24th May2009

dijoo see TERMINATOR!?

by jerad.formby

The Ins and Outs of Terminator: Salvation

The Terminator is one of those quintessential nerd movies from the eighties. It presented us a fascinating world based in a future where Artificial Intelligence dominates mankind and is this close to making us an endangered species. Sounds like good fodder for a movie. Of course, that wasn’t the movie we saw. We saw a movie that took place after mankind’s victory over the machines. We saw the final battle fought in the past, in 1984.

I think this says it better:


The existence of this scene and, more specifically, this title card are the biggest problems with Terminator: Salvation.


The world of Terminator is actually quite intense. It’s more intense than anyone wants to give it credit for, apparently. As a fan of the movies (and I won’t include the television series here), I have a certain degree of confidence in who John Connor is. I know that he is the man who came along to unite humanity. He was the one man who taught humans to fight back and how to smash those “metal mother-f**kers into junk.” I know that he’s the bees-knees, best ever, total new arrival man who will ensure the continuation of humanity.

But how did that happen? How did it arrive? We will never know. We won’t know because the script writers opted to not tell us that story (arguably one of the best stories you could tell with this character). They opted to go forward a few years. In the time that this movie takes place, the resistance already has amazing tools, weapons, and people willing to fight and die. I wanted to see John Connor make that happen. The main reason is that I’ve wanted that since I was a little kid.

As I was not allowed the movie I’ve imagined over the course of 20+ years, I won’t let this turn into a gigantic ‘what if’ piece of dribble.

Instead, I will shamelessly refer you to the Hey Star Trek! fan page over at Facebook if you’d like to read my exclusive on John Connor.

Is the movie good? It’s fine. Do you need to rush to the theater right now? Probably not.


The new movie does very little to forward the mythos. John Conner is already world famous, but not the leader, for some reason. We see a new form of Terminator. Some really cool new Skynet toys. We get very little else.

Well we get one other thing.

We get Terminator through the eyes of a director who knows what he’s doing. He’s one of those guys who grew out of the MTV movement. He doesn’t have a proper name.


I am a champion for the original Charlie’s Angels movie and I’ll get quite rabid about defending it. I won’t get as rabid as I will some other movies that star ducks from outer space, but I will get oddly defensive when it comes to this particular bird. McG gave us with Charlie’s Angels a movie of perfect form and content.

So many folks want to pigeon the Angels in with any number of Simon West movies like “Con Air” or “Tomb Raider.” They want to slip it into mindless action movies that crop up every year.


Lots of people will dismiss it without even having seen it.

If you watch Charlie’s Angels with an open mind, you are treated to a silly action script that is played by actors acting silly and is being shot and edited by somebody who not only gets the joke, but is more than ready to add a few jokes of his own. Charlie’s Angels parodies a lot of those action staples that emerged at the turn of the century. The “bullet time” effect from the Matrix found itself rubbed all over most movies as soon as people figured out how to do it. Switching camera speeds and “ramping” shots to add “intensity” to a given sequence rapidly became the norm for our blockbuster movies.

McG took his angels and let them make fun of themselves as he made fun of his own movie. A brilliant marriage of humor and really slick filmmaking. I was very excited when McG came onto the scene with that movie.

When I heard he was attached to Terminator, I kept that Charlie’s Angels mentality. I didn’t assume that this guy had only one perfectly good movie in him, I assumed he could match his choices to whatever material was in front of him. I just totally had that confidence in him because his Angels rocked so hard.

That confidence was rewarded when I saw his movie. All of his Charlie’s Angels tricks were gone –he knew this wasn’t that movie. His action was straight-forward and easy to watch. The movie even earned a few legitimate jumps –suspense that actually worked for me. Weird.

Is it weird or just filmmaking science applied correctly.


If McG hadn’t made this Terminator movie into an action showcase, there would be very little to like about it. It’s almost as if the screenwriters didn’t watch the previous movies. Kyle Reese taught us that you “stay down by day, but at night you can move around.” That’s gone. Kyle Reese explained to us that Skynet didn’t know anything about Sarah Connor . . . just the city she lived in. This was due to records lost during the Nuclear throw down. Well, just watch Skynet single out Kyle Reese –like there’s a database that holds just people who eat coyote,

There’s a pretty sweet little thing they do with an Arnold model Terminator at the end of the piece, but when that finally happens, I’ve already been quietly re-writing the piece into something I’d like a lot more.

