Ron Rosenbaum

Just Walked Out of Terminator: Salvation

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.