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. @hud

    Yeah… little more complicated than that – I’d have to go back through every movie ever reviewed on the site and adjust the rating. It’s not set up to just start with a 10 scale from here on out.

    Something to consider, though.


  2. Oh damn Daniel F, the opinons of one site really says something about everyone who liked T1 and T2 more. You got us. Damn, I keep forgetting that opinions can be proven right or wrong…


  3. Wow, I’m a little bit suprised that this film was beat by “Night at the Museum 2″, but then again I guess I really shouldn’t underestimate the power of family films.

  4. I was just checking the numbers too Matt,,, its looking like the totals for Terminator won’t meet the 75mil mark they hoped for. (Unless I’m reading the Box Office Mojo wrong?)

    After a year of viral buzz for Star Trek and Terminator, (imo) they didn’t live up to the hype. Both films left me frustrated…
    At this point I don’t even care what happens to these franchises anymore.

  5. 790,I think the Trek Franchise will continue,
    As for Terminator,
    Maybe Christian Bale can go back in time and get a better script!

  6. Oh yes, the savior Christian Bale…

  7. Doah, I forgot this is a 4-1/2 day weekend for Terminator. It might break 75 afterall,,,

    Yeah Gary, I have to wonder if Bale might try and bail out of this franchise. :-)
    (I’m sure Mcg wishes he had a time machine),,,

    Ken, being that you hate T3 so much I’m looking forward to what you think of Salvation. ;-)

  8. I don’t see it hitting 75M even with the 4th day. The film will certainly make it’s budget and profit by the end of it’s run, but not what they were wanting.

    Ken J I don’t believe that an opinion is worth having unless you truly believe it to be right. The link wasn’t honestly meant to speak for everyone it was just a joke and I knew you would respond the way you did. Thats the main reason I posted it.

    I find most of the Bale hate is because he got so popular. It tends to go that way. When some one is an underground talent they have unconditional love from their fans, but when they get real big parts of that cult turn on them it’s the same way in the music industry. Also some people blindly bash him now because of the little rant. Actors aren’t allowed to get angry or make human error.

  9. OR most of Bale hate is due to the fact that he really ISN’T as good as the hype makes him out to be. There has been plenty of popular actors/directors that I’ve agreed with so had no problem at all with the popularity, but there are actors better than Bale who isn’t as popular. Don’t get me wrong, but Bale is a good actor, but nothing worth writing home about…

  10. You can believe your opinion all you want, I believe in mine. Still doesn’t change the fact that they are just opinions. Pretty simple concept, at least I know it is… :-)

  11. Lol, ken you just lost all cred as a grammar nazi…


  12. What ever you say Ken there isn’t really point in this conversation. I’m tired had rough day and personally don’t give a s*** about much anymore.

  13. I haven’t seen T4 yet, but this fact speaks volumes about the movie: my local theater is still showing Trek on 2 screens while T4 is only on one. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trek beats out T4 next week.

  14. Andy the facts say nothing. Regardless of wheather T4 is good or bad how much a movie makes in the theater is meaningless to it’s quality. Great movies sometimes make small amounts and horrible films some times cross the 250mil mark. Don’t judge a movie by it’s box office. I disagree with some of the critics, but their still a better way to judge than the box office.

  15. I was hoping to see more of the awesome future sequence glimpsed at the beginning of The Terminator and Terminator 2 (I like that the review mentions those images of the adult Connor on the battlefield in T2 – he looked like someone in command and someone you’d take orders from. Bale is miscast, definitely).

  16. And another thing: I really can’t believe all these comments from people saying the first Terminator movie was poor quality or some other crazy crap. Must be from people who weren’t teenagers or young adults in the 1980s, otherwise you would not be saying those things.

    You think T4 will be remembered and respected and loved in 25 years’ time? Pffft.

  17. I don’t think that Bale was miscast. The script did not allow anybody to add anything to there characters.

  18. finally saw it tonight. i have mixed feelings. not sure whether I like it or not. i usually need some time to make a decision but i think what im trying to say is that it just didn’t feel right. the action in the beginning was phat and some other scenes were decent. acting was nothing special and the script was bland. Can’t say McG did anything to make me hate it but he didn’t take me for a ride. it was just there – nothing special.

    now i can read all these comments. this is going to take a while.

  19. oh i forgot. there was like 10 people in the theatre tops. i know im going late but wow – i was shocked but i understand why it could get bad word of mouth.

  20. Christian Bale is good but that new guy, Same Worthington, was great… in fact he pretty much stole the show

  21. This is how I imagined the future battles to look like:


    (From T3)

  22. I still remember in that short scene in the beginning of T2 where the older John Connor walks through like a command center of the resistance, people would step aside and stand at attention from the sight of him like that scene in the new Star Trek when the captain of the USS Kelvin was walking toward the shuttle bay. In T4, people treated him like he was “one of the guys” albeit like a very much liked “one of the guys” but it didn’t seem like people had that “fearful respect” you would expect people to have of a superior officer.

  23. The reason for that is he isn’t in command yet. He’s in command in 2029, TS takes place in 2018.

    All in all, i really liked this movie. I thought it went with the other 3 movies great. I loved the Arnold cameo. During that part i felt like standing up and clapping. I also liked how they showed how John gets that scar on his face.

