Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
“The Terminator” series paints a rather bleak picture of the future of mankind. What’s the truth? Is there HOPE for humanity? Answer
Death in the Bible
Armies in the Bible
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
Blood in the Bible
|Featuring||Christian Bale as John Connor, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Jadagrace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, See all »|
|Director||McG (aka Joseph McGinty Nichol)—“Charlie's Angels”|
|Producer||TheHalcyon Company, Wonderland Sound and Vision, See all »|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“The end begins.”
“Terminator Salvation” is unlike any previous Terminator movie. It plays more like a war movie than a Terminator movie. That fact may affect your enjoyment of the film, and it may, or may not, ultimately effect the films' fate at the box office.
The story begins in the future after machines have conquered the Earth. Humanity is in a fight for its very survival as the machines seek to destroy the entire human race. John Connor is a mythic figure to some, but a “false prophet” to others. He is not yet the sole leader of the resistance, but a commander in its ranks. Nor has John Connor met Kyle Reece, who is still a mere teenager. As the war rages on John soon learns that Kyle is being held prisoner at Skynet for horrible experiments through a man named Marcus Wright. A plot twist soon puts Marcus and John Connor at odds. Can they trust one another? If Kyle dies, he cannot save John Connor’s mother (as we learned from the previous films). Thus if Kyle dies, Connor dies.
The strength of the film lies in its script. The plot is well structured, especially for what is essentially an action/war movie. In fact, I felt like the biggest drawback was the nearly non-stop action which made the movie too busy. Some of the shaky camera technique was employed as well, which makes this film a very busy film indeed. Older audiences may tire of the action and desire that the plot be developed a little more, but younger audiences will probably love the action. Unfortunately, as with all action films, the action gets carried to such extremes that we start to wonder if John Connor is an indestructible Terminator! We could also ponder questions like whether or not a metal machine can really swim and why everything explodes except for crashing helicopters piloted by John Connor, but such things are to be ignored in fantasy films, and Terminator is more fantasy than science fiction.
“Terminator Salvation” (Terminator 4) is the first of the Terminator movies to carry a PG13 rating. This is largely due to the fact that there is nudity although there are several scenes where the apparently nude silhouettes are apparent. This includes a digital Arnold Schwartzeneggar cameo wherein the genitalia are digitally blocked or obscured. There is also an attempted rape scene which ends with the rapist being shot in the crotch or possibly thigh. Violence is the main problem. There is violence throughout the film from beginning to end. It would impossible to describe all the scenes of violence although the most graphic includes an iron rod piercing a man’s chest from behind. Multiples scenes of violence take place throughout. Language is surprisingly mild although John Connor clearly and distinctly cries out “S… O… B…” in one scene.
[MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW] From a Christian perspective Terminator Salvation, despite its title, is not a spiritual film though it carries a spiritual theme. What does it mean to be human? This is theme of the film and it carries well at times, but the Christian parent needs be aware that God is completely left out of the equation. The filmmakers forget that humans perpetrated the holocaust, butchered tens of millions under the Soviet Union, and continue to commit atrocities beyond imagination. To be “human” is more than having a heart. It can also be to be sinful and selfish. Only through God can a human truly understand the meaning of love, and only through His Son Jesus can we understand the TRUE meaning of sacrifice, and yet this film does end with a sacrifice. The appearance of sacrificial love in the film is welcome, but with God left out of the equation, and sin forgotten, the ending lacks punch. It is a noble ending, but could have been so much better. Without God there can be no true nobility or sacrifice.
Ultimately, “Terminator Salvation” is a futuristic war film. It involves soldiers willing to lay down their lives to help their friends. Technically the film is well made and critics who feared that the director of Charlie’s Angels would turn Terminator into a campy comedy need not fear. There is not a single joke or laughable moment to be found. In fact, the film probably could have used a few lighter moments. As is the film delivers a strong war movie mentality with the Terminator story built in quite well. The script is strong, if somewhat hampered by an overindulgence of action scenes. The acting is solid, and the directing is fine although a little more subtlety would have improved the overall film. If you liked the original films you may or may not enjoy this one, but it is a film you will want to watch.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.