I think all of the performers do a good job. I kept thinking Christian Bale was going to rock his Batman thing all the time, but I bought his Connor. Sam Worthington did a marvelous job delivering some of the worst dialog I’ve heard in a long time.

But you know who really rocked it, brothers and sisters?


Kyle Reese is a complicated, awesome badass. Here we get to see him grabbing some of those skills. Very fun stuff. His performance is really very remarkable. He has the cadence of the original actor down pat, but he’s definitely owning the part for himself.

It’s just a shame he’s working with this script.

I’ve never written a Terminator movie before, so I’m just guessing here, but it seems a pretty good rule of thumb might be that if any aspect of your script is so complicated that you need frickin’ Skynet to explain it to you???


Need more Terminator? Try Hey Star Trek @ facebook . . . simply click this title and become a fan if you can!
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  • TheBobfather

    I’ve just got back from seeing this.

    Before I begin let me just say that the original Terminator film is among my top ten of all time. The second was great but I felt lacked the gritty darkness of the first, whilst the third is, erm, well…there’s a special place in hell for that movie. I am, however, a big fan of the TV series as it’s the only Terminator since the first film to deal with the complexities of time travel and to have some character study where movies two & three had endless action set-pieces.

    The fourth, sadly, whilst not as bad as three is certainly not up there with one, two and the TV series. We are living in a post-Michael Bay Summertime Blockbuster-era where sketchy narratives are hidden with needless special effects and NOISE. Why are blockbusters so noisy now? Ever since The Matrix everything has to have a loud drum n bass soundtrack along with thunderous sound effects and EVERYONE TALKING LOUDLY LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME MONOTONOUSLY WHENEVER THEY ARE ON SCREEN.

    Another symptom of the post-Bay era is the complete reliance upon special effects to the point when the movie is no longer in the hands of the director but the computer geeks. Mind you, that’s not just true of epic blockbusters, its ripples can also be felt in the arty fair of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This is my main problem with Terminator Salvation and alot of blockbusters – I never feel I am being directed through a film by one conscience; it seems now that the Director’s job is to juggle spectacle and plot, and it’s always the latter which is sacrificed. This movie is proof.

  • VegasAndorian

    Interesting to note that people cite Michael Bay for the all-action-no-story-trend; he’s the most popular reference. But go read Pauline Kael reviewing Star Wars when it came out (the first, real Star Wars)- Lucas was the death of Hollywood screenwriting.

    And that is not meant as a slam on ya’, Bobfather. I seriously believe every generation has their he-doesn’t-care-about-story icon. Wonder who it was before Geo?

    Anyway, Charlie’s Angels rocked. J-rad, at first I was afraid you were going to tangent into that – then I was sad you didn’t! Cameron Diaz can shake that booty any time she wants!

    Haven’t seen T4, and I’m torn. See it now, with McG’s visionary visuals? (whee – a Dijoo call back!) Or wait for dvd. One interesting thing to note is Star Trek has had a second week with a less-than-50% drop off in box office (Hollywood gets hard over stuff like that) and Museum 2 beat T4.

    “Hey, you got story in my visuals!”
    “You got visuals in my story!”
    Two great tastes that go great together.

  • son of worf

    I liked it. Was it the best? No. However, it was better than T3. I thought Christian Bale’s performance was solid. I liked the guy who played Kyle Reese and think it’s great that he also played Chekov in the new Star Trek movie. His performance was good. Also, this is the first thing I saw Moon Bloodgood in and , well . . . . , lets just say I hope to see more of her. Another sci fi hottie. Now the guy who played Marcus Wright kept letting his accent slip, that was kind of funny. We know this guy is definately not American. A lot of Europeans playing Americans these days. The last 15 mintues of movie played a lot of homage to the first & second film. I liked where Connor is fighting a T 800 with you know who’s face. At the end, I felt I was entertained and my wife got to see more Christian Bale. For some reason she thinks he’s easy on the eye. So we both went home satisfied.

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