Terminator Salvation Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated September 30th, 2009 at 9:55 am,

Short version: Terminator Salvation is great for the don’t-expect-much-except-action-out-of-a-summer-movie crowd, not so great if you’re looking for a worthy successor to the first two films.

salvation Terminator Salvation Review
Screen Rant reviews Terminator Salvation

For the record, I am not a McG hater, nor am I holding Christian Bale’s set meltdown against him. I realize that McG will be forever haunted by the fact he directed Charlies Angels – but I had really high hopes for Terminator Salvation… I wanted it to be great.

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Why did I think that this long awaited addition to the Terminator movie franchise had even a snowball’s chance of being awesome? Because I had the sense that McG wanted to prove he could do it. While many people think that his film We Are Marshall isn’t all that great, I really enjoyed it and it demonstrated to me that he could actually do a film with characters you could care about.

But sadly, that’s exactly what’s missing from Terminator Salvation.

The film opens in 2003 with Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) in a prison cell on death row, hours before his execution. He’s visited by a scientist who has cancer (Helena Bonham Carter) and wants him to donate his body to science. She seems desperate to get him to sign, and he’s not very cordial to her despite her situation and his.

The first problems in the film surface right at the start – why is she so desperate for him in particular to donate his body? Don’t scores of people have organ donation cards in their wallets? And then there’s his mysterious background – he’s responsible for the death of his brother and two police officers… neither of these is ever explained in the film (nor in the prequel novel for that matter, which I did read).

From there the film jumps to some serious actiony goodness in 2018. I won’t give anything away other than to say we get to see Christian Bale as John Connor almost immediately and he’s involved on a mission that does not end up going very well. At all. Very satisfying first look at the future including some fantastic action and cool visuals/camera angles.

The upshot is that the resistance (not led at this point by Connor) has found a way to defeat Skynet. Connor volunteers to test it on a small scale before the big move against Skynet central. However that plot line becomes secondary to the story of Marcus Wright and his involvement with a young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). For the non-fans out there, Reese is the man who was sent back in time to save Sarah Connor and is the father of John Connor. At the point this film takes place that hasn’t happened yet (does your head hurt yet?).

Marcus doesn’t seem to have aged at all although 15 years have passed, and there is a mystery surrounding him. He runs into Kyle and the young girl he’s taken under his protection and very grudgingly goes along with them since he doesn’t really know what’s going on – and Reese did keep him from being killed by a T-600 (that’s the bigger and bulkier predecessor to the T-800, aka the Schwarzenegger Terminator).

The film eventually brings together Wright and Connor via resistance pilot Blair (Moon Bloodgood). There’s an issue of trust and conflict between the two that becomes the major issue in the film.

(continue for the verdict…)

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. Before I read it, is it spoiler free?

  2. As usual a very good review Vic. I love reading them. For the record what do you give the other Terminator movies out of 5?

  3. Great review Vic, I’ll probably end up seeing this film on saturday(maybe)

  4. @Cat

    I always make it a point to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible.


    I’d probably give the first two Terminator movies 5/5.


  5. Well you can’t expect much, the reason the first two were so great was because of James Cameron, he directed and co-wrote both films, these new editions to the franchise are missing his magic touch, if he were to return I’m sure the films would be awesome and have that same feel the first two had.

  6. Finally you posted it Vic, I hear similar things. Hopefully it makes enough money to warrant a sequel and then it can improve the things that made it get mixed reviews instead of the good ones I and I’m sure everyone who saw the trailer was expecting it to get. I do hope there are different writers for the next one because of all the reviews I’ve read it seems a good amount of problems, mostly about little to no character depth, can be fixed with an improved script. Other than that, I am looking forward to this movie but not as much as I was before the reviews came out. I think I got caught up in the hype(like you) and the fact that McG can really sell you on a movie with his enthusiasm. Hopefully he has grown as a director though and I like you thought We Are Marshall was good character development-wise, an overall ok movie, but I think that’s when McG showed real promise.

    Hopefully he can improve his abilities before the(hopeful) sequel comes out. Even if it doesn’t make a lot of money in America though I’m sure it’ll make enough to continue the story internationally. I heard the third one made $150 million domestically and close to $300 million internationally.

  7. Just as I said, long before this came out, when we got the trailer snippets, listening to Bale’s narration: Batman all over again, in action and voice. If you want him to act a bit differently, and have a normal voice, go rent “The Prestige.” After that, it’s been pretty much Batman, over and over again. As far as the rest of this turd is concerned, it’s Terminator 3, part two. Go nowhere plot, that just opens doors to yet more sequels that will go nowhere, and a movie that will have fans saying “hope it earns enough so that they can fix all these problems NEXT time..” HEY….is “next time” ever going to get here?

  8. Well like you said, they’re trying to keep things open for the sequels, so I can’t fault them for not divulging Marcus’ past. It would be a mistake to do something like that in the first movie of a planned trilogy. It is a bummer to hear how John Connor was portrayed.

  9. It’s funny… these sentiments expressed in the review are very similar to what I able to derive of the film from the trailer.

  10. @Vic

    Loved the Review.
    i will be Viewing the film tomorrow.

    1 question

    was it worse than T3 ?

