Summer Movie Flashback: Terminator Salvation



If I had turned off TERMINATOR SALVATION about 2/3 in I would’ve come to you and made a case for it being underappreciated. I mean, I think it is, it doesn’t deserve the worldwide wholesale rejection and scorn it gets. But it has such a crippling case of T.A.P.s (third act problems) that it’s hard to be excited about it after you get to the end.

But let’s talk about what’s good in it, because there’s plenty of it, and nobody ever talks about that. First of all, a good cast. John Avatar himself, Sam Worthington, plays the anti-hero Marcus, a death row inmate (we don’t actually know exactly how Riddick he is – “My brother and two cops are dead because of me” is the only explanation of his crimes) who gets the lethal injection and then wakes up in a post-apocalyptic battle between man and machine. On one hand, hey, I’m alive, and I’m free! On the other hand…

People probly still talk shit on Worthington but I like him. He just has that unquantifiable presence thing, I like watching him punch guys and drift occasionally into his Australian accent and fight monsters or robots and try to do the right thing. It’s funny that he seems to be typecast as unique individuals who are hybrids of two opposing races: man and machine here, man and Pandoran in AVATAR, man and god in CLASH OF THE TITANS.

Then you get Christian Bale as John Connor. I don’t think I properly appreciated him the first time I saw this. Now I really see the gravity he brings to the role, he does seem like a guy who’s had the weight of man’s future on his shoulders since before he had a driver’s license, and also like a guy who could convince everybody but Michael Ironside that he knows of what the fuck he speaks.

still_terminatorsalvation01My favorite moment of Christan Bale professionalism: while rescuing the human prisoners from Skynet he sees Star (Jadagrace Berry), the adorable little mute girl sidekick of Kyle Reese, lingering to look for her friend. “YOU!” he yells, pointing at her. “MOOOOOOOVE!!!

As young Kyle Reese we got Anton Yelchin (same year he played the younger version of a character from a less important sci-fi series), and I think he’s really good for it. Very likable as a crafty kid sneaking around the remains of L.A., setting traps for the crude early Terminators that hunt him. His resolve is more impressive than his exterior, but he’s got alot of skills, and Marcus teaches him a few more. Also he really sounds like Michael Biehn. I like it.

In a smaller role there’s Moon Bloodgood as beautiful tough girl resistance fighter Blair. I like her. I’m glad she gets more to do than Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor (part 3’s Claire Danes character, I believe?)

Here’s a philosophical question for you. Which Expendable is in the movie more: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appears in the form of a CGI double created from scans of his T1 bodycasts, or Terry Crews, who is physically onscreen playing a dead body? As a Resistance sympathizer I want to say the human, but having seen how the T-800 could be a better father figure to John than Sarah’s dirtbag boyfriends I know it’s really the computer. It has more screen time and makes more of an impression, even if it’s not made of organic material.

So there’s that cast and then more importantly there are some absolutely great action sequences. There’s the opening CHILDREN OF MEN-esque battle as John Connor dramatically enters the movie via helicopter, landing and crushing a Terminator with its pontoon and he casually fires into its skull (revenge for the famous shot of the Terminator stepping on a human skull – which happens again later in this movie because an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind). And in honor of T2 there is an excellent truck chase with guns, flames and a wrecking ball vs. flying Hunter Killer, giant robot and best of all two Mototerminators, aka Murdercycles, that come out of the giant robot’s legs. I know T2 is great for its action and story, and I’m not saying SALVATION meets the standard set by James Cameron. But actions scenes this good are very rare these days, especially in big Hollywood movies like this, so that deserves some respect.

Let’s try a little experiment. First, forget what movie I’m reviewing here. Think about something else. LA LA LA LA LA LA.

Okay, your mind is clear, right? You have no idea what this particular review is of? Good. Okay, now I want you to look at these screengrabs I made from an unnamed movie, and think about if this is the type of movie you like to look at.











Beautiful, right? I know what you’re thinking. “Whoah, what is this movie? I gotta see this!” Don’t know what it is yet? Let me give you some more hints.

This guy is in it:


No, it’s not a sequel to THEY LIVE. There’s not a sequel to THEY LIVE and what would be up with the helicopters and stuff. Here you go, here’s another guy that’s in it:


Yep, he’s a Terminator! A really fucked up one living in squalor. No, it’s not the upcoming TERMINATOR movie that hasn’t been filmed yet. Here’s another hint, it’s the one with this actor in it:


No, it’s not THE DARK KNIGHT TERMINATORS. Good guess, though. Here are some of the other people in it:


Hahaha motherfuckers, I tricked you! It’s TERMINATOR SALVATION starring Common! The much hated part 4 from director McG! And you admitted it looked amazing! It does, doesn’t it? I said it in my first review, but it’s worth repeating: good job, cinematographer Shane Hurlbut. I know you got yelled at, but you did good!

I understand James Cameron’s sentiment that it’s stupid to make a TERMINATOR movie without Schwarzenegger, but also I think you can only do so many of that type of story before it starts to feel like a rehash. By that I mean you can only do two great masterpieces and then the third one directed by Jonathan Mostow will be fun but somewhat empty and obvious, although the end is kinda cool. So I respect that this one doesn’t follow the same template, it’s a really different type of movie, it’s not about a Terminator and/or person traveling through time to kill and/or protect Sarah or John Connor. And there’s not a new, more powerful, more CGI-morphable Terminator they have to deal with. Those pictures above I think show the aspects of the movie I really love, that it can create this totally different world but with echoes of the type of action that make it a TERMINATOR movie.

