movie didn’t give me much of a reason to do so. But that’s just me.

    Also, there was Star. Freakin’ Star. Not to be mean, but seeing the Harvester Terminator accidentally step on her would’ve been awesome. Everyone’s calling her “Newt,” and I was thinking that exact same thing during the movie. But Newt served a great purpose for Ripley in ALIENS, whereas this little girl… Why was she in it? To flash those big brown eyes at Marcus? If she’d developed any kind of connection with him, that might’ve made a little sense.

    I suppose what I really missed was even a hint of who these fighters were–how they cope with the stress of this war, etc. Surely some soldiers have a sense of humor, just like cops and other frontline warriors who throw around jokes to make the horror of what they have to face bearable. Instead, we get cardboard.

    Having said all this, I do hope there’s another movie, because I’m dying to see Kyle get that picture. Hope springs eternal.

  20. I went into this having just read Harry Knowles’ review. My thought throughout the whole movie was, “What? There’s nothing in here that deserves that much bile.” Your review is much more level-headed and fair, I think. A more accurate review of the movie. Nothing embarrassing happens. There is some sweet stuff in there: I love the Schwarzenegger bot, the scenes with Yelchin as young Reese fighting the scarf-wearing Terminator, the scene where Marcus and whatshername run from the facility, and… I could name a few more. But overall, just doesn’t work as a movie. It’s a bummer. But I actually want to see a fifth one. Maybe they’ll get the script finished first this time.

  21. Also, Michael Ironside was in this movie and they did nothing with him? He spends the whole movie hanging out on a submarine. That’s it? Lame.

  22. Chud has an article now describing the earlier draft of the script in detail. Looks like I was right – in that version John Connor was only a presence on the radio, he lives on the submarine and few people are allowed to see him because they don’t want Skynet to find out what he looks like. He’s not shown in the movie until the end when Marcus finally meets him – can you imagine if they did that and kept it hidden that it was Christian Bale? That would be great! And then everybody would leave the movie saying “the next one’ll be about John Connor!”

    I guess that was what Bale originally signed on for, except that they wanted him to play Marcus. He wanted to be John Connor and had the part “beefed up,” which explains why there are all these scenes about John Connor but you don’t really learn much about him and he doesn’t really do much.

    It also mentions that Marcus teaches Kyle how to drive and he drives an ATV for one of the climactic action scenes, which is why him not being able to drive came up.

    On the other hand, the article also describes a really ridiculous third act plot twist which explains why the Helena Bonham Carter character was in there, and I’m glad they didn’t go with that part at least.

  23. “Radio – suckers never play me”. Thanks Vern I’ve got to dig out “It Takes a Nation….” , I don’t like most of what passes for hip hop this days , and I’m currently on a Run-D.M.C. heavy rotation , so it’s time for some more classic rap!

    On a completely unrelated note ( I’m skipping the Terminator Salvation review for now…), I’m watching “Bulletproof ” , on VHS , no less ,a Gary Busey-vs-Futuristic Tank movie from 1988 , and I’m happy to report that the movie itself starts with “Gary Busey is…..Bulletproof” , and this is fantastic and hilarious at the same time.I’ve literally stopped watching it to post this , so I can’t comment on the quality of the movie , but I can safely say that Bulletproof already delivers in the badass opening category .

  24. still think i’m gonna try to see this. i’m a sucker for murderous robots.
    but first i think i’ll listen to some Public Enemy.
    great review man.

  25. I think it all boils down to story. This was simply not the story I wanted to see told. I didn’t care at all about Marcus the Meatbot. I just wanted to see–finally, after more than 20 years of waiting and imagining–how a single man named John Connor managed to inspire humanity to fight back against certain destruction. Instead, I got a movie where John Connor got ordered around by a bunch of assholes and only inspired people NOT to fight. I agree that the world of the movie was pretty cool and the action was reasonably awesome, but there aren’t enough giant robots and car crashes in the world to make me get over that kind of disappointment.

  26. It’s a classic, CallMeKermiT, Gary Busey’s Bulletproof. Unfortunately the DVD is full-frame, still waiting for that Special Edition. I hope it’ll shed some light on Busey’s continual use of the word “butthorn” or his feelings about the giant spool scene.

  27. I know Haggis isn’t popular on these internets and all, but he did contribute to the last two good Bond movies. Also, I think that Nolan was brought on to do what he could, but I think the bulk of the problems (and 95% of the problems are from the script) come from the original writers who wrote TERMINATOR ‘talk to the hand’ 3 and CATWOMAN.


    This CATWOMAN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmjyV2Z7wLw Holy crap, I watched that whole clip.

    So, I have to disagree and say that I think this at heart was always going to be a turkey considering who wrote it, despite Haggis, Nolan or anyone else they brought on. Same goes for the future sequels too. As long as these CATWOMAN guys are involved then count me out. I’m fine with McG (although if he had more bite I believe he would have known about such obvious problems and corrected them) and everyone else. Actually, Elfman really dropped the ball I thought. Lame score from him. Nothing memorable in the least and he only used the classic theme all of two or three times I think. What’s Fiedel doing??? Get him back. I remember you pointing me towards the TERMINATOR SALVATION video game site and the music they had there was ten times better than what was in the movie. Hire that guy. terminatorsalvationthegame.com

    If Jonathan Nolan was one of the main writers on the next one, this one, any of them post T2 with someone else like a David Goyer or the guys that wrote CHILDREN OF MEN and IRON MAN I’d be really excited. Hell, even Orci and Kurtzman would be better and they aren’t exactly good, but better than what was TERMINATOR SALVATION and that’s saying a lot.

