I loved it! Having listened to Ben Mankiewicz’s review I was expecting it to be terrible. Fortunately I had not read Roger Ebert’s rather ill-informed review. I hold his opinion in such high regard that I may not have seen it at the cinema. And, this kind of movie is best viewed on a big screen.
Let’s be clear, I am not a die-hard Terminator fan. But, I did faithfully watch and enjoyed the now cancelled Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series. I suspect that that was a factor in my enjoying the movie as much as I did.
Ebert’s biggest criticism is that there is no story. To someone that is not a fan, that is a valid criticism. The movie makes no effort to fill the viewer in on the back story. It assumes you know it. Both Ebert and Makiewicz contrast Terminator to the recent Star Trek and how it was approachable by regular movie goers. There is validity in that argument.
But anyone who is a fan of the Terminator franchise or the TV show will enjoy how Terminator Salvation fits into the overall story arch. It shows how John Connor becomes the leader of the resistance and, ultimately, the beginnings of why the machines spent so much time in the earlier Terminator movies going back in time to try to kill him. That is the main story. There is an important side story involving Sam Worthington that I also found interesting. Indeed, the side-story’s plot is the basis for the use of ‘Salvation’ in the movie’s name. To explain why would be to provide a spoiler.
Christian Bale was good as John Connor. I agree with Ebert, and most other reviewers, in so much as I thought the previously-unknown-to-me, Sam Worthington, was terrific. However, I didn’t think Worthington overshadowed or outperformed Bale. Clearly John Connor is the lynch pin of the franchise and Bale served that character well. Helena Bonham Carter’s character could have been played by anyone. She played it well enough. But, it was a small part, not terribly worthy of her considerable talents.
Reviewers quibble about inconsistencies in time travel. Frankly, after years of trying to make sense out of the infinite possible anomalies of time travel in Star Trek, Lost and the Terminator series, among others, I’ve given up. I just enjoy.
Reviewers, including Ebert, downplay the special effects and action sequences (well, perhaps they account for 2 of his 4 stars – he isn’t clear on that point). But the effects and action are top notch, very satisfying and part of why the series is so much fun. It’s a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end. To dismiss the action and special effects it is to miss the point. Part of why the Terminator franchise is what it is, is precisely because of its state-of-the art effects and action.
I noticed in the opening credits that the movie was directed by McG. Huh? Who dat? I had never heard of ‘him’? before. Looking him up on Wikipedia, the director’s real name is Joseph McGinty Nicol. Odd as his choice for screen credit is, he did a terrific job here. The movie kept me at the edge of my seat and engaged from beginning to end.
If you are a regular Terminator movie or TV series fan, go see it. You won’t regret it. If you enjoy thrilling action and top notch special effects, see it in the cinema. If you have invested no time into the Terminator story arch, and you want a self-contained story to satisfy you – skip it. Or, at least, go back and watch the prior movies and/or TV series before seeing it.
I unabashedly enjoyed the movie. It was a terrific start to the summer block buster season.