I’ll admit here and now that I wasn’t exactly excited when I heard McG was tapped to direct a fourth Terminator movie. I still remember fondly what it was like to see T2 in the theater with my dad, having not seen the 1st Terminator movie, and walking out loving the Terminator franchise. Then there was nothing for a long time, until T3 came out and just seeing the trailers made me cringe so I waited on the dvd and wanted to weep because it was so bland. Not really awful mind you, just bland and not as cool as T2. It seemed like T4 was going to do the same when I saw the first teaser trailer and I wrote it off. But when I saw the longer trailer I couldn’t believe how excited I got just because the washed out colors, I got giddy. So when May 21st rolled around I sat down for the first showing of the day and settled in for lots of explosions and gun fire, keeping myself away from story points. Once the lights came on I was glad that I made myself forget what I felt when I watched T3 and saw this movie.
Terminator Salvation does something different and finally puts the story in the fabled “future” the franchise had built it’s story around. John Conner(CHRISTIAN BALE) isn’t the official leader of the resistance, and it’s obvious at the start of the movie with Conner going on a grunt mission. I found myself really enjoying this John Conner. I instantly thought of the bits from the bible that don’t really delve into Jesus’ time before being all saintly(could be wrong, but have to admit never really delved into the bible). As a aspiring writer that part of the story is usually the most interesting to me. I want to see the hero/heroine before they’re the head honcho. John Conner is angry, stubborn and flawed and it’s great to see. This John Conner reminds me of the character in T2, and not the loser from T3. The grunts Conner is with all die and he survives a pretty kick ass fight with a terminator and does the usual thing and argues with his commanding officers, who are all too old and set in they’re ways to see that they suck. It’s the usual old vs young arguement we get in movies. I haven’t enjoyed the character John Conner this much in a long time, be it the character in Sarah Conner Chronicles(most of the time) or in T2, this is the John Conner I want.
I’m not going to go through the whole story because I really enjoyed the experience I got from seeing the movie without any real big story points. It made it a more entertaining viewing for me. I talked to Joe today and he told me that some reviewers are calling it ‘visually entertaining’ but not up to the ‘heritage of the franchise’. Here’s where this review kinda turns into a op ed peice. So just to get it out of the way, I really enjoyed TERMINATOR SALVATION. It’s good, it’s not the best movie ever but I really enjoyed the story and visuals.
CHARLES’ GRADE: B+
PROS: VISUAL STYLE, THE ACTION, IT’S TERMINATOR, DRAMA WITH MY BIG ACTION
CONS:SOME DIALOGUE DOESN’T HIT IN THE RIGHT WAY, FELT A LITTLE SMALL ON THE STORY END
Now to the idea that this movie isn’t up to the heritage of the franchise…That kinda crap kinda gets on my nerves. I applaud McG for having the stones to make a Terminator movie. I applaud anyone for stepping in to direct a sequel or part of a franchise movie because it’s a kind of thankless job. No matter what you do your going to get some people who’ve already made up their mind to dislike what you do. I know from experience, when you go into a movie with that kind of mindset all it takes is something small to feul your turn on the movie. That mind set can come from all different kind of places. It can come from friends, or some odd ideal that I call the “selective fanboy memory”. The “selective fanboy memory” is the weird practice of remembering a movie from your childhood/adolescence in a insanely glossy way. It happens for most franchises: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc. etc. The funny thing is it usually happens for movies that have had three or more movies. When the prequel trilogy came out old school ‘Wars’ fans were out raged that it wasn’t just the same story that had come before and accused Lucas of “raping childhoods” they even had a South Park episode dealing with this idiotic mindset. I love some Star Wars and when Episode I kinda left me bland(mostly because of the Pod race and Jar Jar) but I can enoy it and the other two prequels for what they are, more stories from a franchise I loved. When Indy 4 came out people were rallying against the Atomic Bomb scene, the aliens, and the monkey swinging scene. I really like Indy 4, but I knew what I was getting before I watched it. I knew about the aliens and when the A Bomb scene happened I said, “well alright, this is what’s going on so I’m down…Let’s see how crazy this movie is going to get” and I enjoyed the rest of the movie like I would any of the pulp action stories that the series was based on. I still don’t get how people can swallow all the christian stuff in the 1st and 3rd movie but can’t just let the aliens thing go. Terminator seems to fall into this as well. I’ve rewatched the 1st one and the 3rd one last week(didn’t need to rewatch the 2nd as I’ve watched it a million times) . The 3rd one wasn’t the total abomination I made it out to be when it came out. It’s not good, but to me it’s just the story of the fact that sometimes we fail and have to make the best of it. The first one is a B movie, but it’s mostly a drama about fate and being a slave to the future(once again to me). I enjoy the Terminator franchise a lot, but it’s basically a story about the human spirit and Salvation is all about that. Marcus Wright’s character, while being a machine, still has his heart and wants to believe he can make amends for his past and finally do something worthwhile…or human. Marcus had pretty much been a cold, heartless criminal and it took him being turned into a machine to finally touch into his humanity. John Conner’s story in SALVATION is that even during this awful war against the machines he’s trying to help the resistance keep it’s humanity. I love discussing my views on themes in movies, but at the heart of it all the Terminator movies are action movies with some drama and a few things you can delve deeper into, but it’s Machines trying to destroy the human condition. I’m not a perfect nerd, but I’m trying to stop idolizing things from my childhood, because I think it does those things a disservice by not taking the time or care to let them evolve with you. Oh and GHOSTBUSTERS is still the funniest movie ever, and nothing’s ever going to change my mind on that.