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Terminator Salvation Archives -

Terminator Salvation Archives -

Jack Rico


2009/05/21 at 12:00am

Terminator Salvation

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language.
Release Date: 2009-05-21
Starring: Paul Haggis, Shawn Ryan, Jonathan Nolan
Film Genre:
Country: UK, Germany, USA
Official Website:

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Terminator Salvation

Terminator: Salvation does not seem like a Terminator movie, at least when compared to what we have experienced from filmmakers James Cameron (The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines). This fourth Terminator is a different breed with a divergent feel, almost as if director McG (née Joseph McGinty Nichol) had decided to fuse Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with Transformers. Gone (at least mostly) are the time travel paradoxes and the concept of a single, indestructible villain. In their place is a futuristic war movie. With its idea of an insurgency striking against an implacable evil empire, there’s more than a little Star Wars in Terminator: Savlation, although not even at its Empire Strikes Back bleakest was Lucas’ series this dark.


For the first occasion in four movies, Terminator: Salvation does not move back and forth in time. Excepting a prologue in 2003, it stays rooted in 2018. This is a period not explored in previous installments of the cinematic series. Of course, after all of the muddying of the past that transpired in the second and third Terminator films, it’s no longer clear how much of the “established” future remains valid. As in Star Trek, we’re dealing with an alternate universe, so all bets are off. Will John Connor really become the legendary leader of a human resistance that overcomes the machines (as indicated in The Terminator)? Will he be killed by a T-800 that is subsequently re-programmed by his wife (as established in T3)? One of the problems with introducing time travel is that standard rules no longer apply. Filmmakers can do anything they want.


The screenplay for Terminator: Salvation went through a significant number of re-writes. It is credited to John Brancato & Michael Ferris, but was polished by the likes of Jonathan Nolan (who buffed it after Christian Bale came on board) and Paul Haggis. The result shows the effects of many fingerprints (too many subplots with too few payoffs), but it is more ambitious than the storyline for T3, which followed the basic “Cameron formula” established in the first two entries. Unfortunately, despite several rousing action sequences (involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, giant Transformers-like robots, and flying hunter-killers), the first two-thirds of Terminator: Salvation are rambling and disjointed. The final 30 minutes (or so) compensate for the deficiencies of what comes before. The climax is great – non-stop, kick-ass action and a surprise or two.


In 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale) is not yet the worldwide head of the human resistance. He is, however, one of many local leaders and the voice of the resistance on the radio. His superiors, led by the uncompromising General Ashdown (Michael Ironside), believe they have created a weapon that can shut down the machines if it’s brought to bear at a close enough range. Connor volunteers to test it. While doing this, he has a secondary objective: locate a younger version of his father, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who has been targeted by the machines for termination. Reese is skulking around the ruins of Los Angeles when he joins forces with a mysterious stranger named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), who is headed for San Francisco, the heart of the machine empire. Reese’s partnership with Marcus doesn’t last long – the machines capture the teenager, leaving Marcus with the job of finding John Connor to mount a rescue operation.


The weakness of the film results from the lack of a central villain. Random T-600 Terminators pop up from time-to-time, only to be dispatched rather quickly (although not necessarily easily – they are tough to destroy). There is conflict between Connor and Marcus, but neither is a bad guy; in fact, their goals align. Action movies need strong antagonists. The engine that drove the three previous Terminator movies was the threat represented by the time-traveling killers. With that missing, Terminator: Salvation has trouble locking onto a target. When does it snap into focus? When the T-800 makes its first, dramatic appearance. Suddenly, there’s a recognizable villain and a clear goal. All is right with the world.