    I’m with you on the action. Loved Connor’s helicopter crash. Great scene. Would have liked to have seen more than two T-600’s on the battlefield though, but still, probably the best scene of the movie. And I guess the rest of the action was decent. I guess these days it’s good as long as it isn’t super close and cut a million times right? My problems with it were the ‘pop up’ moments like the T-600 that John fought or the Frisbee Terminator (for lack of a better word) that Kyle wrestled with while driving the jeep and the giant Harvester Terminator that apparently can be real quiet when it needs to be before attacking people.

    I also agree with the commenter above that said you don’t need a million nods to the other movies that are better. Despite the “I’ll be back” and “Come with me if you want to live” lines there was Marcus teaching Kyle how to tie that string to his shotgun which Reese does in the first movie (albeit for different reasons [in order to hide the gun under his coat]) and then there was the Gun’s N Roses song and Connor hacking things like he did in LA circa 1997. I think Skynet would be harder to infiltrate than an ATM though. My friend leaned over and said he was walking out if John said, “Eaaaasy money.” I would have been cool with some Public Enemy though. That’s the smart type of nod if you’re going to do one. I don’t buy Terminators having a USB port that can be hacked so easily either. especially after they are tripped (when we previously saw them skidding sideways dodging wreckage).

    How about John jumping into the middle of the ocean at night with giant waves, cut to submarine, cut to dripping wet Connor inside submarine. That’s fucking crafty.

    Did anyone else notice how the main TERMINATOR SALVATION title was repeated twice at the beginning in the first two minutes? I don’t remember a movie ever doing that twice. I know I’m nitpicking, but the titles were lame too. The WB and Halycon logo looked cool, but after the first two movies credits, I wanted something that cements this into your conscious as being worth a damn.

    I do like the idea of Connor being a dude on the radio who lives on the sub and not seeing him until the end. That would have kicked ass, but the rest of the stink still would have been there.

    Anton Yelchin was great. He channeled Michael Biehn’s, Reese in a way that I didn’t think possible and I was most concerned about him being cast, but turns out he was the best thing in the movie. Bale phoned it in. A lot. I’m usually a fan, but he yelled and that’s about it.

    Anyways, this whole thing kind of bummed me out a lot.

    Thanks for the review Vern.

  28. ‘Circa LA in 1994’ – My bad. Got my fictional dates mixed up.

    I read that piece over at CHUD. I think the original script from the CATWOMAN dudes was at the same time better (more Reese, a hidden Connor) and way worse (Project ANGEL???). Big surprise.

    I would have killed the mute Newt character too. I think it needs to be a standard for a Terminator movie to have someone terminated on screen by a terminator of the endoskeleton variety.

  29. Yeah, it sounds like the original script was no masterpiece, but pretty much every major problem I had with it seems to have come from them tagging on John Connor scenes to get more Christian Bale in there. That awkward diving/submarine cut bothered me too, and I’m guessing it’s because they were adding scenes during filming but didn’t have time to make shoot everything you need for it to make sense.

    Getting some better writers: good idea. Just getting them to add random unrelated scenes onto existing story structure: stupid idea.

    But yeah, “Project ANGEL” sounds terrible, glad we dodged that bullet. That would’ve killed the series for sure.

  30. clubside : Yeah , that giant wooden spool scene is hilarious , but the movie is full of old school explosion , car chases and the ending with the tank is fantastic. Plus there’s Danny Trejo ! I had so much fun that now I’m renting ” The Beast of War ” , you know , another tank on a rampage movie……

  31. Regarding the script review on CHUD, I would have preferred that they make that movie and give me a chance to see if it would work. I like my movies to take a few chances and not just pander to the audience.

    I really would have preferred a coherent film that I can agree or disagree with rather than this jumbled mess that we got, where all we can do is complement the action scenes.

    This is the first and last time I read a script review. Hate that shit.

  32. I like to read that about the action scenes. I guess i´ll watch this thing, but to me a Terminator movie without James Cameron is just fanfiction.

  33. is it just me, or have the majority of summer blockbusters over the past several years stumbled because of poor scripts? Even the good ones, like TDK, had crappy scripts in some way (in TDK it was due to some very awkward plotting and structure – The whole Joker car chase, jail, escape stuff is so painfully convoluted). People need to go back to film school and learn up the basics of 3 act structures and character motivation and shit.

  34. It’s a pet theory of mine that, right now, everything in movies is pretty good – the directors are good, the actors are good, the cinematographers are good – except for screenwriting, which has never been worse.

    Re: T4 – I consider the Terminator series to have ended after part 2, and everything after that is just glorified fan fiction…having said that, I did enjoy this movie.

  35. Read the script review at CHUD, and I have to say that I would’ve been spitting fire if I’d walked out of a TERMINATOR movie that ended with that crud.

    Maybe I should consider myself lucky that I only left this movie feeling apathetic.

