Terminator Salvation, a.k.a., Terminator 4, was released on DVD today in the USA. Given its poor showing in theatres, that may not be all that exciting to you, but I really like the Terminator franchise so let there be no doubt in your minds that I rushed out to buy the director's cut as soon as it came out.
Terminator Salvation was not that popular with the fans though, and I can understand why. For one thing, it was a significant depature from the series; no time-travel, no Schwarzenegger (except for a brief CGI cameo in the final battle) and the heroes hunted the machines rather than the other way around. The stakes also felt dramatically lower in Salvation; the previous movies were all about the war to keep John Connor alive in order to prevent The Destruction Of The Entire Human Race; Salvation felt like a minor skirmish in comparison.
Still, I liked Salvation simply because it finally showed us the War Against The Machines in all its glory instead of just the snippets we had previously seen in the earlier movies. This was something I had been waiting for since the first movie came out in 1984. Plus, I felt the whole time-traveling aspect of the series was the weakest part of the shows and I was glad that had been finally dropped. So while the acting and the characters (not to mention the action and special effects) may not have been up to the standards set by the first three movies, the setting almost made up for it.
Still, the story of Salvation felt weak and unfulfilling; the movie felt more like an episode of some action TV show rather than what we'd come to expect from a Hollywood blockbuster and I wasn't too surprised when the movie quickly fell under the radar. The directors meant well, but they just didn't give the audience enough of what they wanted.
Now, oddly enough, this was pretty much my opinion of other Terminator Salvation spin-off products: Terminator Salvation, the video game and Terminator Salvation The Machinima Series. The former suffered from a lack of content; it had too few maps, too few monsters, too few weapons and, in fact, you could finish the game in an hour or two. The latter probably suffered most from the fact that most people never heard of it, but its story and acting were never going to win it any awards anyway. Still, they were both interesting takes on the Terminator franchise but individually were not very strong products any of them.
However, taken together the story is different; they support and each one makes up for the flaws of the other. The movie didn't have enough gunplay and explosions for you? The game made up for that. The game was too short? Combined with the movie and machinima series and there's a good amount of content. Want that old "hunted by the machines" intensity? Watch the machinma. The three also complement the franchise with added material and characters.
I won't try to argue that, even combined, the trio matches the balls-to-the-wall action of Terminator 2. Still, if you are a fan of the franchise but found Salvation dry and unsatisfying , then see if the additional material from the video game and machinima make you change your mind. Sometimes the whole taken together is greater than its component parts.