Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review of Terminator Salvation

The yearly blockbuster season is on us and one of the first out of the gates is Terminator Salvation. After the classic Terminator, Terminator: Judgment Day, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation is the first movie that truly shows the war between Skynet and the remains of the human race.

The movie starts in 2003 where Dr. Serena Kogan (played by Helena Bonham Carter) convinces inmate Marcus Wright (played by Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution. After his execution, the action then jumped to 2018 where John Conner (Christian Bale) leads an attack by the Resistance on Skynet.

A nuclear explosion destroyed the base and John is the only apparent survivor. After John left, a now alive Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base. Connor arrived at Resistance headquarters and is informed by General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) that the Resistance has discovered a secret radio frequency capable of shutting down Skynet machines. Conner volunteered to field-test the radio frequency.

Marcus arrived in Los Angeles and is saved by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) after attracting the attention of a T-600 Terminator. He learns of Judgment Day and the ensuing war between humans and machines. Leaving the ruins of Los Angeles, they reached a run-down gas station where they met up with some human survivors. Skynet attacked and Kyle was taken prisoner with some other humans. A pair of Resistance fighter planes was sent in to help by Conner but both were shot down. Marcus locates one of the downed pilot Blair Williams (played by the beautiful Moon Bloodgood) and Marcus is wounded by a magnetic land mine as they were making their way to Conner's base. The Resistance discovers that Marcus is a new type of cyborg with human organs.

Marcus believes himself to be human, and informed Conner that Skynet has Kyle Reese. As Conner decides on what to do, Blair helps Marcus escape from the base. Marcus and Conner came to a deal where Marcus will enter Skynet and help John rescue Kyle. The plan works at first, until Marcus discovers that his deal with Conner was all a trick by Skynet to kill Conner. The secret radio frequency is also fake; another ruse to kill off the Resistance. The nuclear sub that housed the Resistance HQ is destroyed by Skynet along with all the top leaders.

Marcus helps Conner in fighting a T-800 and the mission turn out successfully with the human prisoners rescued and the Skynet base destroyed. However Conner is wounded in the fight and requires a heart transplant. Marcus offers his heart for Conner, and the surgery was successful. At the end, Conner is on the radio telling the other Resistance fighters that the war is far from over.

First I will go off on the good points of the movie. Terminator Salvation is without question the most action-pack movie in the Terminator franchise. In the past movies, we see one or two Terminators in each movie, but in Salvation there are more Terminators than all the other movies combined. You have Terminators in the air, on the ground, and in the water. More Terminators equal more action and there’s plenty of that in this movie.

Not only is there more action in Salvation, there is also more eye-candy. Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor must be one of the most beautiful pregnant woman to have ever grace the silver screen and Moon Bloodgood look like she just walked off a catwalk somewhere. I’m not sure if women should still look so good in a post-apocalyptic world but I’m not complaining.

I’ve read somewhere that they had to change the script when Christian Bale picked John Conner as his role instead of Marcus Wright. I don’t know how the script was originally but there are some serious loopholes in the movie. Conner secretly entered the Skynet base, so what transport was he talking about to the prisoners? “Run to the transport, Get to the transport” What transport? You are there in secret and the base belongs to Skynet! Also how did Conner escape from the nuclear blast at the start of the movie? Even if he wasn’t caught in the blast, there’s still something call “nuclear radiation” that you can’t ignore.

I always though Christian Bale is a good, if slightly over-rated, actor but I have to question why he pick John Conner over Marcus Wright because to me Marcus Wright is by far the better role. Marcus was the heart of the movie but at times he was almost ignored by director McG. Maybe if the movie had better direction by McG, Terminator Salvation would have been a better movie. The original Terminator was a classic and Judgment Day was an “almost classic” movie; Salvation is about as far away as those two movies as you can get. Salvation is basically a war movie and I have to wonder about that.

Salvation isn’t a bad movie but it will not be a classic either. In terms of ranking, I will probably put it above “Rise of the Machines” but behind Terminator and Judgment Day. I heard it’s the first of a trilogy, so maybe it’ll get better but the later movies will need to be better than Salvation. If not, the Terminator franchise may die a sad death.

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