Out of 8 people who I watched this movie with - only myself and another person really liked this movie. Couple people really did not like it, and a few were in the middle...I was so excited to see Terminator Salvation
I was blown away visually. (remember I was expecting to dislike this movie greatly) From a cinematic technical point of view this movie rocked. There's a helicopter sequence in the first part of the movie that was jaw dropping cool for cineasts who are adept in filmmaking techniques. The look, the feel and tone of the film are pitch perfect. The cinematographer who got yelled at by Christian Bale did an amazing job. There's shafts of light that separate the foreground and background nicely giving the frame dimension and designed intelligently for dramatic effect in coordination with the actor's blocking.
Sound design, these guys I hope win an Oscar. The sound was so densely layered with different throbbing and pulsing mixed in with themes from the prior movies that attack your senses on a subconscious level without mudding the sharp and clean bullet sounds and other diegetic action or dialog.
The cast is fantastic. Christian Bale does a great job as John Conner (though he's not given much besides yelling at people - which could explain his on set antic). For me, two other actors stole the show - Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin who are amazing talents and with solid careers ahead of them. Worthington can fill silence with palpable emotion. He has the "it" factor of an A-list headliner star. His presence on screen is undeniable. Yelchin plays a completely different yet believable character in contrast to his portrayal of Chekov in this year's JJ Abram's Star Trek. He's always present and always thinking and has a maturity that works perfectly with the post-apocalyptic future, where to survive you have to grow up fast.
Story, don't expect much at all. You'll even have to throw out some basic human logic at points. There's stuff in there that you'll see a mile away moving at a snail's pace. I do credit the writers for not trying to write something fantastically complex that makes absolutely no sense. It's basically a straight linear story.
If you're comparing this movie to the first Terminator films - T1 or T2 by James Cameron, just don't - those are masterpieces in my book. Cameron is in a league of his own. Any sequel of a James Cameron film that does not has his stamp of approval (which this did not nor did T3), will be sure to fall quite short of his work.
Terminator Salvation is a roller coaster ride - a fun popcorn movie with spectacular action set pieces. If you're expecting a great story, move on, you will most likely not enjoy it. Otherwise if you just want to get away from the world and watch a bunch of stuff blow up, this is fun.