Thursday, 19 May 2016

Terminator: Salvation (2009)

You may have worked out that there is something of a theme to this week's reviews.

I'll start by giving Terminator: Salvation some props for being the first sequel in the franchise to try and do something materially different to the first film.  There's no time travel here; everything is set in the future of the war against the machines.

Salvation follows the continuity of T3, meaning that it has Judgement Day occurring five years before the film itself came out.  Which feels a tad odd, but hey: points for sticking with the established setting lore.

We begin with Marcus; a criminal on death row in 2003.  He's persuaded to donate his organs for research at Cyberdyne Systems, and then executed.  A year later Judgement Day happens; the war against the machines begins.

In 2018, after a botched raid led by John Connor, Marcus comes staggering out of a subterranean base.  He has no memories after losing consciousness at this execution, and gets a quick - and rude - awakening about the new world in which he finds himself.

Now obviously things aren't entirely kosher with old Marcus, what with him not having aged a day in 15 years and you know, the whole "he was executed " thing.  To the movie's credit, it doesn't really try to pretend otherwise.

You'll have noticed that I've given the film several ticks, but that the tag is "Not Recommended".  This is because despite its good features - and it does have them - the narrative has some serious flaws.  There's an awful lot of trusting someone you've only just met despite having strong evidence of reasons not to trust them, for one thing.  For another, there's an (ugh) attempted pack rape scene with one of the two female characters to get lines.  Finally, the movie didn't really connect emotionally for me.  In particular, there's a character moment for Marcus when he comes face-to-face with Skynet that I'm sure is meant to be triumphant, but which lacks any real impact or weight.  This is probably due at least in part to some pretty large "wait, what?" plot points you have to accept in order to get there.

There are some good action sequences in this, and some neat CGI work, including modelling the facial appearance of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger for a Terminator scene.  But for all that - and despite the nice touches it works in - the picture has too many flaws, especially in terms of the plot, to "click".

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