All grown up in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor must lead the resistance of humans against the increasingly dominating militaristic robots. But when Marcus Wright appears, his existence confuses the mission as Connor tries to determine whether Wright has come from the future or the past -- and whether he's friend or foe.
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The epic struggle between men and machine reduced to a fistfight
I can tell you one thing. Terminator Salvation failed where Children of Men succeeded. Read this to know why. Spoiler alert.
I was excited about the new terminator movie. If you know me, you know I'm a fan of (post-apocalyptic) dystopia settings. I figured this time around terminator could finally escape from the limited surroundings of present time and be a full-fledged dystopia movie with really the bleakest possible future painted in the cinema screen. I was wrong.
I didn't sense the despair, or rather, I didn't sense much anything. I mean, there's supposed to be facing this unbeatable robot army and they can expect no mercy whatsoever. Still it seemed to me that they had army fighters, helicopters, ammunition and well-nutrioned, well-equipped and healthy soldiers to spare. Nobody had visual injuries, lost limbs or even scars. The resistance just contacted each other with radios and didn't seem to be in the constant fear of super-intelligent robots. They weren't hiding underground but it seemed that they had vast areas in their control and that controlling a world-wide resistance movement was rather an easy task.
Okay, they had fighter aeroplanes. Where do they land? In the airport? Why doesn't the innumerable robot army destroy all of the airports with the aid of the satellites they control? Why are there any airports left in the first place, the whole world was supposedly bathed in nuclear fire just a couple years ago. Where's the radiation? Why were there bridges left standing?
And don't get me started on the ending (spoiler coming). The humans walked right into skynet's trap. They had two of the most important humans in their base. Somehow their plan failed and backfired completely when one rogue robot started acting human. Really, was this the masterplan? Where were the vast robot armies and weapons of mass destruction? There was a manufacture line for T-600's but somehow they weren't anywhere to be seen in the most decisive moment in the struggle between man and machine. Aren't they supposed to be hive-minded? Why didn't they just kill off Kyle when they figured out who he was? Really, killing Kyle would've erased Connor as well (that's why Connor wanted to rescue his father in the first place..) But no, the robots wanted to wait and lure Connor to the base as well. But why they didn't kill Kyle in that moment, because Connor was already being lured to a T-800 instead of Kyle? They really didn't need Kyle (or rather, didn't use him) as a bait. And how on earth were the resistance able to just fly in and evacuate the prisoners, in skynet's base no less, without meeting any resistance?
Still, Terminator Salvation wasn't a bad movie. It was a powerful action movie with shallow atmosphere. I just figured with that kind of budget and settings they could've created something more than lots of chase/action sequences and the normal "hero saves the world alone" stuff. The epic struggle between men and machine was reduced basically to a fistfight. And really, the background and atmosphere was created with brief text at the start of the movie. With multi-million budget I think they could've afforded something more than a text saying "yeah there was a judgement day and by the way, the robots hunt mankind."
The acting was nothing special. Christian Bale had the same emotioneless face when he listened to his dead mother's audiotapes, lost his whole squad and told his loved one that he's going to the most dangerous place on the planet (apparently there were only two robots there, so maybe he knew that..). His dark voice didn't save that much. Acting all around wasn't very memorable. Not even close to Michael Bienh's haunting performance as a pained resistance fighter in Terminator or Linda Hamilton's toughest-performance-ever as a mother at the brink of madness in Terminator 2.
Children of Men created a believable environment full of ingenious details. The characters were in the middle of bigger forces than themselves trying to do their best in a rich world in constant change. Terminator Salvation lacked all this. There was not much immersion in this newest terminator installment.
I see a lot of missed potential in Terminator Salvation and I don't think I'm the only one.