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Terminator Salvation Movie Poster



"There is no fate but what we make."

(2009)  Director McG

These summaries are intended as an entertaining comment on what worked to make the movie good or great. This movie? The machines!!

The beginning of Terminator Salvation was definitely different. The movie's title appeared twice.  (The theme music is just so damn cool!)

The introduction of the T800 begins in 2003 with him as a condemned man (Marcus Wright) donating his body to science. This is the crux (interesting word considering) of the movie. Is he man or machine? Helena Bonham Carter, who also appeared in Fight Club and Planet of the Apes (2001), sure gets the interesting smaller parts. She plays a Cyberdyne scientist Dr. Serena Kogan who wants Marcus to donate his body for her research.  Dr. Kogan agrees to the prisoner's price, a kiss.  The music, by Danny Elfman, during the execution is very mechanical/different yet incredibly moving, like tonal moans. Marcus is a Christ-like figure, dying so we may live. He is executed by lethal injection, strapped to a table shaped like a cross, and in case you don't notice that, they raise him so he can face his audience.

This is the best battle scene I've seen since Saving Private Ryan's Normandy beach invasion scene (yes, it's that cool/intense, if only for a few moments), the look was, in a word, scorched. Loud rumbling sounds of war, lots of bass and a ringing in the ears, added a great deal to the feeling you were dropped into a battle zone. There was a dark-gray filtered look to the color scheme of the soldiers and combat, which gave it a feeling of unreality, apt for war but also like a video game (Killzone came to mind). John Connor appears. He's fighting the war against the machines in 2018. He tries to fly a helicopter but is shot down. The camera angle going in and out of the helicopter during the crash is impressively creative, and although its purpose must have been to express disorientation, it seemed like showing off or being cool for the sake of being cool, "not that there's anything wrong with that". 


Terminator Salvation battlefield

When we see the prisoner/T800 again, he appears naked but covered in mud and screams in a Frankenstein's-monster birth-like moment.  The 'dumb' machine-come-to-life finding his voice.  The actor who plays Marcus Wright (a name Jane Austen would love-mark us right) the T-800, is Sam Worthington.  His portrayal is the largest part of this movie's likeability (excepting, of course, the incredible special effects, machines, and the whole Armageddon look that Terminator is known for . . . if you're a fan of that sort of thing . . . well, sha!).  Thank God for that because Christian Bale is awful. Bale is appropriately emotional or un- at the right times, but his performance is not in the eyes or in the heart.  It's almost like you can see an element of "look at me acting-I'm really good right now" in the intensity of whatever he's spitting out at the moment.  Public rant aside Bale ruined Batman Begins for me with his lisp (Batman doesn't lisp!). In this movie, it's some on-again/off-again speech impediment. (Is he shooting up under his tongue?)  In the beginning of the movie after the remaining top half of a terminator tries to kill him, he grunts into the helicopter radio microphone and what follows is so strange, it's like someone else is speaking.  (Speaking of rants . . . No, I really don't like him, yet I didn't let this ruin the movie for me, it's not about John Connor, thankfully. He's about as real as a voice on short wave radio. The feelings I have for the character carried over from the previous movies, so that was enough to counteract Bale's version of Connor.)

The T-800/Marcus Wright as played by Worthington is appropriately emotional, for a Terminator. He doesn't over do it, which would erase the believability that he's really a machine and make him too much a man.  When a performance is so slight, so seemingly much in the facial expressions, particularly the eyes, we don't give enough the actor enough credit for playing it down.  [We expect him to be able to make incredible moves because he's a machine. Action movies hardly ever get credit for the physical feats either (excepting the Stunt Man Awards).] So much of what we feel in this movie is in the eyes of Sam Worthington. Can you possibly imagine being killed and re-awakening to find the world and most people in it have been destroyed, and that you are no longer 'human'? Worthington is excellent and gives off such humanity and seeming innocence (for a killer) that it's him you care about, not John Connor and the resistance. He makes the story work. We watch him watching it all unfold, and see his pain in moments like when he has to step out in front of the sentry at the Skynet base and is recognized as a machine and allowed to pass. The movie's message seems to be that the mindless killing makes you a machine. Condemned for causing the death of his brother and two policemen, redemption is what Marcus is looking for, and he gets it through salvation.

I saw Terminator Salvation twice, okay three times. It delivers the expected Terminator awesomeness and has a good story despite many plot holes*. I'll overlook them for the sake of the incredible machines, the robots, the planes, the crashes and explosions, the giant robots with motorcycle calves! YEAH!! Go see it!  What are you waiting for?!  It's a TERMINATOR movie! Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams (yes, that's her real name, I didn't get it backwards) totally steals the show as a bad-ass chick.  Best part . . .   a chase scene (that ends spectacularly) with a rig that Mad Max would be proud of!

Now are you going? 

Terminator Salvation Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams with gun Terminator Salvation Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams Terminator Salvation Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams face shot

*For example, if John Connor has a full-blown above ground base with planes and tons of computer equipment, why does the  Resistance leadership have to hide in a submarine?

Why are the machines hunting and killing humans, but then also collecting them?

How do they so easily fly a helicopter over the Skynet base at the end for extraction?

If the machines are so advanced why is there so little security on their most important site?

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