Of course, there are some references to the other movies too, lines of dialogue and what not. I forgot that one of those references is when John Connor is disobeying his superiors and going on a rescue mission, and Kate asks what she should tell them if they find out he’s gone, and he says “I’ll be back.” But I love it, ’cause it comes at an exciting moment of the story but also is a natural thing for him to say, and he doesn’t say it like he knows he’s saying something cool (which, honestly, is how Arnold would say it). Also that was the better line to bring back because it would be rude if he said “Asta la vista, baby.” That’s only for if you want to shine them on.

And the line leads right into a badass scene that’s full of T2 homages and still works. He plays “You Could Be Mine” on a boombox to attract a Mototerminator, which he catches, pins down, plugs something into, overrides the computer and rides it. It works for me because I believe that he would still ride motorcycles, that he would still hack machines like he did with the ATM machine as a kid, and this time I realized that the boombox was set up earlier in the scene where Marcus discovered that playing music attracts the killer machines.

I like this Marcus character and it’s kinda cool that at the beginning he wakes up naked and has to steal someone’s coat, mirroring what the Terminators do after time travel. I like that he sees himself as a human so therefore he fights for the humans. There’s a nice moment where he plans to enter Skynet to help John Connor get in and rescue the captives. He figures that because he’s a machine they’ll let him in. He walks right up, holds his arms out in surrender, a machine scans him and okays him to enter. And instead of just storming right in as planned he pauses to have this look on his face that says “oh shit, I really am one of them.”


But just like the first time I saw it I think it’s too divided between these two main characters to give either of them their full due. At the end when Marcus asks to be given a “second chance” – not to live, but to die and give his organs to somebody – it doesn’t feel like he’s earned that crazy decision. He’s only done part of that journey, so it’s more weird than sad. (Also I’m surprised that everyone is so confident in post-apocalyptic heart transplants.)

There’s a great long take scene at the beginning where John sees the machines taking off with a load of human prisoners. He tries to go after them in a helicopter but gets hit, crashes, and ends up just staying on the ground fighting one legless Terminator to death. This is maybe symbolic of the movie as a whole, because it has good intentions and ambition but gets off track and doesn’t accomplish that much. The point where I turned on it is when Marcus goes to Skynet – which yes, is now an actual physical location, which is weird – and it fucking tells him what the deal is and explains its whole plan to him! And in the form of Helena Bonham Carter on a screen!


This is just a terrible idea. It’s like that deleted scene from part 3 where Arnold plays a funny redneck guy who the Terminators were modeled after. It kind of offends me that they believed in that scene enough to actually film it. This is the same thing, everybody involved in the production in any capacity should’ve known from the script stage that it was not a good idea to turn Skynet from the mysterious unseen force it was in the other movies into the cliche of a talking head on a screen, explaining its intentions like a James Bond villain.

And by the way, why did Skynet even built a room that people can walk around in and look at screens? Did they build this for Marcus and other Terminators to come in and look at screens? Why don’t they just talk to them through their brains, since they’re all connected? Skynet in general seems to be pretty stupid about building all these factories based on a human paradigm, so that humans can come in and sabotage shit. I don’t want to give Skynet any ideas but shouldn’t it be manufacturing Terminators out of an underground tube or something so the rebels don’t keep getting in there? Or at least don’t put doors on the fuckin place.

Anyway, if for some reason the filmatists felt like they had to give Skynet a face and a voice they should’ve tried to come up with something really bizarre, and they would have to somehow top how they dealt with that issue in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS.

That’s a thing I kept noticing this time too, that it suffers a little bit from post-MATRIX existence. We’ve always been told that John Connor is the leader of the resistance in the future, and I can understand why it makes sense dramatically to have him before then, when he still has to prove himself and when (like his mother) most people think he’s crazy. But they should’ve known how much this feels like a rehash of THE MATRIX RELOADED, where we thought Neo was “The One” but then all the sudden he’s the bottom of the totem pole and he has to deal with this military bureaucracy that doesn’t believe in the prophecy. Later, the humans penned up like cattle overseen by a glowy-eyed Terminator is a scary idea, but I couldn’t help but think “oh yeah, but at least they’re not naked in a bowl of goo plugged into a machine that makes them think they work in an office building so their body heat can be farmed for fuel.”

And the robotic snake things, those were kinda Matrixy, you gotta admit.

Anyway, it’s too bad. Some of it really is great. Four years later I stand by my conviction of liking some of it.

* * *

my original review


highest grossing movie that year: AVATAR

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 15th, 2013 at 10:37 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.

79 Responses to “Summer Movie Flashback: Terminator Salvation”

  1. I despise this movie with every fibre of my being. The thing you fail to mention in those screen-grabs is that each of those shots is completely wasted in the sequences where they actually show up. They’re 2-second long trailer shots, nothing more. We get basically 0 of the actual future war, there’s less of it in this movie than in T2. I think the action that is there, is completely boring, aimless, and poorly thought out (if decently shot). I’m surprised you like the moto-terminators, I think that’s a terrible, terrible idea, something an ad executive would come up with as a hip new villain for a terminator movie. The only good action scene in the movie is the 1-take helicopter crash. Aside from that, the movie is just aimless, poorly constructed story-telling, while also ass-fucking the terminator mythology, not to mention being a colossal wasted opportunity at an awesome future-war movie.