  11. It was different than T3… I’d say it’s better.


  12. Thx vic. Any way we can a get a separate discussion thread with spoilers like with wolverine?

  13. @Cat

    Definitely, those posts have turned out to be quite popular. I’ll probably put one up tomorrow night.


  14. Wow, he said he thinks it’s better than T3. Bale and terminators and we get a mediocre film. This blows.

  15. Yah cat, I agree completely, saying it’s better than T3 isn’t too exciting to hear…

  16. I had a feeling this would happen,,,

    Vic was the musical score any good? (Danny Elfman)
    I’m going to see this prob friday, I’ll chime in during the spoiler free thread.
    I’m confident that the film could have been better but I’m going in with an open mind,,, :-)

    Even though I basically know the plot and have seen all the trailers.

    And pretty much know the film has issues.

  17. Vic,please help me!!! I did not want to come back to this site,but after going to my email inbox,I’m still getting replies from the very first comment I made on your post: “Terminator Salvation gets mixed reviews”.

    I am a huge Christian Bale fan,and I’m just disappointed at the way you and others are using him as Target practice.I did not want him to do this movie,but dammit,he let McG talk him into it!!!I love 95% of his movies,but I had some serious reservations about this one,I just did not want him taking on another franchise,much less Terminator!!! He’s a smart man,you got him that,cause he turned this down at first,cause he knew it was nothing more to do with the franchise,he said the story was “dead”.

    I knew the Bat voice would be the main complaint of everyone,and that’s unfortunate,cause you totally overlooked his talent,and dedication.I knew this movie was gonna be cursed when he had that incident with Hurlbut. Chrisitan had to be pretty pissed off to have went that far with his anger.I think when an actor is that upset,the whole movie is thrown into chaos. The man is British,and has successfully pulled off the english accent,why is he being criticized so much?!!! Arnie never changed his voice at all,he sounded the same in EVERY movie,I don’t see anyone complaining about that!!! I don’t care what anyone says about Christian,he’s THE BEST in my book,no one can convince me otherwise,NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.S.Thank God he didn’t lend his voice and likeness to the game,phewwwwwwwww….


    If you don’t want anymore email replies then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Manage Your Subscriptions”

    ps: Bale is my favorie actor.

  19. I saw on twitter that the actors are making appearances at theaters starting tomorrow


  20. Dammit I tried not too but already saw 2 spoilers lol, not anything major tho, I’m gonna have to not take your word on this one and see what I think, I can’t friggin wait!

  21. VIC

    Did you enjoy this more than Wolverine?

    Was it a better “film” than Wolverine?

  22. These poor reviews for T4 are really bumming me out. This was my #1 movie that I was looking forward to this summer. Then again, I’m one of the few people who loved T3 so maybe I’ll like this one too. Fingers crossed… Argh! I think it’s the not know that’s the most painful!

  23. well i just saw it… and as wierd as it may be i agree with vic… i would have given it the same and i questioned just about everything he did. When i first saw the trailer to this movie… the first thing you saw was john connor lighting up a flare, so i thought this movie would have enough of john connor to see but it was like he was just sprinkled here and there. With regards to sam worthington and his past i think they’re going to use that material in the next installments… which is kind of a cop out…to me that is. That little girl that kyle reese was with… is it me or did she look like a young michael jackson… if and when any one of you see this… please tell me that i’m not the only one. I will say this though… by the end of it all it got me thinking if with the next installments are they going to mess with the timeline of the first 2 movies… and how will fans react to that…

  24. @richard

  25. I think i’ll wait for the dvd and then fast forward to the action scenes, which is pretty much what i did with T3.

  26. Thanks for your review, Vic. It was far more enlightening than some reviews I had been seeing hovering out there on the ‘net that said nothing more than “the script sucked” and “the movie blows.” Seriously, they’re out there…

    In any case, I am extremely disappointed T4 is getting so much negativity. It was the movie I was looking to the most; oddly, it looks like Star Trek, the dark horse movie of the summer, may have proved out to be the best one.

    I’m still going to see T4 this weekend and see it for myself, though. I know they’re making a fifth movie that might possibly be better, so I might as well.

  27. just serious and depressing all the way through.

    I’ll probably love that about it. I’m tired of every action film that comes out has to have comedy to the point that Iron Man was more of a comedy than an action film. I have a feeling I’m not gonna agree with this at all when I see the film this weekend. From the trailers Bale sounds nothing like Batman to me and I’ve even seen the 10 mins of spoiler footage that was released a week and half early and he never once sounded like Batman to me or even Bruce Wayne for that matter.

    Another thing that might help is I’m not so hung up on the first two. I don’t honestly get the love for them they were riddled with piss poor acting and if this film is just another action film than what were they? I honest to god can’t recall one real deep or emotional moment in either the first two films. It was explosions running explosions explosions cheap one liner from Arnold explosions and running explosion the end. Maybe Bale would get more love if he spoke with a thick accent and never bothered to try and sound American because it was to much work or if he just refused to actually act and only have 10 lines of dialog.

  28. I forgot to ask. Anything after the credits?

  29. @Cat

    Sorry, I didn’t hang around to see if there’s anything after the credits, but I doubt there is.

    @Daniel F

    Knowing your point of view on films regarding plot and character development I have a feeling you may not disagree with me as much as you think about this film. :-P


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