Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Terminator

It's been a while, hasn't it? That means it's been slow going on Echoes, too, I'm afraid, as I torched my second attempt to finish at 9k words and reverted to the first story idea. To my dismay, this chapter has been very difficult to write, as it's not action-focused but introspective, and while my second idea did the introspective very well, it also had some logical impossibilities; hence, torched. Even still, it is coming along (I'm about through the third act of four or five, around 7500 words), and there's an epilogue after that, so fun times. I'm hoping to finish the chapter before I leave for Florida on Saturday, but that...may be a bit hopeful.

But let's talk about Terminator Salvation! I've been a fan of the series for years now, even though I've yet to get into The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I spose I should try that sometime, huh? The Terminator concept, however, is a very realistic one (time travel aside), and the idea of a post-apocalyptic world...well, who hasn't done that one.

I was disappointed somewhat, I think, with Rise of the Machines. Granted, that was a while ago, but I was looking forward to this new film to see what they could do with it. I mean, we all know what happens--man wakes up as a terminator, good times. The point, as it is in much good literature, is a personal journey. Connor has to balance his duty to the resistance against what he knows is necessary to preserve his own existence and the existence of humanity as a whole. Wright, once he realizes what he is, determines to find out how this happened and why. But these odysseys come across somewhat...underwhelming. Connor's refusal to bomb Skynet is predictable, and it comes with an equally predictable refusal from his subordinates and the other resistance fighters who listen to him over the radio. All well and good, but he makes little argument except that there are civilians, refugees, hostages. Aside from being a voice on the radio, he's done nothing to earn the loyalty of strangers. Maybe that in itself is enough, but it does leave a question there.

Wright's plotline depends on similar contrivances. Maybe Skynet knew where to find Kyle Reese and planted Wright in the area to link up with him. Dandy, but why not just take Reese? Why depend on a machine with free will when that will can bite you in the rear? I mean, the entire stupidity of the plot manifests itself when Connor, for no good reason, mentions how a terminator killed his father and refers to him by name, and Wright just so happens to have met Kyle Reese. How fortunate. The pilot he saves falls in love with him, to the point that she risks her life to free him, and that's the most moronic of all, knowing as we do that there are more life-like terminators, ones with human flesh and blood, even if they don't quite act human all the time. Maybe those models haven't been unleashed by 2018 (and the Arnold we see at the end is the first), but that's not at all clear, and there should be, I think, more doubt on her part. Perhaps there was, and they cut it for time.

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the movie. That said, plot revolves around conflict, both internal and external, and there was a lot of capability to improve this plot. Make John's primary goal to find Reese. Make Wright's goal to find out how he still lives, knowing that he died. Put the pieces in place and let them move themselves. Speeding up plot with poor coincidences weakens the movie as a whole.

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