    It’s watching a child playing with material he has no idea how to handle.

  2. Well, part of the problem there is they were obviously expecting this to be the first in a new series, so they didn’t want to catch all the way up with the flashforwards in the other movies. But I still don’t see what’s so exciting about the future war. It would not occur to me to be disappointed that there wasn’t a half hour of Terminator skeletons marching along shooting lasers. I mean, I’d watch that, but I prefer the truck chase.

  3. sorry, I have to be a hater too, I haaaaaaated this one and not just because of the third act (though that IS the worst part), there was something about this movie that just rubbed me the wrong way right from the start

    and man oh man is that third act fucking terrible, there’s the aforementioned post-apocalyptic heart transplants (totally fucking ridiculous) and giving Skynet a face, but also isn’t there a scene where Skynet tries to control Marcus to kill John Conner and he just pulls out a microchip conveniently located right in the back of his head and then he’s all like “ok! I’m better now!”, so fucking lazy…

  4. There’s even dumber things, like how skynet’s big plan is to use Kyle Reese to lure John Conner to skynet so they can kill him, instead of just killing Kyle Reese which should kill John Conner. Even if they don’t believe the time travel thing will work, there’s zero reason for them to actually keep him alive, since Conner wouldn’t know that, he’s going in purely based on Marcus’ orders.

    There’s bad stuff early on too, with Conner jumping in the ocean to get to an underwater submarine, Marcus apparently surviving a ground-zero nuclear blast at the beginning (Terminator or not he should be vaporized, we see him early on in the heart of the facility which is then nuked), the way the movie wastes Terry Crews and Michael Ironside.
    Frankly, the thing is broken from the outset, the story shouldn’t be about Marcus, it should be about Kyle Reese and Conner. I’m even fine with making it the early days of the war if they’re so hungry for a trilogy.

    Also, doesn’t help that it’s neutered by it’s PG-13 rating, this is a movie where the Terminators almost never actually kill anyone on screen, instead they mostly toss people around. The future should feel hopeless, like humanity is on it’s last legs, and there’s almost no sense of that. Even the foot on skull shot feels shoe-horned in and doesn’t look right.

    I dunno T3 isn’t great, but I can at least enjoy it on an action level, Arnie’s there, it’s R-rated, and it ends well. This one was one of the few times I’ve been visibly angry walking out of a movie.

  5. So does anyone know if it’s true they had to scrap the real ending when the script leaked online, and the original ending was John dies and they put his skin on Marcus? I mean that takes a big old shit on the whole mythology but I’ve got to admit its pretty ballsy. So the “John Connor” who sent terminators back in time was just a robot programmed to play the role.

    But come on, this is better than T3.

  6. TO be honest, between that rumour, and his batshit sequel idea of Terminators time-traveling backwards to invade present-day London, it’s clear to me MCG doesn’t give a shit about the original movies and has no idea why people like the series. I’m still baffled that he got to make the movie, and managed to convince that cast to sign onto it. The dude had no idea what he was doing.

  7. I think if they hadn’t been so Gosh-darn intent on making this the first part of a “new trilogy” and instead just focused on making it a good movie, then it could have worked

  8. Yeah, I still prefer this one to T3. It fell further, but it aimed higher.

    Although Bale was good as Connor, the movie suffered from having dual protagonists; most of the aforementioned 3rd Act flaws can be traced back to this. Had it stuck with Reverse-Terminator meeting Reese and having Mad Max adventures, I think they could have developed a far tighter story, and fleshed out the world (and John Connor’s character) in subsequent films. Oh well.

  9. Fred, I don’t know if that’s true, but the script has been rewritten so many times, I wouldn’t be surprised. We all remember the story from the guy who wrote the novelization, based on the first shooting script, and then later had to rewrite the whole thing because the finished movie didn’t bear any resemblance with what they gave him. There was also of course the story that John Connor was originally meant to just be a cameo at the end of the movie, until Christian Bale signed up and they made him the star.

    To be honest, I’ve never seen the movie. For any reason I was never interested enough in it. I do remember though that McG came to a Butt-Numb-A-Thon, gave Harry an original Terminator skull and a few weeks later Harry thrashed the movie in a review anyway.

  10. Much better than Terminator 3, buy I still feel that Terminator movies without James Cameron are fan-fiction.

  11. Fred, yeah, it was Drew McWeeny that leaked the ending on Ain’t It Cool. He later said he only posted it because he didn’t believe it was real, but in the post he clearly hated the idea and was trying to stop it from being made, like he did with J.J. Abrams’ Superman script.

    I think McG said that was just one ending they were considering, but I agree with you, as crazy as it is it sounds more interesting than what they did. As CJ said they had an earlier script where Connor led the resistance over a radio from the submarine, and only at the end would you have seen it was Christian Bale. Unfortunately I think McG was trying too hard to please fans and brought in Jonathan Nolan to write new scenes to put Connor in the movie. I think that’s why it seems so unbalanced between the two characters, it was supposed to be Marcus’s movie until pretty late in the game.

  12. The only thing I don’t like about this movie is the title. Other than that, I enjoyed it a lot, especially the well-choreographed action scenes. Maybe it’s because I don’t give a **** about the Terminator “mythology”. I think McG’s Charlie’s Angels movies are complete garbage, but I have to give him credit for this one. Liked it more than the third, though that one is okay too and has that great fire truck chase. But then I also think Die Hard 2 is the worst of that series, so my vote probably does not count.


