Terminator: Salvation

There is good news and bad news about Terminator: Salvation. The good news is that it is a far better film than Terminator 3, and the bad news is that it is nonetheless More of the Same, All About the Men.

This is especially sad in a franchise that, three entries out of five, has focused on a female hero. Sarah Connor has repeatedly violated Hollywood’s “wisdom” about female action heroes, as the audience backlash against her absence from T3 demonstrated.

While Sarah does not appear onscreen in Salvation, which is set years after her death, Linda Hamilton does return to narrate the recordings she left to her son John. And that pretty much describes how all the women who appear in this film function: they reflect on and motivate the male leads John (Christian Bale) and newcomer Marcus (Sam Worthington).

Bryce Dallas Howard plays John’s wife Kate. She spends the movie pregnant and worried… and that’s it. Seriously, that’s all she does.

(An aside:  In T3 John and Kate were played by Nick Stahl and Claire Danes, both 24 at the time. Salvation is set 14 years later: John has been recast with an actor 11 years older, while Kate has been recast with an actress only 4 years older. Of course.)

Moon Bloodgood plays Blair Williams, a resistance fighter pilot, who is a perfect example of the Faux Action Girl. She starts off promising (fighter pilot!), but by her third scene has to be rescued from an attempted rape by Marcus. She later tries to rescue him… only her plan doesn’t work out and he has to get himself out of trouble. She then spends the rest of the film taxiing people around in a transport helicopter, and helping to motivate Marcus.

Jadagrace Berry plays Star, a child resistance fighter. She is brave and knowledgable, but mute. Personally, I think the filmmakers made her silent due to worries about “annoying kid sidekick” complaints, but obviosuly it could be read in terms of her race and gender. While Star gets some heroic moments, she mainly serves to motivate Marcus and Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin).

Helena Bonham Carter plays Doctor Serena Kogan, whose pre-Judgment Day work with Cyberdyne Industries proves significant to the plot, espcially to… you guessed it, motivate Marcus.

Despite two great films from James Cameron and a sadly short-lived TV series, once again we are reminded that it is All About the Men.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    Bryce Dallas Howard … spends the movie pregnant and worried… and that’s it. Seriously, that’s all she does.

    That’s a waste and a half right there.

    And I’m sad to see the Sarah Connor Chronicles end.

  2. says

    I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this movie after the first twenty minutes. Damn thing had plot holes you could drive a bus through, there was no way they were gonna be good at writing women.

  3. says

    Ugh! I heard that part of why TSCC lasted so long was because it was considered advertising for this movie, and now that advertising isn’t needed, but it’s a shitty Action Men movie, too?

    *mourns my women-centered show*

  4. Charles RB says

    What’s interesting is the Terminator _comics_ from Dynamite – which aren’t in-continuity with the fourth film due to a pecularity of licensing – not only give a lead action-heroine, she’s the co-leader of the resistance and, in the second story, the Terminator’s target instead of John Connor. (Also, via time-travel, Sarah turns up in the second)

    And you’d traditionally think direct-market US comics are going to be _more_ male-focused than film.

  5. says

    I haven’t gone to see this one: my husband and son went to see it today. The 8 year old loved it for the whiz-bang fights and explosions. My husband leaned over to tell me quietly that the movie sucked. Not so much for the reasons stated here–but that the movie, focusing on John Connor, was barely about him, and more about the other guy (the second lead?).

    I’ll go back and rewatch Star Trek 09 before I go see this movie. After all, Fox canceled our favorite show, and one of the few that featured a female kick-butt protagonist with her own issues. And just when it was getting *really* good, too.

  6. SunlessNick says

    And just when it was getting *really* good, too.

    One thing I really did like about the last episode was that Sarah didn’t go to the future with John. She stayed to keep trying to prevent Judgement Day – which is now something that would risk winking John out if she succeeded. And thus, she chose saving the world over her son. And I like that addition to her story – the final triumph of the future not being set.

    And I’d have liked to see a series 3, where she fixed Cameron (who seemed to be in John Henry’s old hardware, and could have downloaded herself onto another T-888 chip when Sarah got one), and we got just the two of them. (With some Ellison, maybe).

  7. SunlessNick says

    The Salvation Ads here are saying stuff like “At last, his time has come.”

    His.

    I know, I know, John’s an important figure in the mythos, but I haven’t been watching Sarah just to mark time till I can watch him.

  8. Dan says

    They could have just made Marcus a female. That would have helped. Still would have been a crap movie, though.

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