Terminator Salvation

I know this movie came out 10,000 years ago but I just saw it this past weekend.  Before going, I prepared myself.  I watched the first three terminator movies again.  And boy, did I enjoy myself.  No sarcasm there.  Really.

Now, for those who remember Judgement Day was/is (I am not sure what tense I am supposed to use here when talking about time travel movies!) August 29, 1997.  That was repeated several times in the first two movies.  Additionally, the other important date was 2029 when Kyle Reese, John Connor’s father, is sent back by John Connor to protect Sarah Connor.  So, in both the earlier terminator movies, we see flashbacks (flash forwards?) to 2029 and battle scenes from the war with the machines.  Fine.  I have accepted that.  The first two movies are completely consistent with one another.  As for T3,  I have no idea when T3 was supposed to happen.  Obviously, it’s covering the time before Skynet becomes self-aware and takes over.  And, interestingly enough, there wasn’t anything that would really tip you off to think that the time period being covered in the film is now.  Fine.  But, it needed to be 1997 and that was never made explicit.  Alright, maybe it’s assuming that we already know that.  Except, I seriously doubt that.  Now, I’m going into Terminator Salvation excited, but wondering what the heck this movie is about?  What are we going to see?

1. Are we going to see Judgement Day and the Nuclear War?  Are we going to see the Machines establishing control?  Are we going to see John Connor building the resistance with what’s left of humanity?

2. Or are we going to see the conclusion of the war with the machines and how John Connor overcomes Skynet?  I mean, the movie is called Terminator SALVATION.

No.  We did not see any of these story-lines.  If studying for the LSAT taught me one thing and one thing only, it was to anticipate the next logical step of an argument or essay.  Instead, we start in 2003 with an execution.  WHAT?! 2003?!  That’s six years after Judgement Day and law and order is being carried out?  Right, that’s what I would do if there had been a nuclear holocaust, executing people.  Exactly.

No.  This was the last thing I was expecting.  Not to mention, it does not make any sense.  Nothing is left after Judgement Day.  If anything, those who survived should be living underground in fallout shelters eating Twinkies.  Then, the next date we see is 2018.  What?! and Why?!! 2018 was never mentioned in the earlier three movies as being particularly significant for any reason.  Fine, it’s 2018 – I will try and suspend belief.  So, in 2018 we see John Connor leading the Resistance.  He’s listening to his mother’s tapes.  Awesome!  But, why wasn’t it actually the original tapes from the earlier movies?  Sarah Connor’s voice did not sound in the slightest like Linda Hamilton.  By the way, mad props for Linda Hamilton in T2: “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.”  Not to mention, the tapes were slightly different.  Fine, I’ll let that slide.  So, basically this movie was about John Connor meeting his father Kyle Reese when he’s a teenager and keeping him alive so that he’ll be able to go back and protect his mother, so that John Connor can lead the resistance.

Alright, it’s one big happy cycle.  An inevitable cycle that cannot be avoided, Skynet will come into existence in one way or another, even though the scientific research had been destroyed in T2.  And their purpose, as Arnie said in T3 is merely to survive Judgement Day, not prevent it.  Fine.  But, why was Terminator Salvation even made?  The signal used to take down Skynet machines was a dummy and provided to them by Skynet as a trick.  It is not the solution to defeating the machines.  So, what was the point, other than bringing Connor and Reese together, eleven years prior to the moment when Reese goes back in time to protect Sarah Connor.  And what’s the next movie going to be about?  Here, there was no time travel which I’m assuming has not been developed yet.  So, is that the next movie?  And does Connor have to protect Reese from dying for the next eleven years to protect the future?

Terminator Salvation was lame.  It didn’t need to exist.  It didn’t build on or add to the story.  It’s superfluous like the The Matrix sequels, the Star Wars prequels, and the fourth installment of Indiana Jones.  This movie is going to be added to my list of ‘Movies I Pretend Don’t Exist.’

Has anyone noticed yet how similar the Terminator stories and the Matrix stories are?  More on that later . . .

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6 comments

  1. Like you I watched the first three films in preparation and think I can shed some light on the dates. After the events of T2 they thought they had stopped judgment day by destroying Skynet and the death of Miles Dyson. In fact they had only postponed it. T3 was made in 2003 but set some years later, I think they said 2008, this as the events at the end of the film demonstrated was the new Judgment day. This film is then set in 2018. So other than the tapes being different as you say the continuity is fine.

    So is the film any good? As a concept it is great, a post apocalyptic war movie moves the now stale franchise on (T3 was rubbish). The execution is okay at best. The film almost works but is just to slight in the plot department. But could be the starting point for another film or two and as such is probably a decent foundation.

    By the way I am in the minority in thinking The Terminator is better than T2.

    1. isoke85 · · Reply

      You’re right. Arnie mentions in T3 that they only managed to postpone, Judgement Day, because it’s inevitable – I had forgotten that. Thank you, that clears things up a great deal. I just wish T3 had been as conscientious about informing the viewers about the timeline as the other movies in the series have been.

      And I agree, Terminator Salvation is a little light in the plot department, but it did not lack in the entertainment & visual EFX department.

      Out of curiosity, why do you like The Terminator better than T2?

  2. There is a brutal simplicity about The Terminator, the end is fantastically bleak. Sarah Connor has destroyed the killer cyborg but at the cost of Reese’s life and she has to carry the knowledge that the world as we know it will be destroyed on judgment day.

    I did really like T2. The reasons I think it falls short of the first film is that it is far more cheerful and optimistic in its outlook (possibly a symptom of being made in the 90’s). By the end of the film they had stopped judgment day (obviously in T3 we find that not to be true) but the biggest problem is recasting the Arnold Schwarzengger from the single minded killing machine to the good guy protector. The best thing about it is the T1000 (although there are some problems with that too) it is a superior model to the T800 protecting them therefore still making Sarah and co the underdogs.

    1. isoke85 · · Reply

      For sure, the end is bleak and very few movies rarely risk an ending like that. Good point.

      T2’s cheerful and optimistic outlook can surely be attributed to its bigger budget, as well. And, you bring up another good point, it’s not explained as to why the T800 Arnie model is brought back at all. Or, are we to assume The Resistance somehow manages to capture the T800 technology and Skynet, in response, must one-up the Resistance and create the T1000 to battle the T800? If that’s implied, that seems like a lot of assumptions to be making.

      Or, I might just be making this up to rationalize Schwarzenegger’s appearance in T2.

  3. I think that is the crux of the problem. When the first film came out Schwarzenegger was largely unknown and was happy to play the villain. When the second one came out he was the biggest star in the world and wanted to play the hero so the plot was contrived around him.

  4. Me i liked the Terminator Salvation movie . Non stop Action !!! Yes the story is not very elaborated but the action scenes are perfect for me !! If you like special effects this movie is for you !!!

    A very cool and powerful Terminator site :

    http://www.myfantasyweb.com/terminator/terminator.html

    Full of wallpapers, screenshots,action figures,soundtracks and movies

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