Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

May 23, 2009

Just Walked Out of Terminator: Salvation

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:59 pm

I was a major admirer of the way the first two Terminator movies kept alive the memory of the horror of the nuclear Balance of Terror and the omnipresence of nuclear war for the half century of the Cold War. And I consider myself a student of the genre I once called “nuke-porn” a term I coined in a Harper’s article at the height of the Cold War, and a subject I’ve revisited recently to see how the new nuclear age has affected it. It’s not necessarily a disparaging term, nuke porn–books and films that focus on the depiction of the trembling world on the brink of a devastating nuclear climax–may have actually played a role in the creation of what the scholar Nina Tannenwald calls the “nuclear taboo” which may have had a hand in inhibiting any further use of nuclear weapons after Japan.

But this, the fourth in the series, is a sad cacophonous, brainless waste of time that doesn’t even rise to the level of nuke-porn. At least the first hour which was all I could take. It’s too bad they showed a trailer for Transformers 2 before the main feature because you could not tell the difference between the two idiot epics. Instead of evoking nuclear dread (with a lot of fight scenes featuring Arnold, who I thought was actually great in the fake-human Terminator role) the new Terminator film is just an incessant screech of garbagy looking machines ripping each other to shreds. Who cares.

If you sat through the whole thing and want to tell me I missed something profound Iet me know.


  1. It is my hunch that many films are produced with the goal of simply being “good enough.” The costs of the special effects are now often next to nothing. The recent advancements in computers and software far surpass what was available in 1984 when the first of the series was released. And today’s filmmakers earn millions more via DVD sales and foreign ticket buyers. Why work so hard? The odds are that Terminator IV will minimally earn a decent profit.

    Comment by David Thomson — May 23, 2009 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  2. My grad student son saw this movie two days ago and says that among other obvious problems, a character in this Terminator movie simply disappears from the story without explanation. We also discussed some problems evident in the new Star Trek which were apparently caused by a dropped subplot, according to a review by James Akin, leaving some details unexplained and puzzling in that movie. –But then you kind of expect that sort of thing with a Star Trek movie, and it is part of the traditional fun to pick out the holes afterward.

    Comment by T. Lindsey — May 24, 2009 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

  3. I streamed it last night on my computer and I have to agree…I felt gypped..even thought I didn’t pay a dime to see it…I’ve been a big fan of the Terminator series and I had to wonder if whoever put this thing together had even bothered to see the others first

    Comment by Robbins Mitchell — May 24, 2009 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  4. To change the subject from fictional nuke porn to the real-life kind, please see today’s posting on

    Comment by karl w. — May 24, 2009 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  5. I just caught the end of the trailer, as the voiceman was saying “rated PG-13”.

    A Terminator movie rated PG-13? I am not going to say it but I think I can confidently say that this is another pile along the lines of Indiana Jones4 /Die Hard 4.


    Comment by Frank — May 24, 2009 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  6. Just finished it. Absolutely Terrible. And I loved the Terminator flicks.

    Comment by Steve — May 25, 2009 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  7. Is there any film that you won’t see?

    Comment by charlie finch — May 26, 2009 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  8. Ten Greatest Action Movies of All Time from One Who Hates Action Movies (and why does this blog have an alternative David Thomson? ugh!!!) Terminator, Tron, Terminator 2, Blade Runner, Alphaville, Metropolis, The Time Machine, Flash Gordon, Spaceballs, Flying Down to Rio

    Comment by charlie finch — May 26, 2009 @ 10:06 am | Reply

  9. Robbins… how do you justify stealing? please explain. Ron, why do you promote this on your talkback?

    Comment by Bryan — May 26, 2009 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  10. Ron, I take it you would be fine with me stealing tens of thousands of copies of your books straight from the publishing house and giving them away to anyone who might be curious.

    Comment by Bryan — May 26, 2009 @ 6:24 pm | Reply

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