Given that the previous Terminator movie, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines made $150 million and the first Night at the Museum made $250 million, I guess it's not a surprise that Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian beat Terminator Salvation on their opening weekend. It's still kind of like seeing Ben Stiller kick sand in Arnold Schwarzenegger's face. I wonder, with three previous movies and one TV series out there, if the Terminator market is pretty saturated already. Which begs the first (non-spoiler-y) question about the new movie:
1. Just how many time-lines are there by now? There are at least two. According to the original Terminator, "Judgment Day," when self-aware military defense program Skynet launched a devastating attack on humanity, took place on Aug. 29, 1997. T2: Judgment Day attempted to avert that disaster, but according to Terminator 3, the heroes only postponed the robot holocaust, which began on July 24, 2004. This puckish whiteboard tries to explain it, but muddies the waters even further. I can't say I noticed anything in Terminator Salvation that directly contradicted Terminator 3 (apart from the obvious recasting), but it's getting pretty darn confusing. And this doesn't even address "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
2. How did Marcus Wright get loose? Early in the film, after John Connor (Christian Bale) escapes the Skynet outpost from exploding, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) appears from the wreckage, covered in strategically-placed mud and apparently nude, in an homage to the various nude Terminator appearances from the prior films. We later find out that, unbeknonst to himself, Marcus is an android, and later still, Skynet claims he was designed to infiltrate the human resistance so the machines could capture Connor and Kyle Reese. (More on that below.) Was it Skynet's plan to let him go after the outpost exploded, which seems ridiculously dangerous for an allegedly important prototype, or did the explosion activate Marcus and he crawled loose on his own?
3. Why is Skynet interested in Kyle Reese? Assuming Skynet hasn't scene the other movies, does it know that Kyle Reese will be John Connor's father? Or is it only tracking Reese because it knows that John Connor is looking for Reese? And if the latter, isn't that a potentially huge security breach for the resistance?
4. When John Connor sneaks into the Skynet HQ in the Bay Area, he frees human captives and yells, "Get to the transport!" Uh... what transport? The film makes a point of establishing that Connor rode to the HQ on one of those motorcycle-terminators. So when did the rescue transport become available? Did he find one on arrival? Did he know the reinforcements had arrived?
5. Just what was Skynet's agenda for Marcus? When Marcus plugs into the Skynet mainframe, Skynet speaks to him with the face and voice of Helena Bonham Carter's character and explains that he was designed to infiltrate the resistance and find Kyle Reese and John Connor. I'm kind of confused as to how Skynet set this up. Marcus first meets Kyle, but apparently Skynet didn't identify Kyle until the little flying Frisbee-inator saw him. Later, the giant Harvester Terminator captures Kyle and everyone else except Marcus -- maybe it let him go on purpose. Marcus makes his way to the resistance headquarters, but not before a magnetic landmine almost blows him up -- not a good design for a spy android. Then Moon Bloodgood lets him go, something Skynet could not have predicted. Sure, John Connor goes to Skynet HQ because Marcus tells him Kyle will be there, but Connor could have found that out any number of ways. I kind of think that Helena Bonham Carter-Skynet is full of crap. When she tells Marcus that the capture of Kyle and Connor was Marcus's fault, and all part of Skynet's plan, she sounds kind of like Bart Simpson saying "I meant to do that."
6. Most of the final action scene has Connor fighting a "T-800" model Terminator, one that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, thanks to CGI, and another one in the metal-skeleton form. Is the Schwarzenner one the same one Connor pours motel steel on? It's not a big deal. I was just wondering.
7. The film ends with Connor's wife Kate performing a heart transplant between Marcus and Connor in what appears to be a hastily-raised tent. Given that Kate was a veterinarian up until 2004, is this plausible even by the standards of killer robot movies?
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