Terminator Salvation Directed by: McG Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Michael Ironside Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 21, 2009
Plot: After Judgement Day and in the year 2018, Skynet and all of its terminator toys are trying to kill all the people left on Earth. John Connor (Bale) must fulfill his destiny and try to save Kyle Reese (Yelchin). A man (Worthington) from the past is thrown into the situation, simply trying to make sense of all the destruction around him.
Who’s It For? For those that are sad about "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" getting cancelled, here's your only hope for Terminator to live on. Plus there's some big, eye-popping explosions. There is a ton of shooting, but nothing overly violent, so it's a well-deserved PG-13 rating.
Expectations: Bale has made great decisions with the movies he's taken lately. I'm not here to talk about his off set antics. While Terminator has never been one of the all-time favorite franchises, I've always had a good time sitting down and watching the flicks.
Actors: Christian Bale as John Connor: Bale, I'm disappointed in you. Again, not for the off-screen screaming fit you threw on the set. But this performance, this character ... there's just not much there. At first it almost sounds like Bale is channeling his Batman voice, but thankfully that fades. John Connor is the chosen one, and he's got his followers, but some military men just think he's a good soldier. If you take out the combat scenes, there isn't one moment where I am excited about what John has to say. Thank God for some jaw-dropping special effects, cause those resistance speeches don't work for me. Score: 4
Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright: In 2003, he's a bad man given a death sentence. In 2018, he doesn't know what to make of himself. Marcus is our emotional center for this film, and it's an odd choice. Why are we given so much Marcus when this is finally a chance to hang out with the adult, ultimate solider/savior John Connor, and a young Kyle Reese. Score: 5
Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese: If you don't know by now, Kyle is John's dad. It's time travel. Michael Biehn played this character brilliantly in the original Terminator film. Yelchin is fresh off of playing Checkov in Star Trek. He does a good job of trying to play second fiddle to John, but he's also saddled with a little kid that doesn't talk. I have no idea why this kid is in the movie. Score: 6
Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams: The only thing that I have to say here is that you don't live your life one specific way, always trying to fight the evils of Skynet, and then change your opinion that quickly. This just killed me. The screenwriters didn't give Blair a good enough reason to risk everything. But I do love your name Moon. Score: 3
Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor: Pregnant and for the most part, waiting at home. That's it. That's her character. At least she can beat her dad (Ron Howard) at the box office this week, with Angels & Demons likely being done at the top spot. Score: 3
Common as character name: It's almost like Common has said to his agent, "Hey, I'd like to hang out in some movies." And that's that. He doesn't act, he's just there. And it's getting distracting. It was the same issue in Wanted and American Gangster. He has one moment where he shots a terminator because another terminator killed his brother. Zero emotion is present in this scene. Score: 3
Michael Ironside as General Ashdown: Is this a joke? Ironside is the comic relief, right? Look, he jumped the shark a couple of years after Top Gun, right? He can bark orders with the best of them, but only in the over-the-top, you-can't-take-me-serious kind of way. So yes, it's funny when he's shouting at John to follow through on his orders, but unfortunately, I'm not supposed to be laughing. Ironside should be in Road House 3, not Terminator 4. Score: 3
Talking: "I'll be back," and "Come with me if you want to live," make their way into the script. It's OK, but doesn't nearly have the impact that some of catch-phrases Star Trek is able to pull off. There isn't much fun or joking here, but they do try and attempt it with lines like "You point a gun at someone, you better be ready to pull the trigger." But don't you feel like that line has already been used in other films? The script is stale. It doesn't give us an inside look or new twist into the world of Skynet or John Connor. And Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) talking to her son on a tape recorder seems pointless, except to continually tell him he's the chosen one. Score: 3
Sights: So good. This is why you sit down and watch this film. In fact, it's the only reason. The wide array of Skynet killing machines are awesome, and immediately make you think these people shouldn't have a chance. The motorcycles, the giant robots, the airplanes, the snake-like water creatures are all really cool to look at, and then Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up, and it feels odd. Plus, doesn't the final showdown fight take place in an almost identical looking set up to Terminator 2: Judgement Day? Score: 8
Sounds: Danny Elfman is on board, which normally means greatness. But the music is kind of forgettable. The only think that rocks is the opening title theme. The nod to Guns N' Roses "You Could be Mine" is a nice try, but even that scene doesn't get a nostalgic chuckle from me. Score: 5
Best Scene: Marcus is attacked, and then goes on the offensive against an enormous killing machine and two bikes. It's a fast, mindless, fun ride while it lasts.
Ending: It ends like a TV episode. You realize nothing was really accomplished. It's like Terminator Salvation simply got out of the first round of the playoffs, they haven't won anything yet, and we weren't given any new brilliant details. I don't have the heart to talk about how much this part of the ending DIDN'T WORK.
Questions: OK, Terminator, your time travel sucks. John Connor wants to save everyone at the San Francisco Skynet, but really isn't this only because Kyle Reese is there, and without Kyle Reese, John never gets born? And what would actually happen if Kyle dies? Does John disappear just like in Back to the Future? And at what point is John Connor no longer this chosen one? I think it's as soon as he sends Kyle back in the future, and after that we finally don't know anything about the future. I hope we get to that point soon.
Rewatchability: I would buzz through this film on DVD, just for a couple of action scenes, but for the most part ... talking = boring in Terminator Salvation.
We finally get to see the full, destructive power of Skynet. And while it looks great, the story around it sure falls flat. I like my Terminator a little simpler. The other films focus on a few characters, maybe one terminator on each side, and there are no armies battling it out. While we do get to see some amazing new toys, like those motorcycles, they seem like they're out of Transformers or Batman and don't fit so well in this franchise. Plus, with Christian Bale, Anton Yelchin and Sam Worthington all off on their own during this story, we don't feel like we're really getting to know John Connor after all these years.
If it's salvation you seek, you're going to be a little disappointed.
Final Score: 5/10