Thursday, July 2, 2009

Scolding Review: Terminator Salvation that a chaingun, or a confusing new addition to the Terminator mythos?

Continuity is a trick mistress. She can be constantly be traded for other's, but the rewards for sticking with the one you love are substantial.

Which brings us to the Terminator franchise. It all started innocently enough. A man from the future travels back to the past to protect a future leader of a resistance before he is born from machines that travel in time to kill him, and in the process spawns that guy. The second film answered less about the future. After all, we could change that crap, before it happened. In fact, the heroes dump the Terminator parts from the first movie that would be re-engineered to create the future evil genocidal machines. The 3rd film, however, took the route of predetermination: you can't CHANGE the future, and in fact, it will play along exactly as it would, even if you'd think it could be changed simply by being known. This is weird. Does that mean that even if I know that tomorrow's turnover's will be burned, I can't simply be aware of this and lower the heat. No, the turnover WILL burn. Which means that both previous movies were a waste of time for the characters: Neither the machines nor the humans could change things(though they obviously did, if only the knoweledge of the events.)
Hey, and who wouln'd put aside sheer survival for THIS?

Which brings us to the fourth instalment of this particular series. Now that the 4rth movie all but clipped the wings ofany more attempts to travel in time and save John Connor. So, is the future all that it's cracked up to be?

Not quite.

I entered the theater admitedly late. By then, new-tagonist Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is being offered to donate his death-row-bound body to science by Dr Serena Kogan(Tim Burton's Wifey). Why she's asking him, I don't know. Last I heard, they could turn prison bodies into total bologna without asking for shit. Marcus is an inmate and is heavy with guilt over the death of his brother and two cops. I guess it was a hold up gone bad? Either way, he asks the cancer stricken Dr Kogan to make out with him. She becomes obviously uncomfortable with this. So he steals a kiss! There where cops at the moment, and they kind of start making the forms for a nightstick beatdown but they back out. I guess they're into the kinky stuff if it features hotties straight out of chemotherapy, huh?
Oh miss Lovitt, I wanna eat your meat pie!

But then...the future! John Connor, a sperm in the first movie, a street punk in the second one, a junkie by the third is now a badass commando played by Christian Bale. He's on a mission he was prepared for all his life: and perhaps that is his downfall. Because let me tell you, John Connor here is a terrible leader. He's the kind of leader who believes his own hype: HE'S supposed to be the leader of the resistance, so one of his main concerns is finding his father Kyle Reese and sending him back to the past so that he can exist in the future and lead the resistance.

Congratulations! You just turned a plot hole that was wisely ignored 3 times into a story element! Now we can watch John Connor try and find his own father! Oh, goody! I wonder if it's gonna be ackward.

Connor: Soldier, we have found the means to send a man to the past. But sadly, the machines have too, and have sent their own machines to kill me before I am born. I am, obviously, the leader of the resistance that will lead us to freedom(or have I already lead us? I don't know.), so it's your job to protect my mom and ensure my survival.

Kyle Reese: Yessir! I think we could use this wonderfull technology to PREVENT all this, but maybe protecting a crummy future with nuclear winter is the way to go rather than preventing it with proof and time travel.

Connor: One more thing, Reese. You will find that my mother is an extremely fuckable waitress. SO make sure to have as much unprotected sex as possible.

Kyle Reese: WHAT?

Connor: I'm just saying, I need you to have sex with my mother so I can be born.

Reese: I'm YOUR Father? Doesn't the fact that you are here mean that you existed before I traveled back in time to spawn you in the first place?

John Connor: Maybe. Time Travel is so confusing. So, off you go, dad!


So, besides exploring a time paradox, our hero also fights robots and gives speeches over ham radio. It is during the robot fighting that he discovers that Skynet is now taking prisoners. Strange behavior, indeed. What could they want with the humans they so obviously and singlemindedly wanted to kill? Are they harvesting their energy, or just anally probing them? All in all this wasn' the future his mother talked to him about. But let's get real here, she didn't really know much more than what Kyle Reese told her. It was all secondhand information and guessing, since she didn't live any of it.

John Connor sees the machines escaping with their prey, and, with his whole squad dead, tries to persue a cargo ship on a helicopter. He is quickly shot down, but I couldn't help stop and think just what the hell was his plan. You obviously can't shoot both a turret and fly the chopper at the same time. Maybe he was gonna kick it? Either way, he survives both crash AND a Terminator attack, then is picked up.

Right after he leaves, Marcus Wright just comes nude out of the mud and starts screaming. Not like a traumatic scream. Not a terror scream, though. More like " I want mom and dad to think this ferris wheel was worth the money".
Hey, if you where in both mud AND rain, you'd yell too.

Apparently somehow(a very obvious somehow) he woke up after donating his body to science to a post apocalyptic future. He wanders around, confused, picking up the clothes of dead strangers. Eventually he makes it to a city, where he tries greeting a metal skinned beggar.

But it attacks! It's a T-600 Terminator! It's a lot like the t-800 skeletons, but it's got some drapes over it and a bandana and some shoes made out of newpaper. He's like a down-on-his-luck Terminator.
Terminator Salvation Army

Luckilly, our hero is saved by a teenage Kyle Reese and his plucky mute sidekick Star. They kill the machine in the great tradition of Home Alone: with traps made out of household items!They explain to our hero that some bad shit went down, some nukes where shot, machines hunt down humans, and roadkill is now acceptable food. Marcus wants to get to the zone where where Dr Kogan might be, if she isn't dead(it's been years, she had cancer and NUCLEAR WAR started.), because he needs some answers. Kyle wants to go to John Connor, who has a good reputation( I guess he doesn't tell folks about the embarassing chopper crashes. Yes, he does it twice) on the war against the machines. They fight over this for a bit.

