Reviews

Terminator Salvation

4

McG tears into the future, full throttle...

Like his grim-faced, Skynet-hating protagonist, McG has a lot to prove. He’s got the weight of the Terminator franchise resting squarely on his shoulders, a load that proved too much for Jonathan Mostow with Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines.

Can the man who’s  struggled to shrug off his association with Charlie’s Angels and a rep for pumping out candyfloss flicks bring back some true heft to the tale of John Connor (Christian Bale)? For the most part, the answer’s a resounding yes.

One of the smartest moves made by the director and his team is shunting the story forward to 2018, allowing them to stake out new territory in the Terminator saga.

Jumping off from glimpses offered in the first three movies, Salvation immerses itself in humanity’s fight to survive in a post-Judgement Day world. With its vistas of a scorched, skeletal LA and expansive desert flats, this is more a war movie than the chase thrillers of the past.

After introducing us to Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright, sat on Death Row in a 2003-set prologue, pedal meets metal and rarely eases off. Whenever one of the leads faces off against the teeming army of ’bot bad guys – which is most of the running time – Salvation seethes with excitement.

There’s been a major upgrade and expansion of murderous hardware: from the slithery Hydrobots that haunt lakes like a worst nightmare
mash-up of snake, shark and alligator, to the towering, stomping Harvesters and soaring, roaring Hunter-Killers, Skynet’s forces are characters in themselves, making our heroes’ lives hell at every turn.

Fans will happily tick off the many references to what has come before, from a blast of Guns N’ Roses’ ‘You Could Be Mine’ (entirely apt given where it appears in the pic) to signature lines (Connor gets to say, “I’ll be back” without it sounding too cheesy or forced) and even some familiar beats during the final factory-based showdown.

John Connor’s efforts to ‘fight the power’ also engage, whether he’s trading fire with the marauding machines or butting heads with his own commanders (including Michael Ironside in a fun cameo) over decisions and tactics. Smartly, we’re shown tomorrow’s world before the man who will lead the Resistance takes up that position.

Viewed by some as mankind’s prophesised saviour (cue audio cameo by Linda Hamilton), he’s seen by others as an annoying loose cannon, which spikes the plot with extra tension.

But for all of Bale’s growling, glowering, conflicted Connor moments, this is actually Sam Worthington’s film. Matching his co-star’s intensity, the hitherto low-profile Aussie actor steps ably into a key role that gives him plenty to do.

Marcus enjoys a full arc through the movie, from that quietly mysterious prison opening, through his reintroduction, staggering naked into frame,
mud-coated and desperate to fi gure out what happened to him post-death sentence.

It’s when the focus strays from fi ghting that niggles begin to creep in. McG has a sure handle on the setpieces, which are typically big, bold, frenetic and exhilarating. But he never quite rounds out the characters beyond Marcus, John, Kyle Reese and, to a degree, Resistance pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood).

Anton Yelchin channels thesping predecessor Michael Biehn without any party-trick mimicry, making the most of a part that’s largely about setting Reese up for the fate we already know he faces.

Bale does a lot of what you’ve seen snatches of in the trailers – shout loudly into radio mikes and lay the smackdown on the robo-nasties – while Bloodgood holds her own in her tangles with Worthington.

But everyone else – especially Bryce Dallas Howard’s Kate Connor – feels a bit like a cipher. The latter highlights one of the other problem areas: Salvation isn’t as accessible as it could be for non-fans.

OK, we don’t want a pace-sapping, long-winded lecture on the twisted timeline so far, but anyone coming in fresh won’t get much of a steer
on what Kate means to John.

That said, as the kick-off point for a whole new trilogy, there’s plenty to absorb and intrigue those who didn’t grow up watching Schwarzenegger stalk Hamilton or tussle with the T-1000. If this is truly the future (and maybe the past, if rumours of plans for Terminator 5 come to life) of the series, then there are enough reasons here to look forward with hope.

It may not be up to James Cameron’s benchmarks, but since he’s unlikely to return to the universe he created any time soon, you couldn’t
realistically ask for much more.

