TERMINATOR SALVATION

terminator_salvation_1280_2jpg1

Overall Impression – A stylish, epic, but ultimately hollow continuation of the franchise.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Marcus Wright.

What’s he trying to accomplish? – Professional: reach SkyNet to find out what happened to him. Personal: figure out whether he’s human or machine. Private: decide whether he deserves (and even has) a place in this new world.

Who’s trying to stop him? – There’s no prime antagonist.  Instead, smaller antagonists come and go, the main being SkyNet and John Conner.

What happens if he fails? – SkyNet will kill Kyle Reese, jeopardizing both mankind’s and John Conner’s future.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Marcus wakes up in a futuristic wasteland with no idea how or why he’s there.  (His last memory is of being executed on Death Row.)

Wanderer – Marcus explores a destroyed city, encountering a T-600 – the first Terminator he’s ever seen.  Kyle Reese saves him, and along with his young companion, Star, they search for the Resistance, which is headed by John Conner. When one of SkyNet’s Harvester robots captures Kyle and Star, Marcus continues on alone, meeting a stranded Resistance fighter named Blair. They bond, and she takes Marcus to the Resistance… where he’s revealed as part machine, part human. Conner confronts Marcus, convinced that he was sent by SkyNet.

Warrior – Believing Marcus can be trusted, Blair helps him escape, only to be stopped by Conner.  When Conner realizes that Marcus is his only chance to infiltrate SkyNet and save Reese, the two form an unlikely partnership.  Marcus infiltrates SkyNet, learns about his past, and helps Conner free the prisoners.  When Conner comes under attack from the new T-800 (a familiar face), Marcus embraces his machine-side and fights the T-800 one-on-one, destroying the Terminator and SkyNet with Conner’s help.

Martyr – Conner is fatally wounded by the T-800, so Marcus sacrifices his heart to save him.

AND, IN THE END…

Action sequences?  Jaw-dropping!

Terminators?  Cool!

Story? Well…

I always viewed the TERMINATOR franchise as more about philosophy, fresh ideas and imagination than pure action.  In my mind, that’s why T2 has endured as long as it has, and why T3 was pretty quickly forgotten.

Sadly, I feel SALVATION will have a similarly short life, since its action, impressive and abundant though it might be, barely leaves time for a meaningful story.  In fact, many of the movie’s story problems seem so… obvious, you wonder how they made it into the final cut.

For example, Marcus is an ORPHAN when he wakes up in the future.  He has no idea how or why he’s alive, and he needs answers.  This is fine, except we already know most of the answers – it’s explained to us in the beginning!  And to John Conner.  So instead of experiencing this journey with Marcus, we’re just waiting for him to catch up.  If that wasn’t bad enough, we lose a great reveal (that Marcus is a Terminator), and we’re left wondering why John Conner’s so baffled as to what Marcus could be.

The movie’s questionable logic also weakened its MARTYR moment to the extent that it didn’t really make sense.  Marcus takes on the T-800, saving Conner but getting his human heart punched by the T-800.  He seemingly dies, and the T-800 goes after Conner.  Conner electrocutes Marcus, who comes back to life and rips the T-800’s head off…  I was hoping Marcus was now running on temporary battery life, and would go onto destroy himself in order to destroy SkyNet before he ran out of juice.

Alas… Conner is stabbed through the heart by the T-800, Marcus saves him, and later donates his heart to Conner.  While this is a second martyr moment, it’s nonsensical.  Marcus’ heart was punched by a T-800, and he died.  Logical conclusion: the heart was DESTROYED!!!   If I was Conner, I’d want a less tenderized vital organ.

I won’t rant further (though I could), and to be honest, SALVATION’s an easy target. Expectations run high with any addition to a popular franchise, and even the smallest mistake seems huge in the eyes of a fan.  Then again… isn’t that all the more reason to sort these kinks out?

Despite all this, I’d still recommend seeing the film –  it’s an action movie with Terminators! The action is fantastic.  The Terminators are fantastic.  The movie’s a roller coaster, but the thrill dies as soon as you leave your seat.

Dan Pilditch

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply