Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Terminator Salvation - Review

After reading so many conflicting reviews I put it off because I was afraid I might be sitting through the two most boring movie hours of my life.


The movie would live up to its potential and be great.

What the main complaint seemed to be was the effects trumped the story. Well I'm a Terminator fan from way back so I wasn't going to be too surprised by a lot of fireworks. In fact I would be a disappointed if there wasn't quite a bit of that. That's the promise of the movie, right?

So without giving the plot away, I have to say that as a writer I left the movie wondering if some of those critics even knew what a story line was.

Is there a main character with a goal? Yes. Two of them.

Is there a character arc? In other words does the character change over the course of the story? Again yes. For both of them.

Is there conflict? Yep. A lot. Things blowing up. Things crashing. Things trying to kill anything with a beating heart. People screaming. The machines blowing up anything that played music.

Who would have guessed that future self-aware machines would have something against Alice in Chains and Guns N' Roses?

Does John Connor act without considering he might be making a mistake? Yes. Of course. That's almost a requirement in character development. In fact, for a part of the story, John Connor is the one doing the bad thing. Wow. The writers sure didn't love him enough to go easy on him. Wrenching conflict.

When he has to make a decision that his gut is telling him is wrong, but his spider sense is telling him is right, is there the possibility that he will make the wrong decision? Yes, yes and yes.

Does he make that decision easily? NO!

Does it get him into worse trouble? In every way.

What about the other stuff? Are there machines bent on killing every human they come across? Yes. In spades.

Is Kyle Reese there? Yes. A really cute Kyle Reese.

Look familiar?

There's even a cute little girl who seems to know all the right moves.

So. The complaint. There isn't enough time for character development.

Well... How much time do they want? I can pretty much guarantee if John Connor and his companions had sat around a campfire chewing the fat, everyone would be complaining about that. Really, how much character development can you have while on the run and getting beat up by fists made out of metal? Its a Scifi action movie people. Emphasis on action.

I've seen zombie movies I would argue had no character development at all, let alone very much plot.

There were a few interesting minutes, when I sat blinking at the screen wondering if that was really Arnold in the buff throwing John Connor around. It had to be a computer generated copy from the first two movies, right?

CGI version or not, he still looked pretty good.... um.... just saying.

Is the movie exciting? Yes.

Am I disappointed. No.

Do I think the critics are wrong? Yes. I think a treatise on the human psyche would have been weird. It just isn't that kind of movie. I wanted things to blow up. And I wanted a John Connor who had to struggle to figure out what he believed in when he didn't have very much time to deliberate.

The really nice surprise... A good movie has to have one to make it perfect for me.

The music is by musical genius Danny Elfman, one of my favorite musicians from as far back as his Oingo Boingo days.

This isn't the typical Danny Elfman fare though, e.g. Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Men in Black. (I could go on and on. He has done so many.) This score is more like a mix of Elfman's Planet of the Apes and Hans Zimmer's Batman Begins. It slams clear through the floor and vibrates all the way through the chair... jangles your bones and rattles your teeth.

I can't wait to see the movie again.


Matt said...

Great review. I was on the fence about going to see this in the theater, but now maybe I won't wait get it on dvd.


Michelle G said...

I am so looking forward to this movie. Thanks for the review. :)


Jaime Theler said...

I think seeing this movie is now in the plans for the weekend. Thanks for the review!

Miles: Tues. spin=15, running=7

Jam said...

I saw so many bad reviews, I was wondering whether to actually watch it. I guess, I will. Thanks. :)

Lori-ann said...

Sounds like you REALLY enjoyed this one. This movie is definitely on our list to see.. at the dollar theatre! (We never pay full price, not even a matinee.) I was also waiting to see what you thought of it.