25
May
2009
Review: Terminator Salvation
Terminator Salvation
Sam
The first Terminator was good, the second was great, the third was exceptionally bad, and that brings us to T4, excuse me, Terminator Salvation. This installment stars Christian Bale as the hero of the saga, John Connor, and he fights alongside death-row inmate from the past Marcus who is played by Sam Worthington.

I think everyone can agree that the third Terminator movie was a fucking joke. I least I thought it was. So for logic's sake, I'm considering director McG's (of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle fame) installment the logical third movie in the series. Think about it for a second and it makes sense. Terminator I was about the robot coming from the future to kill the mother of the guy who would bring down Skynet. T II was about killing the kid himself because they messed up last time. For some reason the third movie does not take the logical step to the adult John Connors fighting the machines and that being it. But no, they had to have young-adult pill-popping John Connor fight she-robot with an old Schwarzenegger. Anyway, I digress; this was the movie that should have come after the second film. Oh yeah, it should have been directed by the genius behind the first two movies, James Cameron, not a guy who sounds like a cereal spokes-cartoon.

The plot of the movie is pretty standard if you're familiar with the series. It's the not too distant future (2018, really you want the movie to be that dated, I mean I think Skynet was supposed to go apeshit in 1997, why do they date the movies like this? I've got to calm down). John Connor is leading the good fight against the machines and is looking for his father to be, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who will go back in time and protect (and fuck) his mother from the Terminator sent back to kill her. We meet a death-row inmate who mysteriously comes back to life after being executed. I wonder how that comes about. Hmmmm, it's a Terminator movie, gonna have to stretch the brain cords on that one. Anyway the point of the movie is to blow the fuck out of stuff, oh and also what separates humans from machines.

Ok, so let's start with the good before we get to the bad and the ugly. I think McG had really good intentions going into this and was clearly a fan of the earlier Terminator movies. The set design and tone of the movie are much more in line with what Cameron set the future up to be. The choice to have many of the robots be actual robots was a nice touch in an age where every fucking thing can be CGI when it doesn't need to be (I'm looking at you Lucas). It was a fitting tribute to Stan Winston (the movie is dedicated to his memory) who was the man responsible for all the kickass makeup and sfx from the original films. I also think some of the action scenes were pretty cool.

So now the stuff I didn't like so much. The first thing that was bugging me about the movie was that John Connor seems to have forgotten a bunch of stuff about Terminators considering he hung out with one for a while, like the idea that they can take human forms but that's me nerding out. Christian Bale's performance was adequate and that's it really. He earned his paycheck but did not justify his outrageous tirade. Whatever "zone" he was trying to get in was not worth the verbal lashing that guy got from him. Sam Worthington could not cover his accent for anything. I honestly never heard of him or seen him in anything else and I knew almost immediately that he was Australian and not a good "˜ol boy. Don't worry there was plenty of good ole fashioned bad acting in this one from Common (who played essentially soldier number 23) and Moon Bloodgood, who aside from having a cool name did not offer anything as the sexy jet pilot who falls for Marcus.

The problem with the movie is out of its control to some extent. Part of what makes an action movie good is building suspense that its main characters are in trouble. In Terminator Salvation I knew that John Connor would be fine. I know the resistance will be fine and they'll win. I've known that since Terminator II. McG tried to make a great action movie but he's just not James Cameron and this feels just like an empty Sci-Fi movie with the Terminator brand stamped on it. It's better than the third installment but so was hotel for dogs.

C+
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