In the year 2016, Resistance fighter Blair Williams embarks on a deadly mission to search for a threat that is weakening humanity's defense against the self-aware artificial intelligence called Skynet and its lethal Terminators.
Ever since the Matrix franchise utilized animation (the Animatrix) and computer game (Enter the Matrix) to expand the Matrix mytho beyond the constrains of the 3 full length motion pictures, there been an increasing number of movies (which comes with it's own strong fandom) that had been following suit (such as The Dark Knight with Gotham Knight). The latest installment of the Terminator franchise, Terminator Salvation expanded their tale with animated Machinima series that was previously available as downloads from selected websites.
For folks who are unaware of the Machinima brand of animation, it's basically usage of the graphics and graphics controls from a videogame to tell a story. It was once touted as the next big thing as the graphics (such as backgrounds, characters and various elements) and controls (such as character body movement) had already been established, therefore allowing quick rendering process and it's quite a cost saver. But as a story telling medium, the Machinima brand of animation had not been able to branch out of it's niche gaming fandom to the masses and it's the same reason why this expanded tale was an unsatisfying one.
The problem with using Machinima to tell a story to the non gaming fan would be the lack of expression and in sync mouth movement with the dialogue. The established characters in the videogames often comes with blocky and stiff animation and that means we couldn't see if the characters were expressing fear, anger or any emotions. It's a emotionally blank when the characters are trying to emote with what they believe or distrust in.
Another problem in this series was that it felt like it was trying to showcase the gaming environment or subconsciously promoting the movie tie in game that involved the third person shooter gameplay into this story. In the midst of storytelling, we often had to sit through the video gameplay of Blair Williams and the survivor's gunfights with the terminators. If you are not a gaming fan, this insertion felt like an awful repetitive commercial that dragging the pace of the story.
It's a pity as this tale brought up something special to build on the Terminator mytho. The story here is about Blair Williams’ mission to search and destroy the Ghost, a Skynet device that disrupting the Resistance communication. However, it turned that the Ghost wasn't a machine but a human being that figure out a way to jam the signal between machine and the control central. The search and destroy mission quickly turned into a rescue mission with Blair and her rescue subject bickering their way back to headquarter.
The rescue subject, Laz Howard had raise some interesting viewpoints on the Resistance forces which up till the previous 3 movies had been portrayed as pitable victims who are fighting the losing war. There's a smart similarity comparison between the Skynet and the Resistance that felt true and justifiable. It made the intention of the human side more questionable and it even draws attention to the origin of Skynet, pointing the blame at the right people. Laz Howard also invented something that could changed the war with the machine around but if you have seen the feature length movie, his invention will remain as a moot point and it makes one wonder if Laz Howard was as innocent as he seems to be and how did Skynet managed to cook up such an far fetch scheme.
This animated tale would have been a fine addition to the Terminator franchise if they have selected another means of telling the tale. A simple 2D animation and a control amount of gunfights with machines would have made this tale more effective and less tedious to sit through.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The Making of Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series -
If the Machinima explanation above wasn't clear, this segment will give you more in-depth look at the videogaming animation and the advantages of using such animation to tell stories. Various personals involved with the making of this series will share how various aspects of this series were created and basically advocating the use of Machinima. Lastly Moon Bloodgood also shared her excitement to be involved with this production.
Character Profile: Blair Williams - This segment tried to focus on the protagonist of this series but Blair Williams is basically a straight forward character that fights for the Resistance. She isn't as interesting or complicated as Laz Howard or John Connor and that makes this segment rather bland and uninteresting.
With graphics that taken from a video games, this disc had no problem reproducing it on the TV screen. The characters looked so blocky and emotionless that it isn't really a disc that one use to test the picture quality of a home AV system. Audio wise, it had some fine usage of bullets flying around in an urban warfare, the kind that you expect from a shoot'em up computer game.
by Richard Lim Jr
Posted on 8 February 2010