McG has proved he’s got the balls; now he’s got to show he’s got staying power. On this imperfect but perfectly solid showing, we strongly suspect he’ll be back.

Verdict:

The Terminator story recharges with a post-apocalyptic jolt of energy. Frantic and full of welcome ties to the past, it also ploughs new ground with purpose. Fingers crossed McG will follow Cameron’s lead and serve up a worthy sequel…

Film Details

User Reviews

    • chuffster

      May 20th 2009, 18:44

      5

      Nice review,better than Ole Ginger B@llox at AICn:)

      Alert a moderator

    • Mattsimus

      May 20th 2009, 20:37

      4

      Great review, total film gang, shame about the other 5000 i read slating the movie, tomatometer gave it a sh###y 35% less than night at the museum 2, well im geared up n looking forward to seeing it, bring it on bale!!!

      Alert a moderator

    • NachoMan316

      May 21st 2009, 8:51

      5

      I agree with chuffster tho great review but I fear their is a little harry (fat ginger w**k) knowles in all of us so i'm going to have to wait and see for myself....still looking forward to it tho

      Alert a moderator

    • naughts

      May 21st 2009, 16:39

      3

      yeah its a bit worrying the amount of bad reviews ive read but i normally go by TF and another certain film mag that also gave it 4 stars. im def gonna see it but from the trailers and clips they have released ive not been impressed which is a shame cos i love the first 2 films

      Alert a moderator

    • naughts

      May 21st 2009, 16:43

      1

      yeah its a bit worrying the amount of bad reviews ive read for this but i normally go by TF and another certain film mag that also gave it 4 stars. im def gonna see it but from the trailers and clips that have been released i havnt been impressed which is a shame cos i love the first 2 films

      Alert a moderator

    • scabo33

      May 21st 2009, 20:04

      1

      Surely wrong........ Rotton tomato is slating it...

      Alert a moderator

    • Mattsimus

      May 22nd 2009, 18:05

      4

      Yeah so true, tomato meter TRYINE TO kill T4 rep before its even released, but total film have a better rep than rotten and terminator has a massive following, so if wolverine can break records im sure T4 shouldnt have a prob with quality or box office!!!

      Alert a moderator

    • britcitchris

      May 25th 2009, 9:36

      I'm intruiged that Total Film like it. I hated the trailer with a huuuge passion but now i've read T.F. review, I may have to force a showing to see for myself.....I will approach with extreme caution....

      Alert a moderator

    • Prophet1138

      May 26th 2009, 19:27

      I saw it last wednesday at a press showing (smugly rubs knuckles on shirt). I'm incredibly hard to please with modern films, especially continuations of series I LOVED when I was younger. But, this is really good. Totally agreed with the review. I enjoyed it way more than the, frankly, over-rated Star Trek and it's 100 times better than T3.

      Alert a moderator

    • chaosdefined

      Jun 3rd 2009, 18:45

      4

      Saw the film today, and I agree with the review. While it may not be perfect it is still far better than it could have been. Sam Worthington steals the show, Christian Bale is good but to be fair, he kinda plays these big action parts all the same. Special effects are decent and the world feels familiar to what we've come to expect from the glimpses in previous films, but different as well. Lots of tiny little homages to the previous 3 which I liked, the action was intense and the only thing I didn't like was the lack of the original theme (other than the dun dun dun dun dun). Go see it for yourself, and don't always trust elitist websites who dont like to be known to like mainstream movies ;)

      Alert a moderator

    • easyoneoone

      Jun 3rd 2009, 23:15

      2

      just saw the film and to be quiet honest i have to question total films reasons("motives")for giving this film 4 stars this film deserves at most a 2 star rating if any,if there was a 4 star film here it was left on the cutting room floor along with the plot.there is no continuity throughout the film it seems to be a mish mash of ideas thrown haphazardly together some good most bad and the good ones arent developed into anything fruitful as for the direction its up there with charlies angels for its notable absence why do big magazines like empire and tf(both gave 4 stars)basically endorse this trash i paid hard earned cash to see this and youve heard it before left feeling robbed and cheated a blind could see this is a poor poor effort the reviewer above me says "dont always trust elitist websites" maybe hes right but shame on tf for giving this 4 stars

      Alert a moderator

    • timisstupid

      Jun 4th 2009, 20:45

      4

      Action was impressive and satisfying, however Bale's dry performance left the film with no solid motivation. Sam Worthington shone as an upcoming star, but the rest of the cast seemed to be there as faces amongst the mess of metal that the rest of the overly desaturated film seemed to love so much. More heart would have gone a long way, but as it stands is an entertaining romp that fits well in the rest of the franchise, which has room to grow.

