Terminator Salvation (2009)

Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood
After Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.
With storytelling as robotic as the film's iconic villains, Terminator Salvation offers plenty of great effects but lacks the heart of the original films.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 21 May 2009 Released:
  • 01 Dec 2009 DVD Release:
  • $125.3M Box office:

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Some nice action but where's the tone? Where's the mood? Where's the atmosphere?6/10
The atmosphere that James Cameron and Stan Winston had created for the first 2 films in the franchise is what really hit me and still does to this day. I think that was the key component along with consistency and approach that gave the Terminator film it's unique style and attractiveness. It's metallic-blue overlay, infused with creepy whines of music and heart pounding edge of your seat suspense was what really created this secondary reality if not for only an hour long. It made us have a connection to these characters. A sense of believability in what was really going on. But it was those elements that were able to harness the inner workings of this dark dreamland. In essence the first two Terminators were projected nightmares in a sense, as if you were running and running, but no how fast you ran, the shadowy figure on your toes just keeps closing in. THAT is what made those films so captivating.

Now these elements in one way or another were tried in this newest installment of the franchise. I see it as I've heard before as a "hit and miss" movie in which it got some key features to play out in the film, but lacked that essential tone T1 and T2 romantically portrayed.

I have talked in lengths with individuals on why this film didn't quite hit all of it's projected(we hope) targets and I haven't really heard a clear and analyzed answer. Some say it was the amount of sub-plots that were involved, the lack of plot, the empty character development, the slight cheesy factor, and or the overall weak story and unnecessary additions to the Terminator franchise. Although these all valid arguments to say the least and I would agree on them full heartily, I don't see it as the culprit of the problem here of why this film did not life up to it's expectations.

I think, like I said above in the first paragraph, that it was the direction the film was taken in perspective to it's overall tone and mood. God bless his soul, Stan Winston. For if he were alive I think we would have seen a more polished version of what we have now witnessed. I also think it was a bad part on McG for giving the O.K on the revised Terminator theme by veteran composer Danny Elfman. I don't know why in the hell the screened audiences gave the thumbs up on that one. Another issue of course is that most of the scenes were in broad day-light. I understand that McG wanted to get a different take on the war, but I don't think this was pulled off in any respects to what James Cameron had in mind for the war.(Shouldn't the sky be filled with pollution and dark particle manner from the nuclear explosions creating an ever-dark wasteland?) This was CRUCIAL and they blew it. I don't see why they didn't go with more night scenes. It is one of the strongest representative thematic elements portrayed in the Terminator 1 & 2.(I am not even going to mention T3 because of the ridiculous amount of mistakes made)

The Rating: A main point that needs to be addressed for sure is the film's PG-13 rating. Of course they did this to appeal to a larger demographic of movie-goers, but they did it in expense of the true grit and bones that T1 and T2 had. I don't see why a Terminator film should be even considered for a PG-13 rating. Anything lower than an "R" rating does not do the title justice. The series is called Terminator for a reason...They are killing machines. THAT'S IT. I think that this is one of the biggest insults to the die-hard community of Terminator fans everywhere.

There is no room for Mediocrity in trying to follow up after T2: Judgment Day. Lets hope and pray that us as an online community hold the next bunch of crazies accountable for their creative actions for the next installment of the franchise.
Enjoyable ride, not quite there but lots of fun...7/10
I was actually rather surprised that this film was as enjoyable as it was. After reading several scathing reviews I was very worried going into this film. Overall I had a good time watching it.

Now I should preface this with the fact that I am a huge fan of the Terminator films/franchise. I think that overall the look was amazing, the action and CG were great and the acting was mostly good. I think the film suffered from not enough character development and I think that McG was on the right track, but needed a tighter script and story to work with. You can tell in the film that he is a fan of the first films... I definitely got a kick out of all the throw backs to the films. Not just the obvious ones like the music choices or one liners, but also subtle things like single handed shotgun cocking or single handed pipe blows, or the choice of settings and shots.

I have to say that Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese did a fantastic job. He was probably my biggest worry in the film as Michael Biehn's, Kyle Reese is probably my favorite character in anything ever, so basically he had big shoes to fill. Well I didn't think it possible, but he actually made me love that character even more. So mad props to him. Again I think this was a very valiant effort by McG, he needs to work out a couple kinks for the next films, which I really he gets the green light on.

