Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thoughts on the film: Terminator Salvation

I saw Terminator on Friday.

Le sigh.

It started with this great concept - a man doesn't even realize he is a machine. Cool idea, lots of potential. Potential that never got used.

First of all, thanks for all the previews that told us he was a machine, marketing people. That meant instead of spending the movie thinking ooooh hey what if he's a machine! as the clues unfold, I spent the movie waiting for him to figure out what I already knew through the previews.



I think I could have forgiven all the other major problems with this film - and they were plentiful - if it hadn't been for one major story problem. They have a guy who thinks he's human but he's really a machine. So you'd think he'd spend some time wondering who he is. You'd think he'd start to enjoy the power of being a machine, and ponder whether or not he should be human, or should he accept his situation and turn on them. Yeah there's none of that. Not once during the entire film does he really consider being anything other than human.

Here is what I would have written with the same material. Marcus Wright wakes up, finds he's human, makes his way to John Connor. Along the way he meets this guy named Kyle Reese, who leads him to John. He meets John. John finds out he's a machine. Holy crap, he's a machine. And now John Connor meets his dad and realizes how cool he really is without a contrived plot device that makes no sense.

I would have had this happen early in the movie not after an hour of empty explosions.

After the meeting, Marcus has to convince John to trust him. Kyle tries to convince John that Marcus is a good guy, and then right after meeting his idol, his father, John has a fight with him over this machine.

Marcus ends up offering to use his machine-ness to help John with a dangerous mission. They have no choice. They use him. He puts himself in harms way. He earns John's trust.

Kyle is in danger, kidnapped by Skynet during the dangerous mission.

Now John has to save a man he's learned to care about, not just some faceless man who is responsible for his birth. As it stands now, John's motives for saving Kyle are purely selfish.

John begs Marcus to help him get Kyle back. Marcus breaks into Skynet, and finds the central computer, then downloads a program that orders him to kill all humans. He was an experiment who escaped and they need him back to finish his programming. So he downloads a program and becomes a true machine.

Then he turns on John, who has become his friend. So now John has to save his dad and kill his friend. You cannot trust a machine, but you can trust your family.

I think that story would take more advantage of the opportunities given in this film. Too much money was thrown at special effects and not enough on a solid story. It makes me sad.


  1. you are aware that what preceded your spoiler was indeed also a spoiler for those of us with tivos, right?

  2. Good ideas -- but they probably couldn't change the script once Christian Bale signed on...what with his pension for flipping the fuck out.

  3. This is what happens when the writers of Catwoman team up with a director who doesn't have a full name and a star who is obsessed with a role that isn't really in the original script.

    Yet another example of how the writer has limited control over their own script, and ultimately their career.

  4. Ben, I'm sorry it spoiled the movie for you. I generally assume anyone going to see a movie that huge has seen a trailer for it at some point.

  5. Just Me

    Bale has had one "episode" that we know of in a 20 plus year career.

    It wasn't even a big deal. Most people at one time or another flip out like that, or even worse, ours just don't end up on the internet.

    The guy getting yelled at mostly deserved it. Mostly.

    As for the movie, it was doomed the minute they handed over the keys to MC fucking G. Seriously? Two Charlies Angels movies and that stupid football film don't make you fit to carry James Cameron's jock.

  6. Ads are not subject to spoiler warnings. TV shows are. And the clock is ticking on those too...

  7. the trailer i saw didn't say anything about that. maybe i didn't pay that much attention. i was never going to go and see that movie, so much as netflix it eventually. but the hivemand has spoken. it is bad. i will pass. so spoil away. they should call it something else when one doesn't care about the movie. disclosure?


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