McG is in good company with Lucas, Spielberg and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (of Alien: Resurrection infame). If there is a special hell for directors who screw up beloved franchise, McG will surely find himself there with along with them, forced to watch the offending movies for all eternity.
Major spoilers below. Normally I don't do spoilers, but in this case, I felt the need to make an exception.
Terminator Salvation had everything going for it - it had a great setup; compelling characters and a whole lot of cool things - like robots that can travel back in time. What a concept! But all of that build up - lost, wasted.. gone. Yeah, it had John Connor, it had the voice of Sarah Connor, hell it even had the CGI mapped face of the original T-800 (that's Arnold Schwarzenegger in case you have been under a rock for the last 20 years), it has a robot that thinks it's human, or was it a human, who is programmed like a robot to do stuff? And it has lots of explosions and cool special effects - but they do not a Terminator movie make.
The plot is a mix and mash of horribly edited set-pieces, lame dialog and non-compelling storyline. The menace that you felt in the previous Terminators movies are totally missing, SkyNet as portrayed here is too abstract a concept for the 'rag-tag band of human resistant fighters' to be fighting against. yeah, it had some great robots out there trying to kill them, but in the end you just feel the actors going through the motions to get the hell over with this movie. Like Connor himself had said : "something has changed," and not for the good.
And what's the deal with the shouting in this movie? Everyone is shouting or growling or screaming at each other every other word. Don't people talk normally anymore in the future? Even Bale, when talking to his wife Bryce Dallas-Howard was growling his lines as if he was Batman and interrorgating the Joker.
I am a fan of Bale; but his John Connor is one of the worse I have seen. I just can't bring myself to care for this Connor and towards the end when he was impaled by the T-800, all I could think was; maybe this is the twist in the movie, wouldn't it be cool if Connor actually dies. Alas, he lived.
In a way the movie is about Marcus Wright, a death row convict who has been given a second chance, but in the mean time, he has to figure why they have turned him into an infiltration unit. Original thought, but this too was mishandled and even at the end when he sacrifices himself; all I had was a stifled yawn. Having said that Sam Worthington is quite a good actor and I look forward to his movies.
Other characters are equally uninteresting, from Bryce Dallas-Howard, to Michael Ironside to Moon Goodblood to Helen Bonham Carter. They all are good or great actors, but somehow they were mishandled too.
So was Terminator Salvation a total waste of time? Not quite although it comes close. Even as a normal movie where-a-bunch-of-humans-fight-the-machines-in-the-future it doesn't quite deliver. But there are a few bright spots.
Anton Yelchin's Kyle Reece was spot on and I wish they had spent more time on this character. He could easily have carried the plot forward. Yelchin was great in Star Trek, and he did good work here too.
The special effects are great too, the robots look real and the new robots, including the T-600 and the Harvester and the flying bots are awesome. But then, somehow McG managed to screw up the make-up effects of Marcus Wright.
In conclusion, Terminator Salvation is an half-hearted attempt at rebooting a beloved franchise. Of course, with all the rebooting going on in Hollywood, someone had to drop the ball and it just happened to be McG. Star Trek was great and I had high hopes for Salvation, but alas they are dashed.
If you are a fan of the Terminators, you will want to go see it for yourself if it is as bad as the reviews make it out to be. Unfortunatelly, for once, the reviews are right. If you are not a fan, then skip it for it's muddled plot, lame dialog and lazy acting. Go see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian instead.