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Terminator: Salvation

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No Fate But What We Make.
Terminator: Salvation

Contrary to what many esteemed movie critics have said about Terminator, I must reject their comments on the grounds that they are not criticising the movie that they saw, they are criticising a movie that they are viewing on the surface only. They are not seeing the cleverly interlaced plot or the foreshadowing of events yet to unfold or the woven elements of paradoxes that must unfold. They saw a movie that was evaluated based exclusively on its production merits instead of its unique reinvention.

The movie that I saw was not a hopeless and irrelevant plot put together by a bunch of studio executives, who are desperate to restore the franchise despite missing one key ingredient James Cameron. Cameron's vision of future events was extremely relevant to the times and still is. When is nuclear war never a pressing concern? While Cameron's dark interpretation of the survivors of mankind was extremely gloomy at best and set the staging ground for the first two terminators; this newest instalment is the greatest success since T2 came out.

McG's version while not as grotesque or as vivid as Cameron's is every bit as disturbing and realistic as one could imagine it to be based on what we could foresee in the near future. After all it is taking place only 9 years from now. What I thoroughly enjoyed was the keeping to the CANON of Terminator while at the same time reinventing the franchise. This movie deserves far more praise than what it is getting.

As a matter of fact, I personally believe that some of the movie critics should retract their comments and invest some more unbiased commentary that will serve the movie better than what they have currently provided. The movie deserves the same accolades as the new Trek movie. Why should Trek be given such high praise for a reimagining and Terminator is not given the same praise? Trek is an origin film and taking a tired franchise and reinventing it? Sounds like the same paradox loop in Terminator

There are many reasons to praise this movie. First, the movie is ironically an origin film. Whereas most origin movies take place in the past to be an origin film, this film takes place in the future. Go figure. Let's look at the uniqueness of the plot. It is not so 1991 like on critic revelled about, the movie is relevant today. It matters. Think about the commentary about how we are behaving like machines and therefore if we act like them then we are no better ourselves. In a world today that is being torn apart from war, harsh economic times caused by greed and deception, and a society that has become so content in its desensitised outlook of the world; then Salvation is perfectly named for our time. Our society has become no different then the Terminators we love to hate. They have become a symbol of our people and our views of each other. Everyone is a threat and therefore everyone must be destroyed. No one can survive.


Who reminds us of our humanity is the leader of the resistance, his pregnant wife and a terminator named, Marcus. Marcus is based on a man who once lived in the early part of this century who was killed for his crimes against society. Yet, he is the one bestowed to protect it in this new timeline. Marcus must overcome many obstacles that conflict with his knowledge of himself. He is forced to do good deeds despite being a murderer from the past. He is forced to face the reality that he is not himself any longer, but a machine programmed with his memories. What makes him different from the T-800? He has both a physical heart and a proverbial big heart to match. He is the symbolic representation of humanity and choice.

Choice is an ongoing theme that is indicative of BSG, Matrix and Terminator. The choices that we make for ourselves and for others have a definitive result that sets us on the path to either destruction or survival. Marcus serves both sides of the choice. Ironically, when he is completely human he makes the same choices of the machines and chooses to kill those around him. Whereas when he emerges from the ashes of his slumber, he is the person that he should have been in the beginning. He starts off a little rough and people are having doubts about his intentions but ultimately he comes through with flying colours.

What was missing from T3 was the dichotomy of humans behaving like terminators and terminators behaving human. Utilizing the terminator as a metaphor for our ability to be more human and not give into our desire for death and destruction. "It is your nature to destroy yourselves," quoted by Arnold in T2. Those words define the purpose and the struggle to fight against the machines. Not the physical machines in the movie but the symbolic representation of the machines as the dark side of humanity. That we must struggle against our darker sides and destroy the metaphorical machine that is inside all of us and prevent a dark future from happening.

I was deeply impressed by the fact that the movie continues the theme of humanity and machine struggle. That even during times such as this that we still have an uncanny ability to turn on each other like a virus that needs to expand and survive no matter what. Such as the scene where we find our new Linda Hamilton, Williams, a female pilot surrounded by fellow humans who are not interested in her supplies but rather what they can get from her. Needless to say that even in the darkest of times when we should all be united, we are still divided because of narrow minded thinking that will not be purged unless we choose to purge it.