  13. I think the Marcus character completely derails this film. Had it simply been about John Connor and Kyle Reese, and their tension and shared destiny, this film would have stood more of a chance. Its themes and motivations would have been clearer. For some reason filmmakers always feel the need to complicate sequels to films that already have a cemented mythology.

    As for Worthington, I think he gets cast so often as a hybrid man (terminator, god, blue alien) because he comes across as kinda bland, like a blank canvas, so he works as a cypher (kinda like Keanu in the Matrix movies).

    The man-of-the-match award goes to Anton Yelchin, though. This kid’s good, man. You guys should check him out in non-geek movies like Charlie Bartlett and Like Crazy. He’s the real deal.

  14. Also, the only Terminator movie I’m still interested in seeing is Robocop vs Terminator.

    It sounds stupid, I know, but Frank Miller wrote a damn good story there and made the concept feel natural and unforced. It actually feels like Robocop belongs in that universe (he is the father of Skynet, after all).

    It’s one of the last good things Frank Miller made before he completely lost his mind.

  15. Great re-review Vern. I really agree that, at least visually, this had some potential.

    The script is just as mess. Is it just me or does Skynet’s plan of trying to kill John Connor not make any god damn sense? First, is Marcus a Terminator from the future, which is why Skynet talks about how he does something that no other Terminator has accomplished? If so, how? Wouldn’t he come in a glowing bubble? And why is he lying down in a random base?

    And then plan is for Marcus to somehow find Kyle Reese, befriend him, then for them to catch Reese, Marcus then to somehow find Connor, then to convince him to rescue Reese (along with a subplot about a fake disable signal), all for … blah! I can’t even be keep going

  16. I want to watch Rich Evans watching ROBOCOP VS TERMINATOR.

  17. I am pretty sure the whole “Skynet as an actual physical location” thing comes from the T2: Back In Time attraction at Universal Studios, which itself is a 15-20 minute short film directed by James Cameron himself, and which features Ahnold and Furlong reprising their roles and going into the future to blow up Skynet, which is revealed to be a giant pyramid thing.

    Oh, and since they used 70 mm film and they project the movie with 5 separate projectors rolling at once, it still has the absolute best 3D I’ve ever seen in any movie ever, despite being made in the mid 90s.

    Really, it’s the only Terminator “sequel” worth watching.

  18. A few decent action scenes don’t save this from being a joyless, plotless, senseless mess and possibly the worst franchise reboot of all time. Nothing that happens at any point has any logic to it, either on the film’s own terms or in series continuity. Christian Bale and Sam Worthington have a dull-off to see who can be the most useless, charmless, pointless protagonist, with Bale winning by a nose simply by being completely superfluous in his own movie. This film is a travesty, an insult both to fans of the series and to the art of narrative itself. Apologies to Franchise Fred, but it’s one sequel that never should have been made.

  19. Jareth – I could watch Rich Evans watching pretty much anything.

  20. No hyperbole this is hands down one of the worst movie going experiences I ever had. Up there with TRANSFORMERS and THINNER. I wouldn’t watch this shit again if you paid me to.

  21. Those TAPs…. honestly I think third acts are fucking impossible anyway and sometimes I almost feel resigned that all movies will flounder when it comes time to gear up and resolve shit. A great many movies that I like and/or love sort of fuck things up towards the end. In my own experiences trying to, erm, write screenplays and shit, I don’t get how ANYBODY comes up with good third acts and so I tend to be forgiving of movies that win me over but then can’t follow through in the end. I haven’t seen Salvation.

    Looking over the list of other summer movies at the bottom of this review it also occurs to me that there’s a tendency for movies to have unbelievably superb OPENINGS and then not be able to back it up. This is even more frustrating than the TAPs. That whole battles-of-history montage in Wolverine Origins in which Wolverine realizes over the years that Sabertooth is a fuckhead is a remarkable cinematic achievement and almost makes me want to get my hopes up for Ender’s Game (don’t worry, i’m not THAT stupid…). And also I like both Sucker Punch and Watchmen, but they both have opening moments that strike me as disproportionately good compared to the film proper.

  22. Actually Vern, I gotta say that putting all those stills together does make it look (correctly) like it has good action, but boy, does it also highlight that is has the single ugliest, most boring visual palette I’ve seen recently. I’m sure the post-nuclear-war future would be kinda grey and barren looking, but man, what an eyesore.

  23. Mr. M, I won’t defend the quality of T:S, only its right to exist. I think it’s apparent that Connor was shoehorned into the plot when they landed a big star but I’m not sure the Marcus story on its own would’ve been any better.

    Some good moments. I do like when Connor is in the factory and who steps off the line but the Terminator he knew as a kid. That’s more me attaching backstory to it the anything the film did to build it up though.

    Also, am I the only guy on Bale’s side yelling at that DP? If you’re on a $100 million movie, you don’t fucking walk through the shot while they’re rolling. I bet that was happening a lot and this was the last straw. Bravo for a little work ethic, sounded like Bale was trying to give his all to a project he knew was a cash grab to most of the crew.

  24. I’m actually with Subtlety on this in terms of the visuals. I really dislike the visual aesthetic of the film, to me it just constantly looks drab and grey without being distinctive or iconic about it. They drop the neon future-war aesthetic of the first 3, in favor of more of a mad max thing, but it’s like they don’t go far enough with it, to where it’s somewhere in-between and just really forgettable.

