Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Terminator: Salvation

The question I ask myself is, "What made the first and second Terminator films so good?" I mean, there was a reason why those two films did so well right? And if it wasn't for that fundamental element that made it so good, the Terminator franchise would be a flop. I left the theatre after watching Terminator: Salvation asking that very question and pondered on it a few times throughout the rest of the evening.

This film as most of us know is all about the war between the machines and the humans and is also the start of everything we know about the first Terminator movie. John Conner is a profit-like character that leads everyone into the war against the machines. He also listens to recordings left by his mother, Sarah Conner, to help inform him about what he must do and the task he must find Kyle Reese and send him back in time to meet Sarah so John can be born to eventually lead the rebellion against the machines. (confusing huh? yeah, most movies that deal with time travel are.)

The film started off quite well, We go back into the past where a man by the name of Marcus Wright is sentenced to death for a crime we can only assume is murder. (briefly he states that he did something terrible to his family and feels he deserves death.) A women visits him in his cell and asks him to donate his body to a cause. There is a very awkward sentimental scene between the two, and Marcus accepts to sign to organ doner papers in exchange for a kiss from this woman. So we learn that this man is important!

We now see a desert like scene where a battle between a battalion of humans lead by John Conner are duking it out tooth and nail with some of Skynet's machines. This scene is to introduce John Conner into the story and show he and his army of men and women are very well into the war. once this battle is over, John Conner heads back to base, and Marcus Wright all of the sudden appears out of nowhere completely nude and is screaming in pain, We don't know why.

in a nut shell, Marcus Wright doesn't know he has been turned into an Infiltration model to help find certain individuals, John Conner and Kyle Reese. And like in Terminator 3, Marcus has to decide if he is man or machine. And of course, in following the typical Hollywood formula, Marcus chooses that he is a man deep down inside and goes against his programing, giving the resistance a very powerful ally.

And the movie ends on a high note, with Arnold (or a very nicely animated Arnold) making a cameo appearance and casing down John Conner in the machine building factory. The movie is over, I walk out with my crew and we all head home.

So I go back to that question, What made Terminator one and two so good? As interesting and creative as the story of the terminator, Skynet and the Conner family is, what made the first two films so great was the suspense! The Terminator was unstoppable. it didn't matter how many times you shot at it, burned it, melted it, crushed it, etc etc etc, it just kept on coming at you. And while you watch the mayhem, you wonder when it's going to stop! How much more can a machine take?? And just when everything seems done, like the terminator couldn't possibly take anymore damage, it comes right back at you, in full force. And you love every minute of the insanity!

Terminator: Salvation had numerous suspensful scenes in it, but they didn't work for me. A few scenes were very tense at times, but over all, it was very dull and dragged to many times to be exciting. I didn't feel like I was watching a Terminator film, which made me sad. not only that, I felt the drama within the story wasn't written well. Everything was long a drug out for my taste, mostly because everything that we see on screen we already knew. No new revelations about this storyline were given, There were no plot twists that put me on the edge of my seat, and no big surprises.

The only real redeeming aspect of the film, apart from the acting quality, was the ending, and I'm not attributing that to the fact that the terminator we all know and love made an appearance, even though I did like it! It was at this point where it finally felt like I was watching a Terminator film. This was the only moment in the movie I became tense and unknowingly clenching my fists in anticipation for what might happen next, if only the whole film could have been like this.

I would have to put this film only slightly above Terminator three and give it a 2.5 out of 5 star rating. Now maybe I would need to go see it again. It's possible that the expectations I had put on the film prior is what influenced my opinion of the movie as a whole. But I honestly was not impressed and actually disappointed.

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