Friday, June 19, 2015
Arguing With Terminator Salvation Nitpicks
Before that: Terminator Salvation. Released in 2009 and alternately praised/reviled by moviegoers, the fourth Terminator movie is controversial. This movie has a lot more attention to detail than people give it credit for, yet I've seen it get torn apart on the internet a lot. Then again, what doesn't get torn up on the internet? In any case, this movie got a lot of flak, so I'm going to take a few of the more common nitpicks and do my best to argue with them here. Terminator Salvation isn't the best movie in the world and can't compare to the first two movies in the series, but it's a step up from Terminator 3 and a well-done addition to the series mythology. I appreciated the amount of thought that went into this movie.
Nitpick: Why does the Skynet facility have keypads and touch screens for humans to interact with?
Answer: It is heavily implied that there are hybrids doing Skynet's laboratory work. Also, advanced terminators have humanoid bodies. If the base is run by T-800s and hybrids, then they'll be able to interact with touch screens made for humanoids. More primitive machines wouldn't be able to utilize these controls, but they're all out on the battlefield rather than in the laboratory overseeing R&D.
Complaint: Where are the sweet laser guns?
Answer: The movie takes place in 2018, while the sweet laser guns didn't come along until later in the timeline. Most likely Skynet was the one that developed the plasma weapons seen in the flash-forward scenes of the earlier movies, and these weapons were then captured and reverse-engineered by the resistance. In this movie, the only plasma-like weapons utilized by the machines are large and cumbersome, built into the bigger machines. It looks like the story is years away from Skynet developing weapons that are compact and foot soldier-usable, much less humans reverse-engineering anything from them.
Whine: Why do the terminators have humanoid skeletons? They aren't infiltrators yet so why do they have to be humanoid?
Answer: Really? Yeah, I've actually seen this complaint. The fact of the matter is that a human body type is probably the most efficient physical configuration that can be found on Earth (except for maybe...cats). When it comes to traversing all kinds of terrain, there's no better body type out there. Why wouldn't lots of the machines be humanoid? There's also the psychological component. A walking skeleton with red eyes is something that would evoke fear in anyone who sees it approaching, right? Fear makes people make mistakes, and mistakes make people dead. Really, there's no reason not to have the terminators be skeletal even before the development of infiltration units. That and they're easier to mistake for a human at a long distance, as made evident by Marcus' first run-in with a T-600. The fact that the T-600s in this movie tend to be wearing rags show that Skynet is already in the process of figuring out comparatively-primitive ways to fool humans.
Beef: Why does molten steel not destroy the T-800, when it worked in Terminator 2?
Answer: Because in T2, he was completely submerged in it for a bit of time, long enough to disintegrate. In this movie, molten steel only pours onto the T-800 for a few seconds. It wasn't submerged in sustained ultra-high temperatures.
Bitch: Why do terminators in this movie like to throw people so much? Why not just kill them like the one in the first movie?
Answer: The terminator in The Terminator did indeed punch through a guy's chest in the first five minutes of the movie. However, for the most part, the terminators in the other movies threw people a lot too. Terminators throw people. For some reason people nitpick about this in Salvation while totally ignoring the fact that it happens in the other movies.
Grievance: Why doesn't the helicopter get knocked out of the air by the nuke at the end of the movie?
Answer: Admittedly, they didn't wait very long to set the nuke off when they were flying away. A little distance would have been a lot smarter. Plus, a precedent was set earlier in -the same movie- when a nuke went off at the beginning and caused Connor's helicopter to go spiraling back to the ground. That said, the "nuke" that goes off at the end of the movie is a small energy core from a terminator, not a high-powered nuclear bomb. Still powerful enough to level the Skynet tower, but we don't know the properties of this cell. It's a creation of the movie, and doesn't necessarily emit an EMP. That said, this is one answer where I'm really grasping at straws. Even if that explosion didn't emit an EMP, the fact that John Connor pushed the button well before their escape helicopter was anywhere near a safe distance away was kind of dumb on the part of the movie.
Gripe: Why is it that bullets work on the terminators in this movie, when the other movies clearly established that bullets have no effect on terminators?
Answer: The terminators in this movie are inferior models compared to the ones in the other movies. earlier endoskeleton models aren't made from bullet-resistant hyperalloy like the T-800s are. In the original novelization of the first movie, Kyle Reese mentions that terminators up to T-700s can be stopped, or at least stunned, with high-caliber bullets. The T-800 is the first one that can't, which makes things problematic for him in 1984 when it's all he has to work with ("With these weapons, I don't know"). It can also be assumed that the very well-armed resistance soldiers in Salvation are using armor-piercing, high-caliber rounds on the T-600s they run into, which should indeed do damage. This is pretty simple stuff, and it amazes me how much I've seen this nitpicked on. Finally, note how the Arnold (which is obviously a hyperalloy T-800) near the end of the movie completely ignores being blasted by machine gun rounds? This movie doesn't conflict with the earlier films in this regard at all.
Grumble: Why was John Connor able to sneak into the Skynet facility with no backup and encounter almost no resistance?
Answer: Because Marcus, being a Skynet creation, was able to interface with the security system and shut most of it down, clearing the way of Connor to sneak in. Seriously, this happened like two minutes before he snuck in. (Editor's Note: In retrospect, I see why this is a complaint. Even though Marcus shut down the security system, Skynet was still aware of what was going on and waiting for John Connor to arrive so it could capture him; the lack of resistance is indeed a bewildering plot hole)
Objection: How can Kate Connor do a heart transplant by herself in a tent in the middle of the desert?
Answer: It's entirely possible that other medics were in the vicinity besides Kate. After all, it was a medic tent. Just because we didn't see them milling about in the immediate room doesn't mean they weren't there. The resistance has been shown to be pretty well equipped in this movie, and a team of surgeons probably would have had everything they needed to to operate and save John Connor. People act like Kate did this all by herself somehow, which gives them something to nitpick on. It's kind of ridiculous to assume she did, honestly.
Lament: Why do the resistance members and various future-people all have such good teeth?
Answer: Alright, I don't have a good answer for this one. The humans in this movie are way prettier than they should be. Even the homeless people are tanned and buff. It's like Miami.