  25. Well, we don’t know the whole story of Bale Vs Hurlbut (Tee hee…Hurlbut), because while we all heard the tape, none of us was really there and knows what really happened (Was he REALLY walking through the shot or probably just doing something from where he stood all the time, while Bale was exaggerating?), but when it comes to work related fights, I tend to side with the guy who spent over 20 years in the biz and worked his way up from “additional grip” to “Director of cinematography” and not with the actor, who might also be doing his own thing for the same time or longer, but who probably thinks that a DoP only has to make sure that the camera is rolling.

  26. I wouldn’t say I hated it, but it was still pretty disappointing after cheerleading for it against a wave of public apathy and a good deal of common sense. Not as dispiriting as A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, but further still from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD’s pleasing quite goodness. I liked the dark vibe of the extended trailer, but the film itself was a joyless slog, the closest thing to humour being a shot of Yosemite Sam mudlaps. Awfully derivative too, although I did like the idea of bringing a kind of PLANET OF THE APESian symmetry to the franchise.

  27. Everyone always talks about how this movie burned down the mythology and pissed on it’s ashes, but T3 wasn’t much better. The point of T2 was that the future isn’t set in stone and that we are masters of our own destiny. “There is no fate but what we make.” In the ending of T3: T2 AGAIN BUT WORSE they throw that shit out the window. Turns out that fate is inescapable, the nuclear apocalypse is an inevitability and all we can hope to do is postpone it, for some reason. Boo-urns.

  28. yeah, T3 was nothing great either, but at least it did have Arnold, it’s better than SALVATION anyway

  29. T3 is way more competent than TS. It may have some silliness here and there but it still has the only interesting John Connor outside of the TV series, keeps Skynet as a defense network gone wrong as opposed to making it Helena Bonham Carter, pretty good action sequences even if some are derivative of T2, that amazing ending that was the perfect set up for a future war movie until said future war movie was finally made and ended up being the pits.

  30. Isn’t Bale english? And isn’t he yelling at that DP in an american accent?

    He was just in character guys.

  31. I did an interview with McG where he flat-out told me the ending he wanted (and may or may not have fought for…) involved that controversial role reversal where Marcus was now John Connor. It was a very candid conversation, and I felt bad for being a bit too honest with him. He talked about the compromises involved in making the movie, and was simultaneously saying the “right” things about why it didn’t work while also saying he was proud of it, and wanted to make another.

    And then he breaks form and addresses me during the interview and asks me, point blank (in response to a hypothetical digression he was going on about), “You tell me, if you saw a trailer for a follow-up to that movie [directed by me], with Christian Bale, and it said, coming this summer, wouldn’t you want to see that?”

    I waited for a second, not sure if he wanted a real answer. Eventually I was just like, “Well, it would depend on what it was about. All the Terminator films, the endings greatly change the entire mythology, they add a new wrinkle, they give you a new place to go. Your film really didn’t do that at all, you know as much at the beginning as you do at the end. The story is ultimately kind of irrelevant once you get to that end, talking about continuing the war. So if I saw that trailer, no, I would not want to see that movie.”

    There was a brief silence on the other end. Then a sigh. Then he finally said, “Well… that’s fair. I guess.”

    He was so enthusiastic, and I felt so bad, because who wouldn’t want to make a Terminator movie?

  32. “An eye for an eye” doesn’t make the whole world blind.

    It makes everyone a Pirate.

  33. McG does seem like his heart was in the right place, but results are results and the movie stunk, regardless of his intentions

  34. Jesus, Gabe, are you saying you personally killed the terminator franchise???

  35. Whatever happened to Nick Stahl?

    Ten years ago I was convinced he was gonna be a bigger deal. In The Bedroom, Bully, Carnivale, Sin City.

    I thought he was a very good John Connor. Glad they didn’t try to bring Furlong back.

  36. Unfortunately Stahl has some pretty bad addictions. He actually was reported missing not long ago and his girlfriend thought he might be dead, turned out he was in rehab. But he was arrested for meth a couple months ago so I guess it didn’t stick. Hopefully he can straighten himself out because yeah, he’s a good actor and we don’t need another Brad Renfro situation.

  37. Kinda weird the way these child actors’ careers go as they grow up.

    The girls all get sexualized and put on magazine covers, which usually leads to good film careers (Dunst, Portman, Watson, Fanning), and the boys all become drug addicts (Culkin, Stahl, Furlong, Renfro).

    It seems like there are very few exceptions. Bale being one of them.

  38. And Lindsay Lohan.

  39. I was looking forward to this year’s SMF, but I’ve barely seen any of the films reviewed. The problem is that I was well past my period of watching obviously terrible blockbusters by the time 2003 came along. T4 had no interest for me at all – and I liked T3, although it is probably the most hilariously stupid movie I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch – so I’ve never got to see it. As for “Prince of Persia”, I could barely even remember that the film existed. When I saw the title of the review I immediately thought: “Vern’s reviewing a retro videogame?”

  40. This movie suffers from the palimpsest problem; you can clearly see tracings of earlier drafts in the final product. As Vern says above, Marcus was supposed to be the hero, but Bale’s insistence on playing Connor upended the apple cart. The Marcus character suffers from the wedging in a messiah: either make him an elusive figurehead, or make him the protagonist. Splitting the difference just wasn’t satisfying, and made audiences start to wonder why Marcus was even there at all.

