Before you sit down in that dark theater this weekend to see Terminator: Salvation, if you are a fan of the Terminator franchise, this movie is not for you. The very first words out of my mouth after walking out of the theater were “This was a terrible Terminator movie, but a pretty good Transformers movie.” Truer words haven’t been said abut this film. We at The Flickcast had our doubts about this film, between Bale’s outburst on set and McG slowly stepping out of the limelight, but none of us expected the film to be this bad.
Even going into this without expectations, it’s pretty hard to salvage a good movie from the two hours or so you’re in the theater. With bad accents and love story subplots, this movie forces fans of the franchise into a blinding rage by the time the credits role. I had the luck of being in a packed house with fans who were hooting and screaming when the first titles came on the screen. Their demeanor changed pretty quickly as the movie went on.
What makes this film a better Transformers film than a Terminator film? How about the complete lack of anything “time travel”. It’s understood in Terminator canon that they don’t find a time travel device until the fall of SkyNet, but how can you continue a franchise and not even address one of it’s biggest plot points? That would be like making a sequel to Back to the Future all about how peaceful and trouble free the McFly’s are in 1996. The closest they came to this plot point was the voice of Sarah Connor on a tape recorder giving John instructions from the past (not Linda Hamilton, by the way).
Also, if you were John Connor, who has lived through several encounters with Terminators, wouldn’t you think you’d know a little bit more about them and the future, rather than having to listen to tapes where your mother gives you instructions on how to survive in a world she’ll never know? Instead, Bale’s character ends up bumbling around in the future, confused, looking for answers on what to do rather than being the leader he is supposed to be.
Another point in favor of this being more a Transformers movie is the over-the-top use of robots. Back in 1985 with the first Terminator movie, we saw two kinds of robots: the flying ‘Hunter Killers’ and the skeletal T-800 Terminators that we know and love. There have been a few additions in subsequent sequels like Robert Patricks’ T-1000 and Kristanna Loken’s T-X, but nothing more.
Now, there are aqua-snake terminators (Snake-inators), robot bike terminators (Bike-inators), and gigantic people-snatching terminators that look like the thing Robocop fought in the second film.
Knowing how much editing this film had to go through, it only ends up hurting the film in the long run. There are definite scenes missing that lead to the decisions characters make — which now seem out of the blue to the audience. Also, there were unfortunate cuts of some good actors, like Terry Crews, who does a great job of playing a corpse for 3 seconds at the beginning of the film.
This film does the same thing that the TV show does, which was also it’s biggest flaw. They go through all this trouble to change things and “win”, but in the end, the only thing that gets accomplished is a bunch of homages and silly nods to back when the franchise was good. John Connor might as well have winked at the camera after he threw the “I’ll Be Back.” line into a scene.
This movie is filled with Terminators, Snake-inators, Bike-inators and a dude with a “really strong heart”, instead of things we actually want to see, And if you were expecting Arnold, you’re in for quite a surprise….you don’t get him. Instead, you get his younger, more plastic-looking stunt double made up to look just like him. Terrific.
And really, that’s kinda what you get with the entire film: a plastic-looking movie with no substance made to look like a real Terminator film — which definitely supports the statement that this “is a terrible Terminator movie, but a pretty good Transformers movie.” Wait for DVD.