Terminator: Salvation

The original 1984 Terminator, an extremely low budget B Movie style flick created by a fledgling James Cameron, made a star of Arnold Schwarzenegger and an instant classic was born. 1991’s high budget, high thrills sequel is considered by many to be one of those rare things – a follow up that is actually superior to the original. Then Terminator 3 came along in 2003 and showed us the vital ingredient to the series wasn’t Arnie, the established title or even terminating robots themselves but Cameron… and his absence was a death blow to the series. The film utterly sucked and even hot naked female terminators couldn’t lift this from pissing on the original movies.

The Terminator was dead. Arnie became a politician and Cameron stayed in the oceans diving for treasure or 3D or whatever.

Then something strange happened: Fox green lit a spin off tv series to fill in where the writers strike had left the Kiefer Sutherland action show ’24’.

Suddenly people were talking about The Terminator again and simply disregarding the 3rd movie. I like this kind of thinking and I do the same with George Lucas related material. Ahem – I digress.

Somehow this rekindling of interest somehow led to super hack McG somehow getting the rights to make a 200 million dollar fourth movie to the series. And SOMEHOW this superhack (who’s previous Box Office awesomness in the past had provided us with Charlie’s Angels and its Full Throttle sequel) got the world’s most serious actor, Christian Bale, to star in it. We nerds all cried ourselves to sleep at night until a trailer turned up which actually looked rather good. Then Doctor Evil himself (Michael Bay) stated that he thought the movie looked shit, was a rip off of Transformers and would get pounded in the box office so we nerds decided fuck him – we love McG!

Anyway maybe I should review the film now?

Terminator Salvation isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination but by ye godz it’s fun! It’s clumsy, badly written and features an ending that’ll make you puke on your lap… yet still I couldn’t help but enjoy it. It’s like those He Man sweets you could get in the eighties that consisted of pure artificial colours moulded into a vague shape and sold to children under the character’s name: they were yummy and fun but no way should you think about what you just put in your mouth.

Terminator is very much like this. It feels like a B Movie but with huge explosions and giant robots. Bale is every bit as convincing as you’d expect and young Anton Yelchin (last seen as Chekov in the new Star Trek) is simply perfect as the young Kyle Rees. And though both are bogged down with some weak dialogue and some very heavy handed homages to the previous films it just doesn’t matter IT’S STILL MUCH BETTER THAN TERMINATOR 3.

And that’s pretty much how I felt throughout the movie. Weak plot devices, strange character decisions and a large twist spoilt by the trailer (luckily thanks to the new US style trailers we get that seem to show the entire movie in bullet points I’ve stopped watching them and only watch teasers so this wasn’t ruined for me) just don’t seem to apply to the film because it never really stops feeling like a trash 80s movie. In the same way you don’t complain about Snake Pliskin’s character development or how nobody seems to be able to shoot John Matrix as he stands in front of a hundred mercenaries with guns I found myself forgiving almost all of T4’s sins.

Not all though. The afore mentioned ending really is horrifically bad and McG should be punished severely for choosing Danny Elfman to score the movie. Every Mad Max style moment is ruined by an extremely ill fitting score where if the traditional theme wouldn’t have fit then pure silence would have been far more suitable. Also the clumsiness of some scenes really do make you yearn for a better director (and writers whilst we’re at it) but all in all I’m happy to report that when Terminator Salvation works it really does work.

However, to state once more for record, the important thing is this – Terminator Salvation is MUCH better than T3: Return ofthe Machines. Buy some pop corn and a ticket, enjoy the paper thin plot and big explosions and go home and laugh about the fantastic T-800 model 101 reveal. You’ll have time to hate on cinema again when Michael Bay makes Bumblebee fart on The Jesus.

A solid 3 ‘Much better than I expected’ out of 5

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