      Alert a moderator

    • rorschach

      Jun 5th 2009, 0:05

      1

      4 stars? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Anyway, you suck.

      Alert a moderator

    • edwardsnow

      Jun 5th 2009, 15:39

      1

      Four stars? I think it's awful, my friends think it's awful, the people in the cinema thought it was awful, every other critic thinks it's awful... Yet you give it four stars... Of course you can 'realistically ask for more' than McG, for God's sake snap out of it TF!

      Alert a moderator

    • BigAndyT

      Jun 6th 2009, 0:52

      3

      Yes it insnt the best movie of the 4 but it isnt a awfull movie, i liked it thought the action and effects were good, What are you other people expecting from this its never going to be as good as 1 n 2 but is all in all a good movie

      Alert a moderator

    • sp4cej0ckey

      Jun 8th 2009, 9:53

      Some impressive action sequences in the first two thirds of the movie, though at the expense of any real plot or character development. The last third of the movie is absolutely dire with what has to be one of the naffest endings in action movie history. Heart transplant done in a tent in the middle of a desert by a vet??? wtf?

      Alert a moderator

    • Dubar101

      Jun 8th 2009, 12:57

      This film is awful. Feel absolutely robbed of my money. I think my 20 year old Commodore 64 could've done a better job of defending Skynet HQ. Laughable

      Alert a moderator

    • MrMiyagi

      Jun 8th 2009, 14:36

      Some standards need to be set because it's quite obviously not a 4 star movie. It seems to be another case of reviewers letting things slide or ignoring obvious bad story telling/acting just "because y'know it's ok really".

      Alert a moderator

    • MrMiyagi

      Jun 8th 2009, 14:37

      2

      Alert a moderator

    • strkr241

      Jun 8th 2009, 21:49

      4

      I spent the first 30 odd minutes of the film waiting for something amazing to happen in the film and then the nest 20 mins after thinking that all my excitement over the film for months was wasted and then... the next hour was so amazing and the CGI Arnie and the fight that followed was so amazing that it made up for the slow start. It wasn't a bad film... it just wasn't the way that I thought it would be (based on the trailers). One of the cool bits was the sound that the T-600s made when they walked and moved, they sounded really primative and clunky. The special effects were amazing though. The music was awesome too and I am glad that they kept the old Terminator tunes too for continuity. Theres a lot of people that have picked at this film for various reasons that they think is credible but remember... it is a blockbuster film made to entertain and attract new audiences and it certainly is an improvement on Terminator 3. The ending leave the prospect for a Terminator 5 and I think they should make the other films to build on characters but not go along with McG's ridiculous T5 plot.

      Alert a moderator

    • tariqdj

      Jun 9th 2009, 0:57

      4

      I think the reason why the critics are slamming it , is because they're comparing it to the first 2 films ... which are completely different altogether .. if you're expecting a T1 or T2 type flick, you're going to be disappointed. This is a prequel, which, if you followed the first 2 films , will know, and expect it to basically be somewhat of a war movie, which is what this is. It's set in the future at the height of the war against skynet, .. .. they are at war .. so .. no it can't have Arnie stalking his targets/victims while trying to blend in 30 years prior to his existence, thus creating a suspense, action thriller . .. so no .. it can't be that .. its a war movie .. which means. its most likely going to be dull, gloomy and noisy . T3 was blasphemy to James Cameron's masterpiece. MCG succeeds in this regard, as he's respected Cameron's work by not attempting to make a 'Cameron' flick, instead he makes this movie his own, while linking it to the first 2 films with familiar story lines, characters, music etc. .. but all in all .. its a different film which could stand on its own as an entertaining action flick, rather than a 4th installment in this franchise. With today's sinking standards of movie making .. i render this film worth watching on the big screen. Highly entertaining .

