SORT-OF WARNING: may contain minor spoilers
I don't know what critics and other Terminator fans were expecting from this movie. Noah and I watched it last night, and we both enjoyed it. It's not the best of the franchise by any means, but it's a good action movie. It was exactly what I expected it to be. Yes, there were some continuity issues, but the core premise of the Terminator franchise has been "Hey, let's mess with continuity!" The first three movies were about using time travel to change the past and using the knowledge of the future to change that future. Terminator Salvation is the result of effing with the timeline. It's a different future than the one Kyle Reese told Sarah Connor about back in 1984. John Connor says as much. A lot of fans seem dissappointed that this movie didn't look exactly like the flash forwards to the post apocolyptic year of 2029. For one thing, the movie was set in 2018, so things are going to look different than in 2029. For another thing, with all of the robots and soldiers jumping around through time messing things up, the future is going to be different. Heck, Judgement Day was pushed back six years, so Skynet will have to play catch-up as it is.
Things that I liked:
1) The scar that John Connor had in the two visions of the future you see in T2 and T3 is explained.
2) Kyle Reese is played by the guy who played Checkov in the new Star Trek movie, and he actually kind of looks like a teenaged Michael Biehn.
3) The T-800 looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1984.
4) Sam Worthington's character was interesting.
5) No time travel.
Little things that I didn't like:
1) No Derek Reese (Kyle's brother in The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Would it have been so hard to replace the adorable little mute girl with Derek?
2) No terminators with rubber skin (mentioned by Kyle in the original movie)
3) The human prisoners didn't have barcode tattoos.
4) Molten steel, which destroyed the terminators in T2, didn't destroy the T-800.