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Terminator Salvation

Why can’t anybody make a good movie that isn’t an Academy Award contender?  Why can’t a summer movie be entertaining and good?  Sometimes they succeed.  IRON MAN, the first two Spider-Man movies.

So why the rant?  Ian and I went and saw TERMINATOR SALVATION last night.  Partly it was homework, we wanted to check out the director, but I was hoping for an entertaining couple of hours.  Instead I was staring at the screen in disbelief, or dissolving into giggles over the dialogue.  Let me mention what I did like and get that out of the way.  It won’t take long.

I thought the direction was energetic and innovative.  I like the kid playing Kyle Reese and the Aussie playing Marcus, and the little mute girl stole every scene.  Maybe because she didn’t have to deliver any of the excruciatingly bad dialogue.

Speaking of dialogue, let’s start with the script.  If I ever teach a screenwriting class I’m going to use several scenes out of this movie as examples of plodding, cliched, “on-the-nose” dialogue.  Of course to get to the plodding, cliched, “on-the-nose” dialogue we first had to suffer through the incoherent dialogue in the first twenty minutes of the film.  Conversations in a film have to flow, each line springing off the preceding line.  This was like bad improve.

There were logic problems that had me gritting my teeth and scratching my head.  Look, I know it’s a movie.  When you have two minutes until the bomb will explode in movie time that’s always ten minutes.  I know we don’t have to see every step of a journey in order to accept the characters made that journey, but there was no logic to this film.

They’re supposed to be fighting this globe spanning computer network with satellites and flying… thingees of every description.  But the humans have this giant air base lit up like a Christmas tree with planes and helicopters all parked out on the runways.  Doesn’t Skynet have cameras?
The humans are always on the radio to each to each other blabbing about how “in four days we’re going to launch the _signal_.”  But apparently Skynet has lost the ability to speak or understand English, and it has never heard of intercepting radio transmissions.

Then there was the awful cliched exchange between Christian Bale and Michael Ironside toward the end of the film.  “We must go now!  You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” (of the equivalent thereof).  “I forbid you to launch this attack, there are _people_ in that compound.

Also the beginning crawl hints that people are divided over John Conner, but there never went anywhere.  And when the movie opens he’s apparently just a grunt, but then later he’s the hope of mankind.

The fights with the Terminators in the factory/headquarters/compound.  Why doesn’t the stupid terminators just shoot him?  Or twist his head off if they don’t happen to have a gun?  And after the third time he was smashed into a wall/pillar/floor every bone in his body would have been broken.
But where I truly lost it, and had to cover my mouth to stifle the giggles was when they decide to do open heart surgery in an open air tent with his wife (who was a _vet_ in the third movie) doing the surgery.  And I really believe they have a supply of anti-rejection drugs just hanging around.
And the message… he’s a real human ‘cause he has a heart.   Awwww.  And as Ian pointed out.  How are they going to remove the heart from his titanium rib cage?  

No, this was a really bad movie.  Though while I hated it, it at least provided me with a few laughs, and it wasn’t as bad as Watchmen because at least it wasn’t as pompous as Watchmen.

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