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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Christian Bale
Sam Worthington
Anton Yelchin
Linda Hamilton.
Directors
McG.
Screenwriters
David C Wilson.
Running Time
114 minutes

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Terminator Salvation
Come with us if you want a really good Terminator movie...


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Plot
2018. John Connor (Bale) is part of the Resistance waging war on Skynet, which is building the T-800 Terminators he remembers from childhood. But the future he knows is clouded by the arrival of Marcus (Worthington), a stranger haunted by memories of Death Row.


Review
Terminator Salvation
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For 25 years fans have For 25 years fans have waited to see the future war between man and machine hinted at in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Ragtag groups of humans, scratching out dirty, hardscrabble, post-apocalyptic lives as they are engaged in a relentless war with deadly robot endoskeletons: this is the kind of thing that excites 13 year-old boys and the 13 year-old boy living inside every grown-up moviegoer. And while Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines brought the series to the point we’d all been waiting for — Judgment Day was here! Nuclear fire rained down on humanity! Skynet was in control! — it took two hours of rehashing to get there.

Now comes Terminator Salvation. It’s the future war. It’s the years after Judgment Day, when the cities of man have fallen and the machines scour the landscape, killing and harvesting humans. It’s the movie we’ve been waiting for, but it’s also a movie coming in this modern age where franchise follow-ups seem to yield only disappointment. It’s the post-prequel world, and audiences are ready to settle for less — especially when they realise Terminator Salvation comes from McG, the auteur behind the silly Charlie’s Angels films and the soppingly sentimental We Are Marshall. A man who lacks the common decency to have a complete name.

So perhaps the greatest surprise doesn’t come in the form of plot twists but from the fact that the movie is... pretty damn good. Let’s not be foolish — it doesn’t hold a candle to the first two James Cameron films, but it wipes the floor with Terminator 3. As a movie all on its own, not compared to the prior entries, it works very well.

Part of what makes Terminator Salvation work is that it’s unafraid to be its own entity. While the film shoehorns in the usual catchphrases — “I’ll be back” and “Come with me if you want to live” are both dutifully trotted out — it eschews the standard sequel architecture of being nothing more than a remake of the previous film. McG’s film boldly moves forward; gone is the standard chase structure of the Terminator franchise, replaced here with men-on-a-mission adventure. Gone is John Connor as a hapless dork reliant on a benevolent robot buddy, replaced by a glowering John Connor played by the best glowerer of his generation, Christian Bale. Gone is the LA of the late 20th/early 21st century, replaced with underground bunkers and robot factory cities.

For a summer blockbuster, Terminator Salvation is bursting with plot and incident. Much of it even makes sense! The film is propulsive, barely stopping for breath.There are exciting chases, suspenseful close calls, edge-of- your-seat battles and adrenaline-charged set-pieces. McG’s movie doesn’t just serve up a monotonous series of humans vs. endoskeleton scenes. There’s an array of cyborgs in action, ranging from snake-like hydrobots to motorcycle Terminators that drive themselves to huge, seemingly steam-powered robots that grab humans by the handful and then pilot harvester ships away. There are hunter-killer ships and ghoulish T-600s — hulking endoskeletons wearing creepy Hallowe’en masks over glowing red eyes. It’s not so much an actioner as we’ve come to understand the term: rather it’s an adventure movie, filled with abyss-defying escapes and daring heroics.

McG has made much of how dark his movie is, and it does touch on issues of humanity and despair, but throughout the pre-release hype he’s undersold just how much fun his movie is. As a director he knows enough to get good actors and step out of their way: Christian Bale does exactly what you’d want Christian Bale to do as a battle-hardened Connor; Sam Worthington, meanwhile, struggles with his American accent as Marcus Wright, the man out of time, but otherwise makes a solid, if stolid, hero. With lead roles in Avatar and Clash Of The Titans to come, Hollywood seems to have decided that Worthington is the Next Big Thing, but while he has the looks and chops of a big-screen hero, he’s perhaps missing some of the warmth and charisma that goes with it. Perhaps there’s time for him to develop it.

