May 25, 2009

300 Words About: Terminator Salvation

If you look really closely, you just might recognize some elements of James Cameron's creation...

There are a few things that don't belong in Terminator movies: little kids, huge talking heads on screens explaining the plot, celebrity cameos, inexplicable romance that threatens to overtake scenes, and talking dogs. The guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname has haphazardly inserted the first four of those elements into Terminator Salvation, and in all likelihood we can look forward to the fifth one in the upcoming sequel.

What bothers me about the utterly mediocre Terminator Salvation is not simply the fact that it was made. I'm not necessarily a Cameron purist and I actually liked Jonathon Mostow's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, even if was significantly inferior to Cameron's first two. No, what bothered me about Terminator Salvation is that despite, or maybe because of, the frequent references it made to the quotes and action elements from the earlier movies, it severely lacked vision, terror, originality and confidence. Worse,
the guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname thought that he could actually adapt or update or otherwise modify this story for a new generation by adding "fresh" ideas that simply leaving you scratching your head.

For example, what in the world is a mute child doing as an important character in a Terminator movie? Where were the typically heavy - and heavily intriguing - dialogues/monologues about the war and Judgment Day? In the future, shouldn't the aiming accuracy of both the humans and machines' weapons be far more advanced, not worse than ever before? And why was Common given any face time in a completely worthless role
? (And don't think I'll let slide the fact that he was wearing stylish aviator sunglasses during the climactic nighttime assault.)

I imagine
the guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname would explain these bizarre decisions by saying he was trying to bring his own style to Cameron's vision, but it almost seems from Terminator Salvation that he didn't even see the first two movies, but just heard about them and picked up on the popular catch phrases. After this movie, well I'm tempted to say we'd be lucky if Judgment Day actually arrives before his tentative sequel comes out in 2011.


  1. It was that bad? Glad I went to see Wolverine last Saturday night instead.

    "The guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname"
    I'm guessing you are referring to "he that shall not be named" as infantile.

  2. Funny, my friend Matt said "At least it wasn't as bad as Wolverine" as we were leaving...

    Of course I didn't see Wolverine, but Terminator really wasn't THAT bad. It was just...far from great. A disappointing continuation of a great franchise.

    And I'm not necessarily calling the director infantile, I just think it's a little bizarre to use a nickname that people used for you when you were a boy as your professional name. I mean, we all have had nicknames throughout our life, but we probably don't use them as our professional titles. In any case and nickname or real name, the movie is disappointing. And I think you've been following the Sarah Connor Chronicles, so you might have a different take altogether.

  3. I do not think this film has anything to do with the Sarah Conner Chronicles, which is unfortunate and a blessing if this film is lame.

    I will say this of Wolverine, it has a good beginning and a good final battle. If they had stayed with the childhood version of Wolverine, whose real name is revealed in this film, as in the comic book Origin, the film would have been better. Directors are too quick to get to the grown up versions of characters. The same thing happened in TCM: The Beginning and the remake of Friday the 13th. Wade steals almost every scene he is in Wolverine though. Damn, I think it might be review time.

    They did overuse cgi too much in Wolverine and some of its quality was laughable, as it was in The Last Stand. Weird since cgi has gotten better over the years not worse.

  4. You know that's not the first comment I've heard about the CGI in Wolverine, which you're right, really is surprising considering how far we've come. Apparently directors just get lazy and spend their massive budgets on shoddy digital effects instead of quality miniatures and sets. As a result, it's getting to the point where you can't tell the effects in one movie from another. Mash all of these summer movies together and you have the same slow-mo shots of explosions, crashes, jumps, etc.

    To that end, I did appreciate what appeared to be the use of real sets in Terminator Salvation.


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