  36. On the other hand, this has to make Seagal feel better about his more scattershot movies. Turns out that deciding what the plot is after you’ve begun shooting knows no boundries between DTV cheapies and hundred-million-dollar franchises.

  37. I liked Marcus’ story arc (he was essentially The Tin Man in reverse), the action, and Anton as Kyle. Otherwise, it just felt “off”. The Arnold cameo was the biggest letdown (seriously, did the face switching technology THAT expensive that they could only show Arnold’s face for ten lousy seconds?) Alsothe best scenes were the ones that were directly stolen from the previous films (“I’ll be back”, You Could Be Mine, “Come with me if you want to live”, motorcycles vs. tow trucks). The only “original” touch was that long ass tracking shot and even that was cribbed from Children of Men. It was OK but you don’t go into a Terminator movie expecting it to be merely OK.

  38. Vern, I was waiting for your take on this movie, and as usual, you did not disappoint.

    The most profound thing I noticed while watching this movie was that Terminator: Salvation is to helicopters crashing as The Dark Knight is to dog throwing.

  39. Ebonic Plague, I still say that Point Break has the definitive dog-throwing scene, but to each his own…

  40. Was this from the makers of Doomsday? Seriously, it was more like “spot the reference/homage” than an actual movie, but I still liked it, probably a bit more than Vern. (And btw – what’s up with Harry’s review? Did he have to hold in diarrhea during it or something?) Anyway T4 = Robocop + 28 days later + Children of Men + Call of Duty 4 + I am Legend + Newt + Tripods + The Road Warrior + The Matrix sequels + Resident Evil + the entire(!) heat/cool/crack bit from Alien 3 + Seven Pounds. Oh, and Marcus = Qui-Gon Jin. The only surprises were GNR and that there wasn’t a reference to Predator for fuck’s sake, though I bet someone will find one.

  41. the best part of Terminator Salvation had to be the visual effect (big surprise), the detail was pretty amazing

  42. BlackFrankWhite

    May 28th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Vern, I always enjoy your reviews and this one is no exception. But I still gotta wonder what the fuck you were thinking.
    You say this PG-13 shit was intense, but I suspect that it’s not as intense as the Comeron’s R Teminators.
    This is because Cameron is a gifted storyteller and Mcg is a fucking hack. You see, there’s a big difference here.
    Maybe Mcg is not as corny as Michael Bay, Stephen Sommers or Roland Emmerich (and I’m still not convinced that he isn’t). But in any case, he’s still a fucking hack. Only a fucking hack like him, or like Wiseman or like PS Anderson would have no problem brutally raping cultural R milestones such as Alien, Predator, Die Hard and Terminator with a lame ass PG 13 take.
    Next time these greedy motherfuckers from the studios pull such shit and hire some of these hacks in order to PP 13 on yet another classic, I think we as fun community, or even just as responsible consumers, should get organized and boycott this shit. And that means not paying to see these atrocities, not writing reviews about them, not even mentioning this shit ever happened

  43. CrustaceanHate

    May 28th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    PG-13 ranks just slightly above Michael-Bay-style editing in the list of worst thing to happen to movies. It’s entirely possible to make a good PG-13 action/horror film, but most filmmakers sure as fuck don’t want to try.

  44. But as I said in the review, I think it shows in the movie that McG was trying. He did not “rape” Terminator. He just failed.

  45. Re: the PG-13
    One of the biggest losses from what I read about the original script was the STAF angle. It makes absolute sense that sex has been stripped to its most primal function for the Resistance–you wouldn’t want to connect to anyone on a deeper level if everyone’s running around with targets on their backs and there’s a good chance they might not be around the next hour, much less the next night.

  46. BlackFrankWhite

    May 30th, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Vern – How exactly was he trying? According to your description, aside for agreeing to a PG-13 cut (thanks to Wickedeve we a can learn now about some of the shit we missed because of this opportunistic move), he let the idiot Bale ruin the original script (which wasn’t that great to begin with), and than started filming without a decent script, revising the lame ass version he was left with during filming. Great job. Some nice try. Can you see all that shit happening with Camron, or even Snyder? No, I don’t think so, because, as I was saying, there’s a difference between a hack and a real storyteller.
    CrustaceanHate – I agree with you that theoretically you can make an intense PG-13 but if it’s a Star Wars or an Indiana Jones, not Terminator, Alien or Predator. Here the gore factor is too crucial. Without it we are left with all of these castrated versions we’ve seen in recent years.

  47. Yes, I think he failed because of rewriting the script while the movie was being made, which he was doing because he was trying to please everybody, including you and me. He was too worried about impressing nerds on the internet. I think he failed because he wasn’t good enough or maybe smart enough, or couldn’t control a project that big. But I don’t think it was some cynical exercise, I think he was genuinely trying, that’s all I’m saying.

    T3 is a more consistent movie, but also a slicker and emptier retread of T2. McG didn’t follow the previous template. He tried to do something a little challenging. He fucked up but he did succeed in making a bunch of outstanding action sequences in an era when it seems like it might be illegal to do so in American movies (and even some French ones, I’m looking at you TAKEN). On a technical level (cinematography, special effects) he made a way more impressive movie than T3 and many of these types of event movies.