Lacking neither warmth nor charisma is Anton Yelchin as the young Kyle Reese. Yelchin is the film’s secret weapon: while he may seem too scrawny, too young and too soft for the role, he’s actually perfect. His Kyle is a young man on the verge, and we can see the hints of Michael Biehn in him. Yelchin, in just a few scenes, goes from a smart but scared kid to a leader of men in desperate times, and he does it without glowering, frowning or growling. You believe every moment of it. Equally good is the gorgeous Moon Bloodgood. Like Yelchin she’s not given enough screentime, but she makes the best of a handful of scenes. Her character has the widest arc and the least time to sell it, but she nails the role of a tough combat pilot whose humanity peeks through.

McG’s other strong suit is the action. Mixing practical effects with CGI, he creates immersive and thrilling moments of danger and fun. From Moto-Terminators giving chase to our heroes to a final fight with a familiar face in the Terminator factory, McG borrows from the styles of his peers to make something that breaks few barriers but works well on a visceral level. Some have worried that the film, which is appealing to a younger crowd with a softer rating, would be a kiddie picture. The truth is that the nature of the action — man against robot — means he can wreak all manner of havoc on the bad guys without needing to shed a drop of blood. No punches are pulled, and the action is satisfyingly loud and explodey.

Terminator Salvation’s biggest flaw is that, just as it’s building
up a head of steam, it ends. Not satisfyingly, not dramatically, and not in a cliffhanger fashion; it just feels like they’ve run out of film and must wrap it all up in four quick minutes. Terminator Salvation is supposed to herald the start of a new trilogy, but the end of this one feels quite finished. Time travel is yet to happen, but the film hasn’t left enough open ends to make a sequel automatically compelling. It seems a strange critique of a film — it’s too standalone! — but this world, which had been marvellously opened in the previous 110 minutes, feels abruptly closed in the final five.


Verdict
McG has sparked a moribund franchise back to life, giving fans the post-apocalyptic action they’ve been craving since they first saw a metal foot crush a human skull two decades ago.


Reviewed by Devin Faraci


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Terminator Salvation
Empire Star Rating

RE: Terminator Salvation question...

Sam Worthington was great in this film and should have been John Connor full stop. If he had been John Connor and met Kyle the way Marcus was it would have made more sense and made for a less disjointed film, lots to like in the film but lots to improve, mostly Bale's stuff it has to be said. ... More

Posted by The Hooded Man at 16:13, 16 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation question...

1/5 is madness. Standard blockbuster sci-fi action fare, 3/5. ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 15:57, 16 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation question...

this was a truly awful film, just badly made from start to finish, awful acting, ruined what was left of Terminator. 1/5. ... More

Posted by tonethestone at 11:20, 16 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation question...

The other idea had future Skynet sent intel into the past to aid a younger Skynet. ... More

Posted by Ghidorah at 22:34, 14 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation question...

I'm assuming that Skynet has everything on record, including the tapes from asylum  and the police station. I'd say Reece was the main target as Connor is still at a low rank and still inconsequential as many saw him as a false prophet. So for the first film anyway, Kyle Reece was the deal-breaker ... More

Posted by Sphinx at 21:00, 14 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation question...

Seeing as my thread was shut down sk it here (and apologies if this has already been hashed out) Can someone explain to me why Kyle Reese was Skynet's #1 target, and for that matter, how did Skynet even know about Reese or Connor at this point in the timeline? ... More

Posted by Zaphod121 at 11:04, 13 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

Double postage ... More

Posted by Biggs Darklighter at 12:30, 24 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

I thought the first half of this film was simply a rip-roaringly entertaining chunk of quality sci-fi action. However it seems after the crappy fight in the helicopter with the wormy things the budget completely ran out and we were presented with a hugely disappointing representation of the Skynet capital, utterly uninspired fight scenes and a laughably easy entrance, exit and destruction of Skynet's main base of operation. ... More

