Back in my school days, I was obsessed with Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), and I can remember drawing countless cartoons of “Arnie” strolling around being a bad-ass borg… although these days, I’m more interested in the movie’s representation of ‘Sarah Connor’ as an icon of ass-kicking “Amazon feminism”. When Terminator Salvation was released in 2009, Linda Hamilton (the one true Sarah) suggested that the series “was perfect with two films. It was a complete circle, and it was enough in itself.” After all the hype we’d had in the previous flicks about ‘John Connor’s importance to the future of the human race, I was all in favour of them continuing the series by depicting his post-apocalyptic rise to glory… it’s just a shame that what they came up with was so blandly, blatantly, and proudly derivative of its predecessors. Apparently T4’s director, Mr. McG, made his creative team watch the first three flicks over and over again, so they could cannibalise/“homage” the most iconic and eye-catching sequences wholesale… and I strongly object to that, both as a writer, and a former fan of the franchise.
The highlight of the movie for me was probably Moon Bloodgood’s character ‘Blair Williams’… although, on reflection, she was really more of a tough-talking damsel-in-distress than an ass-kicking Amazon. There was also a really odd little scene where she’s planning to camp overnight near a seemingly abandoned garage with secret sleeper-nator ‘Marcus’, and she says to him: “Find something we can burn. I’ll be at my base tomorrow.” I’ve been having trouble with my digibox lately, so it’s possible there was a glitch in the recording that made it skip a word or two, to create this nonsensical, non-sequitur… but the subtitles seemed pretty certain that was what she said. Quite a head-scratcher. Despite that, I thought Bloodgood gave a very committed and convincing performance, in an underwritten role.
The lowlight of the movie would have to be Jadagrace Berry’s character ‘Star’. The movie’s Wikipedia page claims that the tyke was rendered mute by the trauma of living in a post-apocalyptic world, but that her condition has “given her the unnatural ability to sense when a SkyNet machine is approaching.” Which would be pretty darn useful, if she were actually able to verbalise this early-warning in some way. In the case of the attack that leads to her capture, all she does is silently stare off into the distance, a couple of seconds before a giant robot rips through the roof! So, not much of a “heads up” there, really. She spends the majority of the movie being coddled and rescued… and since she doesn’t have a single word of dialogue, they could’ve easily replaced her character with a cute puppy or an antique vase! How Jadagrace managed to score a starring role in her own TV series off the back of such an inauspicious debut, I’ll never know… but snaps to her for that.
I was also disappointed by how little screentime Helena Bonham Carter got as ‘Dr. Serena Kogan’… although, for the sake of plot plausibility, it might have been better if she’d had even fewer scenes. Why SkyNet felt the need to resurrect Marcus after he’d completed his unwitting mission, and then use Kogan’s digitised avatar to explain its entire scheme to him, I’m not really sure. It makes a certain amount of sense when an arrogant human villain feels the need to crow about their cleverness to the hero, but I don’t see why a ruthless sentient computer would waste valuable resources on healing and motivating a potential enemy-within! Was hubris programmed into its matrix too? Jinkies!