Basically there are a few of loopholes and inconsistencies which could bring you down if you linger too long on them, but if you are able to get past that it is definitely worth watching. But those are in all the films, even the second has some. (I'm not saying it's better than, so don't stone me!) In short I had a lot of fun at Terminator Salvation.
Competently made, but also self-defeating.6/10
Considering that he's part of the dreaded "MTV Generation" of filmmakers, McG is surprisingly old-school when it comes to his framing: no jumpy Michael Bay antics or hypercutting Paul Greengrass mimicries. He is a far more organic director, letting the action sequences play out naturally. It's his execution that's at fault: the action itself. He piles explosions on top of other explosions and machines slamming into other machines, backed by the deafening cues of Danny Elfman's score, and I'm pretty sure Christian Bale had a yelling stipulation written into his contract. Everything's loud, intense, bombastic. You can't accuse McG of copying Jim Cameron's first two flicks — or even Jonathan Mostow's goofy third — but you're left wishing he'd perfected his own style before tackling such an ambitious project and producing, as a result, a frustratingly passable action-thriller.

McG cites Cormac McCarthy's The Road as an influence on his movie, and it shows. The world is bleak and starved and seems to have a post-fallout hue cast over it. Yet somehow the female lead, Moon Bloodgood, always looks like she's just gotten done applying makeup and iron curling her hair. (Not to mention, based on her outfits, she must have found the only mall outlet that hadn't yet been raided by pillagers.)

Bloodgood is a great example of the movie's ill tendencies — sad to say, she personifies them. I've seen her interviewed and she's as likable as could be, but she's an awful actress, and her entire role could have been excluded from Terminator Salvation leaving in its absence a tightened film and less predictable subplot, which is this: the cyborg-who-doesn't-know-he's-a-cyborg, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), falls for her. And she falls for him. And like Sarah Connor at the end of T2, she is forced to confront the spiritual conundrum of what truly separates man from machine.

But here's the thing: isn't that such a cliche? If done well, it could be as touching as T2 was; if done poorly, it can be a disastrous reminder of Short Circuit 2. Unfortunately, McG hasn't a clue how to handle his characters' interactions, and so we get very heavy-handed intermissions featuring Worthington saying some pretty cringe-worthy stuff. One campfire sequence is so unintentionally funny that I truly felt sorry for McG, in the same way you'd feel compassion for a young boy naively attempting to, I don't know, shave or something. At first it's cute, like, Oh, look, he doesn't realize that he's too young to shave. Then it's like, Oh, crap, he just cut his neck.

But I'm under-selling the movie's positive attributes, which are the action sequences. Too loud, maybe, but a whole lot of fun. The special effects on the Terminators are solid, and McG throws in plenty of nods to the older films without all of them seeing too forced (we even find out how the adult Connor from T2 got his scar — a level of detail proving that McG really is a fanboy himself), and Anton Yelchin, who I despised as a precocious kid shrink in 2007's Charlie Bartlett, is fantastic in the role of Kyle Reese, effectively channeling Michael Biehn from the first movie.

Audiences will connect with Marcus because he represents the viewers. We're thrust into this new world just as suddenly as he is, and in his bewilderment and confusion, we find our parallel. With Avatar's release later this year, Worthington will most likely be the Next Big Thing, and is essentially - in this film, anyway - what Heath Ledger was to Christian Bale in The Dark Knight.

