Sunday, June 07, 2009


Year: 2009

Director: McG
Writers: John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris

Stars: CHRISTIAN BALE, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Helena Bonham Carter

A lot has happened since we first set eyes on the Terminator back in ’84. So much in fact that this latest instalment of the franchise was never going to live up to it.

‘Skynet’ has destroyed most of the world, only a remnant of humanity, the 'Resistance', is left struggling for survival on a post-apocalyptic battlefield. There is desolation, roads scattered with burnt-out cars; to a point when I half expected Kurt Russell to show up in fatigues and an eye-patch.
Terminator Salvation is a war movie, a glorious CGI war movie, and the stupendous might of the machines on the big screen is awesome, but is it T4? Answering that question proves to be the most demanding aspect of the film. As we move away from the action, where the Resistance goes underground, things turn a shade murky.
There is something missing in ‘Salvation’, and I don’t mean the obvious plot holes. Something that does not ring true with the iconic story of John Connor versus the machines. I don’t know what is to blame for this missing link…the clumsy opening…the mediocre dialogue …the script… the director?

I actually like this film as a piece of standalone sci-fi, adding to the military-sci-fi subgenre, but I can’t say that it is the promised ‘war of the machines’ glimpsed of in previous films.

It’s possible that when casting Sam Worthington as ‘Marcus Wright’, the producers realised that they’d found something bankable. So the world’s most annoying director, McG, had to change focus, switching protagonists around and upsetting the balance of the narrative.

On casting choices, Christian Bale shows real maturity. His portrayal of ‘John Connor’ is heroic considering all he has to deal with. The motley crew of resistance fighters on his watch are pretty thinly etched. In contrast, how fantastic to see an old sci-fi vet Michael Ironside, in the role of General of the Resistance. (Yes, it’s not John until later - plot hole narrowly avoided.)

Anton Yelchin as ‘Kyle Reese’, looks nothing like Michael Biehn but seems to have the facial expressions. Whether I would choose him to be the ultimate saviour of mankind however …well anyway, let’s not dwell on the downside.

Bryce Dallas Howard as ‘Kate Connor’, although graduating from a veterinarian to a heart surgeon in this new world order, does an okay job with her sparse role, while the heroine of the piece ‘Blair Williams’, played by Moon Bloodgood kicks ass, as anyone with a name like that ought to.

Is this film worth seeing? Yes. Probably more so if you are not familiar with the franchise, or just like motorbikes and ‘HALO’. There is a lot to enjoy in Terminator Salvation.

For the most part it is visually stunning, with likeable soundtrack, sharp editing, and nice running-time. However the question remains, is this movie T4 or just another rehashed sci-fi trip? …

John Connor shouts gruffly at the new Terminator... ’What are you?’

Marcus shouts back… ‘I don’t know!’

My thoughts exactly.

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