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The Bret Michaels of Terminator Films, posted by Michael Trice

Official Movie PosterYou know like, “every rose has its thorns” or “man, I didn’t age well but I still look better than Vince Neil.” Kinda like Terminator Salvation feels a lot like the disappointment from Revenge of the Sith and a lot less like Alien Versus Predator. Hey, I’m trying to find somewhere nice to start because Henry covered the beatdown.

Spoilers fall like rain below.


Okay, this film isn’t good, but I could taste the hint of a decent film beneath some of the mistakes. The problem arises from how lazy the mistakes were. I contend that if they had taken the time to fix just six mistakes, T4 had more than enough in it to live up to the first two films. That said, lazy filmmaking is the difference between Terminator and Krull.

So, six points that would have made this film work for me:

Is that Michael Ironside out acting your A-list lead?

I’ve loved Michael Ironside since V, and it was great seeing him reunite with CGI Schwarzenegger for the first time since Total Recall. That said, holy cow how badly did Bale have to mail in his scenes to get out acted by a C-list baddie from the 80s? I understand that this film seemed to be more about Marcus, but Connor hasn’t been so secondary in a film since appearing as an embryo in the original Terminator. Seriously, his best emoting came from Linda Hamilton’s voice tapes. How hard would it have been to find an actor who cared enough to try?

Can we find something smaller than a metal beam to stab John Connor with?

Not sure what else to say here. Even in Hollywood, if you’re human and stabbed by a full-sized beam of metal, that’s it. Game Over. Would it have been so hard to have stabbed him with a piece of metal mangled into a pointy tip instead? Really?

I’d like a side of subtlety with my power of the human heart analogy, please.

This analogy fits the series, but we don’t need it served up with actual dialog. The Terminator has a heart. That’s enough right there. We get it. Please stop.

Doesn’t a war movie need casualties?

Can you name a war movie where none of the leads die? Sure, we presume Marcus does, but we don’t see it. Michael Ironside doesn’t count because we aren’t supposed to care about him. I mean he’s only the leader of resistance. In the end, for all the chatter, this isn’t a war movie because there are no casualties that bring it home.

To really make this point, consider that such light-weight fare as Independence Day killed the president’s wife, the hillbilly pilot, and Houston. Salvation didn’t even have the conviction to singe Blair’s hair in a rocket launcher explosion.

Is there a reason Kyle’s still alive? Beyond the fact that you can’t let him die, I mean.

Why even have Skynet find him? Let him stay hidden. Because once Skynet finds Kyle and doesn’t put a bullet in his brain we’re suddenly in 70s bond villain territory.

Maybe we should avoid allowing our homage list to take us into Airplane! territory

Henry covered this well, and I did love some of the film’s references. Fighting the top half of a terminator, Guns and Roses playing, and even the harvesters worked a hundred times better in this movie than in War of the Worlds, but these things pile up quick. Pick a couple and let it go. I mean why do you need a Newt character when you’ve eliminated the tradition of a strong female role from the movie? At the point where people think your electric eels are an homage to The Princess Bride, you might as well have Shatner replace Michael Ironside.

You think Ironside’ll appear in the new V series? You can bet I’d post about that.

Anyway, if you fix those elements, you have a decent enough film going on here. Chekhov keeps the imitation train going from Star Trek with a dead on Kyle Reese impersonation. The Marcus character seems a natural evolution of the humanization of the terminator concept (so long as you stop “beating” us over the head with his Wizard of Oz-like heart metaphor). And the idea that we have to go back to the future to get some good ole fashioned T-800 action warmed my heart–which beats with the inimitable strength of my irreplaceable humanity, just so you know.

I didn’t hate this film like I thought I would. I loved parts of it: Connor listening to the tapes, CGI Arnie throwing down, the GnR reference, and Michael Ironside. But that just made all the fixable mistakes so much more painful, especially given just how lazy they felt. I wouldn’t mind another film, I just hope a little bit more heart goes into it.