And so we arrive at Bale: he plays John Connor. But here's the thing about John Connor: he's really not that interesting. That's an obvious flaw, perhaps: if you woke up every morning knowing you were the saviour of the human species, would you be a fun guy to hang around with? Probably not. In that regard, Bale nails Connor: intense, passionate and dry without an ounce of self-reference or levity. He never steps back and winks at us, and even his brief dialogue retread ("I'll be back") feels legitimate, spared of Arnie's corny delivery from T3. This guy means business. That's what you're left with, but without a compelling enough story, who really cares? Bale will be massacred by overzealous blog culture critics who've been waiting for months to crack jokes about his leaked on-set rant, but he extracts every ounce of potential from the character and - to that extent - gives a fantastic performance. The bottom line is that John Connor as a religious figure in the Terminator universe has no room for expansion, and unless McG were to fundamentally change the dynamics of the character, a post-Judgment Day Connor is not going to connect with audiences. That's precisely why Cameron never envisioned taking the series this far: the impending doom of Judgment Day in the original series always felt far more intimidating than the reality of it. The brief glimpse of nuclear holocaust in the first two movies was eerie and scary because of its fleeting nature; keeping in tune with his religious allegories, Judgment Day was to the Terminator universe what Revelations is to fundamentalists: that big, frightening end for humanity that we must all live in awareness of. Seeing it unfold kind of takes away the charm, you know? So although Terminator Salvation is somewhat competently made and an entertaining enough action spectacle, giving this much away just feels a bit self-defeating. What if the End of Days occurred tomorrow, Jesus revealed himself unto us all and the remaining human beings left on earth were forced into resistance camps? Would anyone still be reading the Bible?
Not understanding the bad press at all.9/10
I just got back from seeing a midnight screening of the newest installment in The Terminator franchise, going into it with an open mind after witnessing the debacle that was T3 several years ago. Having said this, I honestly felt at though this movie did a fantastic job of translating the visions of the future that were set up in the original Terminator and T2 and fleshing out a feature-length film of them. While there indeed a few "what in the hell were they thinking" moments in the chase scenes, I felt that on the whole, the movie was a wonderful success, gripping me in a way that T3 never came close to. I truly hope prospective viewers give this film the shot that it rightly deserves and go into it with an open mind, and are able to just sit back and enjoy the ride...its a terrific one, trust me. Leaving the theater, I honestly felt as though this one gave the first two a run for their money as a film, as much as it pained me to say it. Truly a magnificent job breathing life into a series that could have very easy been done in once and for all with another terrible installment.
WARNING! I will ruin this movie for you

I've seen all of the Terminator movies (all in their respective days) have read most of the comic book adaptions and have snored my way through the recent T.V series. And yes. Some incarnations were obviously better than others (to me) But, this turd of a film could not be further from the mark. And when I actually bothered to look up "McG"s body of work I can't say that I'm surprised. Gap commercials, music videos, Charlie's Angels... At what point did the financiers of this movie say "wow, we have to get this guy to direct the movie" But, I can't put all of the blame on one person. The entire creative staff has obviously gone to the Michael Bay school of film making...and failed. I only have 1000 word to work with...sooo...I shall list my gripes in point form.

1. Within 10 minutes of the title shot, this movie fired off one of THE BIGGEST Cliches IN WESTERN FILM. "It's too quiet in here (dramatic pause) It's like they're waiting for us" Seriously now! Is this the best writing that Hollywood can come up with? If this was an attempt at humour...it failed...just like the rest of this movie.

2. Giant Robots!!! Loud noises!!! Almost all of the battle sequences in this movie played out like a stylized ripoff of Transformers. There were big walking robots, big robot sound effects, big robot guns and aircraft, big robots riding the robot aircraft, motorcycle robots... They even had little stabby robots that swam around in the water. And they all looked like something out of a cheesy mecha flick. All glossy and pointy looking. These are not the cold, machined gun metal designs that set this series apart from all the others.

3. Chase scenes...chase scenes....followed by more chase scenes. #&#$ off with this already! How much time did these people fill with these blown out, CG'ed chase scenes? Foot chases, car chases and even air chases. "How do we transition from our crappy battle scene to our feeble attempt at character development?" Oh! I know!" Yep...you guessed it...

4. Even more cliches... Yep...Just about all of them. I'll have to make sub-points for this.

- The irrelevant love interest cliche.

- The conflicted double agent cliche.

- The antagonist's fatal flaw cliche. "Let's just leave all of our nuclear power cells laying on a big table. They'll be OK"

- The incompetent villain cliche. No, a hydraulically powered mechanical assassin would not simply shoot/crush/eviscerate it's victims. But, would merely toss them around, fire it's weapons erratically and then stand underneath precariously placed heavy objects, blast furnaces etc...

- The (pathetically mangled) hero's sacrifice cliche. "Oh no! John Connor has been impaled through the chest with a ragged piece of metal! And, his heart is just about to fail! Here, take my perfectly good cyborg heart...that has just been crushed repeatedly with a giant metal casting....and then nearly punched out of my chest by another cyborg"

Need I go on?

This movie is big budget Hollywood hackery at it's best. And I still can't believe that it made it off of the script. I hope that the persons responsible for this mockery are ripped apart by wild dogs.

Thank you and good day