Top critical review
Could have been so good
11 December 2017
Ever since Kyle Reece explained to Sarah Connor what the future would look like when the machines ruled the Earth, Terminator fans have been desperate to see more of those dark, gritty, laser-filled scenes that James Cameron dropped into the first two movies. Now, we finally get to see a whole movie showing us what the future world would look like. And it basically looks about as much as James Cameron’s original vision as Christian Bale looks like Edward Furlong, not bothering to retain either the look or feel of what has gone before.
‘Terminator: Salvation’ is the film that fans asked for, but didn’t ask for the way they got it. While it was made, the Terminator himself was busy running the state of California, so couldn’t really reprise his role (and don’t get me started on any CGI work used to correct this – it really isn’t up to the ‘Rogue One’ standards we’re now used to). However, that’s not so bad, as the story isn’t just about the indestructible machine of metal, but also the Connor family, so most people were relieved that a decent actor like Christian Bale was going to be playing John Connor. Unfortunately, the film takes the weird route not to follow him, instead choosing to be mainly about Sam Worthington’s character – a death-row inmate who somehow wakes up in the future and also helps trash a cyborg or two. I won’t spoil too much of Worthington’s character, especially as the trailer basically did that for me. However, I will say that this film would have been a damn sight better if it simply omitted his character completely. I’m not having a go at the actor. He did all he could with what he was given. It’s just people weren’t going to watch this film based on ANY new character – they wanted to see more of the old ones (even if they had been recast!).
I could pick out various personal annoyances that I had with this film – the helicopter pilot who wears sunglasses at night, the silent child who’s used as a plot device to show how caring our central characters are, or the fact that the end battle completely rips off T2 beat for beat. All of these I could have overlooked if it wasn’t for the fact that ‘Salvation’ completely ignores various plot points that have been clearly stated in previous films. Maybe those not so ‘up# on Terminator lore won’t notice, but for me I found myself asking too many questions as to why things were happening this way. I know you could say that timelines got changed here and there so things are now different in the future, but, in my opinion, that’s just lazy writing and a cop out.
There were at least a couple of stand-outs, namely Ashton Yelchen’s excellent take on how Michael Biehn portrayed Reece, Skynet City looking pretty cool and the nod to T” by playing Guns and Roses again. However, this film was almost damned before it was released as much of the publicity surrounding it was directed at Christian Bale’s bizarre outburst on set at a fellow crew member.
I guess that ‘Terminator: Salvation’ isn’t as bad as I’m making out. It’s an okay sci-fi/action film. However, because it has the Terminator name attached we – the fans – are just hoping for more than we got. And, if you’re interested, you may want to Google it’s alternate ending, as it is much darker and interesting than what we got.