Every time I write a review with less than 4 stars people mark it as unhelpful, lets see if this one can buck the trend and be rated objectively.
I can sum this film up in one word - McG.
McG directed this film and it shows, his prior claims to fame are directing Charlie's Angels 1 and 2. How that qualified him to direct this film I have no idea but obviously someone decided he would be perfect, he wasn't. I know that Bay and Abrams were busy doing Transformers 2 and Start Trek XI, but surely there was another action-film director they could have chosen!
All of the improbable stunts that are spread throughout the CA films are here, it is impossible to immerse yourself in a film when the laws of physics are so blatantly ignored. The actors are all absolutely amazing shots (single hit kills with a grenade launcher, one handed from a speeding vehicle!) while the 'machines' have got Stormtrooper syndrome (unable to hit a barn door at 5 meters with a gatling cannon). Huge explosions have a blast radius of about 1 metre and the human body can be thrown, crushed, stabbed, shot, blown-up and still walk away.
Cliche's abound in this film, I won't reel off the extensive list; just wonder why the 'bad-humans' are inbred hill-billies 'lookie what we found!' when they see a woman. Why are random fires dotted around deserted cities, in the rain, flaming barrels, flaming cushions and flaming debris. Is there some pyromaniac wondering all the cities setting fire to everything they can see?
I could go on but won't as I am sure you are getting the picture.
For every 1 good scene there were 2 bad, cliched, contrived scenes more reminiscent of a bad student movie than a hollywood blockbuster. The script was so bad that not even Christian Bale, (a superb action-actor) could do anything with it.
* It has kept the Terminator franchise going
* It has hopefully ended McG's career sparing us from more of his abortions
* Michael Ironside
* Good SFX (ILM were busy this year!)
* Cliches abound
* Contrived scenes and sub-plots
* Lack of realism & disregard for the laws of physics
* Very poor story
So why 3 stars?
It is a loud, fast paced action film. A visual and audio fanfare that for mere sensory impact has great potential. Unfortunately for all the reasons above it is not a great film.
Do I blame McG? Yes. He is now second on my hated directors list after George Lucas.
Do I blame the writers? Yes. John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris. These two are responsible for such tripe as 'The Net' and 'Catwoman'.
It should be noted that the Director's cut has more violence and a bit of boob that the theatrical release didnt, apart from that there is not a huge difference between versions.