>I'm going to be honest here. I had no idea what to expect with this movie. Its a completely different film to the previous trilogy, so what made those movies good might not work as well here in what is essentially a war movie. I went into the theatre blind, which I suppose gave me an element of impartiality.
Just to quickly sum up how I felt about the previous three films, I don't really have any major complaints. The first film is an undeniable classic of modern science fiction, and the sequel managed to get to pretty much the same level. Both of these films are brilliant, have enough heart to them, decent acting, groundbreaking effects and a terrifying villain. Then came Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. This film divided audiences, personally I think it's a good film, and a good TERMINATOR film. I know that will probably be preceded by a shitload of comments saying "You don't know what you're talking about", "T3 sucked", "Blah blah blah", but I can't legitimately call T3 a bad movie. Don't get me wrong, its not even in the same league as T1 and T2, but its decent.
So I sat there in the theatre and I thought, this movie, at the very least, has to be better than T3. At the very least. Although T3 is decent, the problems that faced it were easily solve-able, so this film should be able to give us a decent story etc. Two hours later, I had my answer.
It couldn't even manage that. Terminator Salvation was ridiculous.
The plot is as follows. It is 2003. Marcus Wright is on death row, and is convinced by a dying doctor to sign his body to medical science. Flash foreward to 2018, and after a failed attack on a Skynet base by John Connor, Marcus awakens in the post apocalyptic myre and meets Kyle Reese, who is later captured by the machines. John Connor, discovering this, has to launch a rescue mission before the resistance leaders nuke the place where he is being held. But is Marcus all that he appears? If you've seen the trailer for the movie, you already know that answer.
This is a perfect example of how advertising can shoot your film in the foot. The biggest and most interesting twist in this movie is given away in the trailer. What this serves to do is remove a lot of the tension in the Marcus Wright scenes. This is especcially annoying when you consider that Marcus is the most interesting character in the film. Sam Worthington isn't the best actor in the world, but he does a good job here, aside from having virtually no reaction to waking up in what is essentially the Capital Wasteland from Fallout 3. His scenes are really the best thing about this movie, especially when he meets up with Reese, played by Anton Yelchin. Again, Yelchin does a good job here, his character doesn't have a huge amount of depth but the character is fairly interesting, with subtle echoes of Michael Biehn's portrayal way back in T1. And they are the only two characters that are worth anything.
John Connor is an established character in the franchise, played brilliantly by Edward Furlong in T2 and pretty well by Nick Stahl in T3. At the beginning of this movie they introduce John Connor via text as this sort of warrior-prophet who has managed to predict the future correctly thus far, and some people believe him and some don't. This is actually an interesting angle to take on the character, which is never brought up in the whole movie. I'm not kidding here, at no point in this movie is John Connor anything but a guy with a gun, when he could have been and should have been so much more. Worse still, he's pretty much vacuous, there is no trace of the resourceful kid or the guy who had to listen as the world ended around him. All this Connor is is a guy who thinks all problems can be solved by shouting a said problem. Connor is played by Christian Bale, who is in one gear throughout the whole movie: inteeeeense. Has was so intense they could have brought in Keanu Reeves to play the character, and the sad thing is he probably would have done a better job than Bale. And whoever said to him, "no its fine, do it in your Batman voice if you want," should go and sit in the corner, and think about what they've done.
"WHY ARE YOU MORE INTERESTING THAN ME??!!"
The rest of the characters are just a motley crew of blank and vacuous plot devices. From Common to the mute kid. They all suck.
Oh and thanks to all you pissy internet twats out there who complained about the ending to this movie, McG and co. changed the entire third act. To be fair, it isn't that bad. But the actual ending to the movie is just fucking stupid. What they had planned was MUCH better.
Now for the more positive stuff. The special effects are cool. The robots are cool, and actually pretty scary in some instances, which captures some of the essence of the first Terminator. As much as I've faulted the acting and the characters, McG isn't a bad director. Some of the action sequences and most of the fights are very well done and are well paced. This goes for the whole experience, the pace only really falters once or twice. This movie isn't badly directed at all. It's badly, laughably written. The script is peppered with shitty dialogue and references to the older movies that are crowbarred in. It took me out of the movie every time instead of flowing along naturally with the rest of the dialogue, like it does in films like the new Star Trek.
Overall, this is the weakest film in the franchise by far. The gulf between all the other movies and this movie is pretty sizeable. I hope this is the end of the franchise, but considering that they have set up for a possible sequel, I doubt its over just yet. My spill rating would be a Rental. Marks out of 10. 4, maybe 5.