Back when I was first getting started in movie review, the first company I managed to partner with–that is, convince that I was a sufficiently big deal to send movies to in order to review–was The Asylum. And back in those long ago days, you could count on The Asylum to take chances and show an unusual amount of spine for an industry that so often imitates itself.
But that hasn’t been the case lately…The Asylum went the way of the so-called “mockbuster”, or as I was calling them for the longest time, Asylumized movies. They’d take whatever was big in the theatres–or would likely be big–retool it a bit and release it. For instance, ahead of the first Transformers movie, The Asylum released Transmorphers. When A Stranger Calls became When A Killer Calls, and so on right down the line. Some of them have been better than others, and some have just plain old been complete wastes of DVD plastic.
Now, we have The Terminators, released just around the same time as Terminator: Salvation. How will it fare? Let’s find out.
This time, The Terminators assumes a future in which the race of cyborgs (they really seem more like androids or possibly outright robots–admittedly it’s a fine distinction but a relevant one nonetheless) rises up against their human masters for little or no stated reason (what, did they just get sick of working for the man?) and ran amok in an orgy of bloody excess and violence. All that’s left to take on the so-called TRs is a handful of humans that form the human resistance against the TR hordes.
On the one hand, this movie doesn’t have a bad storyline–it’s kind of interesting to watch relatively low-tech humans tackle these bulked-up androids with not that much better hardware than humans. It has a certain sort of compelling action / sci-fi feel to it that keeps it interesting. Plus, you’re hoping as you go through the movie that you’ll get a little more explanation as to just what the deuce is actually going on around here.
On the other hand, meanwhile, this is clearly a low-budget spectacular, and science fiction is NOT the job to do on a low budget. The result will be that a lot of things that probably should have happened will not–for instance, a handful of human survivors fires a whole mess of ammo into a TR unit, the TR is clearly hit. Clinking and pinging sounds, along with flashes of white denoting impact, are both clearly seen and heard. Yet, somehow, the very next shot shows that the TR is clearly unscathed. And I mean “unscathed”–when a Terminator took a round, there would be a hole in the synthetic skin, probably a little blood. The TR, meanwhile, takes not even a scratch or a smudge of ash from the impact.
The worst of it is, it didn’t even NEED to be a Terminator hanger-on. It does all right by itself. Yeah, sure, it’s a low-budget sci-fi epic, which is one of the worst kinds, but it’s still a fairly compelling action piece. If someone had called this “Rage of the Autodroids” or some such potboiler nightmare, it’d be no less valid. No one needed to tie this in to the Terminator franchise.
The Terminators walks away with a six out of ten: it does do surprisingly well for a low-budget sci-fi epic, but it definitely didn’t factor in its limitations beforehand.