Will Preston

Salvation, Redemption and retconned beyond Recognition.

by on Jun.27, 2010, under Films, Review

Terminator Salvation

In a deleted scene, Bale chases a robot completely naked wielding a chainsaw whilst talking about Genesis.

Time travel movies are constantly full of plot holes. There isn’t a film that deals with time travel with a strict and (almost) believable rule. Anything that can change history only happens for sake of the plot, sometimes even braking its own laid out rules for the sake of the plot. Out of all the film series, one has changed its own history so often that it was any wonder that they laid out rules of how time travel works in the first place.

 

James Cameron brought us The Terminator in 1984, and so started a series of retconning and bullshitting. One of the hardest thing to swallow being the paradox in the first one; a certain John Connor sending back his own father in order to conceive himself which currently holds the gold at the bullshit Olympics three times running. The sequel in 1991 raised more questions about the time travel theory and how old John Connor actually was in the second film.

Do the math, people!

For obvious reasons, the third film will not be mentioned.

I have to admit, I was a tad excited about the promotional shots for the fourth film, which decided to nose the time travel aspect slightly aside and deal with the future. In the previous films, no matter how many changes in the past were made, the future was always the same. Rusted pick-up trucks firing mounted guns at robot oppressors whilst rebel soldiers in overalls fought with plasma rifles in a permanently midnight LA. Absolutely no changes threatened to destroy this nice little slice of apocalyptica.

Until now.

Gone are the rag tag resistance. Gone are the make shift vehicles. And gone are the phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range. Terminator Salvation has turned a rebel group into a well armed super force, thus completely discarding any impending fear of certain annihilation (read: Termination) by a seemingly unstoppable robot horde.

Ironically, the only thing stopping their goal from being a simple blow the fuck out of metal bastards with our suspiciously shiny weaponry is the time travel plot linked to previous films. John needs to find his father, Kyle Reese (at this point a teenager), and send him back as granted by his mother’s instructions left to him at the end of the first film. You have to be a fan of the series to understand this.

Ludicrous time travel jargon plot aside, the film is a visual treat, but constantly feels like it’s borrowing a little too much from other pieces of work. At one point in the film, Kyle Reese stumbles upon a band of rebels holed up in a petrol station which is promptly obliterated by a giant people snatching sod (War Of The Worlds?), but not before the rebels escape in some desert worn battle vehicles (Mad Max 2?). Still not satisfied with the negligible reaction from the twitching copyright lawyers, the giant sod unleashes smaller robots to attack it’s prey (Soundwave from Transformers? Cloverfield?).

Plus the whole wondering the wasteland feels a bit too close to Fallout 3 (bandits included), but that’s to be expected.

Christian Bales John Connor is not worth commenting on. Here we have an action hero who could be replaced with plastic bucket, providing the bucket had arms training. He brings little to the role, but at the same time, what else can he bring? A nice surprise was Michael Ironside popping up to remind everyone what lemon and honey could sound like if it could talk. Close your eyes and Sam Fishers in the room ready to deal with your problems!

Helena Bonham-Carter randomly shows up whilst Tim Burton’s back is turned for a couple of minutes in a questionably useless character role and then buggers off again. Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright was the only interesting character in the film. Before the nuclear decimation, he was sentenced to death as a murder, but not before Helena convinces him to hand over his body to the, then harmless, company of Cyberdyne for scientific research. Waking up several years past doomsday, and mysteriously alive, he seems to be on an unmentioned quest to “find someone.” After an altercation with a bomb, it is discovered that – wait for it – he’s a terminator and not the immortal time wizard that was obviously our first guess.

But the shocks not meant for us, it’s meant for him.

Next comes the the template ‘trust me, I look like an evil robot, but I’m actually good’ story arc. From then on the rest of the story could be summarized on a snotted napkin. Throughout the film there are loads of references to previous films (“Come with me if you want to live” etc.) including a, sort of, cameo by Arnold himself.

If you’re looking for a no brainer sci-fi action romp and need an apology for Rise Of The Machines, press play! Just don’t expect to be surprised…or any of the previous films to seamlessly link in.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • emt training

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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