Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator: Salvation Sucks

I’m sorry to say this but Salvation blows. The best thing to do with this movie is cut out everything, splice together a few good ILM visual effects shots, and make a heavy metal music video out of it. Slap some Buckcherry behind that shit. But otherwise, oh God, does it suck. Salvation could outsuck the Happy Hooker on a New Year’s fire sale.

Maybe I’m being unfair. I don’t think so. If you make a movie called Terminator, it’s going to be judged by Terminator standards. Compared to the high wire act of J.J. Abrams brilliantly balancing legacy Trek with his own vision, Salvation is a desecration. The director, some guy named MSG, or MCG or whatever, says he tried to return to the days when big movies were emotional. Please tell me he’s not talking about T2. No. Go away! Salvation is not related to Terminator 2. Think of this as some billionaire brat’s amateur fan video on Youtube -- that’s the only way I can reconcile Salvation with the Franchise. Just pretend this is one of those better-left-forgotten, never-really-happened, alternate timeline type of thingies.

Salvation ends with some corny voiceover slop about the human spirit vs. machines. But this movie slogs like it was directed by a machine. And I don’t mean AI, I mean an 8-bit kiosk javascript. McG thinks if you just zoom in on a little black child, that humanizes the movie. The kid’s cute. Does he have a personality? A name? No, the kid doesn’t utter a line, probably because he can’t act. That’s called writing away from a character. But to McG, cute black kid = humanity. My Mac Pro can do that. Command Line Interface:

set var cute black kid to ‘human spirit‘

McG uses a child actor as a contrived emotional prop--a script widget--but he wants to lecture SkyNET?

Big and emotional, hmmmm. How did James Cameron get away with that sappy 'thumbs up' gesture at the end of T2? (Admit it, you teared up.) It worked because Cameron had already showed us John Connor as a kid making friends with the cyborg. "Wow, my own Terminator." McG thinks you get viewers invested in a character by having him drone on about being human and second chances.

Humor? Hello? Personality? Style? Attitude? Ahnold conveyed more humanity while playing a machine than Sam Worthington playing ‘The Human Spirit’ as dull human-metal alloy Marcus Wright. Stuff like the Terminator fixing his hair in the mirror--nothing cool like that in Salvation. “Fuck you, asshole.” Now that’s what it means to be human.

I'd skip Salvation this holiday weekend. Don't be disappointed on a holiday. Go see it one night when you got nothing better to do, it does have some good ILM Transformers outtakes.

Pingbacks: KHTS Radio in California agrees with me: "This film felt as hollow and lifeless as the machines that the resistance is fighting." And I agree with Evil Monito on MSG's clumsy attempts at homage: "awkwardly placed catch phrases from the previous Terminators that try to tug on the heartstrings of old Terminator fans but end up just coming off cliché." Eric Melin from scene-stealers agrees with me that Salvation is just mashup fodder. "If the movie was just fifteen minutes long ... way up."


How does SkyNET know Kyle Reese is John Connor’s father? John never even tells Kyle.

Christian Bale is in the movie. He's better at droning than Worthington. This John Connor totally buys into his own mythology -- the guy is major megalo! (Hence Bale, perfectly cast.) Let's say its a weakness in the Terminator concept: humanity's fate depends on one man. Everybody, Sarah Connor included, buys into SkyNET's theory that without John Connor, the human resistance dies. That's machine logic! Or maybe not logic at all. It's just hearsay. Nobody ever actually asks SkyNET. Maybe it's just payback for kicking SkyNET ass in the future.

That's not Ahhh-nold. They almost fooled me. I thought, Damn, 61 years old? Ya boy has been hitting them crunches. Nah, it's computer-generated.

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