I was a teenager when I saw the first Terminator movie, so I loved it mainly for the violence and Arnold always choosing the rudest response (C., I believe) from the sunglasses display. When I saw T2, I was a little older and my tastes a bit more refined, so I got pulled into the time travel plot (and, of course, the awesome effects). More importantly, T2 (and re-viewings of the original) gave me hope that one day we’d get to see the war. T3 wasn’t a great movie, but it seemed like a good bridge to the robot apocalypse I’d been waiting for. When I saw the first trailer for Salvation, I thought that day had finally arrived. I wanted to see John Connor and his ragtag band of hopelessly outgunned freedom fighters standing up to an endless army of robots and still, against all odds, coming out on top.
That’s not what I got. While the movie does take place during the war, it’s not the epic battle I wanted. Instead, it focuses on a bunch of small bands hiding out and biding their time, taking out Skynet’s minions when the chance arises. When the resistance finds a signal that will disable the robots (and mechs, and destroyer planes, and other cool toys), they plan to unleash it and destroy Skynet’s control center.
Of course, there’s one small problem: Skynet has been taking hostages, who are being held right where the big bombs are about to drop. Among those hostages is Kyle Reese, who is of course John Connor’s father and has not yet been sent back in time. If Reese dies, John Connor will have never existed and (at least if John’s tapes of his mother can be trusted), humanity will not survive. In order to save his father’s life, Connor enlists the help of a whole new Skynet invention-a cyborg named Markus Wright. Big action, trust issues, and lots of cool fight scenes ensue.
Once you get over the fact that we’re still not seeing really cool ultra-modern FX versions of the future scenes from the previous movies, T4 is an enjoyable (if a little too long) movie. Christian Bale makes an excellent grizzled Connor, Anton Yelchin is very good as a young Reese, Sam Worthington deals with his identity issues heroically, and Moon Bloodgood provides the “hot chick who can kick your butt” element that we’ve come to expect from the Terminator series. Michael Ironsides, though only on screen for a few scenes, is characteristically (and enjoyably) stern and grumpy. The effects, while not as groundbreaking as those in T2 were, are still very well done. Best of all, since Reese doesn’t go back in time in this one (the time travel device doesn’t seem to exist yet), we haven’t come full circle just yet. That means there’s a chance that we might still get another movie. If so, maybe I’ll finally get to see those legions of T-800 stormtroopers I’ve been waiting for.