Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Terminator: Salvation

I went into the store with reservations about purchasing this picture. I stood in the store isle with the disc in hand slightly paralyzed. Rarely do you see a film create as much of a split between fans and critics alike. It was nearly divided right down the middle into two camps in both camps. Those who enjoyed the picture and advocated for it and those who detested it for its lack of story and focus. So I was really on the fence about spending time on it especially when so many people were essentially saying it "sucked."

I have seen all of the Terminator films. I have yet to see the TV series [Any thoughts on the series out there?]. What's not to like about the two James Cameron pictures? They're science fiction classics. I really enjoyed both Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day when they arrived in theatres. Having enjoyed them as much as I have I've never gone back to watch them with fanatical sci-fi zeal. They just exist now. I liked them and I've generally moved on. I am definitely not part of the fan camp when it comes to the Terminator mythology. Terminator: Rise Of The Machines, for me, was a truly terrible disappointment. I didn't enjoy the casting in the picture and thought it was a huge step down from the first two films. Therefore, I was very cautious about the fourth installment in this franchise.

I mean, some folks have simply ravaged this film with their criticism. In the end I chose to go give it a shot. What did I find? My trepidation coupled with my unrelenting optimism heading into this gloomy future possibility gave way to a fairly enjoyable sci-fi experience. Perhaps my expectations were low.
In the end, it was a solid, science fiction actioner. Quite frankly, I couldn't make out all of the fuss. I recall hearing one critic complain the film lacked a no-holds-barred kind of action sequence. I found a couple that were thrilling enough within the context of the story. I also felt the installment fit nicely into the Terminator mythology and to be honest was light years better than Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. I don't own that one and I never will. I do have the first two originals by James Cameron and, truth be told, like I said, I never really watch those. I think our eyes and minds have been exposed to so much, seen so much, it's very hard to impress us. It's very difficult to win us over in those theatres. Director McG was really raked over the coals for this film and I think it was easily as good as the originals in execution. I don't think it covers a whole lot of new ground or ideas that wow, because we knew the story so there aren't a whole lot of surprises to really blow us away. Still, it's a thrilling yarn and I for one didn't feel it deserved the discredit it took upon its release. I also got the impression politics played a role. The anti-McG atmosphere was really palpable and I'm not exactly sure why.

There were some nice touches within the film. A computer enhanced Arnold Schwarzenegger effect was a bit of a surprise and placed with good effect. I had heard so much about the possibility of him making a cameo in the film, yet the actor-turned-governator was unable to work it into his schedule. The end result utilizing his image was a sufficiently clever alternative. I think McG pulled past history [or is it future history?] into the story nicely. Actor Christian Bale, as John Connor, leader of the Resistance, is a bit over the top. I like him as an actor, but I think the leading man action star with the deep throat growl is getting a little, well, hoarse now. Anton Yelchin [Star Trek] and Sam Worthington [James Cameron's Avatar] as Kyle Reese [John Connor's father] and Marcus, respectively, are very good and were two highlights.
Again, I don't think there's a whole lot here to write home about, but you could do alot worse as science fiction films go. I will admit I'm a bit tired of the unstoppable, relentless terminator machine conclusions to these films. Something original is really needed if there is a fifth installment. Those finales are a bit tiresome, but the whole film was rather engaging and looked terrific.

It felt like a scene was missing. In fact, I checked it out, a terminator unit emerges from the water behind John Connor in Trailer 1 of the official movie site. I never really saw that happen. That never made the cut and it looked very cool. Well, it turns out that sequence can be found in the Director's cut of the film and that alone makes it a better version than the Theatrical cut. This has an Alien-like atmosphere and is extracted from the Director's cut version.

By the way, there's something very cool about desert warfare in science fiction. I loved when Milla Jovovich terminated zombies in Resident Evil 3: Extinction. Those daylight sequences are such a nice change from all of the dark filming in horror and sci-fi. In particular, I enjoyed this sequence featuring Yelchin and Worthington and the two variations on the Terminator creations. I loved those Moto-Terminator units. What is so wrong with this picture? Well, apart from the fact my little camera had a tough time capturing the action. Is it me or does that little girl remind you of the young girl who never spoke a word in Aliens?

Great sound effects too. On the whole, the excitement was a far cry better and more sensible than the god-awful nightmare and sensory overload that was Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen. Directors McG and and Michael Bay exchanged words when the two films were about to go head to head. Bay was the easily the heavyweight winner on reputation for movie bangs for your buck alone, but McG had a superior science fiction film hands down. There's no accounting for taste and perhaps the same can be said for me since I liked this picture, but Transformers 2 made a gazillion dollars and that really sucked!
I'm not a huge fan of the Terminator franchise either. I'm very casual about the matter, but this one delivers what I would think fans would want. The fans may be able to offer some reasons why they didn't care for the picture. I'm glad this was an extension of the original Cameron films and not a reboot of sorts. There were certainly a few minor plot points you could poke a little fun with. The whole heart transplant thing was a bit of a quick leap without any real match testing, but nothing terribly horrific or ludicrous within the context of the Terminator universe. I think some people need to calm down out there. Their expectations are wildly unrealistic based upon what I saw here on Blu-Ray. In fact, it was solid enough I might even watch it again and that's saying something.

Terminator: Salvation: B+


TFKoP said...

I saw this at the theater and liked it a lot. I didn't understand all of the negative reviews. Good stuff.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Amen brother.

buy 16gb sdhc card said...

The Terminator series, from T3, the TV show and this new one, would be best described as a "loosely based alternate reality where different things take place than what the director and writer intended years ago, and would make no sense if you pieced them together using your sisters doll house for props". Quotes my own

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Kind of hard to argue with that. I think it did go down hill after T2. Let's face it, T3 wasn't good and Salvation was entertaining but broke new ground.

Cameron had his vision and when that vision falls into the hands of children that's what you get right? Thanks.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way, that was Salvation broke NO new ground. It also sounds as though you know your Terminator mythology and the series has really lost track of the facts very quickly.

I guess the question is, do you like the series anyway?