Friday, April 30, 2010

A Terminator: Salvation Rant/Review

Once again here is a review I wrote last year that I thought I'd put here -

"Come with me if you want to live"

As some of you may or may not know I have been a huge fan of the Terminator films from a very young age. Jim Cameron (Original creator and director of the first two films) still is one of my favourite directors and I remember seeing The Terminator back in the late 80's and being completely blown away by it. Arnie was fantastic and despite the fact he only has a few lines I remember as a ten year old he scared the utter crap out of me in that first film.
Then in 1991 Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released and not only did we get to meet Arnie again as the T-800 who this time also turned out to be the good guy we also met Robert Patrick's T-1000.
Now there was a fellow who despite looking pale in comparison to Arnie ended up being one of the most bad arse mofo's in the whole series. Knives and stabbing weapons were his speciality and even now when I watch the film I still wince when he "Shuts up" John Connors foster dad in that infamous kitchen scene.
So after twelve or so years we finally reached Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. After Jim Cameron had sold the rights to the story and characters director Jonathan Mostow took on bringing John Connor and his destiny to the screen. Introducing the female Terminator the T-X and making her face off against Arnie again to me seemed some what pointless along with most of the story but with that we were also introduced to John's future wife and second in command of the resistance Kate Brewster.
Many people I know do not like this film and while I admit it was nowhere near as good as the first two I thought it was alright. It also raised some good questions and answered one in particular.

JUDGEMENT DAY was always going to happen. When the Cyberdyne building got blown up in T2 it meant it was delayed and not stopped completely.
One of the best things about T3 was that it finished with the human race being nearly wiped out and John Connor and Kate Brewster going into hiding and waiting...

A few more years pass...

Finally in 2008 after a few years of issues regarding who owned the rights is was announced there was going to be a fourth Terminator film set post Judgement Day where we would finally see the human resistance face off against Skynet and it's machines.
When I first heard that Charlies Angels director McG was going to bring the fourth Terminator film to the screen I can't say I was that impressed. Many other fans were also annoyed that he had been given the job as well. He was not exactly in the same league as Cameron and to be fair even Mostow in my opinion.

Still over the months that followed and the fact Christian Bale had signed on to play John Connor (Surely a sign this film was not going to be rubbish) I was eager to see where this film was going to go. McG posted info on his blog about shooting and released pictures of concept art and to be honest it came across pretty damn good and I was excited.

Until this original ending was leaked...

The main character is a cyborg named Marcus. For some background, Marcus was a criminal who was executed in 2003. He donated his body to Project Angel which was involved with Skynet. They take his body and make a Terminator out of him so he's a Terminator skeleton but has living muscle/skin and a beating heart too. At the end of the movie John Connor is fighting a T800 model 101 and loses. He dies and the top resistance people come up with a plan to help the resistance keep fighting on. The resistance feels that it's important to keep the image or idea that John Connor is still alive so the resistance keeps going. So they rip off Marcus' skin and put John Connor's on the skeleton so now Marcus is John Connor.

Although it turned out that was the original ending of the film. Warner Bros rejected it when it was leaked and they had to rewrite the whole third act, and thank goodness they did.

Anyway, where do I begin with Terminator: Salvation?

The film starts in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor is the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet’s operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

I saw the film a few days back and after reading a mixed bag of reviews I was expecting the worst but I must admit that after watching it I was relieved to discover it was not as bad as it had been made out to be... in some way's it was worse.
In the film, John starts as one of the many foot soldiers who make up the Resistance movement based in California. Despite having extensive prior knowledge of the machines and Skynet's capabilities, John is largely dismissed and considered a nuisance by General Ashdown (The fantastic Micheal Ironside) who runs the guerrilla para-military organisation. He considers Connor a delusional false prophet at best and a dangerous liability to their operations at worst. Nonetheless, there are pockets of people within the Resistance who have come to believe in John's experiences and judgement based on their own first hand experiences serving with him.

