May 24th, 2009

Terminator Salvation stank

Many of the things I disliked about Terminator Salvation weren't isolated but systemic. The camera work, for example, had a lot of arbitrary it-could-only-be-computer-generated shots a la David Fincher. Skynet was super-intelligent, except when it would be inconvenient to the plot; it would be a short movie if Skynet found the pathetically non-hidden hidden base and blew it up in the first couple minutes.

Also there was a pointless adorable moppet.

Much of the movie is obviously a computer simulation. That's not a crime. I enjoyed Watchmen, which had a similar level of fakery. But there was also a non-CGI scene in Terminator where helicopters roared overhead as napalm exploded in a forest, a clear echo of Apocalypse Now. Except the Terminator scene looked cheap and wimpy, and the Apocalypse scene looked audacious and excessive, a real spectacle.

The military configuration was unrealistic. The population of a modern military is dominated by the people who support and maintain the complex technology and equipment. In Terminator, it wasn't clear where "the resistance" hid all the technicians and mechanics needed to maintain their helicopters and jet aircraft.

The trailer shows a character who is a cyborg and doesn't know it. From this premise I constructed an interesting movie in my head about a resistance infiltrated by unwitting cyborgs and crippled by paranoia: who can you trust? Can you even trust yourself?

But it turns out that character isn't just any character, but in fact the main character, and if you saw the trailer you already know all about the cyborg thing and they don't do anything non-obvious with it.

A scene late in the movie reminded me of Syndrome line in The Incredibles: "You got me monologuing! You sly dog!"

So anyway, the trailer for Star Trek made me not want to watch it, but everyone loved it. The trailer for Terminator made me want to watch it, and everyone hated it. I guess the lesson is not to watch trailers.