Poorly-written Terminator Salvation review: I saw it last night because I (well, my husband, actually :) is awesome

I was lucky enough to attend an early screening of “Terminator Salvation” last night, courtesy of the Chicago Nerd Social Club and my husband‘s ridiculous body of movie trivia knowledge (especially when it comes to Terminator), which was the means by which we wound up winning six passes.

Due to a parking mishap (trying to park in downtown Chicago is generally a mishap to begin with), we wound up near the end of the line and nearly didn’t make it into the theatre. Somebody announced to the line that the screening was at capacity, and that no one else would be let in (the tickets stated that they overbook these events to ensure a full theatre, just like those bastard airlines do). People at the front of the line, however, were not budging, for whatever reason, so we stuck around (while many others left, unfortunately including, I believe, a couple others from the CNSC who would ultimately have been let in) figuring there must be some conflicting information passing around. Turns out that despite all the nasty fine print on our tickets, we had seats reserved for us, and were ushered past all the other poor saps who had obviously also spent too much time looking for parking. Damn fine seats they were, too. Richard Roeper wound up sitting directly behind us, because although we had those two empty seats left in our row, he didn’t want to bother us to move over.

(There were, by the way, a bunch of empty seats left in the theatre during the movie. In the very front, but hey. I know they would have been gladly occupied. Very organized system you’ve got going there, AMC!)

So anyway. Zee movie. I must point out that although I very much liked and have seen the first three movies at least a zillion times, and every episode of the television series, I am not a qualified fanatic. My husband can claim that status, and as far as I know, he is still processing what he’s seen, and hasn’t come to a final determination as to his opinion. He’ll be seeing the movie at least two more times, he expects. To me, this indicates that he didn’t think the movie was bad (he stated that it didn’t “burn his retinas like ‘Alien vs. Predator'”, or something along those lines), but that he was expecting more out of it (perhaps unrealistically, with a little bit of wishful thinking, too much build-up during the wait for the release, and a veil of nostalgia which no doubt makes the first two films seem better today than if he hadn’t seen them as a child — what can ever hope compare to fond memories from our childhood?)

So this is coming from someone who basically watched “Terminator Salvation” as just another action movie, albeit one with a series of predecessors that do rank high on my list (minus some lines that they definitely could have left out of T3).

First of all, even I found myself losing my suspension of disbelief a number of times about nitpicky details and plot points, so I’m sure hardcore fans will have a lot more of that sort of thing to complain about. But I’m perhaps more prone to that sort of thing than the average person to begin with, since I’m logically-minded and have grown up consuming a lot of hard (read: sciencey) sci-fi. Everyone in my family was a Star Trek fan, and some of that nitpickiness certainly wore off on me, too. Considering these facts, most of those sorts of issues that I have can probably be written off…

I had two more reasonable problems with the movie, and they’re 1000% related. The writing and direction assume, as do most media these days, that the audience has no attention span whatsoever. The intervals between the countless firey, orange explosions were very short indeed. The constant action came at the expense of adequate plot and character development. I wouldn’t have expected the plot to be terribly complex given the nature of the movie, but I thought that characterization was brushed over detrimentally.

I realize that many of the characters were already known to us from the earlier films, so they should be somewhat familiar to us. However, we’re winessing them in a different time period, in situations that couldn’t possibly be more far removed from those we saw them in pre-Judgement Day, and they’re at different stages of their life (i.e. Kyle Reese is still a teenager in the movie, which is set in 2018). The characters and situation the movie throws at us deserved more back-story. I felt like I wanted more explanation as to what happened after Judgement Day, and how the characters wound up where they were, than the few brief lines of text that scrolled by forming the transition from 2003 to 2018.

There were also, of course, many smaller parts in the film to provide characters as obstacles or Terminator-bait. Some of these characters appeared prominently enough that I wanted to know more about them, but none of their stories were fleshed out, and their scenes seemed incomplete or uneccessary. Either don’t focus on them at all, or do something interesting with them!

But besides alllllll of that whining, I came out of the movie feeling good about it, so I don’t mean any of the above terribly harshly. Their attempt to hold the viewers’ suffering attention spans was successful, and I didn’t notice myself becoming bored at any point. The movie felt shorter than it actually was, which generally means I at least had fun watching it. The acting was satisfactory enough, during the moments the focus moved away from simply blowing shit up (I mean, I don’t think anyone really had to challenge themselves much in that respect). Christian Bale is still freakin’ hot, so win. And we all got a kick out of digital Arnold’s cameo, and his marvelous 1984-hairdo…

As if!

