Terminator Salvation is a really cool movie. And I'm inclined to say it's good. I think it's a little underrated - there was a lot of good set up in the film. I believe they could've made a fantastic sequel to it, but unfortunately that won't be happening. Of course, the filmmakers only have themselves to blame for making such an undercooked product. The action sequences are fantastic, along with the whole world they've created, but they've populated it with uninteresting characters and a near brain-dead plot. But many fun blockbusters have doldrum plot lines. It really is the characters that ruin this movie.
See, the problem is that they lack basic character development. Which makes us not care about them, which makes us not care about the movie. Unfortunately this brings me to my biggest criticism of Agent9's fan edit. He cuts out many of the very few scenes in the film that actually divulge character points. Worst off in this edit is Marcus (worst off is actually John Connor who barely has a single dimension; but that's present in the original film). While cutting the prison flashback and some of his talks with Kyle and Blair might work in making him appear to be a wholly new Skynet invention (rather than the brain of a human placed in a Terminator), it robs the film of its only interesting character (well Kyle's good but he has little screen time), in a way. Agent9's new version of Marcus is interesting, but there isn't material to properly flesh him out, so to speak. Plus, we never get to really see why Kyle and Blair become friends with him.
But here I am talking about the negative, when I should really be talking about the positive, considering the high score I'm giving this. I'll be brief, though, much of my feelings have already been covered by other reviewers.
Like I said before, Terminator Salvation is cool movie. That's the best thing it has going for it. So well done to Agent9 for making it even cooler. Firstly, he's removed the glaring plot hole that is the hit list, along with some other stupid bits. Secondly, he's recolored the film, and added some choice musical selections. All this amounts to a pretty awesome edit.
While characterization has been made worse by this edit, nearly everything else has been made better. What's left is a fast and action packed Terminator thrill ride. And maybe that's the best that can come from Terminator Salvation. If so, you'll be glad to know that Agent9 has done a fine job.
Agent 9's re-working of key scenes in this edit does a lot to help resolve the many issues this film has. Marcus' new "origin" works well (The less we know about his past the better IMO) and the narrative flows a lot better. The original music cues are a nice touch, and the removal of Star as the walking talk Swiss army knife also works well. What I like most though it the re-colouring. It looks a LOT better. Thumbs up for this one.
Warning: I watched this edit in 640p. Please take that into account when reading this review.
There are three problems with the initial release of Terminator Salvation. One: the far from airtight (even for a Terminator movie) story that took itself far too seriously. Two: Sam Worthington. Three: despite some awesome Skynet monstrosities and a surprisingly great depiction of the T-800 it just didn't feel like a Terminator movie, despite heavy handed and misguided attempts to do just that.
Agent9 ended up taking these issues and wiping them out.
A/V Quality: 10
-Video Editing: 10
The cuts were numerous and welcome. That goofy "musta heard the music" gag is gone, as is a lot of Worthington's introduction, which was only a plus and almost made Marcus an interesting character despite Worthington's mighty effort in dullness. Oh, and Star isn't a walking Deus Ex Machina anymore. That deserves nothing but praise.
The color correction was probably my favorite thing in this movie and really added to a much needed bleak atmosphere. When I first saw the green filter I immediately thought, "Now this is a Terminator movie."
The reinsertion of the original music was one of Agent9's best decisions for this cut and injected some emotional depth better than around half the actors in this movie. Hearing Sarah Connor's actual line from T2 was a nice touch. The removal of some silly lines was seamless. I couldn't find any inconsistency at all.
The pacing has been greatly improved now, but certain decisions are still baffling (through no fault of your own, Agent9). For example, Skynet's system not immediately shutting down Marcus after he came back and, you know, the idea of sending him in the first place. Sadly these were both pivotal things that were impossible to fix without deleted scenes that, from what I know, simply don't exist.
Was this edit still better than its source, though? Oh God yes.
The quality of this originally bland as all hell film has skyrocketed. Where at first it was pretty much on par with Terminator 3, it's now about twelve steps above it. If I ever feel the need for a Terminator marathon, my DVD copy of Salvation will continue to collect dust. This is my go-to copy from now on.
I really, really, really wanted to enjoy myself with this edit, to experience the magic of T1 & T2 all over again, or the magic of watching Uncanny Antman's sublime version of T3.
And Agent9 did a great job of hosing away tons of crap—needless scenes, useless dialogue. The addition of classic terminator tunes also improved the tone of the film, though the volume was a bit high in some places.
Unhappily, the theatrical version has so many issues that it would be difficult to hose them all away. It's like the movie has a core crap holding chamber, ginormous and sealed and possibly impervious to fanediting. A monstrous terminator appears silently out of nowhere to snatch resistance fighters in the desert, apparently in the mere service of a surprise moment and a cartoony action sequence (which made me yearn for the brilliance and natural flow of action in the first three terminator films); John Connor throws caution to the wind and mentions the names of his mother and father to a machine he suspects is a terminator, for the sake of dumb exposition (but without Connor's indiscretion, the whole rescue-Kyle-Reese plot cannot be set in motion); terminator worms are swimming not far from Connor's base, even though such machines should have alerted their heavier-duty brethren long before the movie started; resistance air bases are out in the open where any aerial survey could find them. And why aren't terminators continually syncing their data with the network, i.e., why isn't any contact with a terminator shortly followed by a wave of killing machines coming down on a human's ass? Is it wise to detonate nuclear devices while hovering in a helicopter over prime mushroom cloud territory? And how much of this silliness could be removed without disrupting storytelling coherence?
I applaud Agent9 for doing a tremendous job salvaging what he could from a serious mess of a movie. Terminator Salvation gave me a headache; The T4 Cut was very watchable. I'd rank the theatrical release a 2/10 on the enjoyjoy scale and Agent9's version considerably higher, which has me very much looking forward to his future fanediting projects, especially if they're based on better substrate.