Sunday, May 24, 2009

Terminator Salvation

[UPDATED] Kori and I saw "Terminator Salvation" on Friday, thanks to her sister and brother-in-law watching Keelie. We get out to see movies so rarely these days.

I liked "The Terminator", I liked "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" a lot (first film I saw at the Big Newport), and I thought theme park attraction "Terminator 2:3D Battle Across Time" was awesome (but in all fairness I did know one of the main creative forces behind it an I was interning for a company that was involved).

Here's a little of what I wrote about "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"...

The film delivers what it promises, though it is no great leap forward like "Judgment Day" was.
I ended up referring readers of my e-mail review to a review by someone I know, who had pretty much said what I had to say.

I ended my review of T3 with this:

Pellman's Bottom Line(TM): Machines Fighting! Explosions! Car chases! Jokes!
Pellman's Rating: 3 Brooms(TM) out of 4
Pellman's Suggestion (Theater or Home Viewing)(TM): Theater!
The Fox Network recently ran two seasons of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which takes place after the events in T2 and goes in a different direction than T3 (hey, with time travel, anything is excusable).

And now we have "Terminator Salvation" (TS) with a different director (McG) and the same writers as T3, and still another John Connor (Christian Bale), Bryce Dallas Howard as his wife (instead of Claire Danes), no Dr. Silberman cameo (sorry!), and no Schwarzenegger (though we get a brief digital depiction of his character), who is busy trying to figure out how to prevent California from falling to pieces.

We get to see Kyle Reese again, albeit younger than he was in the original film.

Hey, and Danny Elfman is doing the music!

Anyway, T3 was rated "R" (violence), TS is rated "PG-13". Unlike all of the previous material, which mostly takes place in the audience's times, this film has no time travelers and takes place almost entirely in the future after Judgment Day - or the day the nukes were launched by self-aware machines in an attempt to crush humanity. As such, the film has a very different feel than all of the previous material.

It wasn't a good sign that days before TS was released, Fox announced that The Sarah Connor Chronicles wasn't returning. Presumably, the people making that decision had seen TS, and I would imagine if they liked what they saw, the TV series would have been kept. Or maybe I am overestimating TV network programmers.

All of the media I mention above is the extent of my Terminator knowledge. I have not read/played/seen anything else, like novelizations, games, comic books, etc. So perhaps some of my questions would have been answered if I had. Like... why doesn't Skynet send a really, really, really advanced Terminator (or heck, just a nuke) back in time to kill John's mother, Sarah Connor, when she is, oh, seven years old or so? Or heck, just push her mother down the stairs when she is pregnant with Sarah. Presumably everything hinges on John Connor being conceived, growing up, and leading a human resistance movement against the machines. However, Skynet always seems to find a way to launch Judgment Day no matter how many times the Connors and their friends change things. Are we to believe the human resistance would not also find a way? Maybe that will be addressed in any future films – if they can get greenlit. Ah, time travel always presents thorny issues, now doesn’t it? Just ask The Other Marty McFly. You are missed, Bruce!

TS gets into some issues about the nature of consciousness, and what it means to be human vs. what it means to be a machine. Only barely.

We finally get to see John Connor in action as an adult. But the more interesting character is Sam Worthington's Marcus Right, whose status as the film opens is the only reason the ending makes any sense. Early on, the film alludes to some people thinking John Connor is a prophet. Although he does have loyal "followers", he's not officially in leadership of the human resistance, as implied by the previous films - I'm assuming the events of this film are meant to explain how John gets to that position. The "prophet" aspect barely comes into play, which is a shame, because it could have been a very interesting angle on the sociology of the human survivors and factioning of the resistance.

Much like T3, if you like films with action, futuristic warfare, and things blowing up, this film certainly has those things (as my son, still in the womb of his hyperreactive mother knows), but it just doesn't have the punch that came with T2. There are some great special effects and other cool things the creative types came up with. You'll enjoy the film even more if you've never seen "Total Recall", ...and that’s all I have to say about that.

Unfortunately, Cindy hasn't posted a review of this film as of this writing, so I can't link to her review, which I'm sure would/will be great and say it all much better. UPDATE: Cindy has indeed posted a review, this time on her blog. Click here, but be warned... it contains spoilers.

Pellman's Bottom Line(TM): Machines Fighting! Explosions! Car Chases! Post-Apocalyptic America Without Jokey References to Current Events!
Pellman's Rating: 2.5 Brooms(TM) out of 4
Pellman's Suggestion (Theater or Home Viewing)(TM): Theater! – That is, if you really care to see it at all.

Official Website