“Terminator Salvation” was an experience similar to watching a 3D movie without the glasses. It tries it’s best to make it’s action interactive and exciting to the audience, but only succeeds in coming off as a dull special-effects montage. It’s a flat, by-the-books action film, void of any originality or credibility, successful only because it bears the name of one of the greatest action franchises of all time.
The first two Terminator films (1984’s “The Terminator” and 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) are films that will forever be regarded as classics in the genres of action and sci-fi. They combine their thrilling scenes of action with well-developed characters, clear and innovative plots, and the perfect amount of comic relief. The third Terminator film, released in 2003, was a rehash of Terminator 2 that failed to win the hearts of the fans, but is still considered to be a decent action film.
Now, in Terminator: Salvation, we’re shown the aftermath of an apocalyptic future of mankind, where the humans are fighting an un-winnable war against deadly machines controlled by a super-computer called Skynet. John Connor (Bale), the future leader of the human resistance, hasn’t quite reached his full potential by the beginning of Salvation; he’s still trying to figure out if the future’s inevitable, or if it can be changed for the better. Geez, you'd think he'd have figured it by now!
The film takes a further nosedive with the addition of a new Terminator, who in this movie is actually the first Terminator ever made. This particular Terminator has a unique twist; for some bizarre and unexplainable reason, he still thinks he’s a human. Sounds exciting right? Well, it had the potential to be, but unfortunately the film goes nowhere with it. Instead, they decide to ham fist an utterly ridiculous fan service into the plot by having the new Terminator meet up with Kyle Reese.
A coincidence of this nature is the mark of a lazy writer, and the writers of Terminator Salvation were clearly lazy about their work. Almost every piece of information given in this film contradicts with information given in any of the previous films. One could spend hours trying to figure out what Skynet knows, what it doesn’t know, or what the characters know. They could even, god forbid, try and figure out what the hell is going on, but no matter how hard they think, they’ll come to the same conclusion every time: none of it makes any sense.
The Terminator series was never meant to be continued after Terminator 2, it wrapped the plot up nice and tight, but the introduction of T3 turned the whole universe upside down, and now, everything about the film is so complex and confusing that it’s not even worth trying to figure out.
The writers obviously want us to ignore the various plot holes, to ignore the silly and unrealistic motivations of the characters, and to ignore the terrible dialogue. Instead, they beg us to turn our brains into mush, while the fancy images on the screen keep us constantly entertained.
Terminator Salvation is a film so radically different from the first three that it shouldn’t even be considered a part of the series. While the first two films revolutionized the action genre with the depth of their characters and plot, Salvation is a film that favors style over substance to a degree usually reserved for the likes of Michael Bay. It’s so unrecognizable and detached from the original films that it resorts to a plethora of fan services, in a sad attempt to prove it’s an actual sequel (I was surprised [and relieved] that nobody said “Hasta la vista, baby!”).
This unjustifiable train wreck has resulted in a mindless special effects exhibit, featuring boring action and even more boring characters, who, although they try and convince us there’s an actual story hidden somewhere, ultimately fail in doing anything at all.
This movie is responsible for over two hours that I’ve wasted from my life, time I could’ve spent on far more productive and fulfilling activities, like falling asleep for instance. I could rant like a nerd for hours about the movie, but then again, it’s not worth wasting any more time on, so I’ll conclude by pointing out that the director’s name (McG) sounds like something on the dollar menu at McDonalds. Something you would probably find hair in.