If only previews were representative of the actual movie for which it’s advertising, I would be one ecstatic movie watcher. So many movies would be hilariously funny with awesome action scenes, great emotional gravitas, and amazing soundtracks. Alas, this is not the case. In most situations, the previews are created as part of a slick marketing machine, designed to pull together the elements of a film that has been determined to be the most attractive, slap on some appropriate music that won’t appear anywhere during the two-hour air time, and spread that preview all over TV and the Internet. The movie itself may be excellent or may be dreadful with one or two shining moments, already exhibited ad nauseam in the previews. Terminator: Salvation is somewhere in between those two extremes.
Unlike Wolverine, which was a shitfest of mediocrity, T:S has glimpses of brilliance showing through the plotholes, ham-fisted dialogue, and random screaming. These few shining moments are a direct result of the cast, despite the director and screenwriters. Christian Bale does his best to inject John Connor with emotional weight even as he is handed overwrought line after line. Sam Worthington has some of the best scenes in T:S, punctuated by some of the cheesiest scenes. I can almost imagine fuckin’ McG telling him, “Sammy (because you know a douche like McG would call him Sammy), I want you to throw your arms out to the world and scream. Yeah, I know you’ve already done that fourteen times already, but trust me, it’ll be rad! Oh, and we’ll take that scream in post production and make it sound so generic that it could be used for any number of situations.” Common does a decent job as John Connor’s #2, ranking somewhere between Dwight Yoakam and Ice Cube on the scale of “Musicians who become actors”. And Anton Yelchin (did you know that he’s actually from the former USSR?) once again demonstrates why he should be in more movies by stealing the show as a young Kyle Reese. Bryce Dallas Howard and Helena Bonham Carter are both particularly useless in T:S, especially since they are written as one-dimensional stereotypes.
What should have been an outstanding movie about the war against the machines and the rise of John Connor as the leader of the Resistance was instead a mediocre effort that contained all of the trite elements that must be listed in the movie-making checklist that McG and his ilk use:
- Cute kid who has some disability but still manages to come through in the end and be resourceful even though everyone knows that kid would have died instantly? Check.
- Completely unnecessary scene where a woman almost gets raped just so you can see a male character save her? Check.
- Repetitive slap-you-in-the-face dialogue and plot points to ensure that the absolute stupidest person in the room gets it, with no sense of subtlety? Check.
- Complete and utter disregard of the danger of ever-present, never-sleeping killer machines when it suits the situation? Check.
- A world where everyone is perpetually dirty and unwashed, yet they all have white shiny perfect teeth? Check.
- Building crescendo of music to indicate a dramatic moment because the dialogue is not sufficient? Check.
The dialogue is so clunky that it’s like it was written by a 15-year old who saw the first two Terminators, drank four Red Bulls, and then watched Top Gun. Here is my version of some of John Connor’s dialogue in this movie:
“This is John Connor. We are at war. War is bad and dark. But we must remain human. Or else we are no better than the machines. This is John Connor.”
“My name is John Connor. You are The Resistance. Here are some weaknesses for the machines that will seem like foreshadowing but won’t really matter in any way. Each of you listening to me – you are The Resistance. I am John Connor.”
“This is John Connor. Please pass the potatoes. You are The Resistance. I am John “Mashed Potatoes” Connor.”
This is not a movie that will get better with time. This is not a movie that built on the backs of the superior films that preceded it (even Terminator 3). This is brainless, irrational, shiny junk that could have been so much more. It’s obvious that McG, the douchiest douched that ever douche, had aspirations of greatness, and it’s equally apparent that his aspirations fell far short. Maybe you should have aimed a bit lower. Learned how to make movies instead of music videos. Given the reins to someone who could have done the film some justice, instead of squandering it all for this forgettable brain fart of a movie.
I give it a C-.