Yeah, yeah… they addressed the possibility of abortion in “Knocked Up”. Good call on that one, because otherwise I would have been pointing it out like twelve times as hard, at least. I maintain that the entire premise of that movie is fucked. That embryo would have been toast, immediately. Jew-boy would never have known about it. I guess that wouldn’t make for a very entertaining two hours, though. Eh. I have no suspension of disbelief.

Anywhom, you know that person in the theatre who spends the entire movie annoying you by sniffling and sneezing and coughing every five seconds. Hi. That’s me. I felt bad, but naturally, not that bad. Since the world revolves around me and all. My enjoyment outweighs your annoyance in importance. Times eight million.

Happy Newtonmas

I do not understand all of this poo-pooing of Narnia by my fellow godless bastards. I haven’t seen the movie, and I haven’t read the books since I was a kid. But I was a precocious young atheist (thanks Bertrand Russell, Douglas Adams, George H. Smith, Erich von Daniken), and I was fully aware of the preachy Christian allegory way back then. At the time I found it mildly irritating at certain points. And I guess that, admittedly, some of the Aslan shit was semi heave-inducing (deus ex felina — I am particularly fond of this description), and I probably didn’t catch all of the apologist crapola at that age (although I do recall my bullshit detector going off often enough). But generally it wasn’t wincingly noticeable without searching for it, or terribly relevant to the plot as a whole. Vague references in fiction to other fiction… meh. Whatever. If I’m going to suspend my disbelief, I might as well suspend my tendency to hyper-criticize as well. I suppose. Save that shit up for bullshitting hardcore on university papers. All writing, especially fiction, (but especially non-fiction) embodies the bias of its author. I can overlook it, sometimes. If I’m not busy being cantankerous. And despite it all, the series remains one of only two pieces of fantasy writing that I can tolerate to any degree (the other is The Lord of the Rings). So suck it. C.S. Lewis is still the awesome.

Now. More nog! And chocolate!

If only it was this simple…

I was watching the extras on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy DVD last night. Included is the second half of the Guide entry about Babel fish that describes how irreducible complexity proves that God doesn’t exist. The logic is just about on the level of that used by Intelligent Design morons. Actually, I take that back. It’s at least several thousand times more advanced (okay, I’m just being snarky :) Can we apply this reasoning to eyeballs or flagella as well, plz?

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist”, says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

“But”, says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”

“Oh dear”, says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

Ah, Douglas Adams… He was very much ahead of the times.

But, wait. Nevermind. Intelligent Design has nothing to do with God, religion or faith. It’s a good thing, because if they screw up one of these days and accidentally stumble upon some real facts or evidence, it would denigrate their presupposed beliefs to the level of despicable, despicable science…

[EDIT]: Okay, well. Ack. Douglas Adams was ahead of his time, and is probably also rolling in his grave. I’ve seen people quote the passage above to make fun of Intelligent Design before, but a Google search reveals that these IDiots are also using it as an allegory to demonstrate their argument (they really don’t know a joke when they see one, huh). Asshats. Hands off! You have your Good Book, and I have mine.

Also, they struggle with the very issue DNA pointed out. What is God without faith? And OMG! What would happen if Intelligent Design actually did prove God! Wouldn’t that undermine Christianity? There are more than a few people out there that think this, and if they’re going to believe something stupid anyway, I fully support this viewpoint, because at least they’ll stop bullshitting about science. Because seriously. Proof is dangerous! Belief that isn’t based on irrational superstition doesn’t count, because faith should be enough, they say. And I’m sorry, but once I’m given facts, they’re going to take precedence over everything else. Therefore, evidence for ID would prevent me from ever having faith, and probably condemn me to hell. They don’t want that, do they?

Yeah, I’m not going to read any more about this right now. I hate the “we don’t need no steenking facts” argument. This is why run away from preachy religious types. Even if you finally get them to accept that there’s no way they’re going to convince you of anything without facts to back things up, and to admit that they really don’t have any facts, they just start ranting about how you’re being stubborn and shallow to require them in the first place. And how do you argue with someone who’s essentially saying “Hi! I’m full of shit, and I’m better than you because of it!”

I have to return that DVD now, anyway.