Don’t let the title fool you. The sole purpose of this article isn’t to bash the latest installment of the Terminator film franchise. My goal is to actually do the opposite. I’ve seen Terminator Salvation and read some critic and fan reviews, and I’ve noticed several concerns regarding the film’s placement in the series. The biggest complaint is that it isn’t a worthy successor to the the other films. With that being said, I can understand your frustration. I don’t think Salvation is a bad movie, I actually think it’s a great action flick. It’s just that it’s not supposed to be your typical action film, it’s supposed to be Terminator, so why doesn’t it fit with the rest of the series?
Enter at your own risk. SPOILERS ahead.
Protagonist/Antagonist: This is the basic good versus evil element that is usually displayed as the protector going toe to toe with the assassin. In the Terminator world John Connor is always at the epicenter of conflict. The machines have been trying to take him out since before he was conceived. His protector is always someone who is in some shape or fashion inferior to his assassin, but are diligent in their duty. In the first film Kyle Reese is a human going up against a machine. In T2: Judgment Day, the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) goes up against Robert Patrick’s slicker and more advanced T-1000. T3: Rise of the Machines pits the T-800 against Kristanna Loken’s faster and stronger TX model. But in Terminator Salvation that match up doesn’t exist. It’s not John Connor versus Marcus Wright. If anything its the humans versus Skynet. There’s no main Terminator to fear. There’s just a random one Marcus fights at the end, and Arnold’s CGI cameo that Connor fights while in Skynet headquarters. Where’s the payoff?
No John Connor love. For the first time in the franchise I wasn’t rooting for John Connor. I know it sounds like blasphemy, but a lot of people have been complaining about his lack of character development. I agree that his arc in this film was unclear, but the guy’s had three previous installments surrounding his story. I think we know more about him than he does. Unfortunately, with all the build up that we’ve been given of what John Connor would become, he’s kind of a let down. He wasn’t bad ass or memorable in anyway. All we know is that Michael Ironside (the Resistance general in the sub) hates him, and considers him some kind of a “rebel.”
Who’s the real hero here? We have been taught throughout the entire series that John Connor is the savior of mankind’s future, yet once again his life lies in the hands of a machine. Not only does Marcus save his life multiple times, but he sacrifices himself so that John can live. Throughout all the promotions for the film they kept trying to set it up as if Marcus was this cyborg who couldn’t be trusted. They made it seem as if there was going to be a match up between Christian Bale and Sam Worthington. In reality it was more of Marcus busting his ass to help John, Kyle, Blair, the little mute girl and everybody else. I found myself drawn much more to him than Connor, and that’s just not right.
The good with the bad. Even though there were several basic Terminator themes missing from this film, McG did try to pay homage to the previous films by adding little things here and there. I loved the opening and closing credits with the Terminator score, it really got me into an epic train of thought. The usage of the Guns & Roses song from T2, and the infamous line that John recited when Kate asked him what she should tell his men while leaving for his mission. He simply replied, “Tell them, I’ll be back.”
Overall I think that McG tried to do something different with the franchise, but he ended up straying too far from the source material. I think he made a great summer action film. It’s enjoyable, and entertaining, but it’s not Terminator. You have John Connor, you have Skynet, but you’re missing the main villain. Marcus Wright doesn’t fit the bill. If anything he’s a kick ass anti-hero. The film is entitled Terminator Salvation, but who’s really the savior?
What did you think of Terminator Salvation? Does it fit in with the previous film installments?
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