McG, knowing his audience and being a fan, tosses out Easter Eggs. Composer Danny Elfman employs Brad Fiedel’s signature score at several key points. The first words uttered by Kyle Reese are: “Come with me if you want to live.” Later, Connor deadpans, “I’ll be back.” Linda Hamilton provides vocal work for when her son listens to the taped journals she recorded for him back in the 1980s. And Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, after a fashion, in the role that catapulted him to the action megastar stratosphere. When his character, who exists here as the result of digital mapping and effective editing, stepped onto the screen, the audience erupted. There’s no doubt this is the high point of Terminator: Salvation. It argues that if Schwarzenegger wants to return to the franchise after he leaves political office, the fans will welcome him back. In fact, one could argue that the actor’s absence is a hole McG can’t plug. The action sequences are pulse-pounding, the special effects are top-notch, and the post-apocalyptic atmosphere is palpable, but we’re kept waiting until the end for the real Terminator to show up.


Bale is suitably intense as Connor. This is a solid portrait of obsession and Bale dominates the screen. He’s more of a force here than in his Batman movies, but that’s to be expected since there’s no cowl and cape involved. Sam Worthington, a relatively new face to North American audiences, is an effective foil for Bale, although his American accent could use a little work. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Anton Yelchin. Although I wasn’t impressed by Yelchin’s version of Chekov in Star Trek, he nails Kyle Reese. It’s as if someone de-aged Michael Biehn 35 years and put him to work. Bryce Dallas Howard takes over for Claire Danes as Connor’s love interest, although she has little more to do than stand in the background holding her pregnant belly. Moon Bloodgood, as one of Connor’s underlings, has the “action female” role, although she’s no Linda Hamilton when it comes to physicality.


By radically destaturating color, sometimes to the point where scenes are almost black-and-white, McG develops a strong post-apocalyptic aesthetic. It’s a lot like the (recent) TV series Battlestar Galactica, where everything was dark and grimy, and bright colors rarely made appearances. One could argue that McG overdoes it a little, but he’s clearly not averse to traveling down potentially unappealing roads. The faux note of hope injected at the film’s end does little to dispel the fact that, if the humans win the war, the price is going to be astronomical.


Perhaps the ultimate problem with making more Terminator movies is that the entire story was told by Cameron in the first two movies and the subsequent sequels, including this one, have been struggling to explore corners where the time travel contrivance allows for flexibility and interpretation. Terminator: Salvation, like its immediate predecessor, is enjoyable and contains some top-notch action sequences, but it seems extraneous. This is everything a good summer movie should be and, while it does not dishonor the Cameron chapters of the saga, neither does it prove to be an indispensable adjunct to them.

Mack Chico


2009/04/15 at 12:00am

McG: from Terminator to Broadway

McG: from Terminator to Broadway

Film director McG is looking into Broadway. As per The Hollywood Reporter, “Terminator Salvation” director McG is attached as the director/producer of “Spring Awakening,” based on the smash-hit Broadway rock musical from Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. The musical has won several awards, including a Tony for Best Musical back in 2007.

“Spring Awakening” tells the story of Melchior Gabor, a young student in 19th century Germany, as he pioneers a sexual discovery amongst his repressed classmates. Through his relationship with the beautiful Wendla Bergmann and his friendship with the troubled Moritz Stiefel, Melchior convinces his peers – and the audience – that teenage sexuality cannot be repressed by societal restrictions.

The cast has seen many actors come and go through the roles. Most recently, Blake Bashoff, who played ill-fated Karl on seasons three and four of “Lost,” starred as Moritz in the musical. Hunter Parrish, currently starring as Mary-Louise Parker’s son on “Weeds,” portrayed Melchior. There’s no indication that these actors will reprise their roles for the movie.

McG will adapt the musical with the assistance of Steven Sater, one of the co-creators of “Spring Awakening.” The musical itself is an adaptation of an 1891 German play with a decidedly darker, less rock-and-roll tone than “Awakening.” Still, the Broadway adaptation didn’t shy away from several hot-button topics including rape and abortion.