      Alert a moderator

    • paisleybhoy7

      Jun 12th 2009, 14:08

      3

      I grew up with the early films and with T3 was ok i had the great belief that this film was going to be good but I was wrong. All 3 films before had the main characters been stalked by a terminator, in this apart from the start with John Conors fight with a half terminator and a small part at the end, theres nothing, the stalking terminator always gave you that scary always looking behind my back feeling or always on the run, this film the terminator where fantastic looking but they gave the impression the bigger they are the more dangerous and scarier they come. Great cgi but you cant judge a film just on it great fx. A story with unbelievable potential but was full of holes like Arnies jacket in T2, if 5 is coming MCG will have to get the finger out or get a director who can win back old school Terminator fans , on my blog i gave the rating of 2.5 out of 5, was ok but full of holes

      Alert a moderator

    • thedarkknight

      Jun 13th 2009, 1:26

      5

      I thought this film was astonishing. The nudges and winks did become a little tiresome but the wealth of new and exciting content leaves that as my only little niggle. I think it's 4 stars but I'm giving it 5 to boost the average user rating.

      Alert a moderator

    • thedarkknight

      Jun 13th 2009, 1:27

      5

      Alert a moderator

    • thedarkknight

      Jun 13th 2009, 1:27

      5

      Alert a moderator

    • Wrekit

      Jun 14th 2009, 0:12

      5

      Amazing as a film in it's own right!

      Alert a moderator

    • thesquire51

      Jun 15th 2009, 1:07

      2

      Really wanted to like this film and ignored all of the bad reviews that came out before release, but it just doesn't work. Good special effects and some good action stuff but there's no plot whatsoever. It could have been the best ever as the Bale is a legend.

      Alert a moderator

    • xxwaitnbleedxx

      Jun 19th 2009, 21:30

      1

      An odd sequel, Terminator did nothing for me. It was almost a relief to come home and watch the excellent Terminator 2: Judgement Day. In short, a real disappointment. Bale pretty much ruined the film for himself after all the bad press involving the bust up with a crew member, and as i watched the new film, i couldnt help asking myself which scene the guy "interrupted".

      Alert a moderator

    • Chirurgie

      Jun 20th 2009, 2:55

      4

      Having low expectations, I really enjoyed it. Sure it's full of large plot holes when you think about it but overall it was fairly well directed by McG *to my surprise*. Ending is quite abrupt but overall well enjoyed and would go see T5 if they ever make it

      Alert a moderator

    • dholleyuk

      Jun 25th 2009, 13:16

      One of the worst films I have seen, saw Transformers last night and the CGI was in a whole other league then terminator and that was the only thing going for it. The acting was poor at best (but then again there was nothing to work with). The story was very poor and added nothing to the franchise. The Enemy - well it was facless and really had no clue about temporal multi universes and therefore the story SUCKED as a direct result. The only saving grace was the T800 Arney cameo but even he had the right idea in staying away from directly being in this movie. 4 stars I think not, better then t3 - yes, one star lower then t1 and t2 hell no! should be at best a 1.5 star

      Alert a moderator

    • buushank

      Jun 28th 2009, 23:52

      1

      I think i may have even preferred T3!!! john connors character has radically changed, script was dire, acting was even worse. all in all generally 1 star if that

      Alert a moderator

    • manfromthezoo

      Jul 8th 2009, 12:30

      2

      Hhhmm. Not feeling it, TF....here's some drainings from my own thought-pipes on the subject: http://manfromthezoo.blogspot.com/2009/06/terminator-savlon.html

      Alert a moderator

    • Ptolemaios

      Jul 10th 2009, 10:43

      1

      This was a really bad movie with a really stupid plot. All the (nice looking) action sequences are totally unrealistic, too many, too long and too silly. The end was among the most stupid I have seen in years. A heart transplant? Please, write a real script next time.