    Also, this movie so didn’t get John Connor. When he confronts the T-800 there should’ve been some glimmer of conflict. I mean, this thing was his father figure not once but twice, but he doesn’t feel any doubt when it comes online and stands before him? Yeah yeah, I know he was told in the third movie that his feelings for the model lead to his death, but he’s human, and I don’t buy his one note reaction.

    But I do agree with Vern. There are sections of this thing that are quite fun. I dug the retro-future vibe; ahead of us, but not quite at the flash forwards we’ve seen in previous movies. Good idea, even if done with a franchise in mind. Man, that Skynet was really flat though. Here here on the whole Bond villain shtik. Talk about demystifying your enemy.

  41. Henry_Swansons_my_name

    September 18th, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I remember in the interviews leading up the release McG was saying all the right things. He almost had me convinced that he understood what made the property great. It was the same with Alien vs Predator. They kept talking about doing as much physical effects as possible and honouring the tone of the originals and what-not. And then they shat out the cinematic turds that we know and loathe.

    It would be so unbelievably exciting if someone smart come along and made another good Terminator. I’ll always hold out hope…

  42. Wow. Vern summed up my feelings on this movie kinda well.

    I found it a frustrating film, because the production designers and film-shooting-people obviously put so much thought and effort into their pieces, but the script junk from the start and doomed them all.

    I was with the film during the helicopter-nuclear-blast start, I enjoyed the A-10’s swooping in and laying some smackdown, and I thought the casting was spot on.

    However even before we get to the final act there are warning signs. Like how nobody is worried about radiation. And everyone looks buff with perfect teeth and hair. And how Terry Crews was already dead at the start of the film. (I thought he would reappear in a flashback throughout the whole film first time I saw it).

    I went into the film with low expectations, started the movie blown away by how much better it was than I expected, and finished the movie thinking it was a pretty mediocre effort.

    Still like it more than Terminator 3.

  43. So that plank of wood that played John McClane Jr. is now about to star in another 5th installment of a beloved 80’s action franchise. He was cast as the new Kyle Reese in GAME OF THRONES guy’s TERMINATOR. All I know is that I’m just patiently waiting for the day the rights revert back to James Cameron and he lays the franchise to rest once and for all.

  44. Don’t you dare to knock Jai Courtney! He was great in SPARTACUS, totally owned JACK REACHER (whenever Werner Herzog wasn’t on screen) and unless you count it’s overall crappiness, he was the most memorable part in DIE HA5D! I hope this guy becomes a huge star (Which hopefully also includes picking much better scripts.)

  45. I know GAME OF THRONES guy is used to hanging out with beefy shirtless dudes all the time, but I don’t think he quite understands that Reese isn’t supposed to be like that. What was endearing about Michael Biehn in the role was that he wasn’t some musclebound tough guy. He was just a skinny young soldier who used his wits, courage, and will to battle an adversary who had him hopelessly outmatched at every turn. Nothing against Courtney, who I enjoyed in the two things I saw him in, but I get no sense of vulnerability from him at all. He’s your basic eight-hours-in-the-gym-to-prepare-for-this-role badass who’s gonna know a bunch of MMA moves for some reason. Kind of a boring choice.

    I’m starting to think that maybe we don’t really need any more TERMINATOR movies.

  46. If you’re looking for an awesome futuristical robopocalypse sequel that features great performances (acted ‘badly’) and satisfying ridiculousness,

    then I’ll renew my most ardent recommendation for CYBORG 3: THE RECYCLER.

  47. CJ – To be fair I didn’t watch SPARTACUS past season 1 so I don’t even remember him there. Never saw JACK REACHER either.

    Mr. Majestyk – “I’m starting to think that maybe we don’t really need any more TERMINATOR movies.”

    I’ve felt that way since T3 but McG’s movie just reinforced that sentiment.

  48. Mouth – I co-sign your recommendation. Best Malcom McDowell joint since CLASS OF 1999.

  49. It’s never going to happen, but I’d like to see them go back to the scope and tone of THE TERMINATOR, which was way more of a horror movie than an action movie. John Hyams could direct.

  50. That would be awesome. I love the “horror movie” installment of series that turn into more of “action movies”. TERMINATOR, ALIEN, PITCH BLACK. They always seems to start out horror and then go into action. I can’t think of any that go the other way. And I definitely can’t think of any that go one way and then go back the other way again.

  51. Maggie – FROM DUSK TILL DAWN? From action genre to horror all in one film. Followed by two horror sequels.

  52. Hyams could do one set in the future of the future, when Skynet is dead and society is just starting to rebuild itself. Nobody’s seen a robot in years, so they’re not prepared for the arrival of a small detachment of terminators sent by Skynet to rebuild itself in the future. They have find and infiltrate a hidden bunker containing a backup of Skynet and a terminator-manufacturing facility. Only retired General John Connor (Viggo Mortensen) and his old squad of badasses can stop them. His son tags along because that is the kind of thing that happens in movies nowadays. There is much stalking about in dark hallways while intense electronic music plays. The terminators initially don’t have weapons so they mostly kill people by hand.

    On second thought that sounds a lot like it’s just a post-apocalyptic UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movie. Forget it.

  53. So GAME OF THRONES guy’s TERMINATOR film is finally shooting and I’m not going to lie the details that have been released are kinda intriguing. I mean Arnold as a bearded geriatric Terminator that may have been accidentally sent back too far back in time? why the fuck not?

