Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is the fourth film in the Terminator series and takes place after Judgement day. John Connor is not commanding the resistance yet, and is viewed by some as a prophet for his knowledge of the machines. We see his efforts against Skynet, and as he’s trying to find Kyle Reese, and as he’s trying to deal with the Marcus Wright character. Wright is trying to discover why he’s alive after being executed decades before.

I seem to be in a minority when it comes to Terminator Salvation, in that I like it. I love the post-Judgment Day setting, it was something that we got teased in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day and it was always something that I wanted to see more of. Although what we see here isn’t the post Judgement Day world we saw in the first two movies I still liked what I saw. It’s set in the early days of the war against the machines and there aren’t a lot of terminators roaming the ruins, there seem to be more aerial hunter/killer drones that probably locate any survivors and then send in the ground based terminators to deal with them.

From what I can make out this was meant to be the first in a new trilogy of films in the franchise but it just did not do well enough for the next two to be made. This is something that I’m genuinely gutted by as I would have really liked to see where the story went. I’d imagine they would have ended up with the discovery of the time displacement equipment and sending Kyle Reese back to protect Sarah Connor. To me that would have been a beautiful way to end the trilogy.

To the film though, I do like it but it does have its issues. One of the biggest is that it didn’t feel like the director was able to put his stamp on it.  I was worried about McG directing Salvation as I’d seen his Charlie’s Angels films and wasn’t impressed, that said I was surprised with what I saw from him here. Some of the shots were beautifully put together and the look of the film was very good, very genuine. The action looked good too. It just felt a little safe, a little by the numbers. Now I’m not sure if it’s a case that McG hadn’t quite got the directing chops to put his stamp on it, of if the studio or others involved in the film reigned him in too much. Either way it didn’t have a strong identity which I felt left the film missing something to make it stand out.

Christian Bale was good as John Connor. I thought he showed good intensity, and the pressure from what he knew, well. I liked that they didn’t make him too cold and isolated. There’s a couple of sweet scenes between him and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays his wife Kate Connor, that shows that he doesn’t carry all of this burden himself. She’s become his rock by this time and although Howard doesn’t have a lot to do in the film, what she does she looked natural doing.

I could have done without the Marcus Wright storyline. It felt forced, like they needed to one up the previous films. Aside from the odd accent slip, I can’t fault Sam Worthington, though. I thought he had a good vibe and showed a decent range as his character tried to figure out what the hell was going on. If the Marcus Wright storyline hadn’t of been there then there would have been no need for the Moon Bloodgood role of Blair Williams. She plays an A-10 pilot who gets shot down and meets Wright and takes him to Connor. Bloodgood was okay in the role, but like the Marcus Wright storyline, her character felt a little forced in some respects. It felt like she was only there to help the Marcus Wright character grow. It feels a little like they wanted her to be the strong female warrior character that Linda Hamilton pulled off so well as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, but the character wasn’t given the freedom to take that mantle.

Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese was good. I liked the youthful urge to fight and rebel that he put into the character. He was jokey and hadn’t been through the toughest parts of the war yet, in fact I don’t think he’d seen much combat at this point in his life. I think that would have come in the next two films and I think we would have seen that enthusiasm to fight diminish as his character saw so much death and suffering. The character of Star really wasn’t needed. She was sweet, but again, felt a little forced into the story.

A minor character I wanted to see more of was that of Barnes, played by Common. I think Barnes may have been Connor’s second in command, but regardless of that I just wanted to see more of him. Common looked good on screen and there seemed to be a lot going on with him.

And just a final shoutout to Michael Ironside. Fantastic actor and I love seeing him pop up in places like this.

Overall, I like Terminator Salvation a lot. It’s a fun film to watch that has more than a few nods to its predecessors and set a few seeds for future films that we never saw. Easily my third favourite terminator movie.

Movie Monday: The Terminator Franchise

In this edition of Movie Monday I’m going to ramble about the Terminator movies.

***Contains Spoilers***

The Terminator

A cyborg is sent back in time to assassinate the mother, Sarah Connor, of the human resistance leader, John Connor.  At this time she is not even pregnant.  In the future mankind is at war with an Artificial Intelligence called Skynet which all but wiped out humanity.  The Terminator is sent back just as mankind has defeated Skynet.  To protect his mother John Connor sends back a resistance fighter, Kyle Reese.