We are also introduced in this film to a young version of Kyle Reese who will eventually be sent back in time to protect Sarah and become John Connor's father. Originally played by Michael Biehn in The Terminator in this film he is ten years younger and played by Anton Yelchin (Who was also Pavel Chekov in the new Star Trek film).
He actually does a really good job of playing Reese and I must admit I found it cool how he seemed to nail the character.
As I've already mentioned above a new Cyborg character known as Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is introduced in this film. Formally a death row inmate in 2003 Marcus signs his body over to Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) for medical research.
And to be honest five minutes into the film this is where things start going a bit wonky donkey (That's the polite way of saying it).
There are so many plot holes in this film it's hard to keep up with them all. I suppose it could be said that through the whole series you can question certain things happening but it appear that after all his ramblings about promising to "Please the fans" McG just proved everyone right by showing them he has no understanding about the Terminator story.

Ok, I suppose you can blame the writers just as much but overall the director has a responsibility to the film which McG has clearly not taken seriously.
Even Christian Bale is poor in this film and if you remember above I said my faith was in him that this was going to be good as we all know that he does not sign up for any old rubbish. Lets not forget this is the film where audio was released of him going mental at a guy on set for distracting him during shooting of an emotional scene. I'd like to know what that scene was to be honest?
I look forward to seeing Sam Worthington in the future as he is going to appear in Jim Cameron's new film 'Avatar' and is also playing the lead in the re-make of 'Clash Of The Titans' due out next year. He was the best thing about this film despite slipping into his native Australian accent a few times during the film.

Not everything was bad though and one thing that I have been excited about seeing were all the new robots created by the late Stan Winston and his team.
For people that don't know Stan was a visual effects supervisor who was best known for his work in the Terminator series, the Jurassic Park series, Aliens the Predator series and more recently Iron Man.
He was also a film hero of mine but unfortunately he passed away last year while working on this film after suffering for seven years from multiple myeloma. It was lovely to see this film dedicated to him at the start of the end credits.
The new style robot's in this film were great and have never looked better and even the CGI cameo of Arnie had me smiling from ear to ear.
Impressive. I was most pleased even though you knew it was not really Arnie.
The CGI one is at the bottom by the way.

Below though are some plot holes that have been raised by people. While some may seem a bit picky I would still agree with them.

Why wouldn't the machines kill Kyle Reese immediately, thus ensuring John Connor never existed instead of using Kyle Reese as bait to lure John Connor in order to kill him? There would be no John Connor to kill if Kyle Reese was killed.

Why would the machines only send 2 terminators to kill Connor , Reese and Wright in Skynet's base? It's their central base for crying out loud. The place should be swarming with all kinds of killing machines. But that means Connor would NEVER make it out..and thus no more happy ending or any sequels.

The chances that Marcus's heart would actually be a MATCH for Connor are very slim...

Why would the machines give Marcus a "free choice" to join them or not? They have a chip in his head! They can control Marcus's every move. Logically the chip would not allow Marcus to remove itself.

Marcus was made into a infiltration terminator 20 years before the existence of Skynet, Connor , and ANY of the drama that would call for the need for one?

Why does the T-800 just fling John Connor around about 20 times instead of just breaking his neck?

Why is Skynet 'Harvesting' all these people? Why doesn't it just kill them? It's not like it actually doing anything with them once it gets them back to it's secret base!

What was the point of that little girl?

And this one particularly...

If the resistance is so buggered how come it seems to have an endless supply of helicopters and A10's- surely Skynet would just destroy anywhere where the A10's were kept? A jet plane uses up a HUGE amount of resources just to keep it in the air, think about parts and fuel, jeeze!

Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic scenes in this film and I very much enjoyed it but at the same time I came out the cinema with a head full of questions that needed answering (pity the life of a Sci-Fi geek).
Overall when it comes to Terminator:Salvation it's a shame the director was just not up to the task of making this a lot better then it should of been.

Actually scrap that.

He was up to the task of bringing the future war to the screen but managed to forget that you need to have a good consistent story to go with it as well.
It seems people were right about McG all along.
You don't even want to know what he has planned for the sequel, I'm already getting ready to turn into a level ten rage fuelled keyboard warrior just thinking about it.

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