Well . . . here we are. This whole time I thought this would be my last writing about Terminator, but I read a review of Terminator Salvation in which the author rants about how stupid Skynet was.
Ah, heck. I’ll try to fit that rant into this one.
In Superman: The Movie, a large southern Californian quake (triggered by a missile launched by Lex Luthor) causes a crack in the ground that swallows Lois Lane’s car and crushes her to death. Superman gets there too late to save her, so he gets really angry and flies around the world so fast that the Earth spins backwards and time reverses, allowing him to get Lois out in time and also somehow fixes everything wrecked by the earthquake. By putting this into the movie, the writers opened not only the time-reversal box, but the “he can fly fast enough to go around the planet several hundred times a second” box, so that creates questions such as why couldn’t he fly there fast enough to save Lois in the first place? Why didn’t he keep going backwards for a few more minutes and just stop Lex from the get-go? That is a plot hole, one that is created by trying to write oneself out of a corner. You and I can discuss this one all day, detailing how bad of a story move that was.
Yet it is my thorough belief that when someone nit-picks plot points like this guy, it’s not about the story but about his ego. “Why doesn’t Skynet just kill John Connor when he was in the factory?” Golly he’s clever. Why didn’t Marty go back to the future a whole DAY before he originally left to guarantee he could talk to Doc before he got shot? Why didn’t Frodo just fly on those big eagles over Mt. Doom and end the whole Sauron thing in like two days? Why didn’t the Emperor use some Dark-Side action to trip Vader when he picked him up, or to fly or something when he was thrown down the pit? Why? Because first of all, you wouldn’t have a movie. And second of all, you’re talking about “in retrospect.” Sure, it’s a movie, but these are all things that the characters could look back on and think, “Oh, that may have worked, too,” but it’s pointless for us to debate them because, back to my first point, you wouldn’t have a movie. I believe that when reading a book, watching a film, or even playing a game, you should let the storyteller take you with them, instead of sitting there, bitching about where you think the storyteller should go in a subconscious attempt to make yourself feel smart. At the end of everything, everyone has a right to their opinion on the end result, but just remember it’s not YOUR story.
So what do I like about the Terminator series? Let’s hit a few points.
John Connor and Skynet are a yin and yang. Neither can exist without the other. John exists because he sent Kyle to defend his mother from the first T-800, which led to their short but fertile romance. However Kyle’s defense means that the T-800 is destroyed, leaving a couple spare parts for Cyberdyne to find and reverse engineer, eventually leading to Skynet’s creation. If Skynet were never created, there would be no war, no time travel, and no way for Kyle to meet Sarah at a comparable age. John could not be. If John were never born, Skynet would have no reason to send a Terminator to 1984. Skynet could not be.
When I first saw T3, I thought the idea that “Judgment Day is inevitable” was stupid and weak.. “Couldn’t they come up with something better than that?” I thought. But the more I thought about it- the more it made sense. It made sense because as long as John exists, Skynet will exist, and Skynet will cause Judgment Day. And while I’m here, let me retract a statement I made about “why would Skynet send the T-X to a time when it couldn’t find John?” I believe the quiet reasoning for this is because Skynet didn’t want to risk the delay of Judgment Day again. If it went after Connor at an earlier time, that would clue him in that something still needs to be done to “prevent” Skynet. Instead, the T-X arrives at a time when Judgment Day is imminent – thus ensuring the elimination of its targets without risking its existence. I can’t believe I’m saying this about the third film, but that’s really clever. I wonder if it was on purpose.
John Connor and Skynet are both their own grandfathers. Now that’s something you don’t see every day. Of course John wasn’t the father of Kyle, but he was directly responsible in making sure Kyle met Sarah. Skynet is, in truth, actually its own grandpa, but it’s a computer so it’s really not that gross.
The only way to stop Skynet is for John to wipe out his own existence. This one may seem like I’m thinking a little too far into this, but it’s true. I’ve established that they can’t exist without each other, so the only way to prevent it all is for John to not allow Kyle to meet Sarah. No John, no Skynet, thus no Judgment Day.
Some parts of the story were cleverly left open enough for these new movies. A lot of people have griped about Salvation, and when I saw the trailers I found myself to be skeptical about the inclusion of Marcus. I hate (as I think others should) the re-writing of cannon. Yet when you think about it, nothing about what we know up to 2016 in this fictional universe comes close to excluding the posibility that Marcus was part of the story all along (he wasn’t, but you get my point). In fact, it beautifully develops Connor more – instilling, or re-instilling, in him a willingness to trust a machine.
Marcus was a very deep concept in addition to a new character. The main thing being that Connor gets his heart to survive. It was Marcus’s human heart that kept him on the side of the resistance, and it is that which was given to John. You could say that John has the heart of a machine. That’s kind of deep.
For being a series of movies about killer robots from the future, it seems to be really a thinker’s story. That’s what makes it so great when you pay attention, and what makes it so upseting when they skip details.
But all in all . . . I’m really lacking for a good conclusion. I’m out.