    This was the #1 movie I was looking forward to this summer, and it bummed me out. Moriarty described my review as “heartbroken.” But I don’t live in some black and white world, I loved some aspects of this movie and can give McG credit for those things. I get worked up about Michael Bay and some of these pricks but I think for the most part it’s best we avoid this internet lynch mob mentality where everybody who makes movie is a rapist and we gotta burn them down like Freddy.

    As for the PG-13, yes, I would like to see motherfuckers heads blowing off and blood everywhere, that is the type of guy I am. But the problems with this movie have absolutely nothing to do with a lack of violence, that is a superficial thing to fixate on. I don’t remember T3 being any more intense than this, but it’s Rated-R.

    Also, this is a different type of TERMINATOR movie, the whole feel is intentionally different, so it’s not like the same formula missing an ingredient. It’s not like DIE HARD where the things they don’t let you do in a PG-13 movie are the things that make the main character who he is.

    Also I must point to AVP2. That one had the violence and was even more terrible than the previous one. I want the R-rating too but quality is job one.

    The studio heads who started this PG-13 thing are morons, but I don’t think you can blame McG for that. He claimed he just shot the movie he wanted to without thought of rating. I don’t know if they cut it or not, I would guess yes because it sells DVDs. Yes that trend sucks and I hate it but the failure in storytelling is so much more important than that issue that it’s not even really worth bringing up.

  48. BlackFrankWhite

    May 31st, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    It is true that storytelling is more important than gore. I also agree with your observations about the low quality of current Hollywood action scenes. But still, McG never proved himself as an adequate storyteller so I don’t understand haw a PG-13 McG Terminator is the #1 movie you were looking forward to this summer – More than Tarantino’s Busterds, Cameron’s Avatar, Raimi’s Hell, Mann’s Dillinger (just to name a few)?

  49. Well I don’t really see the point in defending my misguided excitement. The trailer made it look great and if McG had actually pulled it off it would’ve been funny because I liked his CHARLIE’S ANGELS movies, always thought people treated him unfairly and would’ve loved to see them wrap their heads around the idea of a guy who they hate because they don’t like his name making a good movie. But it didn’t happen, you win, go pick on McG some more.

    As for BASTERDS, I try not to think of it because it’s too far away. The Mann movie looks good and AVATAR doesn’t come out until December (and until I looked it up just now I thought it was next summer or the one after that – where the fuck is the trailer?).

  50. saw this on saturday, and i wasn’t nearly as let down as i expected to be.
    negative press has a way of finding anyone who is even remotely interested, and affecting your outlook before you’ve even seen a single frame of the movie. not a perfect film at all, but much more entertaining and interesting than i expected.

    btw Vern, i really liked your friend’s article. we do need new stories, new characters, etc.
    eg. we don’t need a film version of the USS Indianapolis story from Jaws, but the way things are now i could very much see that as a possibility.

  51. …turns out i don’t read up on a subject before i post.
    looks like there’s already been a play, a tv movie, various re-enactments, and extended blah blah blah on the subject. fictional or otherwise.

    still, you get my point.

  52. last I heard the DTV Jaws 5 they are making is going to be Quint’s back story…

    Don’t know if that’s still happening or not as it’s been a little over a year since I last heard anything new on it.

  53. Vern – What do you think of the fact that AVATAR is reportedly 188 minutes long?

  54. I didn’t hear that until you posted it, but I’m all for it as long as it’s not cutting to gratuitous scenes of Bill Paxton on a submarine.

  55. I’m not sure I could stand to have my eyeballs fucked for that long.

  56. I just saw this and rather enjoyed it. Maybe it was because all the internet hate had lowered my expectations, or maybe it was because they were already very low because of the dreadfully banal TERMINATOR 3… But the main reason – and I was gratified to see this when I finally read your review, Vern – was that it was different. I don’t need to see another film with a robot going back in time and trying to kill John Connor, or his mother or dog or girlfriend. If I DID want to see that, I’d just re-watch one of the first two TERMINATOR films and enjoy them immensely.

    All I wanted was a post-apocalyptic robots vs. humans movie, and despite the inherent storytelling sloppiness and enormous plot holes (How did Skynet know who Kyle Reese was, anyhow? And why didn’t they kill him when they had a chance?), it more or less worked.

  57. “Maybe it was because all the internet hate had lowered my expectations”

    exactly how i felt.

  58. I was lucky enough to catch a press screening, so I didn’t have to pay for it, but that also meant that I saw it before any of the reviews were out. I hadn’t heard any buzz whatsoever about it, so I was still pretty sure it was going to be awesome, based solely on the cool trailer. It was a sobering experience as I sat there waiting to like it, then slowly realizing that it wasn’t going to happen.

    I can’t wait for a few years to go by so I can be much more Zen about the whole thing and just enjoy it for the stupid robots.

  59. Just watched it.

    Alright (ish) but didn’t have the Terminator feel to it, it felt like a Matrix sequel without any rave scene. (perhaps the director’s cut will have this)

    Think McG has shown he has the chops for the action (regardless of gore) and setting but the whole thing felt like a bunch of cool ideas with not very much linking them. Guess thats more down to the editing and on set script rewrites.

    Although i have to admit the tone was better than T3, which was a Terminator movie without the serious tone that Cameron created.

