A Double Header of Metal (Terminator: Salvation)

Hey everyone.  Matt here!  Terminator: Salvation is infiltrating theatres and videogame stores as we speak, but can it be categorized as the future savior of mankind or more a deadly “virus” intent on destroying us?  My review of both the movie and the videogame tie in are available for your eyes after the jump!

Click here for our Terminator: Salvation Reviews!
Click here for our Terminator: Salvation Reviews!

The Movie (WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND)

Terminator Salvations main protagonists, Sam Worthington and Christian Bale
Terminator Salvations main protagonists, Sam Worthington and Christian Bale

When McG sought about “rebooting” the franchise, I never thought it included taking out so much of what worked in the original films.  Gone are the slower paced character development scenes, the fantastic music, the character battling of inner demons, the question of fate/destiny in relation to mankind, etc.  The actors speak with more comic book style dialogue (including Skynet) and character stereotypes abound (the butt kicking chick, the deaf mute, the order barking general).  But the action sequences are so fast and effective that the film still remains an entertaining popcorn film…just not like the Terminator film as we once knew them.

The story follows John Connor’s rise to Resistance leadership, how he got his scar, and how he gets a better ticker (more on that later).  Skynet has set its base of evil doing in San Francisco, and keeps it extraordinarily clean (those T-600s must be great janitors).   Marcus Wright, having been on death row in 2003, rises from death in the year 2018 with a little help from Skynet, unbeknownst to him.

One of the eight million posters for the movie
One of the eight million posters for the movie

John Connor begins the film as an @$$hole and ends the film as an @$$hole, not much of a character arc there.  Though, who better to fill this role than actor Christian Bale who, despite critics, does a competent enough job in this film.  John Connor is ready to do a one man mission into Skynet stronghold, but it seems to be all in the effort to save solely Kyle Reese…saving any other captives seem to be squarely a consolation prize.  Newcomer Sam Worthington, in the role of Marcus, undergoes his quest to redeem himself…his second chance.  Unfortunately, most likely due to editing, we miss out on some of his reasons for going out his way to save a young Kyle Reese and Star.  One night they are strangers, the next day they know each other’s names.  Sam and Christian have very few scenes together, but their exchange is a little bit confusing to say the least.  John Connor finds it very unlikely that the terminator is capable of trust and must be immediately dismantled…really?  Didn’t you have a T-800 save your @$$ twice?  And to continue that note, when Arnold does show up (as we showed you earlier this week)…John doesn’t hesitate to shoot a high explosive incendiary round in his chest.   Ungrateful a little John?

The editing is a bit choppy, the story plenty hokey, the drama doesn’t hit right like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but the action can be spectacular.  From a camera shot inside a helicopter as it crashes to the final showdown between a skinless Arnie and John Connor…the action is plenty good.  The music by Danny Elfman, on the other hand, sucks.  It’s too much of a hero theme, and fails to deliver any of the foreboding heaviness given in the first two films.

Is the movie better than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines?  No, but I enjoyed T3 immensely…and unlike many websites, I don’t jump on the bandwagon and think it’s a cool thing to begin bashing that previous installment.  T4 is a different take from the franchise altogether, it’s not better by any means…and it’s not an “Aliens & Predator running through a high school” type jump the shark moment for the series either.  My advice, go in not expecting your usually Terminator experience but just fun, typical summer fare.

My rating: 7 out of 10

The Game

Reviewed from the Xbox 360 edition
Reviewed from the Xbox 360 edition

If there was an expression to describe this game, it would be: “This game lacks balls”.

When I refer to balls I mean the ability of offering something different, something of worth to the gamer.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine had balls, being one of the more violent games on the market yet being based off a PG-13 movie.   This game has a 4 hour single player campaign (if you are slow), a small variety of enemies to take on, and an even smaller assortment of weapons in which to take on these enemies.  Taking place two years before the events of Terminator: Salvation, which you really can’t tell, John Connor leads his small group of Resistance members from one skirmish to another across Los Angeles.  Comrade Blair Williams joins you along the entire way, and she looks like a good enough digital version Moon Bloodgood.  Christian Bale apparently was done with developer GRIN professionally, and opted not to offer his mug and voice to the game…which is a major disappointment that we get this wannabe.

About an hour and 15 minutes into the game, you will realize that have made it to the fifth mission, and there are nine total.  The game is extremely and criminally short for its $60 price tag, especially when Resident Evil 5 is also a better action game sharing the same shelf for the same price.  The characters show very little emotion on their faces, and sometimes don’t even open their mouths during cinematics.  The on rail sequences are a bit stiff, and moving the gun turret feels like moving a tank.

What’s good in this game?  The action, albeit extremely repetitive, is tight.  The 360 degree cover system works well…running up against a wall will offer you an icon of all the other barriers in the vicinity.  Choose the quadrant in which you want to take your cover and your character will rush over there, sliding over obstacles and leaping over barriers.  This is needed because there is no Gears of War sprint feature.  The presentation can be nice…Los Angeles has some lush flowers and plants retaking the city after its devastation and the city looks vast.  The menus and loading screens are creepy, as the exoskeleton skull of a terminator will always be staring back at you.

I wouldn’t recommend a buy (yet) or even a rent (not at Blockbuster’s prices).  Seems like a game that would drop to $9.99 during Black Friday later this year…or would definitely hit the bargain bin eventually.  Terminator: Redemption still reigns as the best Terminator game to date.

My rating: 6 out of 10

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