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Terminator Salvation Movie Review

Terminator Salvation: Why So Serious?

I remember being awed by James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day when I first saw it in theaters. I was young, but I knew even then that this was the kind of blockbuster that only comes around once in a while. It had heart-stopping action sequences, and parts were genuinely terrifying. I was drawn in by a charismatic, wisecracking teenager named John Connor, who would grow up to become a powerful post-apocalyptic leader of the human race. And the best part was the funny and touching relationship young Connor developed with the Austrian-accented Terminator sent to save him from the future.

Now, here comes director McG, reviving the franchise with Terminator Salvation by taking us into the nightmarish future that previous movies only hinted at. The year is 2018, and Skynet, an evil computer robot dictator, has bombed up the earth. Only a small population of humans has survived. Large and in charge is none other than John Connor, all grown up and looking like Christian Bale. In fact, grown-up Connor sounds just like Bale's other famous Summer movie character, Batman. And like Bale's Batman, his Connor is very serious — because, you know, these are serious times. But this movie would have been a lot more entertaining if both McG and Bale had lightened up a bit. To see why,


The movie actually opens in 2003, where we meet Marcus Wright (played by newcomer Sam Worthington), who is a murderer on death row. He donates his body to science, and before we know it he's emerging muddy from a pile of futuristic rubbish without a clue as to what's gone down. Wright might be human, he might not be, and that's the question that haunts him throughout the movie. Worthington is a godsend in the role, and he manages to infuse his brutish, indestructible character with some humanity.

Things get interesting when Wright bumps into a young teenager named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) — who, we know from previous movies, will become John Connor's father. Some time in the future (even beyond 2018), Reese will travel back in time to impregnate Connor's mom, Sarah (Linda Hamilton, whose voice appears in the movie).

The timeline gets even more mind-blowing when Connor realizes that a teenager out there is his dad and Skynet is working on killing him. I kept thinking, "If Skynet kills Reese does Connor go poof right now?" A big disappointment, though, is that Reese isn't, like his son was once upon a time, more of a smartass. There is so much opportunity in this story to give Wright and Reese some fun dialogue, but alas, they don't say much to each other and spend most of the movie running from a wide variety of incredibly loud robots.

Overall, dialogue is the big thing missing from this movie. There are impressive action sequences galore, but no one really talks. And the talking that is there is earnest but somehow empty. McG and his team don't bother digging into — and having fun with — the lore that Cameron created, and it feels like a missed opportunity. Also, while everything is open to interpretation, I would have thought more effort would have been made to preserve the original tone. Edward Furlong established John Connor as a scrappy and unlikely hero with a wicked sense of humor. Christian Bale is humorless, dour, and void of human emotion. In other words, he's robotic — and the movie follows his course. In the end, it's hard to figure out which robot you want to win.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Renees3 Renees3 8 years
i just saw it and thought it was great! Super good action, loved the character of Marcus. One things that was weird to me. SPOILER ALERT***** Why did Kate have to be pregnant? It served no purpose really except made me keep thinking she would have the baby at some point and cause some drama or a problem or something. And they let an obviously pretty far along woman go into battle? I mean landing in enemy territory? anyway, marcus & john conner were hot. the end haha
geebers geebers 8 years
As a huge terminator fan I am sure I will enjoy some of this but interested to see it after reading your review. It's incredibly hard to top Terminator 2.
lizlee89 lizlee89 8 years
I'm surprised to hear this because I know Christian Bale picks very good movies and I had heard that he was at first reluctant to do this movie because he thought it would be too much macho, blowing up, nonsense. he then changed his mind after reading the script because supposedly it isn't/ who know though I still want to see it...
a-million-suns a-million-suns 8 years
It was entertaining, for sure, although I think it suffered from the same thing many action movies suffer from: lack of character and plot development. There was much more focus on big robot fights than the actual story.
eowynnie eowynnie 8 years
Seeing this tomorrow. I'm excited to see Sam Worthington's performance, since I loved him in Gettin' Square and Somersault.
Kazagirl Kazagirl 8 years
I didn't like it. I have never been a Terminator fan but I thought I would give this movie a chance because the trailer looked so good. Basically it is just people blowing a bunch of machines up. I like action movies but I felt this was just an action overkill.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
I saw it last night, and I didn't miss banter. I agree with the others that bantering would have been poorly placed. Overall, I liked it, but the theater I was in had the speakers up so loud that it was painful. I won't hold that against the movie, but I'll have to watch it again at home sometime to really have an opinion other than "ow"
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
i haven't seen it yet but plan on it tonight! But really I dont expect any banter or jokes, like amofoz said, humanity is being killed off. no funniness there!
amofoz amofoz 8 years
I watched this last night and although I agree with some of Buzz's points (more dialogue would have been better) I think the point of making the tone somber is because humanity IS about to be killed off. Making jokes or having humorous dialogue would have distracted from the impending doom of the story. Overall the film was better than I expected.
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