    Anyone else think that they pushed the Terminators are cooler than Transformers angle too much ?

  60. It’s pretty obvious to me now, what people are saying about the early script, add-ons and that kind of stuff, but there is one thing not that many have noted, I think, the thing that’s my concern/thought on this new Terminator entry:

    If someone makes a fifth one – PLEASE give me some time traveling goodness!! (or if Drew’s right: Please don’t). But what is the most awesome thing about the Terminator films have yet to be explored. Time traveling.

    Now, this film didn’t really feel like a film where time traveling is plausible, you know? It is however a film where a guy can magically enter a submarine or hack into super clever computers with as much effort it takes to eat a raisin, you might add, but you know what I mean. Having time traveling in this movie would be like having super man in The Dark Knight. only not, but whatever. My point is, I’d love to see another movie, for all I care directed by McG, where the story is right and they deal with the awesome time traveling business from the first movies.

    How the hell did the machines discover time traveling? And how did the resistance gain access to it? (And learn that a terminator was being sent back in time to kill connor and therefore send a) Kyle Reese or b) a reprogrammed Arnold?) I mean they know it now, because the first three movies happened, but I want to get to the moment where Kyle Reese actually gets sent back. And other cool time traveling shenanigans. Even if this one kind of sucked.

  61. If one took away the Bale and TERMINATOR universe connections, and just let it be about Sam Worthington….you would have had a classical sci-fi short story: Executed death row inmate wakes up in a post-apocalyptical future. Why is he alive now? What the fuck happened? Most of all, what will he do now?

    I even thought of a cheesy plot escape as to why he the cyborg refuses to go along with his machine overlord’s programming: Because he was innocent of the charge that got his ass needled, his outraged righteous overrode his CP, or whatever nonsense.

    Hey I’ve read worse explanations that’ve gotten published.

  62. I just watched the first two TERMINATOR films again and… sheesh, this was why I deliberately didn’t watch them in the run-up to TERMINATOR SALVATION. If you look at the character-arc for all four films, the idea of holding onto John Connor as a main character makes a lot of sense, but as others have pointed out above, this film should have done a balls-out war flick (maybe taking place over a few years) showing how John Connor becomes de facto leader of the resistance, or kept the whole story from Marcus Wright’s point-of-view.

    But – and maybe the internet isn’t the best place to say this – but is all that hatred necessary? It’s not like McGinty went around and deleted every copy of TERMINATOR’S one and two – they’re still there, ready to be watched again and again. You’re not going to recapture that magic-in-a-bottle without someone like Cameron at the helm, but with all the digital-jiggery-pokery in the world, you’re not going to bring back Ahnuld in his prime for more than a flashy cameo.

    Perhaps the worst crime that SALVATION committed was creating a good buzz with some promising trailers, and screwing up that elusive big-budget spectacular formula… And perhaps it’s spoilt the idea of a new TERMINATOR franchise, but fuck it; is that the worst thing that can happen? The best TERMINATOR war films took place in a space between Cameron’s films, in a place called your dreams…

  63. I saw it the day it came out and it sure as hell wasn’t “THE WORST MOVIE EVA!!” as the internet would have you believe but then again these are the same assholes who just two weeks prior were saying the fun but mediocre ‘Star Trek’ was “THE BEST MOVIE EVA MADE!!”.

    ‘X-Men’s Last Stand’ I enjoyed ‘Terminator: Salvation’ overall but both are very flawed pieces. X3 tried to take on two many plot points (all good even) but was hampered down by all that weight and a director who wasn’t as concerned with drama as Singer was (not a Ratner hater but I must admit I’m learning too) but that said the action was mostly top notch and the film at least did bring up some moral quandaries that most Hollywood fare wouldn’t touch with a 100-foot pole (and if they do bring it up they pussy out of it). So yeah it’s a highly flawed movie but like vern I don’t think it deserves the wrath it gets because it ruined nerd’s precious ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’ and true it may be hard to fully enjoy it just thinking what Singer & his guys were planning for X3 but if you spend your life playing ‘what if’ you’re never going to move forward and accept reality.

    As for ‘Salvation’. I’ll admit I was approaching with extreme caution. Know how vern feels about Bay’s ‘Transformers’? That’s how I felt about McG’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’ films. I have never before or since been intellectually insulted by a movie(s). If you want me to be the stereotypical internet nerd that I constantly belittle here, just get me started on those two films. I never got around to seeing ‘We Are Marshalls’ though I meant to in preparation for ‘T4’ but re-watching both ‘Angels’ movies pissed me the hell off and didn’t view it. That said I was surprised at how enjoyable ‘T4′ was. I wouldn’t say I loved it and there were too many problems for me to say I liked it but damn it I did like it at least a little. My problems with it are explained to death elsewhere: Connor story sucks and are more interested in Marcus’, useless cute kid, continuity-wise this film establishes nothing and adds jacks shit, fucking exposition-spouting floating head, etc. But I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get some enjoyment out of it. I liked most of our hero characters and the action was top notch.

