Terminator: Salvation

I just got back from Terminator: Salvation. The quick review? I thought it was pretty good. Better than Terminator 3, probably worth seeing in theatres, but not completely stellar.

For fans of the other movies, this movie is very faithful to the previous ones. It has many little references to them, and not just in a throwaway Indy 4 kinda way. It manages to get in all the important terminator ideas, shots, and lines. The plot fits nicely with the other Terminator films as well, even with Terminator 3. In fact, it might actually improve Terminator 3 a little bit, offering a bit of legitimacy to it.

I was concerned when I first saw Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese in the previews. After seeing the movie, he did a pretty decent job of it, but I still would have cast someone else. Perhaps if there are more movies planned in the future we will see him grow further into the character from the first film. Bryce Dallas Howard is given VERY little to do as Kate Connor. Her character seems as if it was cut down in the editing process or something. Honestly, I was surprised to see Christian Bale do a kind of mediocre performance as the adult John Connor. It might have been the writing of his character, but he didn’t seem to be all that important until the very end. Even then, Bale has done much better work.

The special effects are kick ass… more kick ass than I expected. I rarely spend much time talking about special effects these days, figuring that most movies with a budget have the “good special effects” label attached to them already, but the effects in this were great. The robotic Terminators have never looked better and the Terminator makeup effects were fantastic as well. They introduce a couple new Terminator models, as they always do. They are quite cool, and quite consistent in style with the other Terminators we’ve seen so far. As many of you probably know, there is a cameo from the ol’ model 101 Arnold Terminator using CG. It looks better than The Rock at the end of The Mummy Returns, but they wisely don’t depend on this effect for very long.

Let’s briefly talk about the bad things. The script isn’t outright bad, but it doesn’t really break new ground like the first two movies do. It’s thematically consistent with the other films, but the actual story of the movie hits some pretty well worn science fiction territory. My one Terminator super nerd complaint was that they gave SkyNet a face and voice at one point in the movie, whereas I believe it should remain a faceless and unknowable enemy. Still, giving SkyNet some lines was required in order to get across a few of the plot points late in the movie, so I don’t know how else they would have done it.

I am kinda left wondering if the movie would have been better or worse had the trailer and all the promo material NOT revealed that Marcus is a Terminator. The movie is totally worth seeing, most likely in theatres, but it won’t replace T1 or T2 anytime soon. Did we really expect it to though?


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May 2009
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