First, in the previous Terminator films – particularly in the most-recent two – one needs a relatively large ability to suspend disbelief that the human resistance could not only defeat Skynet’s military assets, but even remain remotely competitive with them. For example, Terminator 2 should have ended in four minutes – the T-1000 should’ve seen John Connor and used his “pointy face-stabbing finger of doom” trick to execute him immediately from across the room. But you suspend that disbelief and go along for the ride, because the movie is fun — and for a really entertaining movie, I’m willing to do it.
Terminator: Salvation wasn’t one of those movies. It requires an absolutely preposterous level of belief suspension if you’re to buy into the movie. Let’s run down a few examples (by the way, Marcus is a Terminator – I’m not remotely going to try to cover up that “spoiler.” If this ruins the movie for you, too bad. You’ve got bigger problems.).
• John Connor [Christian Bale] is flying a helicopter close enough to a nuclear explosion to have the blast knock it out of the sky, but apparently not close enough to suffer any other adverse reactions – not so much as a scratch.
• The Marcus Terminator crawls out of the hole in the ground where the nuclear bomb had gone off just minutes before, and has every square millimeter of his human tissue completely intact.
• Connor can jump out of an aircraft into oceans with 50-foot swells, without a diving suit, and miraculously appear dry inside a submarine in the next shot. There will almost certainly be a restored scene here on the DVD.
• Skynet’s Hunter-Killers use IR cameras to find and kill humans at night – and are exceptionally good at it, but apparently only if they’re in cars. No human on foot at night is ever in the remotest bit of danger from IR cameras on HKs. And apparently you’re completely invisible to them during the day? The desert must be exactly 98.6 degrees at all time, and nobody’s body temperature is allowed to deviate from that of their neighbor.
• Enormous motorcycle-deploying Terminator robots have incredibly accurate laser cannons that allow them to instantly destroy any vehicle carrying an extra, but somehow if your name is on the movie poster their guidance systems go completely haywire.
• Motorcycle-deploying Terminator robots will send two motorcycles after our heroes, who will then need to defeat three of them.
• If you step on a land mine, it will completely wreck every part of your body except your face.
• However, being thrown a half-mile by a motorcycle-deploying robot into a river will cause no visible damage whatsoever.
• Terminators, despite being made of metal, can float and swim.
• Motorcycle Terminators can duck to avoid semi trailers, but can be defeated with a rope across the road. Once they’ve been defeated with the rope, you can take control of them with a PSP.
• When being pursued by a T-800, the best defense is to jump down one level of whatever building you’re fighting in. This causes the T-800 to inexplicably disappear for long periods of time.
• T-800s can punch Marcus-class Terminators in the heart hard enough to put them out of commission, but not hard enough to so much as knock the wind out of John Connor.
• When Terminators get punched in the heart and killed, you can revive them with a little shock by shoving live wires into the holes in their chest.
I could go on, but I really don’t want to. It’s depressing.
Going into geek analysis mode here, it even seems as if they’ve screwed up the timeline for the progression of Terminator models. The first Terminator we saw, Schwartzeneggar in the first Terminator movie, was a T-800. Salvation starts with John Connor finding evidence of a “new Terminator model,” the T-800, in a Skynet computer.
However, Marcus is far more advanced than a T-800; T-800s are Terminator frames with human tissue coverings. Marcus has a) a human brain (apparently one human “cortex” and one cybernetic “cortex”) and b) a human heart powering it; a more advanced model, from both an engineering and AI standpoint — clearly a successor to the T-800, which hasn’t yet been deployed. So why bother with the T-800 at all then? Just deploy the Marcus (which is not referred to by a model number; I’d guess it’d have to be a T-900) and crush everything.
In the original Terminator, the T-800 sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor originated in the year 2029. This movie takes place in 2018. So Skynet has no less than five models of Terminator – the T-1, T-600, T-700, T-800 and Marcus models (all of which are seen in Salvation) – developed in the first 21 years after Skynet becomes self-aware on Aug. 29, 1997, and then nothing for the next 11 years? Sure.
At any rate, Marcus leads us to…
The ending… Oh, good lord, the ending. Stupid. As. Hell. It was the most trite, transparent and ridiculous ending… The much-reviled Terminator 3 ending, which I actually liked a lot, seems like Citizen Kane in comparison.
Mostly, a Terminator movie shouldn’t be boring. Terminator: Salvation was boring. I checked my watch three times. Hollywood’s next step to get the Terminator to not suck will probably be a “reboot” of the original with Will Smith as the Terminator. It baffles my mind that the same Hollywood that produced “The Dark Knight” was also responsible for this.