James Cameron gives us a film which rarely gives the characters time to absorb what is happening to them.  It is one big chase film in some senses.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator.  He captures the role perfectly and portrays that heartless killing machine the Terminator is.  I think a big part of the belief he is able to put into the role is he’s size.  Its rare that in everyday life we come across someone of his physic which just adds to the character.  Michael Biehn plays Kyle Reese as a wiry resistance fighter well.  He gives the character a wild, almost eccentric quality which makes him seem crazy.  With Linda Hamilton as the young, and maybe a little naive, lady which both men are targeting.  One trying to kill her and one trying to protect her.  The special effects are outstanding for a film in its time and shows Cameron as a pioneer of special effects.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

In the sequel John Connor is a ten-year old boy living with foster parents as his mother, Sarah Connor, is in a mental asylum after trying to blow up a computer factory.  In his ten years of life John Connor has had his mother preparing him to become this future resistance leader that he is to become one day.  So he’s world has collapsed after she was committed and he was told that she was crazy.  John is rebelling against his foster parents and the law.  Now he is the target of a new Terminator that is sent back to kill him, this Terminator is an advanced prototype and far superior to the earlier models.  As in the first movie the resistance is able to send back a protector, to make sure that the young John Connor survives this assassin from the future.

James Cameron raises the bar with the special effects here.  I first saw this film in my early teens and it blew my mind away, the effects on the T-1000 are brilliant! Robert Patrick plays the T-1000 and he plays it very coldly which serves the character perfectly.  Linda Hamilton returns as a much tougher Sarah Connor.  She has found her inner strength and is efficient in most weapons and is very resourceful.  She is also very single-minded in protecting her son.  Arnold Schwarzenegger does not quite reprise his role as the original terminator but as another machine which is obviously the same exterior model as the previous Terminator.  Again he plays the role perfectly.  Schwarzenegger was born to play this role and no doubt it will be the role that he is most remembered for.

Judgement day is my favourite of the movies.  Partly because it is the first one that I saw and its one of the defining movies ever.  It was not the chase film that The Terminator is, in T2 John and Sarah Connor go on the offensive and take the fight to Skynet, taking the future that they have always know off and trying to prevent any of it happening.

If I ever put together my top 10 movies, this would be in it, fighting for the no.1 spot.

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

If I could delete a film from history it would be this one.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only main character to return to the franchise and even he could not save it.  Jonathan Mostow directs it and was not the right man for the job.  Going into the film I had a bad feeling as Mostow had Directed U-571, which is a film which claims an American submarine crew captured a German coding machine during World War two when in fact it was British forces that captured it.  That bad feeling was confirmed.  Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is used more for comedy value then any real advancement of the story.   I never thought I would cringe while watching Schwarzenegger playing this role.

The basic plot is a new advanced Terminator is sent back to eliminate John Connor’s lieutenants as well as Connor himself and his future wife, Kate Brewster.  Like in T2: Judgement day John Connor tries to prevent Judgment day from happening with the help of The Terminator and Kate Brewster.

James Cameron was not involved, neither was Linda Hamilton.  If Cameron was not to direct then they should have gone for a visionary director, someone who could bring a whole new element to these films.  The plot had already been done before and if I was writing it I would have focused on the nuclear holocaust which happens at the end of the film.  The Terminator could have gathered John Connor, Kate Brewster and Sarah Connor and got them to safety.  Obviously that would have meant that Linda Hamilton was persuaded to come back to the series, which I would like to think she would have done if her character of Sarah Connor had been given a strong part in the movie.  Claire Danes does well as Kate Brewster, but I was not convinced by Nick Stahl as John Connor.  The character just came across as a whiney little man.  I think an actor who was more physically imposing, or at least had the build to be physically imposing would have been better suited as Stahl is not the biggest of men and add in the way the character was written it made him seem a little pathetic.  Kristanna Loken as the new more advanced terminator tries hard but is not as intimidating as Schwarzenegger or Robert Patrick were.

Maybe I am being a little harsh about this film, but standing against its predecessors it needed to be something special.  It detailed the fall of mankind, and the rise of the machines.  This should have been a film or epic proportions, instead it felt like a cheap knock off.

Terminator Salvation

In this fourth film we see a departure from the time travel element that had been so important in the previous three film.  Here we see a film focused around the events years after Judgement day where John Connor is not quit the leader of the resistance and to a certain degree is still an outsider.  He is also viewed as a prophet of sorts.

The film starts before Terminator 3 happens and we see death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) sign his body over to Cyberdyne Systems for medical research after he’s death sentence is carried out.  We never really find out what he does to end up on death row though.  We then shoot forward in time to see John Connor Christian Bale) infiltrating a Skynet base and discovering evidence that a new terminator, the T-800 is being developed.  That base then blows up leaving Connor the sole survivor.  Then he goes to the resistance command and gets authorisation to try out a kill coded for the terminators.  He also learns that he and Kyle Reese are top of a Skynet kill list so he proceeds to try to find Kyle Reese.  Marcus Wright is seen to escape the Skynet base where Connor finds the T-800 plans.  Marcus befriends Kyle Reese before he is captured by Skynet.  After Reese’s capture Marcus becomes friends with resistance pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) who later helps him escape when Connor and the resistance discover that he is a cyborg.  Marcus saves Connor’s life as he is hunting down the cyborg after his escape and Marcus promises to help Connor get into Skynet’s San Francisco base.  Connor gets into Skynet, saves Kyle Reese, with a little help from Marcus but Connor is fatally wounded so Marcus gives his heart to save Connor’s life.

For me this is a good movie and I did not think that it was going to be any good at all.  From what I can make out I’m in the minority as many people did not seem to like the film.  My biggest doubts about the film came from McG being the director.  I’d seen Charlies Angels : Full Throttle and feared what McG would do with this film, but I am impressed.  The look of the film is unlike anything that we have seen in previous Terminator films, and gives us a new look of the future after Judgment day.  In the first two films we seen snippets of the future and its very dark and the war has been raging for many years.  Here the war has only been going for about a decade so the world is not quite as desolate as it is portrayed in the previous films.

Christian Bale is okay as John Connor, but it’s not he’s strongest role in my opinion.  I’d like to see an actor like Karl Urban or Adrien Brody take on the role.  Bryce Dallas Howard plays Kate Brewster, although I suppose she’s Kate Connor by this point, and has a secondary role but she still plays an important part of seeing the other side of John Connor.  There are a couple of good scenes between John and Kate which is a nice touch.  Sam Worthington almost steals the show as Marcus Wright

The only thing that I really did not like was the ending, I think it could have been done differently and still got the same message across.  That aside I think it’s a good sequel and potentially a good beginning to a new series of movies which tell the story up to the Resistance victory which pushes Skynet to send back The terminator to try to kill Sarah Connor

What’s next?

There are various rumours about where the franchise will be going next.  From what I’ve read the rights to movies has changed hands again and there are rumours that Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on to do two more movies.  I kind of hope that one is false as I think he’s now a little too old to be running around playing an efficient killing machine, but we will have to wait and see.  I did read one thing that said that Joss Whedon had tried to buy the rights to the films.  I could not think of a better man to oversee any future films although I doubt he will ever have the chance.

If any more films are made they need to be loyal to the original films but at the same time bring something new and groundbreaking to the series, they need people who can raise the expectation in the Terminator films once more and give the fans the movies in this universe we deserve.

Not Really A Productive Day

Despite having had the entire day I’ve only written a handful of words but those words have finally cracked the wall that was holding me up on mine and Owen’s joint project, well the one we’re working on at the moment.  I have passed that small, but difficult part of the story that despite four or five (okay nine) attempts it’s now done.  I’ve had three failed attempts at writing a blog post about sci-fi movies and I cleaned our chicken coup out.  The rest of the day I have spent lounging around and not really doing too much, but I feel quite refreshed right now so it’s not too bad.

I just want to mention a movie that I watched last night.  An Australian movie called ‘Rogue’ about a rather big crocodile who hunts down and massacres some tourists.  It starred Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan and an early role for Sam Worthington.  It is inspired by an Australian crocodile that attacked boats in the late 70’s.  I was a little cautious about this film as I had a feeling it might be one of those dodgy low-budget horror films, but my friends who i watched it with gave it high praise and they know their movies very well so I knew it had to be good, and it was.  The acting, support characters included, do a very good job and there is not a heavy reliance on CGI which is always nice to see in a movie and a good attention to detail.  I’m very tempted to add this movie to my collection.

I have decided to set myself a goal for the end of the week, I would like to have 2500 words written by this time next week.  I havent set myself a target like this for a while and the last time I did it was an unrealistic number so 2500 is a little more realistic.