      Alert a moderator

    • sadiahussan

      Jul 10th 2009, 12:04

      5

      I loved it. After the last one this is bringing it back to the original story. And I enjoyed the fact that the story wasn't completley about John Conner, it was more about the Marcus charactor. And the fact that John was not the leader yet was realistic because in a military organisation it would take time and by doing this they have the chance to show us how John became the leader. I enjoyed the little references they had to T1 and T2, that was a nice touch. This is what I have been waiting for and I can't wait for the sequels!

      Alert a moderator

    • durkind

      Jul 13th 2009, 10:22

      3

      Alert a moderator

    • stridsvagnen

      Jul 16th 2009, 1:58

      4

      Good movie and all. But Bale doing his Batman voice was a little disturbing, sounds ridicolous.

      Alert a moderator

    • sweaterpuppy14

      Jul 18th 2009, 22:20

      5

      why is everyone giving this movie crappy reviews? i think you're missing the point of a movie; to ENTERTAIN. this movie certainly ticks that box, and with great acting and mind-blowing action sequences, its this summers must see film. 5 stars for movie.

      Alert a moderator

    • sweaterpuppy14

      Jul 18th 2009, 22:26

      by the way dholleyuk, transformers 2 sucks really bad. 0 stars for transformers 2

      Alert a moderator

    • sweaterpuppy14

      Jul 18th 2009, 22:27

      5

      this film is awesome bale is amazing the best actor ever

      Alert a moderator

    • sweaterpuppy14

      Jul 18th 2009, 22:27

      5

      Alert a moderator

    • Phoenix81

      Jul 28th 2009, 14:25

      3

      4 Stars are you for real?? Weak plot, way to much over shouting from Bale and some pretty ropey CGI bring it right down for me.

      Alert a moderator

    • hulk68

      Aug 5th 2009, 12:57

      3

      Good entertaiment and a great Chris Bale. Instantly forgettable, however.

      Alert a moderator

    • zodiacspeaking

      Oct 22nd 2009, 14:15

      4

      With the original 3 movies I enjoyed them but my favourite bits were when you got to see some future battles. Now we get into the good stuff and its all excitement through the whole movie. The only gripes I have was that the story isn't as centred round John connor more the other guy (I forget his name) also more terminator on human fighting please.

      Alert a moderator

    • beck79

      Dec 4th 2009, 12:57

      1

      What an absolute pile of c**p, completely shocked at how bad this actually is. Barely a plot, bad acting and a laughable script. Really just a show boat for ridiculous effects with nothing to back it up. So sick of the greedy film industry tagging shoddy sequels to brilliant originals, with the only intention to rake in more money. Only idiots would find this trash entertaining.

      Alert a moderator

    • Ali1748

      Dec 4th 2009, 22:01

      4

      Much better than I expected .

      Alert a moderator

    • bassthing

      Jan 8th 2010, 20:10

      1

      Bear with me as I may find it difficult to actually express how appalled by this film I was into words - although I guess that already gives you a good idea of my opinion of this film. I'll try to keep this short and list just a few of the reasons for loathing this film. First, this film is part of a trend of films that Hollywood is churning out with much more frequency, that have forgotten that the basic principle of any good film is not how much s**t you can blow up but actually having a good story and characterisation. However, I’m not even sure that Hollywood have forgotten this, they just don’t care as long as the audience pay their money, they don’t care whether you enjoy the experience. As is the case with Terminator: Salvation. They blow up A LOT of s**t, but quiet frankly I didn’t care. The story is nonsensical and I couldn’t have cared less about the one dimensional characters. Secondly, I couldn’t help but feel I was watching a Transformers movie. The different Terminator machines in the movie just became increasingly ridiculous as the makers obviously thought ’Oooh, it’s been at least 10 minutes since we blew some s**t up for no reason’. This culminates in, what was for me the most ridiculous part, where the harvester suddenly releases 2 terminator motorbikes FROM IT’S LEGS. WTF. Finally, Christian Bale cannot act. Although maybe that is being unfair, as the quality of the material Bale has to work with is shocking. John Connor is a terrible creation in McG’s Terminator universe. There is much more - including the frequently poor special effects and the terrible score, but I think I’ve gone on far too long as it is - just like the movie.