    Actually I want to thank McG & crew for this especially: thank you for not using any shaky cam. If there was one thing that pissed me off to the extreme in ‘Trek’ was that it had the worst shaky cam I had ever seen. I thought after (the otherwise enjoyable) ‘Quantum of Solace’ shaky cam couldn’t possibly get any worse, then JJ comes along to amp it up a couple hundred notche. I believe his direction to his cameramen and choreographers was this:
    “Okay we’re going to aim the camera at their ass or torso and shake the camera as violently and nauseatingly as possible!! Trust me it will be great, it will put the audience inside the action!”
    Fuck off. I am so fucking sick of this shaky cam shit. Would the climax of ‘Drunken Master II’ (or any other HK martial arts flick) be improved with shaky cam? Would the shootouts in ‘Hard Boiled’ be improved by ‘putting us inside the action’? I can go on but you get the point.

    So if there is one reason I want to stand up for this film and overpraise it, it’s because McG (a man who’s work I once despised) had the fucking balls in this day and age to keep the camera back and keep the camera still.

  64. I just got around to watching this, finally (lame, admittedly – but I heard so much bullshit about it that I figured it had to suck, still no excuse).

    Honestly, I dug it. It was, as advertised here by Senor Verno, totally intense when the action kicked in, and I actually thought Sam Worthington did a fine job. I did not expect to ever be writing those words, believe me. Jump all over me as you will, but this flick was one hell of a couple hours of entertainment; that is NOT something I could ever say about Transformers 1 or 2. McG handled the action absolutely perfectly in that I understood just what the fuck was going on. Plus, it looked cool as shit and was badass, overall.

    I wish I could say that about more movies nowadays.

    The story? Problems on that front, sure, but not as many as I was led to believe. I think Vern really nailed it here, even if I don’t have as many issues with it as he did. Overall, a fine addition to the story, T-mythology, whatever the holy fuck you wanna call it. All I know is that, for a PG-13 flick, it kicked my ass much harder than T3 did. Maybe not through the back of the theater, but I sure felt it. And this Anton Yelchin kid, who played Reese here and Chekov (or however the hell you spell it, sorry) in Star Trek, is fucking going places.

    Bottom line: right on.

  65. maybe I’m being too hard on it, but I hated this one, especially the “post apocalyptic heart surgery in the desert” ending, I mean come onnnnnn

  66. Nah, Griff, you’re being just hard enough. This fucker is an abomination. My least favorite sequel of all time. A total goddamn travesty on all fronts. Fuck this movie sideways.

    Let your hate flow, Griff. Give in to the dark side.

  67. You know, it just fuckin’ pisses me off. This should have been so simple. Everybody knew what story we were interested in. We wanted to see how one man named John Connor turned the tide and brought the human race back from the brink of extinction. But if they told that story, if they shot that wad, they wouldn’t have a franchise anymore, so they had to dick around with this bullshit story that nobody gave a fuck about, that they could tweak and dither around with however their focus groups indicated, because who gives a shit, it’s not the real story anyway. It’s just a placeholder, an empty series of setpieces to bide time, sell some tickets and toys, to prime the pump for the actual story, the one they’ll never give us, because if they do. the cash cow is dead. It’s not a movie, it’s a commercial for another movie that’s never gonna happen because they told a story not worth telling and now the brand name is worth nothing anymore. They gave us an appetizer so nauseating we’ve lost all taste for the real meal. It’s everything wrong with modern cinema. It’s a Powerpoint presentation disguised as art.

  68. This “movie” made me appreciate TERMINATOR 3 a helluva lot more. Thats how fucking bad this shitstain is. Even though T3 pisses all over the terminator legacy,at least it had really memorable actionscenes. And I actually like T3 for the memorable mess that it is. A dumb enjoyable actionflick.
    SALVATION is netither memorable or enjoyable, just forgettable which is an even bigger sin in my book.

  69. right on Mr. Majestyk, that was what I hated about Terminator Salvation as well, it just goes nowhere and the ended left me with a huge “what was the point?” feeling, in some ways it’s no different than Terminator 3

    what should have been done is they should have made one LAST terminator movie, the real Terminator 3, that would have been a prequel (but the only prequel that’s actually set after the first two movies) showing John Connor ending the war and have the movie end with Kyle Reese being sent back in time, thus tying the whole thing together

    and you what? it’s not too late, if Hollywood was smart they would release a Terminator movie ignoring 3 and 4 and do exactly that, but they wont….

  70. Jareth Cutestory

    July 14th, 2012 at 8:23 am

    The constant deferral of the story that “we all want to see” is one of the defining features the TERMINATOR TV SHOW as well, though I think the compounded effect of embellishment after embellishment is at least partly enjoyable due to the cumulative absurdity. Also in its favor is the more low-key tone, though it got pretty soporific at times.

    Given that so many scenes of the show involve characters sitting in rooms or on park benches simply waiting for something to happen, I’m tempted to think that the writers were almost aware that it is a “placeholder” series. Or maybe it just seems that way because there weren’t really that many set pieces to distract from the nothingness.

    I think that “one last” Terminator movie could have easily been a trilogy. We didn’t even really need to see John Connor until the end of the first movie. I think there are plenty of ideas that could have been worked into the becoming-a-leader story that the first two films were setting Connor up for. As I understand, that’s the direction they were going before Bale was cast and wanted more screen time.

    But I guess a studio being satisfied with the money they make from a trilogy is a quaint relic from a bygone era. Now they want these “properties” to cough up cash in perpetuity.

