I have to say that out of the first three Summer Blockbuster Films of 2009 I've seen, this one I've come away with as the most satisfying so far.
The problem I had with Wolverine was an overtly convoluted plot for an action flick with huge leaps of logic concerning certain effects when you shoot shoot a guy with adamantium bullets. Yes, Wolverine has a complicated backstory, but that film did nothing to make sense of it, just gave it all to us to, I assume, satisfy every fan who liked a given "origin."
Star Trek, for me, didn't feel like the Star Trek Universe. I accept that ST needed to be rebooted, but essentially to throw away 40 years of continuity, I don't accept. The new ST Movies goes on for a new mainstream audience, but it becomes a shallow bit of digital puffery, the characters shadows of their former selves. The only thing nostalgic for me in this film was Pike's Admiral's uniform remincent of Kirk's from ST:TMP.
So why does Terminator: Salvation work for me? Does it have a perfect story? Hell no! It's an action flick! So why do I let it slide when I rant on ST2009? Because it hits that Nostalgic spot. It's a sort of Prequel, but it feels like it's set in the Terminator Universe. We get a longer look into the post-apocalyptic world that we've only seen glimpses of in the first 2 Terminator films. Growing up with films like The Mad Max series, and other direct-to-video B films like Defcon-4, it tugs at the Nostalgia Strings in my brain. I think McG (the director) was probably paying homage, or maybe ripping off those films, but he did it well and wrapped it up in a pretty package.
So I like the setting, check. What also worked for me? The journey Marcus takes, finding Kyle Reese, and I actually liked the support (literally) role the little girl, Star, played. Adorablely cute in her scenes. There was an obvious hostage plot thread they could have gone down ala Newt(Aliens), but I'm glad they didn't do it with her. It's still in there, and that's probably when you have to turn off your brain. :/
Christian Bale as John Conner? I wonder if Bale's gonna be typecast as the mumbling/gravel voice action guy forever more? I don't remember if he spoke this way in Equilibrium or The Prestige, but I guess he's just stuck in his Batman Groove. I do like that we get to see a bit more of John Connor's history that leads up to the Iconic Leader seen at the beginning of T2. If this is going to be a new Trilogy or if they make another one, I hope they'll expand his character from just relying on his Prophecy/Messiah complex, and actually flesh him out as a brilliant tactician. Because if all that he is, the guy following his mama's advice/knowledge about the future, Humanity's a lost cause.
The action scenes were easier to follow than the ones in ST and Wolverine, and much cooler cause it's got Giant Robot Killing Machines. :) Great Cameo to tie it too it's roots, too.
There are several Silence/Bam! moments to make me jump out of my seat, and they were mostly effective without having me question them; unlike the Stealth Subway Train in Underworld (I still have to finish watching that film). The plot twist when revealed throws everything that happened in the first 2/3s of the movie into a big plot convienence hole, and that'd be my biggest gripe about the film. But what ST2009 couldn't overcome for me, T:S does by giving me some devastated futuristic landscapes and Humanity driven to extinction and surviving like rats ala Road Warrior. Ahh... Good Times... :)