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Review: Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation
05.22.2009
6 10

Plot: In the not too distant future, a nuclear holocaust caused by the Skynet supercomputer has all but annihilated humanity. The survivors, led by John Connor (Christian Bale) are forced to battle super-sophisticated machines, sent out by Skynet- which intends to wipe out whatever remains of the human race.

Review: I went into TERMINATOR: SALVATION cautiously optimistic. While I was naturally a bit leery of the fact that McG, the man behind the CHARLIE’S ANGELS debacles would be directing a TERMINATOR film, the involvement of Christian Bale, and the kick-ass trailers made me hopeful that this would be the BATMAN BEGINS of the TERMINATOR franchise.

I should have known better…

While this isn’t quite the train-wreck some are calling it, TERMINATOR: SALVATION is a deeply flawed film. The second the film started, I knew I was in trouble. For one thing- I desperately wanted to hear Brad Fiedel’s awesome TERMINATOR theme, but instead had to settle for a sub par Danny Elfman score that sounded like a Hans Zimmer rip-off. After the credits are over, we cut to a really, really bad scene set on death row, which introduces us to the film’s defacto lead, Marcus Wright, played by newcomer Sam Worthington. He’s actually quite good in the film, but this scene, where he plays opposite an incredibly wooden Helena Bonham-Carter is beyond banal. The line readings from both actors are really poor, and seemed more like a scene out of a bad episode of GENERAL HOSPITAL than a TERMINATOR flick (especially the already infamous "so that's what death tastes like" line).


Happily, things do pick up from there, and while his opening scene was pretty bad, Worthington is excellent as Wright. He’s totally got the Aussie bad-ass thing going for him, and if his next few films (including James Cameron’s highly anticipated AVATAR) pan out, he could be the next big thing. While his character arc doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense, Worthington manages to sell the role, and establishes himself nicely in the TERMINATOR universe. The first half of the film, which chronicles Wright’s adventures with the young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) is easily the best part of the film, although things start to go downhill fast once Wright discovers his true nature (which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you’ve seen any of the trailers).

Aside from Worthington, the other actor in the film that really delivers is Yelchin, which was a surprise, as he was the only thing I didn’t like about STAR TREK but he really nails it here. That says a lot, as Michael Biehn leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, but he manages nicely. Many have criticized the film for including a cute kid sidekick for Reese, but I actually think this really works well in establishing the character’s heroism, although the kid’s final scene with Worthington is way too saccharine, and will likely elicit groans from some of the more cynical audience members.


In terms of McG, I will say one thing for the man; he knows how to craft an action scene. The film is loaded with almost non-stop action sequences, which are positively epic, especially the big set piece in the middle featuring the harvester robot. That said, the film actually may have a little too much action, in that the 115 minute running time is so packed with carnage, that it becomes a little numbing, and even boring towards the end.

Still, I probably shouldn’t complain about the lack of character development too much, as pretty much every single non-action scene in the film falls flat. Obviously, drama is not McG’s strong suit (painfully obvious to anyone who’s seen WE ARE MARSHALL), but some of the line readings he used are horrendous, especially whenever Helena Bonham Carter is involved, which is a shock as she’s probably one of the finest actresses around. Also, the film is jam-packed with secondary characters that have nothing to do. Bryce Dallas Howard, as Connor’s doctor wife, really gets the shaft here, as she pretty much has nothing to do but look worried and pregnant throughout. The same goes for Moon Bloodgood- who seems to be channeling Angelina Jolie in WANTED, which is fine, but does not suit the film at all. She’s supposed to be a battle hardened, post apocalyptic warrior, but she never looks anything less than stunning, which is ridiculous considering that she’s supposed to have spent the last decade living in a nuclear wasteland. However, Bloodgood is not the worst thing about TERMINATOR: SALVATION.

No, that would have to be Christian Bale.


Now don’t get me wrong, I think Bale’s a hell of an actor. Before seeing this film, I thought he could do no wrong. While I was disappointed to hear Bale’s infamous rant, he’s not the first actor that turned out to be an asshole. Take a look a Mel Gibson. The man’s certifiable, but he’s still a hell of a performer. Unfortunately, Bale drops the ball big time in this one. Throughout the film, Bale’s “performance” consists of two things, screaming and firing a gun. Obviously, Bale just phoned this one in- which is a shock as this is the same guy who almost starved himself to death for THE MACHINIST. I didn’t think Bale was in the habit of phoning roles in- but sure enough...

Overall, TERMINATOR: SALVATION is a decent enough summer action flick. It’s (marginally) better than TERMINATOR 3, has loads of cool action scenes, and also introduces us to a dynamic new actor in Sam Worthington, but I can’t help but feeling seriously let down. It could have been a great new chapter in the TERMINATOR universe, but instead is simply a fairly decent action flick, and nothing more.

Grade: 6/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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