It sucked sucked sucked sucked SUCKED.
I saw it Friday night at Grauman’s Chinese theater in H0llywood, the unofficial home of genre movies. Basically, if you’re a fan and live anywhere near Hollywood, it’s an unwritten law that if a new sci-fi movie opens at the Chinese, that’s where you must go to see it. The theater is big and loud and you’re guaranteed to have an audience of die-hards that love to love movies like this.
But the built-in affection of the opening night crowd wasn’t enough to stop them from laughing not once, but TWICE at overly ridiculous moments in the film…
If you think that anyone who calls himself “McG” would be better off working at McDonald’s, you’d be right. And even then I’d double check my order to make sure he didn’t forget my fries.
The sad thing is that we’re not even demanding high art from this franchise; all any of us really want from a Terminator movie is good action, a mildly clever plot and a few cool moments we can’t wait to see again. Despite the previous chapter’s lukewarm reception, I actually like T3 – sure, it’s little more than a remake of T2, but it’s tightly paced, has repeat-viewing-worthy action (that chase with the crane truck in downtown LA is an all-time classic as far as I’m concerned) and it has one of the best twist endings in sci-fi cinema history.
But Terminator: Salvation has none of the above. The story makes little sense, one of the biggest action sequences in the film is a direct rip-off of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (and I mean it is literally plagiarism) and this movie’s only surprise twist is that it makes you wish you were watching The Sarah Conner Chronicles.
Not only does T4 truly feel like a paint-by-numbers TV movie for the first two acts, it drags the Terminator franchise down to the level of Alien VS Predator, hovering dangerously close to cliche-ridden “B-movie” territory. Not only does McG serve up a stale post-apocalyptic-attempted-rape scene in an attempt to establish character, but he flings Michael Ironside off the grill in his default role as a two-bit military commander with an axe to grind. Wow, that’s clever casting.
My only fear is that if this movie does poorly the studio will mistakenly assume it was because it didn’t star Arnold. Terminator movies don’t NEED Arnold to work (just like Alien movies don’t need Sigourney Weaver), but they DO need a pre-lobotomy writer and director that not only understand the genre but will respect the legacy material. Other than seeing the prerequisite endo-skeletons with glowing red eyes, there was little about this film that made me feel like I was watching a Terminator movie. Honestly, the studio should hire a couple of fanboys to go over this stuff before they commit it to film – they’d be more than happy to tell you that T2 music and relentless robots are not all it takes to add a chapter to the saga.
I hate to say it, but the only salvation the new Terminator movie offers is when it ends.
—————– WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? —————-
– Long-time reader “Church” sent in this link – it’s a fascinating look at the alternate T4 we almost had –
– In this video clip, McG tells us exactly where T4 fits into the Terminator universe –
– James Cameron reminices about making the original Terminator here –
– If you read this, you’ll find out what McG’s plans are for T5 (if he’s allowed to make it) –
– In this clip, McG reveals some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits, explains the whole M-C-G thing, talks about meeting James Cameron and defends the infamous Christian Bale “rant” –
– and if you’ve never heard the aforementioned rant, you can see it re-created here with the original audio –