Wednesday, July 1, 2015
The film opens in 2029, when Skynet robots control human beings. They not only bomb the Golden Gate Bridge with nuclear weapon, but also turn the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The human resistance army led by heroic John Connor (Jason Clarke) fights back. John believes that the only chance they can win is to let his fighter Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) time-travel back to 1984 and to find John's mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). The hope is that they can alter the judgment day (whatever that is) in 2017 so that the future can be re-written.
When Kyle is deposited back to 1984 in LA, he meets not only Sarah, but also her guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a cyborg whom Sarah calls "Pops." In addition, a robot T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun 이병헌) sent by Skynet is waiting for him as well. Straight faced T-1000 is the type of familiar creature in the original "The Terminator" (1984) who can emerge from a pile of mercury looking substance and can hardly be rid of.
When these people and robots are not shooting at each other or running away from each other, they sit there and talk about who is who and from where and when, and maybe some why as well. If there is an exam when you exit the theater asking about the relationship among these people, I guarantee that you will fail miserably.
It turns out that blowing up the Golden Gate Bridge at the beginning of the film is the highest point. The director Alan Taylor is more successful in creating awe-struck explosions than telling a coherent story. Although the characters keep their names from the original movie, they are put into a blender then poured at you as a smoothie—everything becomes cloudy and unrecognizable. If you just like the look of the special effects presented in an effective 3-D fashion, you will have a good time regardless if the storyline makes any sense. If you enjoy the sound of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "I'll be back" and his signature cyborg smirk, you won't be disappointed. But if you are expecting an intelligent addition to the Terminator franchise, this isn't one.
The amount of guns used in the film is absurdly excessive, which probably reflects the American (and Hollywood's) gun culture. Why are automatic guns always the chosen weapon to fire at a robot even though you know they are not made from flesh and blood? Is shooting machine guns how far the imagination can go when it comes to fighting in a sci-fi film? Although I enjoy seeing the spectacle of blowing up the Golden Gate Bridge, I hate to see that those bunkers under Hawk Hill (where I hike every week) are full of guns and ammunition. If Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is so powerful, how come he has to put bullets one by one into a magazine in that bunker?
Apparently, from the characters to the story except the special effects, nothing is meant to be convincing in the film. No matter how many times Hollywood destroys the magnificent bridge in a movie like this, the bridge still beautifully stands tall in the water wearing a white skirt made from fog, and no guns in the bunkers next to it. What a relief!