While so many things are different they are becoming more and more recognizable. The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. We see the beginning of Arnold; we see the gas station that was the ending scene in the first Terminator serve as the backdrop in the beginning of the movie. We see one cyborg who thinks he is human serving as the protector of John Connor and Kyle Reese, and another Terminator trying to destroy them both. The movie has many new and interesting terminators in it that have not been seen in the previous versions of the terminator. More importantly is how the movie remains true to the origins of the Terminator series. There are so many small details that follow the Canon set by James Cameron that if you blink, you will miss them. Examples of small details are the gas station, John Connor's scar on his face, and coined phrases like I'll be back. All of these details and truisms to the original series keep this movie on the right path. Destiny is fulfilled, what has happened before will happen again, and most important, "there is no fate but what we make." HELL YES! The Terminator series is back and alive! Go see it.

2 Comments On This Entry

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obsolete toaster Icon

24 May 2009 - 10:05 PM
You articulated your thoughts very clearly (as always; a beautiful essay), but the reasons I disliked the movie were not whether it remained true to canon or not (it clearly did; and I picked up all the small stuff...such as the scar on JC's face, etc) but I just found it sorely lacking compared to Cameron's original vision or level of talent. To me, it was a decent action film (so I didn't leave the theatre feeling cheated or angry), but it's not a great movie by any means. Rewatch T2 (as I am right now) and you'll remember how good a James Cameron Terminator movie can be!

For my money, T:S was OK, but merely so. A "B" movie spawned from two "A" list movies. I also thought the 'human heart' thing was a bit hokey (not to mention a serious design flaw for a machine; too vulnerable a weak spot). It was better than T3, but nowhere near T1 or T2. My opinion only.
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Captain Taurus Icon

24 May 2009 - 11:38 PM
QUOTE (obsolete toaster @ May 25 2009, 04:05 AM)
You articulated your thoughts very clearly (as always; a beautiful essay), but the reasons I disliked the movie were not whether it remained true to canon or not (it clearly did; and I picked up all the small stuff...such as the scar on JC's face, etc) but I just found it sorely lacking compared to Cameron's original vision or level of talent. To me, it was a decent action film (so I didn't leave the theatre feeling cheated or angry), but it's not a great movie by any means. Rewatch T2 (as I am right now) and you'll remember how good a James Cameron Terminator movie can be!

For my money, T:S was OK, but merely so. A "B" movie spawned from two "A" list movies. I also thought the 'human heart' thing was a bit hokey (not to mention a serious design flaw for a machine; too vulnerable a weak spot). It was better than T3, but nowhere near T1 or T2. My opinion only.


Hi Toaster,


I know what you are saying and there is no doubt that the movie is going to surpass T1 or T2 in the sense that those movies were about preventing the past from being destroyed now we are seeing the future and trying to prevent future events from unfolding as they should. It is a bit surreal. I did watch Terminator 2 - 3 times prior to seeing that movie and it was a great movie. What is missing is Arnold! I mean the real Arnold not MR. CGI Arnold who looked pumped up to me!

I am sorry old friend but I went to see this movie because of Christian Bale, who did a fantastic job of John Connor. The guy who plays MARCUS did a fantastic job. He is the new guardian and protector. He is both the Terminator and Kyle Reese put together. He saves Kyle, he saves John and he saves mankinds humanity. I really think you are being a little biased. Not that I am truly unbiased by any stretch of the imagination, but I know a good film when I see it.

This movie made me jump, duck, sit on the edge of my seat and make me say,hmmmmm.... It was a good movie. Far superior to T3 in every sense of the word. Very deserving of the same accolades of T2. Perhaps James Cameron could have done a little bit better but I am doubtful that you would have been any happier. You are suffering from Darth Vader syndrom. Everyone had their own idea about what Darth Vader looked like and to this day, I have yet to meet one person who was completely happy with seeing Darth Vader's mask unveiled. Removing his mask was like getting KISS to remove their make-up. The illusion was destroyed and so it was destroyed when they did Salvation. We all had our own ideas of what the battle for mankind would look like. I had all sorts of ideas that weren't even close to what they showed but no the other hand they came up with some pretty wicked ideas like the terminator bikes, underwater eel terminators, and the Transformer Terminator. Woo hoo!

If you want to argue symantics, technically the first movie was a B movie with pretty much a B movie budget and plot to support it. What saved it was Arnold and Linda Hamilton and James Cameron. It was only because it was a CULT hit...hint, hint...CULT meaning a small but determined group of supporters that allowed and justified a bigger and better movie. James comes back with new technology developed by his underwater success, The Abyss, and hits like Aliens that gave him the backing to make the Terminator franchise a giant success. Big difference was that now Arnold was the good guy. It was an awesome film. Hey, I have the original movie poster hanging on my wall. I know it was a great movie. T4 deserves better praise. Go back and watch it again with more open eyes. Trust me.


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