“Spring Awakening” is one of several films that McG has found his name attached to in recent months. He’s been linked to a remake of “20000 Leagues Under The Sea” with Will Smith as his desired casting choice, as well as planned sequels to this summer’s “Terminator Salvation.” With “Spring Awakening” in the mix, fans of the robot franchise might have to wait a little bit longer for a fifth installment.

Are you excited for McG’s take on “Spring Awakening,” or would you rather see him continue his work on the “Terminator” franchise? Sing us a tune in the comments section!

Jack Rico


2009/01/12 at 12:00am

‘Terminator Salvation’ – First Review!

'Terminator Salvation' - First Review!

I just came back from watching an exclusive 20 minute screening of TERMINATOR SALVATION at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, New York. I love that area, but that’s a whole other conversation.

The director of the film McG, yes the same guy who produced the TV series ‘O.C’ and ‘Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious’, was there to present and introduce 4 never before seen clips. Before I get to that, I must say, I think the guy gets a bad rap (I’m at fault too). Today he impressed me with his presence, orator skills and humor. Compared to director Zack Snyder, from Watchmen, he’s a savant. McG essentially pitched himself to the 40 some-odd film critics as why he is the right guy to direct this film. He was convincing, but even more, the clips he showed had me at hello.


Here’s a breakdown of what I saw followed by some commentary (spoilers!):

Scene 1: A snipett of the film that felt more like a :30 second trailer.

Scene 2: All out action. Looks like McG went for the jugular on this one… and he got me. We see actor Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, I’m still trying to find out what relevance his character has in the film, with Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, arriving at what seems an abandoned gas station. There they are surprised by several refugees who are aiming guns at them until… a thunderous thud comes roaring through the roof in the form giant robotic claws and… GASP! people are torn to shreds! A truck chase ensues between the gigantic robot and our two heroes. Robot motorcycle drivers are spit out from the legs of the behemoth machine and then… KABOOM! Many of the CGI scenes presented were still unfinished so we couldn’t get a full grasp of the clips, yet, it was enough to remind me of T2’s action sequences. I was entertained to say the least.

Scene 3: Here we see Bale crashing his helicopter into a lake. Hydrobots come rushing like piranhas to mutilate and dismember what ever they can get their fiber optic wires on, only to be confronted by “B.A.B” (Bad Ass Bale) who plays John Connor. Sam Worthington then comes out of the lake like the Predator and stands toe to toe with Bale. Drama ensues. Fade to black.

Scene 4: This clip looks like an extended theatrical trailer wich lasted like 3-4 minutes. It’s essentially a summary of the movie and all the clips that were exhibited.


Here are my thoughts of the presentation and the film:


McG was an appealing and engaging presenter. He hinted at ‘The Governator’ making a cameo. The director talked about how ‘big budget action meets quality acting’ will be seen here á la Dark Knight and Iron Man. He loves Sam Worthington and he thinks he’s going to be a BIG star. He mentioned that Bale’s talent is the reason the movie will be a hit. He also mentioned that ‘Bruce Wayne’ spends 6-8 hours in the editing room with him to make sure it doesn’t turn out campy. It was referred to in the Q&A that there is a part 5 in the mix and it will incorporate the time travel theme. Danny Elfman was picked over Oscar winning Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla from Babel. He chose him because of his delicateness and bravura.

The Scenes

The action scenes we saw are the real deal and I can’t wait to see this film in IMAX. I’m gonna flip out! There was so much action compacted into the 10 minute clip that my head almost exploded. That’s what a summer action movie is all about. I thought Bale sounded like BATMAN, you know, the hoarse, husky, grating voice I’m talking about. To me that was the single reason The Dark Knight was not perfect. The raspy voice has got to go! I feel that apart from that, there will be enough acting chops from Bale to distinguish this from a contrived, generic action summer flick. From the looks of it, we can count on Terminator Salvation to be an entertaining and frolicking good time at the movies this summer!


Check out some of the pictures we collected at the press event:


McG presenting an animatrics T-800 and cussin’ up a storm

New unknown robot






The destruction of Earth

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