So I was sitting in the theater all excited about this film. While I was skeptical at first about a McG Terminator film, after seeing the footage and getting bits and pieces of what the story entailed I was hooked. Not Star Trek hooked mind you but enthused nonetheless. So the film starts, it’s 2003 and we see Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) in prison signing his body away to Cyberdyne Systems and then waking up 15 years later to find himself in a completely different world. And then finding out that he is pretty much no longer human and how he has to deal with all these new revelations. I’m starting to get into this story. And then some guy starts talking, just yammering on for no reason. I’m thinking, “ Could someone please tell this guy to shut up, he’s interrupting, what is turning out to be, a great flick” But no one said a thing and this guy kept making his comments and even did some speeches and I was getting more and more annoyed. I just wanted to reach out and strangle this guy and I would have to if it hadn’t been for one little thing; that annoying guy, interrupting a good movie was one of the characters in the movie and his name was John Conner.
Now lets get this out of the way. I didn’t hate this movie. I did enjoy most of it. I enjoyed the Marcus Wright/Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) scenes, I enjoyed the giant robot with the cycles coming out of its leg and I enjoyed the little nods to the previous movies-although the Guns N Roses song was pushing it. There were some eye catching action sequences and I was excited about getting my first glimpse into Skynet. But the one person I couldn’t get past was John Conner. Now if the stories are true; Christian Bale was offered the Marcus Wright part but decided he wanted to play John Conner. In the original script Conner only appeared in the last 3 minutes of the movie, it was primarily going to be Marcus and Kyle Reese as the main characters. So he brings in Jonathan Nolan, co-writer of Dark Knight, to beef up the Conner part. Now seeing as the same two guys who wrote The Net and Catwoman wrote the original script, maybe a pass by Nolan wouldn’t be so bad. So he beefs up the character and we get a film that feels like there are two competing story lines going on. And unfortunately the good story line is getting beat out by Bale’s ego.
The John Conner we hear about in the previous films is this, almost, mythological messiah. He’s the guy that everyone talks about, the one that battled an army of Terminators all by himself with just a pulse rifle and pair of scissors. You hardly see him but you know he’s there; pushing you to go forward and you gladly do even if it means you’ll die. The John Conner we usually see is the whiney, self absorbed little brat that makes you wonder how he could be the leader of anything, let alone the savior of man kind. The John Conner we get in this film is more mature and starting to get his footing in terms of who he is to become. But there in lies the problem. The people are following him but you never really get an idea as to why, it’s just that they follow him. They feel he’s right and the those above him are wrong and maybe it’s that simple but I felt that something was missing, a strong enough reason for everyone to just ignore orders from their higher up to follow this guy, because that’s really who he was, just this guy. And that’s what saddened me. They had a really great story going with Marcus Wright and his relationship with Reese and the relationship with Blair (Moon Bloodgood); I would have loved to see that develop. They had the makings of doing something unique with this but all the Conner stuff drags it down.
A few other little things that bugged me included; the fact that Conner didn’t seem to be suspicious about his relative ease breaking into Skynet. They seem to know he was coming so wouldn’t Skynet have had Terminators positioned everyone to blow is ass to pieces and the same with Reese, they had him but just kept him locked up. I had issue with the Helena Bonham Carter bit at the end. It’s that idea of “well it’ time to put a face on the faceless villain” They did it with the Borg and now they did it with Skynet. It’s kind of ironic since machines are taking over and trying to wipe out humans but yet a human face is their representative. Like I said I didn’t hate but I was saddened to watch a film, that had the chance of being something special, brought down by ego and by people who just couldn’t say No.
A little side Note: I read this several times and I am curious to hear what people would have thought of this. It’s the original ending. Apparently Conner was going to die. He was fatally wounded in the final assault against Skynet. He lay dying and convinces Marcus Wright to take up the mantle of John Conner. Conner dies and they graft Conner’s face on too Marcus’s skeleton ala Face Off. So in the end John Conner, the savior of Mankind, the leader of the human resistance would actually be a Terminator. I’m not sure how I would feel about that; I mean it would be balancing that tight rope between awesomely shocking and totally retarded. So if you made this far, let me know your thoughts on this.