So, 25 years after the original, but set 9 years from now, it’s finally here, the film that everyone was looking forward to, but expecting to be kinda pants. Pre-word was the defintion of mixed bag; Christian Bale? Hoorah! McG? Boooo! From the writer of The Dark Knight? Hoorah! But also from the writer of Catwoman? Boooo! And on and on and on…… But now it’s finally here, is it any good? Yes. And no. This will be the Marmite Film Of The Year, there will be no middle ground.
Perhaps the reason for this is because it doesn’t really feel like a Terminator film in any real way. Yes, the robots are the same and John Connor is running about the place, but this doesn’t feel like the flash-forwards from the first three movies. Back then, the year 2018 seemed to be constantly set at night, with both humans and robots are constant war with each other, with lasers and the like lighting up the perma-dark sky. But now, 2018 is set mostly during the day (as the robots have infra-red night-vision, just one of the many off the cuff remarks that will lead to many a fan-boy screaming at the screen), there are no lasers to speak of as everything seems to have weird retro-steam-punk feel to it, and there is no war. Well, there is a war, but not one we see on screen. More often that not, we only ever see one robot on screen at any one time, not the masses of machinery that James Cameron had envision decades ago.
The movie doesn’t feel like a Terminator movie, it feels like a post-apocalyptic zombie movie, except they have guns and the ability to use them properly. And for a movie that involves time-travelling robots, everyone in it is acting like they’re in Apocalypse Now 2; Nuclear Bugaloo. Christian Bale brings the same deep throat gravel acting that he had in the Batman movies, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, whether the world believes him or not. Bryce Dallas Howard shows up to do nothing more than be pregnant (which isn’t mentioned once!), Moon Bloodgood is hot and spunky but is essentially little more than a walking Deus Ex Machina, and Helena Bonham Carter jarrs the audience with her tops-and-tails appearances in the movie, but thats all I’m gonna say about that. Michael Ironside and Common are both there to remind us that The Robots Are Bad, in case anyone needed reminding .On the plus side is Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin, as Marcus Wright and Kyle Reece respectively, and both bring enough charisma and gravitas to their roles to make them work exceptionally well.
But they’re all pretty much background dressing to what people really came here to see; Explosions and Robots and Exploding Robots, and director McG does a fine job at handling the action portion of the movie. When the movie does stop trying to exposition itself to death, the pulse does quicken and you do find yourself sliding ever so slightly towards the edge of the seat. There are even some cool Children Of Men-esque one shot scenes which looked very difficult to do, including one near the start of the film with Bale trying to safely land a helicopter. Upside down. But another problem arises, in that the film’s best and most exciting action sequence arrives around the 45 minute mark, at which point there’s nothing left to do but slowly let the next hour never reach that pinnacle of excitement again.
There are a few great things that happen that I won’t ruin for you here because they might make the movie for you, and there are a few terribly bad things that happen that I also won’t mention here because they might ruin the movie for you. Preconceptions are a terrible thing; and thats what this movie is loaded with. In my mind its the first movie that is a sequel but also a prequel. Events are yet to happen in time, but we already know whats going to happen, which kinda sucks the suspense out of it. There’s also the fact that anyone who’s seen the first two (or three, depending on how much you hated the third and don’t mind me mentioning it here) and seen the flash-forwards and thought “Wow, a movie set just in the future like those scenes would be so awesome” and this is that movie, and it’s not all that awesome. You could blame the director of the Charlies Angels saga for ruining it, or the muddled writing time, or a million other things, but in the end, the blame falls squarely at the feet of Terminator and Terminator 2. In that respect this movie reminds me alot of The Matrix Revloutions, for reasons other than just critical which you’ll understand after you see Terminator Salvation, but for now it’s this point; yes, its not as good as the first two, and yes, it is a major disappointment which may cause you to hate it by comparison, but look at it this way, if the first two never existed for you to contrast it against, then this movie might’ve had a chance of being pretty good. So after all my take of Love It or Hate It, here goes……
Rating; Six out of Ten.