I saw terminator 4 or “terminator: salvation” in a used dvd store the other day and saw that it takes place post apocalypse and thought it’d be interesting to see since I remember wishing they’d make a movie set in the post-apocalyptic environment portrayed in a few scenes in the first movie. It occurred to me there probably was a reason I hadn’t heard that they made one until it was in the bargain bin in a used DVD shop, but I thought I’d give it a chance. The reviews online were on average good but very polarized, people either hated it or thought it was brilliant. So I gave it a whirl.
It was terrible. But amusing in how terrible it was.
Here’s the point at which I would normally warn you about spoilers but there has to be something good to actually spoil, so I don’t feel the need to. One thing I thought didn’t sound right was that they said in the movie that they have to hide at night but they can move around during the day when in the original movies the exact reverse was true, not only were they only ever depicted fighting during the night but kyle reece (the same character who said the opposite in T4 but as a teenager) said in the first movie:
“You stay down by day, but at night you can move around. The H-K’s use infra-red so you still have to watch out. But they’re not too bright.”
So yeah, stupid mistake there. Ironically they also have people in T4 hiding during the day… There were also several scenes they copied directly from the first movie (the terminator stepping on a skull, the terminator slowly turning it’s head toward the hero after being bashed with a pipe etc) which goes beyond homage into just being lazy.
But anyway, the main reason it was stupid is that it had plot holes so big you could drive a truck through them. Plot summary:
Our guy (the guy whose story we’re following) is in a prison before “judgement day” for some unknown crime awaiting execution. Some chick comes to him and asks him to donate his body to science and he does so then, post-apocalypse he wakes up from a cyberdine (sp?) systems lab where the machines are experimenting on humans and wanders around and the first person he stumbles on randomly happens to magically be a teenage kyle reece, who skynet wants dead (because he will eventually go back in time and save john connor ala terminator 1). Our guy saves reece’s life multiple times until kyle gets taken by the machines with other humans to be experimented on. Then our guy meets up with the resistance and john connor and is injured and they find out not at all to the audience’s surprise (given the crazy shit our guy has shrugged off without injury up to this point) that he’s a terminator. Or more precisely half terminator half human (for god knows what reason) and that he has a “very powerful” human heart (again, for no apparent reason). So they lock him up and are gonna dissect him. Then there’s some “but I see a man, not a machine” weepy crap from a doctor (female, of course) who then sets him loose and john connor goes after him and of course is attacked by machines and our guy saves john connor’s life proving he’s not evil and they set off (separately) to save kyle reece and therefore save humanity. Then our guy gets into skynet HQ and for some reason skynet via computer monitors does the supervillain monologue thing and explains the whole evil, incredibly stupid plan. Our guy was secretly programmed to kill john connor by getting kyle reece abducted (which he didn’t do) so they could lure john connor to skynet (terminator central) to send a single terminator to kill him, when they could’ve killed him by killing kyle reece at any time. So our guy pulls a chip out of the back of his head which apparently frees him from this awful tyranny of randomly stumbling ass backwards into doing what he’s supposedly programmed to do (why the chip doesn’t preclude him from removing the chip is beyond me) and he saves the day (of course). The movie ends with john connor being injured and about to die because “his heart can’t take it”, so our guy volunteers his own “very strong heart” to save him (blech).
Anyway, the reason this movie sucks (well, one of the many reasons) is because it tries to have a clever twist of an ending by misleading the audience rather than misdirecting them. In movies like the sixth sense they misdirect the audience by giving the appearance that the guy is alive in ways that also make logical sense if he’s a ghost (but that doesn’t occur to you). They don’t show anything inconsistent with the plot.
But in this steamer of a movie the “twist” at the end is dependent on simply lying to the audience and making the plot inconsistent. The fact that he saves john connor’s life proves he’s not evil or programmed to kill john connor. They then try to say “no wait, he secretly IS evil and programmed to kill john connor!” It’s ridiculous.
It reminds me of the movie “taking lives” with angelina jolie. She’s hunting a serial killer and through the whole movie you’re practically shouting at the screen “THERE HE IS, THAT’S THE GUY – RIGHT NEXT TO YOU HE’S THE SERIAL KILLER!” Until they show the actual serial killer attacking that guy in a way that he has to be the serial killer. So you think “oh, okay, I guess I was wrong… or something”. Then the big twist at the end is that he really IS the serial killer and the scene they showed you never happened! Gotcha!
That is not clever storytelling or misdirection, it’s just bullshitting the audience. It’s like the difference between sleight of hand and blinding the audience with pepper spray before the trick. One is a skillful, artistic and clever thing, the other is just being a dick and wasting everyone’s time.
Anyway, had to say that. Sorry if it was long.