Posted by Biggs Darklighter at 12:29, 24 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

Classic battle to gain the trust of his fellow man. Some people don't believe he's 'the one'. And with the time displacement equipment not yet invented in Salvation, that's perfectly understandable.   The main gripe is he's not very likeable.... ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 10:04, 24 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

"I'm confused, the machines are different now, I'm confused, why are Skynet doing, I'm angry, no one's listening to me, I'm confused, mother what do I do, I'm confused, the war has just begun" End credits. ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 09:56, 24 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

L: Tech_Noir All the John Connor scenes in the film were the worst. He didn't seem to have any character development. sp; We've followed him since he was in the womb! Surely you already know him?   Anyway, I liked it a lot, as you can see from my unrelenting defence ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 09:15, 24 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

Agree with Bozo, generic and bland to the point that made me really angry. future war Terminator movie is something I've always wanted to see and this is what I get. Bale's involvement caused most of the damage. From what I've read the original story focused on Marcus and Kyle, with Connor heard but not seen - perfect! All the John Connor scenes in the film were the worst. He didn't seem to have any character development. ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 09:04, 24 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

L: bozo really struggle to understand how can anyone who has watched more than, say, 5 films in his or her life like this sorry excuse of a film? liked it very much and I reckon I've watched about 4,000 films in my life. So there. ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 00:13, 23 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

 really struggle to understand how can anyone who has watched more than, say, 5 films in his or her life like this sorry excuse of a film? Apart from walking holding hands towards the sunset, I can't think of a single Hollywood cliche this film didn't tick off at least once. At the same time, I find it impossible to think of a single original creative idea in this film. Lazy lazy lazy. 99% of the lines could have been taken from any GENERIC SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER. The plot might as well h... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bozo at 13:47, 22 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

Finally caught this tonight... why the negativity; it was utterly AWESOME.  I really enjoyed this... just approach it with an open mind and no baggage from it's forerunners, and it's a seriously enjoyable movie.  Far better than I had been expecting. First time ****/***** Reapeat viewings probably a *** though.  Dayum it was good. ... More

Posted by Drone at 00:08, 19 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Devin from CHUD reviews for Empire??

Finally caught this tonight... why the negativity; it was utterly AWESOME.  I really enjoyed this... just approach it with an open mind and no baggage from it's forerunners, and it's a seriously enjoyable movie.  Far better than I had been expecting. First time ****/***** Reapeat viewings probably a *** though.  Dayum it was good. ... More

Posted by Drone at 00:05, 19 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Hmmm

And since you posted your "review" eight times you give it eight stars! ... More

Posted by grucl at 06:33, 01 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

Internet was a bit slow for a reason. Now it's fast. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 20:26, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

Sorry, I got impatient. ... More

Posted by Olaf at 20:23, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

Great, I'll post first, you follow. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 20:20, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

Kewl! ... More

Posted by Olaf at 20:19, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

Hey, Olaf, let's go spam the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen reviews thread, or at least Miles' thread, plenty of newbies to piss off there! ... More

Posted by Deviation at 20:18, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

How did you know?? ... More

Posted by Olaf at 20:16, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

L: TORC 4 Stars for terminator 4? Got every issue of your mag since no.2- your reviewer should be taken out and shot. That is all. nly number 2? Where the feck where you for number 1 , hmmm? You'd think someone who had read a film magazine for 20 years would be a little more sensible and mature when reacting to an individual's opinion. Or is it because your statement is a PORK PIE!? Olaf, just......back.......off. ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 19:07, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Terminator Salvation

Come on guys the movie wasnt that bad, even I agree that it was rubbish, but I knew from the beginning that it wasnt going to be another Terminator flick, because it was know set in the future, so I told my brother the same, imagine you are watching a new sci-fi film, dont go in and expect anything to do with Terminator, and sure the plot was weak, but the action was good and near the Arnie forced a smile out of me, and even though nothing happened with Kyle Reese which is obvious they left tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MI Cruise at 16:50, 23 June 2009 | Report This Post


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