EmP on: T4
July 29, 2009

A while ago now, I was tricked into seeing Terminator 4. I say tricked because when we left the house, I though we were going to the pub. When we drove past the pub, I assumed we were going to a different pub. There was no pub. There was only something that had about the same effect on my poor brain as a cerebral bore coated in pure proof vodka.

I suppose it would be fair to say that if you turned off your brain then T4 isnít an awful film. The effects are okay, thereís action aplenty and no actors in the thing are stand out awful, but the entire film seems to have been penned by particularly de-evolved monkeys. The ones you usually find working under Michel Bay.

In a nutshell, T4 is the attempt to complete the circle, being both the forth film in the series when looked at from a standard sense of continuity, and the prequel for T1 when you start fiddling around in timelines. The first film saw Kyle Reese travel back to protect John Connerís mother from a Monotone Arnie and an Uzi 9mm; T4 sees John Conner looking for a teenage Kyle Reese so he can send him back in the first place. Itís a complex subject matter dealt with in the manner youíd expect from a writing team whose big hook for the last film was ďletís give the updated Terminator a nice pair of tits.Ē Time travel, at the best of times, is a hard subject matter to realistically portray, what with it being on the same scientific realms of realism as zombie Hitler rising from the grave to take flowers to his local mosque, but the series continues to treat it with the depth and maturity found in a brown wax crayon. Anything that tells me steel exoskeletons, flesh, bone, nano-rich liquid metal and nuclear reaction power cores can make the flashy jump back in time, but clothes cannot is fair game for mocking.

Things go so very far beyond this here, though. T4 asks you to check your common sense at the cinema doors in the same way the post-advertisements ask you to turn off your mobile phone.

Itís a shame, because the foundations for a really good spine are ever present from the get go. Sam Worthington shines as the filmís best asset by far as a remorseful death-row inmate who signs his defunct life away for the chance of medical advancements and redemption. Instead, the poor sap gets turned into the first link between humans and machines. Heís pretty much exclusively involved in any of the filmís sporadic high points as he struggles to retain his humanity and clumsily stumbles through any interaction he has when resurrected in the midst of the war against Skynet.

Itís here things start to get a bit silly. For instance, somewhere along the line John Conner started to buy into his own hype as the second coming of Jesus, helped largely by the fact that he seems to stroll unscathed out of battles that see every other living entity in a mile radius obliterated. He also answered the age old question of how he hacks Terminators to send back in time as his own metallic bodyguard services when he decides to hack into a human killing machine perfectly manufactured to double as a high-speed motorcycle. He does this by tripping it over and inserting a USB key.

I can only assume the reprogrammed protectors in T2 and T3 fell foul of a cunningly placed-banana skin.

In trying to keep the paradoxical link between both the first film and the third, the main plot revolves around both sides trying to find and procure Kyle Reese. Conner so he can send him back in time and keep the cycle that prevents him from dying before heís even born and Skynet to end the cycle and change history in their favour. This dual race is somewhat squashed when Skynet captures him with the aid of Robozilla early on in the film. Then.. put him in a holding cell instead of killing him and winning. Itís a little like the Bond villain complex where they capture Bond, then damn him to an overly complex death before turning their backs and assuming that all goes well, but instead of the transgressor being an evil bag of ego, itís a machine thatís supposed to think in pure reason and logic. Skynetís supposed to be a metallic Spock with an army of angry can openers to do its bidding, but plays out more like Shatner after drinking a few too many at an after awards show.

Even a Commodore 16k would have known to cap Reese the second in has the chance for instant victory. Skynet, though, uses him for bait. Then tries to kill him afterwards and rues the fact that it fails to after bringing out an awful CGI Schwarzenegger as a foil which, despite it being an early model Terminator, takes the most over-the-top punishment yet. Even going so far as to shrug off molten metal, the very thing that killed the vastly advanced T-1000. Itís odd that T4 wants you to have forgotten these little bits of information from previous film as it often seems to exist only to recycle little throwbacks and one liners previously championed by the backlog . For all your ďCome with me if you want to liveĒs and ďIíll be backĒs, we're supposed to also forget that Connerís girlfriend was a vet in T3 and, despite the attempted genocide of mankind, has somehow managed to go through medical college and gain the know-how to do open heart surgery with a rusty butter knife, a bendy straw and half a bottle of out of date aspirin between films.

