Terminator Salvation Movie Poster Image

Terminator Salvation



First PG-13 Terminator is loud, explosive, and dark.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite the constant violence, the movie's ultimate messages about the possibility of redemption and of sacrifice in the name of a greater good come through. The essential ethical nature of human behavior is discussed: "We aren't machines, and if we act like them, what's the point of winning?"

Positive role models

Marcus -- a one-time criminal -- repeatedly puts himself at risk for others, particularly Kyle, and ultimately makes a very noble choice. John is relentless in his goal of eliminating the machines and sometimes lets that get in the way of compassion; but he, too, is a hero in the end. Some of the other resistance leaders are inflexible and short-sighted.


Extensive violence, much of it involving battles (hand-to-hand and with firearms) between super-strong robots and humans. There are also explosions (including a character getting blown up by a mine), crashes, shootings, stabbings, and assault with blunt objects; mutilated, wounded, and dead bodies are seen -- though there's not that much blood overall. Robots are burned with molten metal; the red-hot robots covered in jagged metal then attack humans. Gruesome medical/experimental imagery.


Some kissing. A man and a woman snuggle up to share warmth.


Mostly includes words like "hell" and "damn," but there are also a couple of uses of "s--t" and one of "f--k," plus "son of a bitch," "ass," and "God."


It's good to know that Jeep and 7-Eleven make it through the apocalypse. ...

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this installment of the Terminator series is the first to earn a PG-13 rating instead of an R, it's still extremely violent. There's not much actual blood, but there's plenty of broken flesh, bruises, and batterings. The film's tone is also quite intense, with constant attacks, life-or-death struggles, and scenes in which giant robots attack and abduct humans. While much of the violence is directed against robots, some of those robots are remarkably human-looking, which makes the gore and grim action a bit tougher to take than you might think. Characters also touch on heavy topics like morality, ethics, and redemption. There's a little bit of kissing, but hardly anything to worry about in the way of strong language, drinking, or smoking.

What's the story?

Taking place after the events of Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, TERMINATOR SALVATION begins with a 2003-set prologue in which condemned prisoner Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) volunteers his body to science; it then jumps ahead to a devastated 2018, where the now-grown John Connor (Christian Bale) is leading the fight against the machine intelligence that's devastated the planet. But after a raid on a machine base, a single figure staggers from the wreckage -- it's Wright, confused about the battered new world he's woken up to. Marcus and John rally around Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the freedom fighter who, years later, will be sent back in time to protect John's mother from a robot assassin -- and who, in the past, becomes John's father.

Is it any good?


Terminator Salvation is full of pretzel-logic time-travel philosophy and an over-the-top production jammed with effects and action. It feels less like an addition to the Terminator franchise than an ambling, throat-clearing side-track. Promised the ultimate war between humanity and machines, we instead get more of the same plot threads the franchise has already served up three times: the dangers of a fractured time-space continuum and the possibility that a robot designed to kill humans might come to know and feel for them.

Director McG has a firm hand on the big, blow-'em-up action set pieces, but the film founders in the spaces in between. Bale's Connor is a loud bore, even while Worthington infuses his thin role with a stiff shot of star power and rugged charisma. Terminator Salvation promises the last word in the franchise, but it's just a tale full of sound and fury and special effects, signifying nothing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what's makes this movie different from the other Terminator films -- why do you think this one is rated PG-13 when the others were R?

  • What's the impact of seeing violent images like the ones here?

  • Can human nature be replicated by a machine -- and, if so, would that machine be human?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 21, 2009
DVD/Streaming release date:December 1, 2009
Cast:Bryce Dallas Howard, Christian Bale, Sam Worthington
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byeagles4ever December 14, 2010

Good Christian Bale movie.

You might need to see the first 3 movies to understand what is going on. That is an issue though, the first 3 movies are rated R so you will need parental advisory while watching them. Christian Bale did a good job portraying John Connor. This movie is violent. In one scene you can see the stomach of a "terminator".
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byironside June 30, 2011

Beware the Directer's cut is rated R

Note; reviewed on theatrical cut. two kissing scenes. Marcus trades his dead body (for experimentation) for a kiss from a dying woman. a man and woman huddle together to share warmth (survival situation.) one main character wears a tight/semi-lowcut outfit. a man, naked and covered in mud (nothing is shown), wanders onto a battle scarred site. a newly formed *naked* terminator (nothing is shown) walks out of a cell and proceeds to beat the stuffings out of John Coner; untill Marcus intervenes. a few men attempt to sexualy assault Blair; Marcus intervenes and Blair shoots one of the baddies in the crotch. three uses of s---, (one holy s---.) three uses of h---, two s.o.b. words, one b--t--- and one d--n, God's name is missused three times, Marcus says, "That thing is *pissing* off." note: pluggedin, imdb, and commonsensemedia, all say they use the f-word once; I reviewed it on closed caption, and I didn't see or hear it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written bylizzie3276 January 9, 2011

Very disappointing movie...

I'm 14 and I absolutely love the first Terminator. It keeps you hooked and it has Action, Suspense, Romance, and it's actually more thought-provoking than it has the reputation of being. The second and third are also great, but I the first is best. However, this movie ruins everything for a fan of the other three. The movie is totally off and not having Arnold in it really puts this movie in a pile separate from the others. If you haven't seen the others, I guess it's okay, but you'll be very disappointed if you have.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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