  54. Details are out now with that Entertainment Weekly story.
    While that photoshoot looks laughably bad, I don’t consider that a reliable barometer of what the the film will actually look like as it seems to be the EW style that they did for their X:Men covers earlier in the year, and those weren’t all that reflective of the final outcome. That aside, I DO actually like the premise of Sarah being raised by the T-800. It’s a nice twist on the John-“Bob” dynamic from the second film.

  55. So the new trailer for GAME OF THRONES Guy Presents: TERMINATOR5 just dropped today; and I must say that though I initially planned on passing on this that new trailer was simply hilarious. Almost like an official franchise parody. What clinched it for me was the version of “Get out!” that will be used in this movie. I actually spit out coffee when I saw that. This trailer actually made me a believer because before I was very indifferent about this. At least now all signs point to it being so bad that it could be hilariously entertaining. Albeit for all the wrong reasons.

    As opposed to SALVATION which I felt was so bad I would rather stare at a clear bucket full of dish water placed in front of a drying painted wall than ever watch it again. SALVATION’s pretensions is what ruined it for me. You see that they genuinely felt they were making something special there and it’s actually pretty sad. With this one at least you can tell they went “fuck it” and just had fun by throwing everything against the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

    So I am definitely now going to watch this after all strictly for the train wreck factor alone.

  56. I feel like I’m John Connor and these trailers are Sarah, training me for how much the Judgment Day (July 1, 2015) is gonna suck.

  57. The new spoilery trailer hasn’t really changed my mind about Terminator 5. If you’re being generous, it’s kind of a gutsy move. (It would have been gutsier if they hadn’t told the audience what they were up to before the film’s release.) It reminds me of a more idiotic version of the planned original ending of Terminator 4 (although that ending made more sense to me).

  58. I guess the trailer sort of did its job, because now I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t see how stupid this movie gets. Right now I really don’t think there’s a ceiling on that.

    Sigh. I never thought I’d have to watch a TERMINATOR movie ironically. This is not the future my mother warned me about.

  59. Well I stayed away from the new trailer to avoid SPOILERS, and now the freaking POSTER gives away what I can only imagine is a big surprise in the movie. The poster!?! Avoid any Terminator-related news today if you can, even though I imagine it’ll be impossible to do so up until July.

  60. See, I’d rather have every last inch of this bullshit ruined for me ahead of time so I know exactly how low to pitch my expectations. It’s really the one hope I have for eking out any enjoyment at all from this desperate compost of flop sweat and fan-fic.

  61. See, for me personally, whether I consider that a “SPOILER” or not is dependant on at which part of the film that plot development drops. If it’s pretty late into things, sure. If it’s more like at the end of the first act, I’m more like this is just the synopsis of the film without the specifics. I think part of why people consider it a spoiler is that they didn’t lead with the reveal in the earlier trailers and what we knew about the plot so far was enough to be the basis of a plot in and of itself. It’s funny how we categorise these things. While I’ve seen people complain about the AMOUNT of stuff that Marvel have been revealing in AGE OF ULTRON trailers and TV spots and clips, I haven’t seen anyone complain about the fact they’ve made no effort to hide the fact that two characters who are set up as antagonists are going to be siding with the Avengers by the end of the movie.




    are we talking about the John Connor thing? That does seem like a pretty glaring spoiler to give away in a trailer, but it does remind me of how the T2 trailers gave away Arnold was the good guy. That was pretty drastic and Cameron had wanted it to be a surprise. It’s early in the movie, sure, but imagine if we hadn’t known until the mall confrontation?

    This is also the original ending of SALVATION, right? They repurposed it.




    Not exactly. The SALVATION ending was they’d put a dead John’s flesh over Sam Worthington’s character’s “frame” and he’d assume the role of John so the Resistance would win and the timeline would be secured. In this movie, it seems like this IS actually the real John, and he’s been altered somehow into a brainwashed human/machine hybrid. I think it’s a clever thing, because not only is it a really advanced looking version of the Terminator (though you wonder if Skynet could make Terminator’s as advanced as this and the liquid ones, you’d think they’d have just mass produced them to fight the war), but also, it’s the one thing that would make Kyle and Sarah hold their fire. They wouldn’t want to kill their leader/son if they can avoid it, and that gives him a psychological advantage.

  64. Fred – “imagine if we hadn’t known until the mall confrontation?”

    I didn’t know until that moment and it blew my freaking mind. I’m thankful the only piece of pre-production hype I saw for T2 was the “It’s nothing personal.” poster. I’ll never forget seeing it at the cinema when we went to see BACKDRAFT it completely left my jaw on the floor. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of a Terminator sequel prior to seeing that.

  65. “I couldn’t even fathom the idea of a Terminator sequel prior to seeing that.”

    Ironically nowadays the idea of a Terminator sequel just makes me nauseous.

  66. I just watched the new trailer and what the fuck? why would they have such a major spoiler in the trailer? They just gave the whole fucking movie away.

  67. Some will tell you that the fact that Arnold was the good guy in T2 was ruined by the trailers back in ’91 makes it okay, as if the past wrongdoing of an ancestor excuses the sins of the current generation. “Yeah, sure, I killed that guy, but my granddad killed a guy, too, so it’s totally cool.”

    But seriously, wouldn’t you want that twist ruined? Why would you want to walk face-first into that wall of bullshit without at least a little heads-up? I can only assume that they’re hoping to draw the morbidly curious with the promise of tweet-worthy blasphemy and batshittery. I can’t think of any reason to see this movie except to witness how terrible it’ll be, and neither can the marketing team.

