31 March 2011

Overthinking Terminator

I recently saw Terminator Salvation for the first time. I think the main upside is that I feel much better about Terminator 3 now, despite it's failings Rise of the Machines did make sense as part of the franchise.

 Terminator Salvation
This film does not make sense!
If you watch it don't think about it. I have already done that for you. The more I think about it the less sense it makes, this film disintegrates under the harsh glare of thinking.

Whilst watching my main thought was that it didn't feel right. I wasn't necessarily expecting roads paved with human bones, because frankly that's a bad material for road building. I was, however, expecting a desperate human resistance, living in crowded, squalid bunkers, clinging to existence and fighting back as best they could. I did not expect humans to have helicopters, submarines, a canyon, handheld Sony hacking tech, or a radio system that can broadcast over large areas.
Really the whole thing made me seriously doubt the effectiveness of Skynet. I would have expected more from an apocalypse-causing, all-powerful AI. I mean radio jamming tech has been around since WWII, and surely with access to all communications and weapons systems it could shoot anything unauthorised right out of the sky.
Also you'd think it would want to kill all humans (to borrow Bender's catchphrase). Instead it seems to kill some humans, trick other humans and collect yet more humans to take, alive, back to its base for no readily apparent reason. Seriously there were mass transport and containment systems for live humans, with no explanation! I felt like I was watching a Matrix prequel (maybe I was, who knows, Hollywood's daft enough to do that).

Christian Bale was not a convincing or likable John Connor, I actually found myself chuckling when machines jumped him. He said "I'll be back" and I felt like I should have smiled, but I didn't have it in me.
I think the best thing he did was start playing 'You Could be Mine' by Guns and Roses, which was the theme to Terminator 2 as well as being a good song.

There were some good bits. Anton Yelchin and Sam Worthington were good. Yelchin makes a very convincing Kyle Reese, and actually looks the part (unlike Bale). The scenes they share are really the emotional heart of the film, if it hadn't been for them I probably would have been cheering for the machines.
Even better Kyle Reese got to say the line, correctly!
"Come with me if you want to live." The bungling of that line was one of the main disappointments of Rise of the Machines.

All that aside, there is a gigantic crater at the centre of the plot, and I didn't notice until after I'd watched the film. Seriously no one involved with this film wants you to think about it. They wanted an action blockbuster in a sci-fi setting, and what they created was the idiot-child of the franchise.

John Connor is No. 2 on Skynet's hit list. No.1 is Kyle Reese.
As far as the Resistance is concerned Kyle Reese is just a teenage civilian in LA with aspirations to join the Resistance, why does Skynet want to kill him?

Well, due to time travel, he is John Connor's father.

Except the Resistance don't know that. Surely only John Connor and Katherine Brewster should know that.*
So how does Skynet know? I mean it didn't know anything about Sarah Connor except her name and city.

Um...? Uh...?

Also -as my husband pointed out- if Skynet does know that its enemy owes his existence to time travel then surely the only sensible thing to do is not to invent time travel in the first place. Right?

Except that it's possible that sending the Terminator back is the reason human technology advances to a point where they can invent Skynet.

And then things start to get timey-wimey and frankly whether it's a loop or an alternative timeline (I favour the former myself) there is still no reason why Skynet should know who Kyle Reese even is, let alone what he looks like.

If you are going to watch this film just don't think about it.
There's no time travel here and so the filmmakers seemed to decide that meant they could ignore it. Not a good idea when the franchise relies upon time travel.

* I'm assuming  that pregnant girl who John Connor hangs out with is supposed to be his wife and partner Katherine Brewster. I mean towards the end of the film he does refer to her as Kate. But really there's little to suggest she's anyone special, which is a shame as she was a major part of the third film and looked to be shaping up to being a promising character. But hey, I guess now she's his wife and soon to be mother of his children she doesn't get to be her own person anymore, right?

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