    I also liked the fact that they included “I’ll be back”, “come with me if you want to live”, and the truck chase scene. Those 3 things appear in every Terminator movie. (except T3 where it’s, “she’ll be back/I’m back” and “if you wanna live, come on”)

  24. Terminator Salvation is not totally s**** but it is one big, messy, sloppy wet fart.

    Disappointing and not worth rating as I’ll never watch it again.

    Give me T3 any day. At least it had characters and a sense of humour.

  25. He wasn’t in command, but he was still a commanding officer to all of those people in that room when he walked in there. I’m sorry, but if you’re in the military try telling a Colonel why you didn’t stand in attention for him because he’s not the General, let me know how that goes…

  26. I was severely disappointed by the lack of emotional over tones that humans would have to experience in the face of world annihilation.THE music was a let down ,Danny E. did not have the soul for this type of movie.The original music should of stayed and the emotional scenes should of been featured throughout but all we get was cold Robots and that is were it failed!!!
    Scripted for action and not man versus Machine..
    This is a slap in the face of what James Cameron did from T1 & 2 to Titanic.
    The music was weak and so was the script…

  27. I completely agree with this review! Very well written.
    I mainly agree with the fact when the movie ends we really get no sense of closure on any aspect at all. When the movie ended I was also thinking “what was the point, what just happened?”
    Many, many thing that were wrong with the film. The film felt like it was just thrown together by a bunch of different people and really had no continuity. The movie predominantly revolved around Sam Worthington’s character, Marcus Wright, a character that was well played but not needed for the film. The reason being that he stole the “thunder” from John Connor in this movie; and if we all know the terminator movies, this film should have been solely about John Connor. [SPOILER ALERT] What was the point of introducing Marcus Wright if they were just going to off him at the end of the movie. I mean at least keep him around for the sequels because he was a very big aspect of the movie and was pretty much where the future of man/machine was headed towards.
    So what did the humans really accomplish in this movie? They took down one sector of skynet, fine. But they only infiltrated that sector because of Marcus, how are they going to entirely eliminate Skynet now that he is dead? (I am sure they will devise some scheme)

    Anyway, getting towards other flaws, I also did not understand why they did not say anything about Kate Connors pregnancy. In T3 we are told that John’s/Kate’s children would also play their part in the resistance, so why was the pregnancy downplayed? Does not make sense
    In addition, Bale clearly looked older than the John Connor we had in T3, but our Kate Connor looked younger in this movie than the actress in T3…makes no sense

    Also, why was Kate Connor such and irrelevant aspect of the movie? (Prob cause Bryce Dallas Howard cannot act) She was such a vital role in the 3rd. It made no sense.

    There are things that worked though, the imagery and the feel of the movie was very genuine and realistic. The director did a great job with that. The references made to previous movies were also great, especially the tapes of Sarah Connor. The action was also very heart pounding and thrilling and Sam Worthington did a solid job; wasn’t his fault they did not explain anything about his origin, like why it was his fault that his bros and 2 cops died.

    How they can make the 5th better:
    1-Recast the roles. DO NOT cast Bale as Connor. He is a great actor, but this is not the ro9le for him, also recast Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor because her acting is just miserable.
    2-STick to Connor’s story because that is what we care about and that is what we are here to see. Bottom line.
    3-All the previous Terminator movies has 1 main terminator chasing after Connor, bring that feel of “chase” back. I understand now that there are many machines but have the machines create and deploy a new terminator after Connor.
    4-Another Arnold cameo, like in this 1 (although it actually wasn’t hymn), is needed.
    5-Do NOT go down the Matrix Revolutions path…which is where the movie seems to be headed…that movie destroyed the Matrix franchise.

    Overall I would rate this movie a 6-7/10 because there are many aspects that worked and I will likely watch this again on DVD

  28. I personally loved the movie. Yes it did have 3 storylines to it, which was a little frustrating, but for the most part the acting was really good and the action was out of hand!! People are complaining that it should have had Arnold in it, but seriously if he was going to act the same way he did in T3 then I would preffer him not to be in it.The brief cameo he had well sort of….was pretty cool!…I already saw it twice and both times everybody in the theater cheered and clapped in the end. T1 and T2 were definitely the best ones hands down, T3 in my opinion was decent with a few awkward moments….but Terminator: Salvation had the best action sequences of the bunch!….Cant wait for the Blu Ray Disk to come out!!…PEACE!!!!!!!

  29. Hi
    I haven’t seen this movie and I won’t. Why? Well because I have never believed that C. Bale is any good as an actor compared to so many Hollywood heroes. It looks like because his Batman film did well people assume it’s because he is the depth required to pull it off alone purely on acting merits when needed.
    Also, due to the Writers Guild strike in the US, the movies were not produced with proper scripts, and movie directors ended up making movies on the go making non-scripted scenes on the spot hoping for the best because they had no choice.
    I know that any movie that relies too much on CGI (graphics) such as BATMAN and Terminator Salvation they have to make action the main focus of the film as this is the favourite flavour of the current audience generation.
    Don’t waste your time and money watching wannabes