Howdy people, today I come to you with another film review from the past and this one comes in the shape of Terminator Salvation aka Terminator 4. Now I saw this film in the cinema back in the summer of 2009 and to be honest I liked it back then, it wasn’t great but it was tolerable. However times have changed and I wanted to offer up my new opinions instead in the year 2012.
Now for those not in the know let me give y’all a little history lesson. It all started in 1984 when the first Terminator was created. Directed by James Cameron (now known for his work on Titanic and Avatar), the film featured Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese, a man set back from the future to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her unborn child from the unstoppable cybernetic robot assassin The Terminator T-800 (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) who has been sent back to kill her. The film revolves around Kyle and Sarah running away from the Terminator and while on the run we find out that Sarah is meant to have a child who is meant to safe the future from Skynet, a computer system that takes over all electronic technology. The story of this film set up one of the most interesting and confusing plots I’ve ever witnessed in cinema with the concept of time travel and time paradoxes. It honestly wouldn’t come any better then this. The film was a cross between science fiction and horror and on paper this was a risky project. The budget was low, the story had some complex issues and Arnie at the time wasn’t exactly a big actor yet, but times did change. Luckily The Terminator was a well recieved film back in the 80s. The music was scary, the action was beautifully done, the sense of danger was constantly there and the movie propelled Arnie into stardom. With the film being an overall success financially and critically there was room for a sequel… and boy was there a sequel.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the follow up film that showed up in 1991 again directed by James Cameron. This film saw Sarah Connor’s character change dramatically, she was now a badass chick who knew what the future held and she prepared herself and her son through childhood for the future that he would undertake. Unfortunately due to her efforts in trying to stop Skynet (attempting to bomb a computer factory), she was arrested and put into a mental hospital. While in there we see the now 11 year old John Connor living with foster parents, but he is a little rebel skipping school and doing as he pleases (to a degree due to his age). As fate would have it, a new Terminator comes from the future to take out John due to his future duty as the leader of the resistance against Skynet. This Terminator is the T-1000 which has many upgrades over Arnie’s model with a liquid metal that allows it to take the appearance and voice of any person it comes into contact with; it has a higher level of durability then the previous models. The original T-800 Terminator comes back, except this time he has to protect John from the T-1000. After busting Sarah out of the metal hospital, John, Sarah and the T-800 move quickly to avoid death and to take out the place where Skynet came into existence. Now let me tell you now, this is the best Terminator film out of the all of them, it’s the definition of badass! The film is bigger and better then the last, showcasing even more memorable action sequences, more interesting story elements and even stronger visual effects which at the time were amazing. The film outgrossed the original and was considered to be even better then the last film by many fans and critics and even won 4 Oscars at the 64th Academy Awards.
Then after a long while in 2003 we got Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. In this film it focused on John Connor’s adult years which lead up to the future we’ve heard about. Basically after Skynet failed to kill Sarah Connor before John was born, it sends back another Terminator, the T-X, to try and kill John’s associates. Since Judgment Day has only delayed rather then averted, John Connor still knows the what’ll happen in the future and has been living and constantly on the move. The T-X is even more advance then the model in T2, with an endoskeleton with built-in weaponry, a liquid metal exterior similar to the T-1000 and the ability to control other machines. Luckily Arnie was back again as the T-850 model, having the same attributes as the previous versions, but now has a different power source. This time he protects John Connor and his future wife Kate Brewster (who is also a target for the T-X). Even with Arnie back in the game, a sexy new female cyborg and action set pieces that looked great, the plot, characters and overall film wasn’t strong enough. It was just impossiblt to live up to Terminator 2, T3 as much money as the previous films and only got an aveerage to negative reception.
In truth after that film it seemed like there was never going to be another Terminator. T3 more or less filled out the connections between the future and the present. Arnold Schwarzenegger had quit acting and become Governor of California and there was no word from series originator James Cameron whether the franchise would get a new film. So when i heard that a fourth Terminator film was in the works i felt hope in my soul again. Okay I’ve blabbered on for far too long, it’s about time i actually started talking about the new film.
When it comes to story it goes something like this: Salvation is set in 2018 and focuses on the war between Skynet and humanity, with the human Resistance fighting against Skynet’s killing machines. The film focuses John Connor as a a Resistance fighter before he becomes the legendary leader that is known from the first and second films. On the other side of things there is a cyborg called Marcus Wright who used to be human who then got transformed, he has no memory of his past and in the film he spends most his time trying to hunt for the answers. The film also introduces us to a young Kyle Reese and give us the origin of the T-800 Model 101 Terminator.
