Will Bueché

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Terminator Salvation

Posted in Personal by Will on Friday, May 22nd, 2009 ~ 8pm

Don’t read this, there’s no way you’ve seen the film yet! Unless you went to an early show like me. In which case:

5 stars from me. I was actually smiling during the whole film. That good.

Yes, I could tell there were some character moments missing, but I trusted that they’ll be back in the film once it arrives on video.

I was so pleased to see Journeyman’s Moon Bloodgood in the film — this means that there was one good thing to come out of the cancellation of that most excellent show: she became available to do Terminator. Yay. Redeemed history. I’d avoided spoilers so I didn’t know.

And McCheese or whatever his name turned out to be a great director. Yay. He really knew the Terminator mythos. This was excellent.

And what a great liar Arnie was! He’d been telling Wired and everyone that they weren’t sure if his visage would be able to make an appearance, saying it was proving difficult to pull off — lowering expectations. All a tease, since when he appeared he was picture perfect!

I saw this showing in just standard 35mm but the quality was really good throughout. And I liked that the Terminators were faster on their feet than before, and more poseable.

I’d say the only bum note was Michael Ironsides, since he’s too recognizable as a low-budget baddie. Well, for this Highlander fan anyway. But that was a minor nit.

T4 had the best bits of Resident Evil, Mad Max, and Terminator in one.

If I could change one other thing, it would have been to add some kind of audience-cheer moment somewhere in the final couple minutes, since the choppers sailing off into the sunset was kind of weak.

And ooh — was the gas station they visited supposed to be the same gas station where in T1 Sarah was told “there’s a storm coming”? If so, nods-a-plenty to Mayor McCheese again. Good tribute.

Some other reviews or comments I’ve made about T4:

Terminator Salvation was fantastic. I thought there was a chance it would do Dark Knight numbers, but I guess Bale isn’t really a draw. I don’t get the mixed reviews at all. This is Terminator-meets-Mad Max, the first and only Terminator movie to be set in the post-Judgment Day world, and it has the best special effects that a Terminator movie has ever had, and is being directed by someone with skill for the first time since T2. Those should be reasons enough to have made it #1, but beyond that, the cast (with the exception of Bale’s one-note acting) is solid, and the cinematography is innovative — the camera follows John Connor through battle in ways that simply could not have been done years ago. Maybe the absence of Sarah Connor is robbing the theaters of the female half of the audience who loved Linda Hamilton in T1 and T2. She was indeed the heart of the Terminator series, but, this film has its own heart too.

Nomad, I am so pleased to read a review from someone who, like myself, thought Terminator Salvation was fantastic. I even got my boss’s permission to leave work early to get in. And it was so worth it. The film had me when the camera followed Connor into the copter — and, well you know the rest. This kind of action, following a person through battle, could barely be done years ago and now it’s fantastic. The terminators themselves are fantastic as well – faster and more flexible than before, yet maintaining their look from the first two films (I ignore the 3rd film). Terminator Salvation is a different film than T1 and T2, since it is the first Terminator film to be set in the post-Judgment Day world, but I thought it would be getting a lot more raves than it has been getting.

I respected it from the opening scene. Who would have thought that a Terminator film would begin in a prison? I knew right then that this would not be a thoughtless cash-grab. This film had an original story to tell. And by the time the camera followed Connor through that copter ride, I knew that the director both loved the story and loved the action. I am so glad that those new people bought the rights to the Terminator franchise and honored it so well. They even managed to give a nod or two to T3, which as I said I’d rather they just ignore. In fact the film ties in pretty well to the T:SCC show as well, just by chance.

I am expecting to go back to see it a second time this weekend.

I’ve seen the other 2 big films of this end-of-spring season, and this is the one that works. Just to even see Terminators move like they do in this film is worth it. But the story works too, I’m just saying, for sheer visual effects this film knocks it out. And not in a mindless Michael Bay way, either.

My response to a blogger’s somewhat inaccurate account of an earlier script:

I like some of the ideas in that earlier script – the seaside resort being probably the best addition, since it would have been a total mind-frack. But speaking of frack, that seaside resort is a bit too Battlestar Galactica “New Caprica” (where the Cylons tried to force the humans to live in peace), and, it is a bit too much like the Appleseed saga (where robots keep the natural humans from letting their instincts of violence take control). It also has a tint of Aeon Flux (the poor live action film that used the name Aeon Flux, not the real Aeon Flux as seen in the anime).

I’d like to read that early Teminator Salvation script, but, like any script that exists before a director is hired and before the actual film takes shape, it isn’t really the “original” script, and as such doesn’t have the “original” ending.

Indeed, in the film, the ultimate sacrifice of Marcus donating his heart to save Connor is set up in the first scene (of him facetiously donating his body to science), and as such is not a “random” event like so many bloggers seem to think — it is in fact the “salvation” of the murderer Marcus Wright. The bloggers don’t get the concept of his character going full-circle in that way, so they see that heroic act as coming out of the blue. It was only out of the blue in the sense that Marcus was not exactly injured or anything — he had no reason other than “choice” to do what he did.

I like the idea of Connor not being in the film except via radio broadcasts, but that said, following a generic resistance soldier around would have been weird.

One other note: People keep asking what makes Connor so special that people follow him? Well this is a question that the tv show wasn’t able to answer either. Fact is, aside from being able to “prophesize” various Terminator tactics — starting with the fact that there will be Terminators, following with knowledge that they’ll then disguise themselves as humans, following with the knowledge that they’ll then get human flesh — there’s never been too much info about why Connor is special.

My own theory is that Connor is special because he knows that there will be a time machine facility built some time, and that if they take control of it, they have the opportunity to fix everything. Hopefully T5 and T6 (if T4 does enough business worldwide to justify the investment) will get to that.

I liked the way that in T4 Connor had followers, but was himself not given a rank to match. Now that the world’s military leaders have been wiped out, of course he will start to lead simply because he’s John Connor, the prophet who blows stuff up.

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Terminator Salvation was fantastic on the level of art design — the terminators move so well in this film, it puts the earlier films to shame (but that can’t be helped, the originals didn’t have this level of visual effects quality available to them).

And as far as the story goes, Salvation was a nice mix of Resident Evil Extinction, Mad Max, and the Terminator series. If it had just retreaded the Terminator story of “machine chases after hero” I’d have been bored.

Instead, it was a war story, and a good one — all the themes of typical war stories are here: heroes crossing enemy lines, questions of loyalties and identity, romance, sacrifice… If Bogart could have been in any Terminator movie, he would have been in Termainator Salvation.

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