Do we expect too much?

There are some minor spoilers for Terminator Salvation in this post.

I’ve read reviews of Terminator 4 which lambaste the movie for the parts of the plot which don’t make any sense, and appear only to exist to allow a particular shot or to justify a particular action sequence.  I understand the concerns.  For example, why is only one T800 used to try and kill Connor in the SkyNet lab, why not hundreds?  What I don’t get is that movie makers have been doing this for ever, and the ‘original’ movies we love and revere are just as much at fault but the reviewers don’t seem to want to acknowledge that or accept it.

In the original Terminator movie, the excuse given for being able to send a Terminator back through a machine which can only send living organisms is that it’s covered in flesh.  Being covered in flesh does not make you a living organism when you’re also 3/4’s of a tonne of metal alloy inside, at best it should transport the fleshy bit and leave the alloy behind.  Personally if I was Kyle Reese I would have smuggled a powerful weapon through by having it surgically implanted in an animal and sending that through at the same time.  Or, get a couple of 24oz steaks and wrap them around a good gun while they’re still fresh and bring that through with you.  The whole concept of how they can send a machine wrapped in skin is an excuse to prevent them having anything on them from the future, because they couldn’t afford the effects.  But we forgive them that because the film is good.  It’s still just as silly though.  In T4, they didn’t use all the Terminators because it defeats the purpose of the story, full stop.

Bond villains don’t employ ex-special forces snipers with high powered rifles to kill James Bond as soon as he steps out of his hotel room because what’s the point?

That’s why we’re forced to suspend our disbelief.

Now I admit, that if you didn’t enjoy a movie because it didn’t engage you enough, then it’s harder to forgive the silly bits.  Totally understand that.  If you don’t find yourself engaged, the silly bits stick out even more.  But please, don’t claim ‘the original’ or ‘other films’ aren’t as silly.  They are.

Aliens, it’s a superb movie, lots of people think so.  In the first movie Ripley lives through the terrifying process of her entire crew being killed by a single alien, which she witnessed bursting from the chest of a friend, after seeing a facehugger implant the egg.  In the second movie she goes to sleep with a small child in the same room as several containers in which are living examples of those same facehuggers.  Why?  Why on earth would she do that when she knows what they do?  Why take any risk at all?  Totally stupid.  Designed entirely to create the next scene where Burke releases them.

In Aliens, we have technology capable of building androids and travelling hundreds of millions of miles, but apparently, no way of sending down an android to the plant surface to check out if it’s safe to go in before sending live humans.  Slightly less tense but much easier.  We ignore that because it would kind of ruin the story.

In Terminator, The Terminator goes into a gun store to buy some guns.  He has a long conversation with the guy in the shop and then shoots him.  Why does a killer robot need to ask for guns?  He walks in, kills the shop owner with his bare and impressive robot hands and then takes the guns he needs, or he asks for one gun and shoots the guy with that before taking the rest.  It’s a really cool scene as it stands, but it’s totally stupid as well.  The whole scene exists so that The Terminator can say “You’re wrong” and blow the guy away with the gun, and so that we know how many weapons he’s got.  Again, why does The Mighty Terminator need to drive a car into the police station to break in?  He can just step through the wall himself, he’s tough enough to do it.  And many more examples.

If you enjoy the film you forgive the sillyness, if you don’t enjoy it, you linger on the silly parts.  That’s okay, I get it.  I do the same.  But please, don’t pretend that all the movies we loved were perfect and had nothing silly in them – that just makes it sound like a lame excuse.

NB: It’s really quite late, and I’m not sure how well this reads through, but it was in my head last night and made it hard to get to sleep so I had to write it down today, warts and all.