  68. Crushinator Jones

    May 19th, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I hope the marketing team sprayed their lips with silver paint and yelled “WITNESS ME” before releasing that trailer, because it fuckin’ suicided the movie.

  69. The spoiler is also on the poster.

  70. In other words test audiences must have reacted badly to that twist so they decided to spoil it to soften the blow, because there’s no fucking way that wasn’t originally intended to be a shocking twist., it’s like if the trailer for THE SIXTH SENSE said “oh by the way, Bruce Willis is dead”.

    What’s a shame is the idea of a “T-3000” that’s a dude made up of nanites instead of liquid metal is a good one, but why is it John Connor? how does that make sense?

  71. ” it’s like if the trailer for THE SIXTH SENSE said “oh by the way, Bruce Willis is dead”.”

    I always thought it’s weird that nobody seems to complain that “I see dead people” was spoiled by the trailer, considering that the REAL mystery of the movie was “What is wrong with that kid?” and not “Why is Bruce’s wife acting so estranged towards him?”.

  72. The Original Paul

    May 20th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    CJ – In my case, it’s mostly because I was in the queue for the latest Bond movie that happened to be on at the same time (I think it was THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, but don’t quote me on that one) when the two guys behind me started loudly discussing the movie they’d seen the other day, THE SIXTH SENSE, a movie that I’d deliberately avoided every possible spoiler for, with one of them saying something like: “It was SO obvious. The kid sees dead people, he sees Bruce, nobody else does. How was anybody surprised by this?”

    That random guy outside a cinema will never know he’ll be on my shit-list until the day I die.

  73. Original Paul— Then you are properly inundated. There will be no surprises. Majestyk was correct, as he so often is: that pesky trailer done blew out the birthday candles and taunted its potential audience with the postultimate promise of: “Hey!… at least the cake will be yummy! And we’ve got… ICE CREAM”! (the sort of inference that we’ll finally get a good look at The War Against The Machines, previously confined to Terminator movie prologues).

    Plus, it’s bright & shiny where SALVATION was drab & morose (color pallette, general demeanor, etc.)). And it features a cast member from GAME OF THRONES (like DREDD, POMPEII, and FURIOUS 7— are you not entertained?), plus the new liquid metal T-1000 replacement is an Asian dude (so maybe he does martial arts ‘n’ stuff). Plus it’s not directed by McG, who’s now widely viewed as a franchise corrupter much as Brett Ratner was with da X-MEN franchise. Don’t rock the semi-sacred boats, you incompetent clowns!

    As well, it has Arnold doing his misguidedly revered Terminator schtick. If only Bill Paxton had poked his head in as a semi-hillbilly Quatto, it would be the BEST MOVIE EVER. Don’t get greedy.

    For all these eminently wrong reasons, it will make $150-$175 million U.S. box office, and $400-$500 million worldwide. Why?: Because the average moviegoer is a brain-dead chimp, and robots are strong.

    No doubt we can anticipate your fully-formed thoughts in early 2016. Good for us; bad for all who already drank the purple Kool-Aid.

  74. I´ve watched the trailer twice in cinema and even though it gives everything away, I´m slowly being tricked into thinking that this film might be enjoyable on at least some level. We are never gonna get a good TERMINATOR-movie, but I guess you can goof around the first two as long as the events of three and four is nullified.

  75. The Original Paul

    May 21st, 2015 at 2:16 am

    All – see, I’ve not watched the trailer OR looked for the posters anywhere (and I’ve not read anything you guys have written that might constitute “the” spoiler) so I have no idea what it is. And knowing my local movie chain, they’d probably screen a marketing interview with the actors before the film started that gave away the twist anyway. (Yeah, that actually happened with DARK KNIGHT RISES, not that being spoiled for that film made it any worse than it already was.) Remaining “pristine” is almost impossible in this day and age.

  76. Crushinator Jones

    May 21st, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Amazin’ Larry, I’ll take that bet. My prediction: movie barely squeeks to 100 million domestic. Worldwide is much harder to predict so I’ll refrain from that. But this has all the makings of a fuckin’ bomb.

  77. I just heard from someone who saw it at the German premiere, that TERMINATOR GYNYSIYSYSENYSEYSNYNYNGYGSYFY is surprisingly good and according to him, almost on par with the first 2. So I guess the average movie going public will like it. Now I just wait for the opinion of some more trustworthy people and then for its pay TV start in around a year from now. (Even if it’s great, I’m not THAT much of a Terminator fan to watch it in a movie theatre.)

  78. James Cameron himself gave it a personal thumbs up, so that certainly warrants some interest.

  79. James Cameron also gave a personal thumbs up to T3 and once said he enjoyed ALIEN VS. PREDATOR.

    I’m a fan of Cameron the filmmaker but he is no lesser a politician than any other major filmmaker in Hollywood.

    Props to him for not wanting to throw his friends (like Arnold) or peers under the bus. However I don’t believe for one fucking second that any of that is genuine especially after he went back on his T3 thumbs up and ALIEN VS. PREDATOR approval only a few years after the rest of the world crapped on them.

    I will be watching the new movie regardless but I won’t fool myself into thinking that it would be anything less than another superfluous cash grab that wears the TERMINATOR name like a badge of honor but probably only brings it more shame.

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