“Cold” and “emotionless” are terms most easily associated with the Terminator franchise; Arnold’s piercing stoicism, Robert Patrick’s steely stare, but in this latest incarnation, director McG’s bombastic Terminator Salvation, they are more apt to describe the film itself. With the sound of scraping metal rarely absent from the soundtrack, fireballs emblazoned across the silver screen, one must wonder if McG is one of the machines himself, armed with action, programmed to destroy all of our hopes for what this film could have been.
As the fifth actor to take the John Connor name, Christian Bale growls through the paces facing off against a whole army of animated foes, teaming up with Aussie actor Sam Worthington, as Marcus Wright, to rescue the former’s teenage future father, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). Try not to read any symbolism into Worthington’s character’s last name, that would be giving this film too much credit.
Pulling from a diverse array of sources the script is always on the brink of taking a step into interesting waters, but like a frightened kitten always shies away. “Should we go Cronenberg with the cyborg/female love story? Or push it to a full round robin, jumping into a Matrix take off (itself a property which borrowed liberally from the Terminator series)? Maybe some Lost-y time travel paradoxes? Nope let’s just hang right here in the middle, where it is safe, and just shoot some more stuff. People like that, right?”
McG’s direction is stunted to say the least, never taking any chances, running through a list of action movie cliches, not pausing long enough to give the audience anything real to grab onto, so when things go bang, everyone just ooh’s and ahh’s at the explosion, but could care less about the why or how.
Though some of those explosions are damn cool. True to the Terminator name, the visual effects are second to none. The animation blends seamlessly with the live action, and while some will yearn for the amazing practical effects pioneered by Stan Winston (who earned an “In Loving Memory” credit during the final crawl), this film expands on his work in a way that hopefully would make him proud.
A couple of questions lingered as the lights came up. Why was Bryce Dallas Howard’s character pregnant? Is John Connor ever going to live up to the potential he has been prophesied to have? Does this have anything to do with the other films or TV show in the Terminator universe? In fact, like an Evil Dead sequel, lately this series seems to have little to do with the mythology of the past. It is like they have set up a world that John, Sarah, Kyle, and the T-800 inhabit, but each story line can start or end where ever the producers fancy. Where ever they chose to plop down in the time line, people keep frequenting these pictures so in actuality there really is no fate but what we make.
El Luchador Rating: 2 out of 5 (2 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)
2009, Rated PG-13
Written by: John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood