Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Terminator: Salvation (3 Stars)

In 2003 Marcus Wright, an inmate on death row, donates his body to science after his death. He's executed. Then 15 years later he finds himself walking around in a world run by machines. He's in the world after Judgement Day, which took place in 2004 at the end of "Terminator 3". But how did he get there? Maybe the resistance leader, John Connor, can give him an answer.

This isn't a bad film. It's not a bad film at all. It's a sci-fi action thriller with a dash of mystery as mankind battles against an overwhelmingly powerful foe. So what's wrong?

The problem is that the film stands in the shadow of the previous films, especially the first two. The Terminator film series could have ended with "Terminator 2". The loose ends of the first film had been tied up, and the world had been saved. Then "Terminator 3" was made in 2003 to milk the cow. Why end a series if it's making money? Though not reaching the heights of the first two films, "Terminator 3" has an appeal that I appreciate more every time I watch it. Then there was a diversion with the TV series "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (2008-2009), which took place between "Terminator 2" and "Terminator 3". The series contained some very good ideas, but it was cancelled after the second season, in the middle of a mind-bending cliffhanger. In my opinion, it would have been a good idea to make a film concluding the story started in the TV series, but it was simply ignored, and "Terminator: Salvation" (which I prefer to call "Terminator 4") was written to continue the story from "Terminator 3".

There's something that the first three Terminator films and the TV series have in common: mind-twisting temporal paradoxes. These aren't the paradoxes of the Marvel Universe, in which every time the past is changed a new time line is created, so there are multiple pasts and multiple futures. In the Terminator Universe there is only one past and one future, so if you go into the past and start changing things you might return to the future and find yourself in a different world. That's a problem for quantum physicists and sci-fi writers to deal with, while the rest of us just sit and scratch our heads. This head-scratching is what made the Terminator films and TV series great. It's missing from "Terminator 4", apart from the matter of John Connor having to find and save his father Kyle Reese, who is still a teenager. "Terminator 4" is only a sci-fi action thriller with a dash of mystery.

The studios still want to milk the cow. "Terminator 4" has an open end. It would be easy to make a sequel or a series of sequels where it left off. "Terminator 4" made a huge profit at the box offices, over $170 million, so it would make financial sense to continue. But the studios have listened to the fans, most of whom are disappointed with "Terminator 4". There will be a new Terminator film released later this year which will use the end of "Terminator 4" as a hook to travel back in time and reboot the series. This isn't a stupid reboot, like "The Amazing Spider-Man", in which a story is retold just because the old director has been fired and replaced by his inferior. In the case of the Terminator films time travel rewrites the past, so we can expect a Terminator reboot in every generation. It's a shame I won't live long enough to see "Terminator 25 3D Holographic" in 2115. But it might never happen. Instead of a fictional Judgement Day, Vladimir Putin, the President of Lies, might have destroyed the world by then.

"I vant to destroy the vurld, and nobody vill stop me".


  1. I hated this one unfortunately and hope for a much improved reboot this year.

    1. I hated it the first time I saw it (in the cinema). After watching it on DVD (twice so far) it's advanced to an "average" rating, in my estimation. Try to imagine it in a vacuum, forgetting that you've ever seen the other Terminator films. That's the only way to enjoy it.


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