'Terminator Salvation' Review By Gil Brooks

At least it's better than T3. Mostly...
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Being the Terminator/Cameron fan that I am, I’m naturally inclined to go into a movie like Terminator Salvation wanting to 100% hate the film. Cameron’s films hold up on many levels today, not only because of the spectacle, but also the compelling characters, scripts, and of course, the world they created.

It’s that world (Terminatorverse, if you will) that I hold on to, near and dear. In my mind, it only exists in T1 & T2. There is nothing after that. No 3rd movie. No series. Nothing. What I saw of the Future War in T1 & T2 was all I had wanted to see. I can leave the rest to my imagination.

But of course, my imagination won’t satisfy most moviegoers out there (yet), hence Terminator Salvation. I’ll be going into mild spoilers, so if you want the quick of it, here ya go:

While a competently made sci-fi action film, Terminator Salvation is still a typical exercise in how hollow dilemmas and characters can take the power, weight, and urgency out of otherwise good action and great effects.

(Forgive me if this review feels like I’m bullet pointing, but my memory is fading fast, and I have to get this out, before all memory is… terminator. Ugh, sorry about that)

What I realized watching this (and it mirrors my feelings on X-Men Origins: Wolverine), is that I found myself not liking fundamental parts of the story, instead of just nitpicking the nerdy aspects on why this wasn’t T2. To clarify, I was surprised that I surrendered to the idea of what they wanted to do with the story/characters, but just didn’t feel it was all that compelling or well done.

Sam Worthington, I will say, is the star of this film. His Marcus Wright is the true heart of the story, and it’s his arc that carries you though. Despite Christian Bale being the bigger star, his John Connor is a weak character (always questioning, but never finding answers) & over-played, and his subplot (involving the possibility of controlling the machines with some special thing-a-ma-jigger) doesn’t really go anywhere, and feels tact on. It’s like “hey, we’ve got Christian Bale in our movie! Let’s give him something to do!”

Back to the Marcus character, I really wish there was more time spent developing him. After coming across a downed Resistance pilot, Blair (Moon Bloodgood), Marcus decides to accompany her to her base of operations, about a day or two away. After saving her from some horny thugs, there’s a quick scene of “let’s get warm by the fire!” (No, that’s not an allegory for sex. That’s literally what happens. Pervs.) Cut to a tad bit later, when she discovers his “secret” (psst, he’s a cyborg! Oh, wait. The trailers tell you that), and everybody wants to kill him, that magical moment of hand-warming comes in to play, as she’s ready to possibly jeopardize humankind, because “he has a good heart”. I mean, at least give them more than 5 minutes of screen time together, before asking the audience to take that leap.

I think that bit is what summarizes the film for me: I’m more convinced that there are actual robotic killers on the screen, than I am of there being actual human characters.

To not be all negative, I love the look of the film. How it was shot, designed, etc. are all top-notch. Even Danny Elfman, who has become a bit stale over the years, delivers a score that honors the themes of the 1st two, and still adds some new energy into it.

And there is one absolute moment of greatness (spoiled everywhere but here), that I gotta admit, got me thrilled.

As for the “controversial ending”- there is none. From what I’ve read, they’ve changed their original ending, and while this ending certainly leaves room for the next in the franchise, it lacks any lasting impact. This feels more like “hey, remember that time with Marcus?”, instead of it having any lasting affect on the characters.

I hate to say it, but even T3 had that.

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Comments (28)

  1. jevil

    Saw it last night, I though the movie was great. The story was better than part three by far, No, there is no way you can compare part one and two, Those are classics. But for a summer movie it was good. The story need more time to develop. Yes the movie could of been better, But not bad for a franchise with one foot in the grave after part 3. Part 5 will be awesome.

    6 years agoby @jevilFlag

  2. MovieBuff

    Disagree with the Christian Bale subplot. I don't think you really understood what his subplot was. It was to find Kyle Reese and insure his survival in order to exist. If Reese dies, Conner doesn't exist.

    And that thing-a-ma-gigee that shuts down machines was intregal to the story because of what happens toward the end. Skynet explains what that thing-a-ma-gigee was really for.

    I have a feeling you're just hating the movie because you're a Cameron lover. And its kind of funny since McG (who I'm not a fan of) did pretty well in connecting many things to the original three films.

    But I totally agree on your opinon on how Blair so easily turns on her human counterparts. They really did need to build that human factor much, much more.

    good review

    6 years agoby @moviebuff123Flag

  3. MrBERRY01


    6 years agoby @mrberry01Flag

  4. 313td

    I hope it lives up to the hype!

    6 years agoby @313tdFlag

  5. Structure (ONSTRA)

    WOW, a big disapointment in the movie. waited for a heck of alot more. IDK. I'll still deffinitely watch it.

    6 years agoby @gaj1992Flag

  6. reelmein

    ok i still whant to see it most the time i dont let someone's review stop me from going and see it i know some my friends are not happy that they whant to keep this going with out James Cameron iam sure if he really whanted to he could buy back the rights but i guess he whants to move on and do other storys and movies so in my mind i sould know any new Terminator movie with out any help or story from James Cameron will not live up to the frist two movies but i still whant to see it iam a big time Scifi fan...

    6 years agoby @reelmeinFlag

  7. Vamp

    I still doubt everything about this film.