T4 serves as less of a film, and more of an outright attack on the Terminator canon; even the new CGI robots pale in comparison to the early-early 90ís versions of the same machines who donít randomly show up wearing an 80's forehead sweatband like theyíre prone to do here.

Itís an overall boring and predictable film that does a Bale still stuck in throat-cancer Batman mode no favours, and while Worthington does himself credit, itís in spite of the material heís forced to work with instead of alongside it. Terminator is a series thatís long forgot what its actual strengths are and have instead started to incorrectly focus on some of the side dishes instead of the main course; the first two films ran on emotion. They gave you characters to invest in, stacked the odds immeasurably high and made you want to root hard for them to come out on top. All we have here is a lazy script that hopes to get by on name recognition and shiny effects designed to draw your eye away from the vast sea of plotholes, flaws and sheer idiocy that conspire to drag down any glimmer of hope the film might exhibit.

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joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - July 29, 2009 (11:49 AM)
I went to see this with my Indian friend back in The States a few month ago. He was all like, "I want to see Terminator, but no one will go with me!" I was like, "Dude, I want to see Terminator." I think we were drunk on the good will earned by the first two Terminator movies and Christian Bale's career up until T4.

I also thought, it couldn't be as bad as T3, right?

Needless to say, my friend and I ended up echoing the points in your review. It's one of the most pointless sequels/prequels/whatever I've ever seen. The cinematographer deserved to get yelled at by Christian Bale, because the entire movie was oppressive to look at. Apparently, Bale himself initially rejected this role. I hope he learned to trust his gut instinct after this piece of shit. Never accept a role from a man who calls himself McG!

At the time I watched the movie, I didn't notice that the "prototype" Arnie could withstand punishment that the T-1000 couldn't. On another note, after all the catchphrases they recycled, they couldn't fit in a good "You're Terminated!"? I was hoping they'd at least give Sam Worthington the opportunity to say that to CG-Arnold.

On another note, this has probably been the worst summer for blockbusters ever. "Wolverine" sucked, "Star Trek" was mediocre and overrated, "T4" sucked, "Revenge of the Fallen" is a cinematic black hole, and even the new Potter doesn't quite stack up the good old days. "Up" is just about the only good thing I've seen this season.
randxian randxian - July 29, 2009 (09:29 PM)
Definately don't want to see this now that I keep hearing bad things about it.

Haven't seen Wolverine yet, but again, keep hearing mixed things about it.

Star Trek I found enjoyable as a movie. The problem I have is it's more like Star Wars than Star Trek. I don't like how this new Star Trek is about blowing shit up instead of adventure and exploration. Even the old Star Trek movies had some sense of wonder and imagination. Who can forget the original crew going back in time to San Francisco in the 1960s? Good stuff, right there.
bluberry bluberry - July 29, 2009 (09:46 PM)
the ending was hokey. I liked the original idea of John Connor dying and them transplanting his likeness onto Marcus much better, they could have done something interesting with that. T4 felt like a non-story. it changes nothing.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - July 29, 2009 (09:55 PM)
I hated the way the new "Star Trek" was shot and edited. Between the lens flare, quick cuts, and shaky cam, I couldn't absorb whatever the hell was going on. It felt like the action scenes were more moving faster than the audience could catch up. I also hated how the entire movie revolved around Kirk being the center of the universe. Spock? McCoy? Fuck them, this is Captain Kirk's show! >_>

I liked the original idea of John Connor dying and them transplanting his likeness onto Marcus much better, they could have done something interesting with that. T4 felt like a non-story.

I agree with the non-story thing, but the original ending would have changed nothing. I think the main issue with the movie was pacing and writing. You could tell that a dozen people worked on the script. If the story had focus, if it didn't rely on the shock factor of a plot development that was leaked in the freaking trailers, if the action scenes were tied together more effictively, this could have been decent entertainment. Oh, if it ditched the shitty "worn" cinematography too.
wolfqueen001 wolfqueen001 - July 29, 2009 (10:26 PM)
EmP, your capacity to rant about anything that displeases you even the slightest in a long drawn-out but educated manner never ceases to amaze me. Hahaha.
darketernal darketernal - August 18, 2009 (07:12 AM)
Terminator without Arnie as the main character is no Terminator, even if the script was written by Alan Moore, and the actual film directed by Christian Nolan who seems to have a hard on for making Bale not awful.

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