  71. Don’t worry Griff because I LOATHE this fucking movie. Easily one of the worst things I’ve ever sat through at a cinema. My first movie by McG and definitely my last. All I wanted to see was that opening scene from T2 extended into a full length. Laser rifles; carnage; dystopia wrapped up in the end with a cool nod to the originals with Reese and reprogrammed cyborg being sent back.

    Like Majestyk said though had they done that then they would’ve closed the book on the whole thing but so fucking what? I mean who says we really needed this to become an ongoing franchise in the first place? there is only so much you can do with a finite story like this where everybody knows the end. What these cocks did with this movie is definitely not one of the things you should do with it.

  72. Shoot – “This “movie” made me appreciate TERMINATOR 3 a helluva lot more.”

    Hell yeah; T3 looks like a masterpiece by comparison. At least it had some good intentions with it’s excellent ending that redeemed the mediocrity of the rest of the movie. Plus it had a hot blonde cyborg bitch. I can’t think of anything that was excellent or even tolerable in T:S matter of fact years removed from when I last saw the thing I can’t even remember most of the movie thankfully.

  73. “You know, it just fuckin’ pisses me off. This should have been so simple. Everybody knew what story we were interested in. We wanted to see how one man named John Connor turned the tide and brought the human race back from the brink of extinction. But if they told that story, if they shot that wad, they wouldn’t have a franchise anymore, so they had to dick around with this bullshit story that nobody gave a fuck about, that they could tweak and dither around with however their focus groups indicated, because who gives a shit, it’s not the real story anyway. It’s just a placeholder, an empty series of setpieces to bide time, sell some tickets and toys, to prime the pump for the actual story, the one they’ll never give us, because if they do. the cash cow is dead. It’s not a movie, it’s a commercial for another movie that’s never gonna happen because they told a story not worth telling and now the brand name is worth nothing anymore. They gave us an appetizer so nauseating we’ve lost all taste for the real meal. It’s everything wrong with modern cinema. It’s a Powerpoint presentation disguised as art.”

    Mr. M, I agree with everything you said, (and maybe it is wrong of me) but I don’t hate SALVATION. It is a shitty Terminator film (probably the dumbest of the franchise), but I think SALVATION has some great action and enjoyable parts in it. The problem is this movie was destined to fail when they kept fucking around with the script. I am sure some of the meddling with the script was due to the reasons you mentioned, but some of it was also done to expand the part of John Conner for Christian Bale. However, the movie was truly doomed when they decided to change the original ending of the film. I believe originally John Conner is barely in the film. He is present on the radio but we do not see him until the end of the film where he is lured into a trap and killed. Then in the original finale instead of just sacrificing his heart Marcus decides to sacrifice himself and wear Conner as a meat suit to assume his identity going forward because he understands how important Conner & what he stands for is to humanity. Then in the finale two films it would have been Marcus a terminator posing as Conner leading humanity & fighting the machines. When they changed the ending of the film they marginalized the significance of Marcus’s charter and render him almost pointless. That decision robed the film and any sequels it might have spawned of the main character arc they were built around. You can still criticize the creative direction they were heading with the original story, but at least there was more of a character arc to it.

  74. I, personally, would not have been okay with that ending. John Connor is not just a symbol, he’s also the only guy with the skills and knowledge to do the job because he was raised since birth for the job. You can’t just slap his face on a robot and expect it to work out. If nothing else, it’s an insult to everything John and Sarah went through in the first two.

  75. Amen Mr. M, Amen.

  76. Mr. M, I don’t disagree. I was just pointing out how the original ending made Marcus a much more important character to the franchise and better justified his existence in the film.

  77. You know the TERMINATOR film they need to make? Fuck prequels, fuck telling us the story we already know. They need to make a true sequel which occurs after all the bullshit in 3 and 4 happens, after Arnold and that white chick get sent back in time yet again. In a future where machines and humans are still at a standstill, rewriting history again and again with no change in the balance of power. Cameron wrote a film about the fear of nuclear war; now we’re fighting a different kind of war. The kind that just goes on and on and never completely ends because no side can ever be completely defeated. That’s the future, right? The present constabtly in flux because we keep rewriting the past over and over until the present has no meaning except to fight on. Bring back Lance Henriksen as John Conner as an older guy, raised from birth for a job that can never be completed. Show me that shit, and you’ll have a TERMINATOR worthy of the first sequel.

  78. Interesting point Mr. S.

  79. Re: Mr. Subtlety: And it makes a good metaphor for the franchise. They’ll never stop cloning the flesh of the original 1984 film and rewriting history. There’ll be a new Terminator movie for a new generation every five to ten years. Once they’ve exhausted anything that can be done in the current continuity they’ll reboot and do it all again. Skynet never gives up.

  80. Interesting to see 22-year old, 1.0 Pacman there citing this as one of the few Summer 2009 joints I was looking forward to, because that was the summer I ended up seeing *everything*; I saw so much that one evening when I met up with a couple of fellow 22-in-2009-ers and we were killing time before a gig (of sorts, it was novelty act), we went to see G-FORCE because I had seen literally everything else that was showing at either of the nearby multiplexes that evening. I think most movie-type persons considered it a pretty bad summer, or at least quite a comedown from the previous ones, but I had a blast, even though I saw quite a few I didn’t like (including the STAR TREK reboot which I thought was hugely overrated. Not saying this as a “I won in the end” thing, but does anyone still care about that one?). It’s also interesting as the only summer (not counting 2020) since the MCU started (although I can’t remember if it had been named as such yet) without any MCU films, so it’s an interesting transitional summer, and a “longer ago than you realise” time.

