Terminator: Salvation Movie Review
Terminator: Salvation stars Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, and Anton Yelchin and was directed by McG. Set during 2018, it tells the story of the early future war as John Connor, played by Christian Bale, leads the resistance in its fight against Skynet while trying to ensure the survival of a young Kyle Reese, played by Anton Yelchin, and deal with the arrival of a newcomer. Ever since Terminator 2, this franchise has been all over the place. Plots have been inconsistent, characters have come and gone, and each new film introduces a nearly entirely different group of actors to play the same characters.
The built-in time-travel element of the story can be used to account for some of this variation, but there’s far too much change occurring between each of the later films in the franchise. As far as that change is concerned, Terminator: Salvation is the most extreme. It’s really the outlier of the franchise for a number of reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the setting. With the exception of an extremely brief intro, this entire movie is set after Judgement Day, during the future war. If you saw my review for the first Terminator movie, you know that the future sequences were my least favorite part of that movie. The time-period representation is a bit better here, but I still much prefer a non-apocalyptic setting for my robot fights.
This movie’s also a bit strange when it comes to its characters. If somebody asked you to name three characters from the Terminator franchise, what would you say? John Connor, Sarah Connor, and T-800 Terminator. Maybe Kyle Reese? Who are you not gonna say? Marcus Wright, Blair Williams, Barnes.
These are all entirely new characters crafted for this movie. I don’t mind having some new characters, it’s just weird that we spend far more time with them than we do with John Connor. This is also the only movie, so far, that doesn’t feature Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800. We briefly get a CGI-created variant, but since he was the Governor of California when this came out, Schwarzenegger wasn’t even involved with this one. Despite the fact that all of the actors who’ve ever played John Connor are still alive, still acting, and are actually now the right age for future John, we get yet another person to play John Connor. As much as I like Christian Bale, he does not feel like John Connor to me at all.
I mean, obviously, he’s had to harden up a bit since judgement day happened, but still… he just doesn’t feel right to me. But who does feel right? Anton Yelchin as a teenage Kyle Reese. Man do I miss Anton Yelchin. I really don’t think there was ever a role of his that I disliked and him playing Kyle Reese is no different. I would even say that he was my favorite part of this movie, so I really wish even more time was spent focusing on Kyle and developing his character. Instead, the focus is primarily on a new character, Marcus. But, despite some decent action with him, he was honestly kinda dull to me.
There’s an attempt to do something kinda unique and interesting with him, but it’s done in such a flat way that it loses most of its impact. And even though this movie sticks to the Terminator timeline and history better than Terminator 3 did, it still doesn’t really make sense. The action’s decent and the continued exploration of the humanity of machines that started way back in T2 is a little on-the-nose here, but still okay. It’s not a bad movie, but Terminator: Salvation feels like a hollow shell of a Terminator movie.
It’s got all the pieces and looks how it should at first glance, but it’s just missing something at its core. It’s the terminator of Terminators. Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons. The biggest pro of this film is Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. Not only do I think he delivers the best performance of the film, but his character is also the most interesting in the film by far. Even when he was stuck with the rather dull character of Marcus, he was still able to drive the scenes forward with his energy and humor. As far as cons go, the biggest problem with this movie is that it’s so bland.
It may be a competently-made film, but everything about it just screams generic post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Now like I said, the future scenes of the previous Terminator movies have always been my least favorite parts and that’s all this movie is, so I might find it a bit more dull that the average person. Con number two is the character focus. We get a bit of time with John Connor, but other than a handful of action scenes, he doesn’t do anything interesting or compelling in this movie.
Instead, the bulk of the plot and focus falls on Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright. And he’s easily and unfortunately the most dull character in this movie. I really wish they turned the focus more to Kyle Reese here cause he was the only engaging character. I’m gonna give Terminator: Salvation 2.5 out of 5 paws. It’s one of those movies that’s technically competent, but empty. It’s got enough going on to keep you sorta satisfied while watching, but once it’s over, you realize how hollow it actually is. I would recommend Terminator: Salvation to fans of the Terminator franchise.
Don’t expect anything spectacular and definitely don’t expect it to reach the heights of T1 and T2, but it’s got enough connections to the story to make it at least reasonably enjoyable to most fans. Also, if you like loud, explosion-heavy sci-fi action movies from the late 2000s, you’re bound to enjoy the action sequences here. If you liked Terminator: Salvation, I would recommend The Terminator. Although T2 was the more action-heavy movie, T1 had that gritty darkness to it that tonally tracks with this movie. Plus, it’s the only other film to feature Kyle Reese (not counting dream sequences or flashbacks).
I would also recommend Transformers. Very different type of movie and far more upbeat that this one, but the big moments of action here are really reminiscent of that one, especially the gas station scene. If you’re sick of robots, but are in the mood for another desert post-apocalyptic movie, you might want to check out Resident Evil: Extinction. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen Terminator: Salvation? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: What’s your favorite Anton Yelchin movie? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.