With Terminator 4 now under the direction of McG and the promise of a dark gritty film with many ties to the first and second films, you think this film would be brillaint right? Wrong! To be honest back in 2009 I thought the film was pretty decent but then I watched it again in last year and man, this film is nothing like I remember it and if anything it seems worse. Now I understand that first Terminator was a horror film, the second film was an action thriller and the third was more of an action film. And this film was a war film. Unfortunately I didn’t really feel like the whole war concept was translated into the film very well. Sure it was there, but its execution wasn’t very good at all. T4 was just a dark, depressing film for all the wrong reasons, it was lacking in character charm or originality which all the previous films had.
The characters in the film were okay but for the most part they’re pretty bland. I mean you’re only paying attention to 3 or 4 of them throughout the whole film because everybody else doesn’t really matter. Christian Bale plays this version of John Connor and in my opinion he was not a good choice for this character. The way he speaks, urgh! Damn yo so annoying. The guy seems to whisper when he talks or he sometimes uses that horrible raspy voice from the Batman films! His overall look just seems to deviate too far from the original John Connor, he seems a little skinny in the face and it makes him seem older then he should look and i wish that John didn’t have a fat mustache. On the other side you have Marcus Wright, a man turned machine that lives his life without knowing the truth. Sam Worthington is a little better than Bale’s character because he’s got a much more interesting backstory and you can kind of attach to him, but again after a while he gets really boring. And lastly we have Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. Now I thought that this was a one of these kinds of characters that the actor didn’t get right. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Anton Yelchin in Star Trek as Pavel Chekov, but in this film he was a just okay, but pretty weak in prescence and I did not feel the connection between him and the version from the first film. The rest of cast were just forgettable. Other characters like Kate Connor, Barnes, Blair Williams, and General Ashdown… I didn’t care about them, they were bland and irrelevant. It may be harsh but that’sjust the way I felt. I really got into that mode of just seeing action and skiping past anything to do with the human scenes. I just wanted to see explosions and robots. And speaking of robots, let’s talk about them.
The T-600s were pretty nice, sure they were slow, unorganised and nowhere near as cool as Arnie’s T-800 model, however I felt they were a nice little edition to the series. I couldn’t tell exactly where the T-700s were because between them and the T-600s they’re hard to tell apart because they’re not clearly labelled lol. And then there’s the T-800s, they still rock, nuff said. The other flying and water machines were okay for what they were and it’s good that tehfilmmakers tried to add more types of machines, but in the end I reakky didn’t really care for them. The only new robot that really deserves kudos is the Harvester, that colossal beast is cool, just moving about in slow motion shooting the crap out of stuff, badass. The visual style of the film is pretty interesting, it based in a baren wasteland that is the future version of Earth due to the war and it is nicely done. And in terms of the presentation the locations do look dark and dreary and i think it’s a look that works fairly well, although i was hoping for fights at nigh time like in the previous films. But the look very a little dull and uninteresting. The GCI in the film is pretty good, but that’s to be expected in films like these and there was some good use of praticle models for teh Terminator robots too, although there are a few inaccuracies which are clearly noticeable. The T-800 models are done very well for something that only mainly moved with skin covering it or moving in stop motion animation. With the action scenes and sequences, they were alright and nice to look at, though they wasn’t anything that left an impression or properly memorable.
In the end Terminator Salvation aka Terminator 4 wasn’t complete a load of crud, but it wasn’t the film fans or critics wanted. There is some things to like about the film like the action sequences and the unstoppable Terminator robots/ There wasseveral points of the film where I was left thinking “Oh come off it! How is that thing is still moving? Impossible!” The Arnie cameo is great even if it is through CG editing and even if he’s there for 2 minutes. Unforunately the film is just not the same with out the full-on awesomeness that is Arnold Schwarzenegger! He makes the films; without him, there is no Terminator! The film did okay without him considering the circumstances, but it had it’s own share of problems with a pretty weak and inconsistant story, boring chaarcters and overall feeling like a film really devoid of any life or feeling. McG was a bad choice as the drector and this film has sort of shot the Terminator series into the ground. I don’t think there should be any other films after T4 and if there is i will send an angry letter to James Cameron telling him to get his ass in gear and prevent this franchise from being completely destroyed.