Sunday, May 31, 2009

Terminator Salvation : This is not the film the critics warned me about. (Warning: Potential Spoilers)

After the announcement almost two years ago that Christian Bale would take on the role of John Connor, I anxiously awaited the next installment in the famous Terminator franchise, Terminator Salvation. It was to my disappointment a few weeks ago that I heard and read about the so called horrible film that it was. With critiques such as John Connor being portrayed as a “B” character, the action not being big enough, the lack of humanity in the humans, and the cheap clich├ęs usually found in soap operatic dramas, critics alike all decided this film was just as painful to watch as the latest installment in the crappy spoof film genre, Dance Flick. With a grade of D- and not much praise on the horizon, Salvation was looking to be another film on the long and sad list of disappointing films that couldn’t live up to the hype. Of course, I’m not one to let a few bad reviews stop me from seeing a film that I really want to see. Thank God that I’m not.

Not only were the reviews greatly exaggerated, but the film was actually pretty decent. The film is obviously not a potential Academy Award winning film, but it fits in well with the rest of the franchise. It is definitely one of the better of the four. It is a B or C easy. I don’t expect a great advancement in film history with an installment of the Terminator franchise. I expect guns, machines, explosions, and lame one liners, and that is exactly what you get.

First off, addressing Connor as a “B” character, I believe it was necessary in this film to portray him in this way. No one in this film really had a leading part. It was a pretty level playing field. Marcus may be slightly ahead of the rest, but not much. I believe what needs to be realized is that in the past three films, the focus of the film was on John or Sarah Connor for a reason. The terminator’s objective was to kill them, and only them, with no regard for the well being of anyone else. Therefore, the action followed them the entire film, giving them the spotlight. In Salvation, the issue has been spread to the entire human race. They all must face the reality that is 2018. Connor’s role in the film is downplayed just enough to bring attention to other important figures to the human resistance, but he is a constant presence in the film, and his role comes in more later on in the film. John Connor is now one among a whole group of leaders fighting against the machines, and must put the importance of all humans above his own.

This is the ideal that gets Connor in trouble with another leader of the resistance. The lack of humanity is seen in the human race, and it is addressed in the film. The years of destruction and death have pushed many to the brink, and they no longer see the importance for any individual life in the big picture, in spite of the fact that that is what separates them from the machines, and it is what they fight for. It is a major message of the film that the machines are destroying the humanity of humans, which leaves humans to destroy each other, helping in the machines’ cause. Connor understands this and defies those that no longer value human life.

The action was great. The battle between human and machine has not hit the battlefield yet. The humans are still organizing and just trying to survive at this point. The action is still building, leaving room for the next installment, which I hope is soon, giving Connor a more integral part. This would be the Fellowship of the Ring, if you will, of the three potential films of the war against the machines that could come into being. This film is obviously the precursor to a bigger and better sequel with more action and more depth in the story’s mythology, and showing the rise of John Connor to the leader of the entire human resistance.

There are many throw backs to the first three films with the one liners made so famous by them, the origin of the scar on future John Connor’s face, and of course, the digital cameo by a certain favorite T-800 terminator, making this a great film for the “fanboys”. Just a sidenote, the digital imaging for this cameo was so realistic, I could have sworn it was him. (If only the guys from Wolverine could have taken notes from these guys.)

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and I can’t wait for the DVD. I may even see it again in theatres. It is a great contribution to the Terminator storyline, and sets up for the battle to come. Yes some of the lines are lame and over done, and yes some of the physics don’t compute, but if you are a true fan, you will accept it, flaws and all. So to those that are discouraged by the bad reviews, I ask you to not to let someone else do your thinking for you. Free will; that is what makes us human. Give the film a chance, and judge for yourself. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

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