Movie Review: TERMINATOR SalvationWarner Bros. Pictures

“You and me, we’ve been at war since before either of us even existed. You tried killing my mother, Sarah Connor. You killed my father, Kyle Reese. You will not kill me.”

Set in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor is the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet’s operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that, by mere fact that you’re reading this review (and I know there are those out there who do, whoever you are), you are at least somewhat familiar with the Terminator story. Well, beyond just the “big scary robots played by a ‘roided up Austrian” synopsis I’ve heard bantered about by those of less geek cred than most of my ilk. So I’m not going to bog down this review with a recap of what’s played out before with the other movies. There are Wiki sites dedicated to this, if’n you need to brush up on your Terminator trivia.

And if you are a fan of the franchise, then you probably already know about many of the other reviews on this here World Wide Interwebs, many split down the middle as to good or sucky Terminator Salvation was when it hit the theaters. At the time of this writing, the DVD release of this movie has been out for a bit, and yes it did take me some time to finally get around to renting and watching it. It helps that the video store I frequent the most has a quick turn-around of recent releases getting put on the “Nearly New” section that only charges $1 for a five-day rental. So, now I’ve watched this recent foray into the world that started off as a James Cameron fever dream; what are my thoughts on this? Did it live up to any expectations I might have had?

Well, to start off, I didn’t really have that high of expectations to begin with. Since the movie was released in theaters, I pretty much knew what the big ol’ spoilers were before even getting around to watching it. Since that’s not really that big of a deal for me (I can enjoy a movie without having to be in the dark with the big secrets and stuff, relax), I wasn’t really expecting to be wowed. Many have complained that John Connor was underused, that there were too many sub-plots going on, and that the movie overall was a bit over-long. On the other hand, I heard about the rather nifty action sequences and visual renderings, especially with all the cyborg killer machines. It could’ve gone either way, really.

However, things did swing into the negative rather quickly before the movie even started. Why? Well, the DVD wouldn’t let me skip past the previews to get to the title page. Nope, instead of letting me get to the meat of the package, I had to sit through several previews of mostly things I’ve already heard about or seen before. Why? Why, DVD? Why do you taunt me? Yes, I could (and did) fast-forward through it all, but still, that’s kind of a jerk move on your part, there. Not feeling the love. By the time I got to the title menu, I was ready to hate this thing.

But, fortunately, that all subsided quickly enough. And after the title sequence (which showed the title of the movie twice…weird), and the obligatory franchise recap, I was introduced to a Terminator movie that had a popping good story, great visuals, fantastic action sequences, and effects that tried to go for the more practical ones as much as possible, and when they did use CGI, it worked well. I do think that Christian Bale made for a good war-weary John Connor, and though he does talk the majority of the time in a toned-down whisper of his Batman voice, he does pull off a very convincing portrayal of someone who has seen and lived through a lot of stuff. The entire cast did a very great job with their rolls, but the one casting decision that really put a big honkin’ smile on yer Uncle NecRo’s face was that of Michael Ironside. Yep, he’s in this, which really upped the awesome factor for me, just because he’s Michael freakin’ Ironside.

I also liked that more Terminators beyond the ones we’ve seen before were created. I think, had I’d seen this in the theater when it was out, I would’ve messed myself a bit in certain key scenes. The entire film as a gritty, realistic tone to it, which really does bring out the overall story. Is it a perfect movie? Heck no. I’m still searching for the existence of one, and I’ve yet to be proven that one does. Terminator Salvation does have it’s bits and pieces of logical problems that even I had to think about while watching (and that rarely happens; I’m usually able to suspend my disbelief and just get into the movie). But, really, I had no problem casting them aside and just enjoying the movie itself. Also, loved that Connor used the song “You Could Be Mine” to bate the motorcycle Terminator. Great nod to T2, there. Could’ve done without the obligatory “I’ll be back”, though. You’ll see what I mean.

Overall, Terminator Salvation was pretty good. It had a fresh take on the story, didn’t just rehash the same plot devices that the other two sequels did, and managed to sneak in a good developed story into the visuals and action. Normally, I hear of McG’s name attached to something and I just chuckle and move along. But here, I think he did something worthwhile. I would recommend watching Terminator Salvation at least once.