    Unfortunately despite my younger self’s mildthusiasm, TERMINATOR SALVATION was not one of the high points of Summer 09 for me, nor did it win me over. Of all the post-T2 efforts it has the most intriguing concept and script, but somehow it just thuds onto the screen, even before we get to the “Helena Bonham Carter is Detective Jane Skynet” stuff.

  81. *Nor did it win me over when I rewatched it a few years ago*

  82. Thank you, Felicity. Good job, me from 10 years ago!

  83. It’s interesting to recall Star Trek Origins: Kirk in light of The Force Awakens, as both films suffer from some of the exact same flaws, only worsened in the later movie. Abrams either didn’t learn anything from his criticism or decided the fanbase was unpleaseable and he should double down on his preferred tropes. A fascinating lack of growth as a storyteller.

  84. And Trek kickstarted the ‘rebootquel’ trend which derailed Salvation’s sequelization in favor of a new/old Terminator 1/Genesys. And then they rebootqueled the rebootquel with Linda Hamilton! I suppose next on the ‘Hollywood trend du jour + Terminator nostalgia’ tour is a multiverse story about various John and/or Sarah Connorses teaming up with Arnold against, oh, let’s say Robert Patrick.

  85. Best not to give them ideas. Given that the better terminator movies converge on having a single timeline, from the first to Salvation, it means that teaming up Connors and Terminators from different timelines would put them firmly in the territory of the crappier two movies*.

    Although seriously, if time travel exists, you really really really need to justify how the timeline could possibly be immutable. I mean, the technology is only going to be easier to reproduce as the tech level advances, to the point where it’s commonplace enough that you’ll have people trolling. ‘Time turbulence’ making it that once you travel to a time no one else can ever travel to that rough period again? Or from the period you travel from?
    Or better, when you create an alternate timeline it’s a complete parallel timeline with its own separate past, it doesn’t just branch from the point of divergence. The past happens to be the same as on the original timeline, until it’s changed by travellers on its own future, at which point…)
    I guess in that case some time travellers are simply never seen or heard from again, since they’ve gone off into their own, completely unreachable universe. Both Skynet and the resistance can send as many people/cyborgs as they please, the only ones that make it through are the ones that don’t contradict the timeline the movies are on.

    It’s a cruel reversal from the perfect ending to T2, but I guess we lost that fight back in 2003. Unless we send someone back to change it.

    Or, you know we could just ignore everything from the end of T2 onwards. Nothing major would be lost.

    *:I’ve never watched the Sarah Connor chronicles.

  86. As I said in the review of one of the other Terminators, I like how part GYNYFLYNYSYSIFYXYMYXY accidentally helped to make sense with all the reboots and new timelines within the TERMINATOR series: Time is just one big, messy, constantly moving blob, so now I can totally accept that John Connor is Nick Stahl and survived Judgement Day with Claire Danes because a T-800 was sent back in time to put them in a bunker, while he becomes Christian Bale in a different timeline where Skynet is Helena Bonham Carter, gets turned into a Terminator in another one where Skynet is Matt Smith, the T-1000 does not look like Robert Patrick, knows martial arts and Sarah Connor is super cute, and gets killed as a teen in yet another timeline, which may or may not the original timeline, but probably is not.

    And yes, one part of me would love to see a movie where all these actors and characters actually come together SPIDER-MAN SOMETHING SOMETHING HOME style…but fuck it, TERMINATOR is dead, let’s not make another one ever again.

  87. Are they still making that TERMINATOR faux-anime?

    Kaplan- I kind of think that’s why ORIGINS: KIRKmania didn’t seem to last, it was already “JJ Abrams does STAR TREK but kind of in the style of STAR WARS”, why would you still need that when you’ve got two “JJ Abrams does STAR WARS” joints, one of which a lot of people actually liked although they probably pretend they didn’t now. Plus you’ve got the GUARDIANS and the various TREK TV shows and THE ORVILLE in the last five years, a lot of work taking up the air that film needs to breath. I guess they’re still trying to make a fourth though.

  88. It’s kinda funny that they stopped making TREK movies for a while, because this is the first time they had a cast with actual careers (No offense to the OGs), so they were all either too busy or got too expensive. Then Paramount went from “No, we don’t wanna dilude the TREK brand like we did in the late 90s/early 00s and keep it a valuable movie franchise for now” to “We now have three different live action TREK shows, including one with a classic cast, plus two cartoon shows for completely different audiences” within less than five years.

    And one thing must be said: I don’t like everything they do with STAR TREK right now, but I do appreciate that the franchise is currently more varied than it ever was and it’s done by a whole lot of people who think “Hey, TREK doesn’t have to be like this, but can also be like that!” I take that over the Xth STAR WARS movie or show about Jedi, Tattooine or the Clone Wars. (Although I do enjoy a few of them too, because I’m a hypocrite like the rest of the world)

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