    6 years agoby @vampire2000Flag

  8. dcrock

    If you look at the stars he gave it he gave McG 4 stars. He gave the story only 2 1/2. So obviously he thought McG did a good job. He just thought the movie was just ok. I don't listen to reviews anyways. I may hate or like this movie. I don't know yet.

    6 years agoby @dcrockFlag

  9. MrBERRY01


    6 years agoby @mrberry01Flag

  10. Editboy

    So you wanted to hate this movie 100% and came away giving it 3 stars. Not bad! Of course I went into "Star Trek" wanting to hate it and still came away disappointed, a little annoyed, and thinking it was just O.K.

    However as far as "Terminator Salvation" goes I agree with The Fallen. Despite a few reviews I've read that has some issues, I feel I may actually come away from this thinking 'why were the reviews so middle of the road?' and end up really liking it! I certainly have been a little concerned over the past two weeks. Especially when there were no reviews until now, two days out from the film's release. That really worried me, but I'm feeling better now.

    Cameron's "Terminator" movies are The Bible to me. And like Gil, "T3" doesn't exist for me either. Actually, once you watch the deleted scene from "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" where Sarah Connor is sitting on a park bench in 2029 Washington, D.C. watching her son John play with his daughter, and Judgment Day never happened because they blew up Cyberdyne, I've always felt like THAT was the end of the story! I know this has to follow "T3" from the studio's point of view, but I really wanted the future in "Terminator Salvation" to be the future at the beginning of Cameron's films....BEFORE the other movies happened (so to speak).

    Going to the midnight show on Wednesday...

    6 years agoby @editboyFlag

  11. Bryan Yentz

    Wasn't this review posted a few weeks back or something?

    6 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  12. MrBERRY01

    I'm not scared. This dude was already hating the movie before he seen it so that says enough. If james cameron would have done the movie he would have given it at least a 4. Gil, grow up... you're a nut. I can't believe all these people are throwing sh*t on this movie due to the director being McG...You keep crying of character development. I bet your idea of a movie with excellent character development is Brokeback Mountain ya f*cking f*g.

    6 years agoby @mrberry01Flag

  13. Brian

    I'm seeing this sucker tomorrow night.... thanks Gil you bastard, now I'm scared.

    6 years agoby @brianFlag

  14. Gil Brooks

    Reviews are starting to hit. Check out the one on movies.yahoo.com. Pretty much matches mine.

    6 years agoby @gil-brooksFlag

  15. jono1018

    i still go and see it is the action good ?

    6 years agoby @jono1018Flag

  16. the Narrator

    I look at it like this guys. This guy went into the theatre hating the film so 3 stars from a somewhat hater is like a 4 or 4.5 from a expected fan. So I think I will be more than pleased with it. Nice review.

    6 years agoby @narratorFlag

  17. CBF

    Wow. Only 1 review so far. So, you felt the characters weren't really developed well or lacked human characteristics. Heh... I can see that. We might not all feel that same way when WE see the film, but then again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And like you said, anything beyond T1 and T2 in your mind doesn't really exist. I get that you went to see the film unbiased, as it were, but it sounds as if you're clenching to Cameron's vision a leetle too tightly. Fact is, if that were really true, you might have strayed away from this film. T3 strayed from that vision. T:S tried hard and true to keep it loyal to Jim's vision, and is the sole reason why Linda Hamilton said yes to a voice-over and no to T3.

    Good review still.

    6 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  18. slysnide

    I'm not at all surprised by this rating.

    6 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  19. T. King (Red Camera Man)

    This movie looks awesome and I want to see it SO BAD!

    6 years agoby @redcameramanFlag

  20. Gil Brooks

    The rating is fine. Not too much is held back. It's the story, though...

    6 years agoby @gil-brooksFlag

  21. The CryptKeeper

    Look, people, if there's a long review, that's logical, 99/100 times, its real. Plus also, notice the fact that he didn't give it 5 stars.

    Anyway, I definitely had my doubts on this film, I'm just sad to see them come true. Retarded PG-13 BS.

    6 years agoby @catwomanFlag

  22. Bryan Yentz

    What was up with that guy saying you didn't see it? He seemed pretty pissed with his capitalization and what not. Either way, I don't think you really gave anything away that hasn't already been shown in the trailers. Can't wait for the flick... Despite the fact that it's PG-13... Yeesh.

    6 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  23. Gil Brooks

    MILD spoilers, nothing major.

    6 years agoby @gil-brooksFlag

  24. Timmy

    Not reading you prick!

    6 years agoby @timmyFlag

  25. Raoul Duke

    I read "one moment of greatness" and just about shat myself. Ive got to stay away from this review. If it is what I think it is, then I'm as happy as a pig in sh*t. F*ck I cant wait for this. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    6 years agoby @raoulduke33Flag

  26. Shelley

    I do not know why my comment was deleted.

    6 years agoby @shelleyFlag

  27. Gil Brooks

    I'm assuming there was someone that got deleted before your post?

    6 years agoby @gil-brooksFlag

  28. Brian

    Actually, he did see the movie, moron.

    Gil, I can't read this entire thing because I'm scared of being spoiled, but glimpsing at these 2 lines:

    "I hate to say it, but even T3 had that."


    "At least it's better than T3. Mostly..."

    ...scare the crap out of me...almost as much as a remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street does...

    6 years agoby @brianFlag