Meanwhile, Connor is entering the secret submarine of the resistance. There, the leaders plan how they are gonna deal with the whole humans being captured and taken to Skynet central. The leaders want on of those bomb-everything plans, but Connor wants to make sure some humans survive. Hey leaders, if you have been able to bomb Skynet city, what are you waiting for?

Kyle, Marcus and Star stop by a gas station,where some kindly people offer them help, while others warn that the machines could endanger them- and no sooner are the words said that a giant mecha with pincer claws starts scooping people up and shooting at those that try to escape.

The machine designs at this point take some strange turns. There's a giant lumbering robot designes for capturing that also can shoot robo-motorcycles from his legs. There's a giant cargoholding airship with giant robots that come out of openings. Who designed this things? Dr Robotnik?

Because you may need a machine that drills the slower humans.

Either way, Star and Reese get taken away, as Reese was a specific target for capture. Marcus hooks up with Moon Bloodgood, who you may remember from the Legend of Chun-Li. Or hopefully you don't. Here she plays Blair Williams, a jet fighter pilot. There's a bit of romantic tension and cliche's as William's hotness attracts rapists and the usual rescue stuff happens.

Meanwhile, Connor and his obviously too clean and pretty for the apocalypse even by movie standards pregnant wife test a new audio thing that could potentially allow them to destroy the machine's brains with it. So to test it, they fish out a robo leach, a machine who's use it's so specific, it's laughable: Swim up to you if you're in the water and hug you're face and drown you with it's robo-wang. Again, Dr Wiley stuff, here, but they discover the soundwave-code thing works! Suberb!
So, say the humans wander near a lake...

Now, Williams and Marcus are making their way into the Resitance camp when Marcus falls into a mine Williams was supposed to have deactivated. When he wakes up, he discovers...THAT HE HIMSELF IS A MACHINE!!!!! AAAAAAAAH!

This is shocking to no one. He should have known donating his bod to science wasn't without issues and we saw it on the previews. John Connor is pissed up at Marcus, because Marcus is unable too properly explain his backstory. Swear to Odds! Where he could have said: 'I was on death row and donated my body to science, who obviously turned me into this' he starts saying the year he was born in, like that make him believable.Connor lists the sins of Skynet to Marcus: trying to kill him in the past twice, killing his father Kyle Reese(or is that, going on to kill his father in the future? Because it happened in the past, but they have yet to travel in time to do it) . He didn't mention his own future death, which was told to him by Arnie in T-3. His wife is still here, so I'm guessing that's canon. Marcus says that his Reese is on his way to Eggopolis, or the Machine city or whatever it's called. John Connor, not believing, issues the order to disasemble the guy and goes to his room to see if his mom left any memo's on cyborg men.

Can't help you out there, kid. I do have some stories on sex with a time traveler, though!

But Blair believes in Marcus, so she frees him with some obvious, dumb tricks. She might as well have played the "the prisoner is sick" trick.

After much shooting and robo-drowner design justification, Bale trusts Marcus because he saved him, but he is still persona non grata in Camp Connor.Eventually Connor stalls the attack on the machine city and goes there himself. Marcus goes there as well, only to be met with some sad answers.
This, but with more Bonham Carter action.

See, all this, the human kidnappings, his being a cyborg, the alleged code-wave that could allegedly kill machines, specifically hunting Kyle Reese was all a trap so he would lure John Conor in there for Skynet to finally kill. Amazing, huh? So they knew who the guy's future father would be(I guess he wrote it on his blog?) and kidnapped him so they could lure him on there and kill him. That's some foresight! Just one thing, though: Why not just kill the father? If he dies, John Connor will never be born! Why build specialized machined for this ruse, when strapping a bomb to Marcus and exploding it will do just as good? Why are you telling this guy, just KILL HIM or TAKE HIM OVER!

But, anyway, Connor is lured. What surefire plan can the sofisticated machine that is Skynet have in store for our hero? A T-800 of course! A single (CG) Arnold Schawzenegger, naked and unarmed. It is of note they where on a machine factory at this point: they could have tried using more than one machine to try and kill him.

Our hero is unable to block Arnie's throwing attacks, until Marcus steps up. Aparently stopped planning at "tell the guy our scheme" and didn't go into "ways the guy might screw up the plan if we tell him". But the combined might of Marcus and Connor is not enought, and Connor is speared throught the heart. Eventually,though, Marcus, Marcus gets aroung to winning.

So, the hostages are rescued, and Skynet city laid to waste. But John Connor is badly wounded. He might not survive much longer with his pierced heart. Until Marcus gives him his heart.
No words!

Not like that! He donated his preplayed heart(a Terminator punched him there, that invalidates the warranty) to Connor, and with the best medical treatment post apocalyptic, outdoors surgery the resistance can provide, he gets better! Still, there is more Skynet to fight, and now that Connor's stupidity has killed all the real leaders, he can finally fullfill his destiny.

This movie's just okay. I guess i didn't like the directions they took on the story, characters and mythos. Some of the Terminator's had too much of a "guy in a rubber suit" feel to them. Guess Stan Winston is well and truly dead. I never did feel that taking the story past Judgement Day was all that great. But even then, I feel it could have been better. 3 out of 5


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