      Alert a moderator

    • district9

      Aug 26th 2010, 16:24

      4

      Brilliant film. Lived up to the first three. Bale and worthington were superb. Good visuals and great action.

      Alert a moderator

    • district9

      Aug 26th 2010, 16:27

      4

      Amazing film, lived up to the first three. Bale and worthington were superb, also it had great visuls and action. Music was phenominal too.

      Alert a moderator

    • district9

      Aug 26th 2010, 16:29

      4

      Amazing film, lived up to the first three. Bale and Worthington were superb and the film had lots of great visual effects and the action was phenominal. Music was awesome.

      Alert a moderator

    • turlington

      Oct 20th 2010, 8:20

      Very nice Site number one topic Thanks you.. University Partnership University Partnership Program

      Alert a moderator

    • ellyka19

      Oct 25th 2010, 8:54

      5

      Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful. tarif assurance voiture sans permis

      Alert a moderator

    • truballer2

      Nov 19th 2010, 20:08

      great site vigrx plus

      Alert a moderator

    • kobirana

      Dec 30th 2010, 12:59

      Really wanted to like this film and ignored all of the bad reviews that came out before release, but it just doesn't work. Good special effects and some good action stuff but there's no plot whatsoever. It could have been the best ever as the Bale is a legend. Pneumonia symptoms

      Alert a moderator

    • kobirana

      Dec 30th 2010, 13:00

      Really wanted to like this film and ignored all of the bad reviews that came out before release, but it just doesn't work. Good special effects and some good action stuff but there's no plot whatsoever. It could have been the best ever as the Bale is a legend. how to identify Pneumonia

      Alert a moderator

    • usman100

      Feb 8th 2011, 8:30

      4

      t up for no reason’. This culminates in, what was for me the most ridiculous part, where the harvester suddenly releases 2 terminator motorbikes FROM IT’S LEGS. WTF. Finally, Christian Bale cannot act. Although maybe that is being unfair, as the quality of the material Bale has to work with is shocking. John Connor is a terrible creation in McG’s Terminator universe. There is much more - including the frequently poor special effects and the terrible score, but I think I’ve gone on far too long as it is - just like the movie. E20-361 \ 000-022 \ 000-119 \ 642-983

      Alert a moderator

    • TonyS

      Feb 16th 2011, 22:35

      5

      I'll have to get this one on DVD. Didn't have the chance to get out and see it. It's a must see. Business Cash Advance

      Alert a moderator

    • davidlogan

      Feb 21st 2011, 10:53

      Great Review Specially the film is awe some. essay writing

      Alert a moderator

    • usman100

      Mar 5th 2011, 9:51

      4

      t up for no reason’. This culminates in, what was for me the most ridiculous part, where the harvester suddenly releases 2 terminator motorbikes FROM IT’S LEGS. WTF. Finally, Christian Bale cannot act. Although maybe that is being unfair, as the quality of the material Bale has to work with is shocking. John Connor is a terrible creation in McG’s Terminator universe. There is much more - including the frequently poor special effects and the terrible score, but I think I’ve gone on far too long as it is - just like the movie links of london

      Alert a moderator

    • Charlote

      Mar 8th 2011, 12:39

      4

      Thanks for sharing this post. This is a very helpful and informative material like 70-643. Good post and keep it up. Websites are always helpful in one way or the other, that’s cool stuff, anyways, a good way to get started to renovate your dreams HP0-S25 into the world of reality.I will write more in detail after my 70-290 and 70-648 very soon. Thanks! 70-448 | 646-671 | 1Y0-A24 | 640-721 | HP0-S26 | 1Y0-A05 | test king | 1z0-051

      Alert a moderator

    • triston31

      Mar 9th 2011, 17:22

      5

      I have been waiting to see the future version since I was a kid. LOVED IT! satellite tv texas

      Alert a moderator