Saturday, May 23, 2009

Terminator

I can't give Terminator: Salvation the same praise I gave Star Trek. If you're on the fence about whether to see this flick, take a pass. It's not terrible, but it's debatable whether it's worth 130 minutes of your life.

I overlooked certain faults in Star Trek that made it less realistic, such as the fortuitous chain of events that connected Kirk with Scotty and brought them to the Enterprise. I'm less forgiving of Terminator. Maybe I'm being a little overly nuanced, but the idealized and distant future of Star Trek allows a more fantastic vision than a dark film of the Terminator line, dystopic and set in the not too distant future.

The movie starts out fine, but a few events really took me out of the moment.

...minor spoilers...

John traipsing around with the secret weapon on a USB thumb-drive? Central Command is filled with pushovers... "Hey John, you don't obey orders, you're basically a cult leader and a loose cannon in general, but you're going to be in charge of testing the secret weapon that could make or break humanity. Here ya go. Oh, and if you fail we could all be dead within the week. Toodles!"

Perhaps the least believable moment in the film, Blair's decision to free Marcus?

And maybe it's just me, but didn't the Skynet processing/detention area have too much of a "secret dungeon lair" feel to it? A few too many random gas flares for my taste.

The CGI is great throughout the film... except we still can't render live people just yet. Since there was no compelling reason to render the particular person they chose to render, the fact that it was a little rough around the edges detracts from the realism.

Weren't they a little too close for that detonation at the end? And by a little too close, I mean about a mile too close.

I won't even get into the ending, but suffice it to say it was a little sappy for my taste.

I wasn't thrilled with the casting of Christan Bale as John Connor. His voice was a little less scratchy than in Batman, but sounds like he still needs some Ricola. Looks like we're stuck with him though.

I give the film an official rating of "meh"--- Ok, "meh-plus".

(Don't ask me how many thumbs that is.)

EDIT (5/26): National Review's take on Terminator reminded me of something John Connor said that I didn't care for: "The best the film can do in the way of humanizing its characters is to have Connor announce that humans do not make decisions based on 'cold calculation.'"

I know the writers of Salvation couldn't "chase plot threads" from The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but an unmistakable development in John's character in TV series was that he was decreasingly trusting of humans with their inherent faults and more trusting of his captured and reprogrammed machines. I don't want to say I "liked" this cold and calculating John Connor, but I agreed with it to some extent and thought it was a natural development.

Also, this film is apparently being called a "prequel", which is a virtually meaningless term in a universe routinely changed by time travel. It occurs at a later date than any Terminator so far and introduces a new Terminator model not discussed in any prior Terminator film.

4 comments:

Samay said...

I think the bar would be lower if it wasn't a Terminator movie. I think it's stupid that they keep trying to push more sequels when the story was finished well in Terminator 2.

If this movie had just been called Salvation, and been just another action movie about humans versus robot overlords, I think it would have been a better movie.

JoeCollins said...

That's an interesting idea, dropping the Terminator name. The movie was really about Marcus, and all that John Connor stuff distracted from the story of Marcus.

Don't get me wrong, John Connor was absolutely necessary to the plot, but one expects a Terminator flick to be about John Connor. Even "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" was really about John Connor.

Anonymous said...

From what I read, Christian Bale was offered the part of Marcus, but demanded to play John Conner and they had to basically rewrite the script to make John Conner a more prominent role.

~MJA

JoeCollins said...

That's pretty funny, because Sam Worthington was a really good Marcus. Much better than Bale would have been.

Supposedly Eddie Furlong (T2) was approached about playing John Connor but turned it down.

I officially hate Christian Bale now.