Terminator Salvation review – much better than they all say!
Over the past few weeks it has been evident from many reviews that Terminator Salvation really wasn’t like much by the online critics. This seemed a little odd considering the rough footage I watched last year that was very impressive, the director McG had lined up a great cast and the direction of the plot seemed to be intriguing. With this in mind then, why did everyone think that the film was duller than my grandmother speaking about the beauty of knitting?
What follows then, is a personal take on a fan of the original films (well, the first two anyway). I couldn’t actually accept that McG, Bale and co had done such a bad job. Surely then, I am testing the very subjectivity of film that The Movie Blog has been discussing of late.
After Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.
If anything, after watching the early antics of Marcus Wright (played by Sam Worthington) he is a living example as to why you should not be carrying a donor card on your person! Despite this though (for a relatively unknown actor) he plays an impressive role in that of Terminator Salvation. He manages to have a presence on screen that really does draw your attention. In fact, so much so that he seems to dwarf poor Kyle Reese’s (Anton Yelchin) role into something of an annoying little runt. No matter though, as Worthington and Bale’s handshake-with-the-devil makes up for it in droves.
It has been a concern of mine that McG (in trailers) seemed to be going for a variety of terminators of all different sizes instead of just one (and many of them). Indeed by the end of the film when John Connor is only fighting one of them at a time, you don’t feel very threatened at all. Surely Skynet could afford to send a few more of them after him!
Speaking of Christian Bale, it seems that he was also a credible choice for the role of John Connor. Whilst in the second film Connor was played as a bratty delinquent and in the third film he was played as a whining wimp, this incarnation sees him as a person who is capable of a deeper voice than that of the late great Barry White. Every sentence that is spoken is a gruff mumble of manliness that I’m sure makes us all believe he is a tough cookie.
You can’t help but make comparisons to the Matrix series when you consider that Terminator Salvation focuses on the war against the machines. I realise that the very tale of the Matrix was probably inspired by the nightmarish visions from the first scenes of Terminator, but the Wachowski brothers played the game first. Instead of mostly underground shots though (as seen in the Matrix sequels) most of the action occurs in a Mad Max style dystopia. The tone of the film also helps this desolation as it seems to have a sepia feel to it.
It is certainly (for an action film) not as fast as you’d expect and in some places I found people getting bored. For me though I was eager to see where it was going. I enjoyed the setup immensely. Perhaps that is the point then. Remember that Christian Bale has signed up for three Terminator films and Salvation comes across as a beginning to a longer tale. Despite many viewers loving The Lord of the Rings (for example), a large amount of people didn’t enjoy The Fellowship of The Ring. Unlike some others, I enjoy the journey as much as the destination and Terminator Salvation was all about the journey.
On a negative note though, despite holding interest throughout, the very end seemed out of place somewhat. It is as if the film was going in a good and solid direction but the very end of it (last 5 minutes) was an afterthought. I hold great weight in the ending of films and this turned out to be the film’s main downfall.
Let us not forget that Sony took a massive risk (according to some) by hiring McG to direct. Terminator Salvation manages to be an entertaining watch throughout with a final act being great fun. Perhaps the monologue by the computer was a little silly but I’ll let that slide for now. McG’s biggest challenge was making a film worthy of the Terminator franchise. I can assure you that he has done better than that. He has managed to make a film about Terminators that doesn’t fit in with the others. He has managed to make a sequel which feels like a reboot. He has managed to make a reboot that doesn’t bastardise everything that has gone before.
If anything then, the experience of watching this film is just more support to the fact that reviewers (including me) can get it very, very wrong. I seem to be one of the few in the world that really enjoyed the film. The moral to this story then is to ignore what people are saying about it all and go and watch it yourself! Perhaps then you may just find that Terminator Salvation does actually tick more boxes than not!
Is Terminator Salvation that bad? No! Not even close! I had expected a rather large pile of excrement and came away wondering why everyone had a problem with it. I am also surprised that it was heralded as a worse film than Terminator 3 (it wasn’t…again, not even close). Terminator Salvation is not as good as Terminator 1 and 2; it is a different tale. Salvation is the beginning of a story (another chapter if you will) that I believe deserves more recognition than it has been getting.
With an impressive yin/yang dynamic between Worthington and Bale’s character, it is a shame that Marcus Wright is unlikely to return for the next inevitable film. All in all though, Salvation has made a believer of me that the series can continue without destroying what has come before it.
Rating: 4 out of 5