Terminator Salvation

A Terminator movie made for Terminator fans


Ever since Warner Bros. announced they planned on making a second Terminator trilogy – this one set in the future – critics and fans have been skeptical. When Charlie’s Angels director McG (I know, I know. Bad name, right?) was placed at the helm, all hope went out the window. Word of mouth about the film has been bad since then. But if you’re constantly bombarded with pompous pessimistic critics judging a movie before screening it, then you know their reviews are only going to be worse after actually seeing it. I wasn’t surprised when the first critiques surfaced online claiming that Terminator Salvation, the fourth film of the franchise, was the worst Terminator project to date. Had these critics actually pushed aside their biased attitudes, upon seeing the film, they would’ve recognized that Terminator Salvation is easily up to par with the first two Terminator films and far better than the third installment and the canceled Fox television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Although I personally loved it, I will be the first one to admit it: Terminator Salvation is not made for everyone. Downgrading from the usual R rating to PG-13, you would think that the studio was trying to reach out to a younger audience perhaps unfamiliar with the previous Terminator films. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Terminator Salvation is made specifically for those who know the previous film very well. There is no explanation for anything already established in the past films. They expect you to know it. For those who don’t know the first three movies, they will be completely lost in Terminator Salvation. It will be nothing more than talking about things not understood bookended with explosions and action scenes, again and again. But for those fans who know the story well, the iconic moments as well as the insignificant ones, Terminator Salvation with be a refreshing new take into the 25-year-old series. It will rejuvenate your love for the one of the best sci-fi action series of all time.

Let me take the time to describe the plot of Terminator Salvation in a way that will make it understandable for everyone – those who do not know the movies and those who do – this way, it might be appreciated by everyone who sees it.

Terminator Salvation begins in the year 2003, just a few years before computers and machines took over the world in a nuclear holocaust known as Judgment Day. We are introduced to a new character in the franchise – an inmate named Marcus Wright (played by up-and-coming Australian actor Sam Worthington) on death row for causing the death of his brother and a few cops. Marcus agrees to donate his body for some undisclosed scientific research after his execution. Opening credits.

Jump 15 years into the future. It is now the year 2018. The majority of mankind has been wiped off the face of the earth by robots whose only purpose it to terminate human life – hence the name “Terminators.” Very few humans still remain, usually hiding in underground bunkers and shelters. The strongest of those survivors fight the Terminators in an organization known as The Resistance. John Connor (played by the Dark Knight himself, Christian Bale), whom we know from the previous movies to be the future leader of The Resistance, is simply the leader of a small group of fighters. He is not yet that extraordinary leader that we know he will someday be. Because of his extensive knowledge of the future gained from the experiences shown in the previous films, some survivors and fighters look at him as a prophetic, yet unproven, leader. Others skeptically look at him as a crazy false prophet. But even knowing as much about the future as he does, nothing prepares John Connor for what he faces in Terminator Salvation. A new type of evil strategy is discovered when John Connor comes face-to-face with Marcus, who has just awoken at the bottom of a muddy, blown-up underground work station with no idea how he’s alive and unaged 15 years after his execution. The last thing he remembers is dying.

Without giving away too much of the story, teenage Kyle Reese (brilliantly played by Anton Yelchin, Chekov from the recent Star Trek film), Connor’s father from the future sent back in time to protect and impregnate his mom in the original 1984 Terminator film, plays a very big part of the story in Terminator Salvation. The threads that hold time, future and fate together are all at risk. If anything is changed, it will completely erase the way time has unfolded from 1984 to 2018.

Let me reiterate that Terminator Salvation is not perfect – far from it if you know nothing about the franchise. It’s made for those know do know it – even more so for those who love it. With the exception of some unexplained ideas that can be seen as plot holes, it’s got a decent story. The acting is just as good as any other blockbuster action/sci-fi flick. And the special effects are absolutely stunning. You can’t tell where real effects end and the CG ones begin. The endoskeleton Terminators are nightmarishly creepy, especially since this is the first time we’ve seen them as the “bad guys” since the original Terminator.

For those expecting a fun summertime blockbuster, you’ll be sorely disappointed in Terminator Salvation. Despite the PG-13 rating, it is dark, gritty and violent – much like the first. This isn’t Transformers. For that reason, I suspect Terminator Salvation will have a strong opening weekend box office, but will suffer in the weeks that follow. Again, this is the Terminator film made specifically for the Terminator fans. For those who know and love it – enjoy.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

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