Friday, May 29, 2009

Where's the Mclovin?

I REALLY REALLY like TERMINATOR SALVATION. Of course I know several people and more than a few critics that didn’t. Going into the theatre I was a little worried because the film got beat up pretty good by the online press. In fact watching the movie for the first time (I’ve since seen it again) was one of tenser movie-going experiences of my life. The entire time I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, I kept waiting for it to all come off the rails devolve into the train wreck I had read it was. But that moment never came. Instead of walking out of the theatre pissed and disappointed I was scratching my head trying to figure out where the love is?

Geeks are a fickle crowd. We know what we like and we know what we want and often times if you don’t deliver EXACTLY that things can get ugly. I’m not sure what everyone was expecting out of TERMINATOR SALVATION but the movie delivered exactly what McG said it was going to be, a futuristic war movie.

TERMINATOR SALVATION is unlike any Terminator film ever made, but that’s not a bad thing. The movie is tackling a different kind of story. It’s not about female empowerment and Sarah Conner, heck it’s not even about Terminators! Instead it’s a movie about John Conner stumbling into the path of his destiny and the redemption of a brand new character to the Terminator mythos. The movie sets up everything so that we can watch the resistance grow, struggle and persevere to the point that leads to the desperate actions of Skynet and the resistance seen in the original TERMINATOR.

People have been complaining that John Conner isn’t very likeable in this movie. They’re right, but he’s not meant to be. John Conner has NEVER been that likeable. We’ve always rooted for Sarah Conner, Kyle Reese or Arnold. This movie doesn’t change that template, instead it begins to illustrate HOW John became someone that people would follow unquestionably. John literally has a change of heart at the end of the movie and I think that was done just as much for Marcus Wright’s character arc as it was for John’s.

Likewise since our first glimpses of the future war in 1984 I think many people have had their “vision” of what that war will look like. Because this movie doesn’t exactly followed their preconceived ideas (It can’t because Judgment Day didn’t happen like it was supposed to, not just changing the timeline but pretty much everything else) they feel like they’ve been robbed. How you can feel robbed of something that never really existed (Save in the mind of James Cameron) I don’t know, but that seems to be what some people feel.

Ultimately TERMINATOR SALVATION is a kick-ass futuristic war film. That’s what it was meant to be from the beginning. It’s huge, with great action, direction and special effects. Best of all it’s obvious that it’s made by a full blown TERMINATOR geek. There’s so much TERMINATOR fetishism on display it’s not even funny. If you’ve put off seeing this movie please don’t. Go in understanding that this is not a normal TERMINATOR film in the conventional sense and you should have a pretty darn entertaining time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I got mixed reviews from my friends as well. Haven't seen it yet but I just expect a decent action film above the level of T3. McG even admitted in an interview that he'll never be the kind film maker that Cameron is, so I'm not expecting a modern classic like T1 and T2 were but rather something that doesn't embarass the series.

I think I'll like it from what I've seen of it so far, although I must say I really hate how so much of it takes place in the day time since it was established in the original that they only moved around at night because it was harder to track them. From an aesthetic point of view, I think its also more bleak when its set at night as well.

I'm also apprehensive about the PG-13 rating but the last Die Hard was pretty decent and it didn't effect The Dark Knight either so I'll keep an open mind about that. I still hope they go R for the next one though since a film about the end of the world should never pull any punches.