Warning - here be spoilers...
In a nutshell:- Future-y Terminator-style shenanigans.
The Basics:- I'm a big fan of the first two Terminator films. Good, solid sci-fi action films which quite rightly, along with Aliens, cemented James Cameron as your man to go for a good quality sci-fi blockbuster*. I held off watching the third one for quite some time as it was pretty universally panned, only watching it for the first time a couple of months back. Admittedly, it wasn't great but it wasn't an awful film. No, it's main crime was that it was utterly superfluous. I didn't feel that it added one single thing to the universe set up in the first two films. So, would this additional sequel prove to be any better.
The Good:- The film takes the right first step in moving away from the whole Terminator-sent-back-in-time schtick of the previous three films and giving us a good look at the future post-Judgment Day world. There are some impressively realised new Terminator machines, including one that shoots bike Terminators out of it's legs (it looks a lot cooler than my description) and the overall feeling throughout the film is that of a war movie with hidden headquarters on submarines and isolated resistance pockets scattered about, heightened by John Connor's role as "Voice Of The Resistance".
The Bad:- Well, it doesn't quite feel like the same skull-strewn, war-torn landscape of the first few films (it looks a lot cheaper for starters). It's also extremely predictable - there is no surprise at all in Sam Worthington's character Marcus and I'd surprised if you didn't manage to work him out right from his first appearance. It's got no real sense of humour, something which lightened the first couple of films (sometimes not always completely successfully, admittedly, but still). It also doesn't make a lot of sense - there are plotholes all over the place, particularly SkyNet's unleashing of a Terminator and just hoping that it wander about and bring John Connor back to them. Not really much of a plan. But, most importantly, much like Terminator 3 before it, it also feels utterly superfluous. As it's set before John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time in the first film, it's effectively a prequel so, again, there's no sense of real danger. John and Kyle have to survive for the first two films to happen.
Closing Remarks:- It's not a bad film, certainly not as bad as some critics would have you believe but it is ultimately pointless. As we're bound to get another installment in the franchise, can I make a request? Set it in the future after the first couple of films and give us some genuinely unknown territory. Go somewhere new and give us some situations where we don't know the outcome and might actually stand a chance of caring about what happens to the characters. Just a thought...
* OK, so he then went on to make the three hour, over-hyped and mostly dull yawnfest that is Titanic but nobody's perfect.