Terminator Salvation - Movie Review
By Anee Brodie May 22, 2009, 15:57 GMT
Set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued ...more
Fevered fans lined up hours early for an invitational of the film I attended and seemed to stay right to the end and, astonishingly, for the credits. Not even the slightest admission that the film is a dud. I truly don’t know what to say about this film, the latest of the Terminator outings except that ‘underwhelmed’ is too glowing a comment.
The mythos around the series is elaborate. It includes time traveling and shape shifting that worked in the earlier T outings, but here is just a license for the filmmakers to do whatever ridiculous thing they feel like doing. Talk about bull baffling brains. It’s easy to imagine them sitting around after school, playing under a blanket tent and dreaming this up yelling out ‘Cool!’ every few minutes. But they’re grownups now with grownup budgets and a beloved story in their care.
Christian Bale, ignoring mouth on him, is the least appealing part of the film, sad to say. He’s done okay work before but this is rock bottom. He’s supposed to be the human charged with saving his species from the machines, but he ain’t human. He shows nothing, has nothing to show – he’s an onion with a voice. Marcus Wright, half man half T, displays the emotions and reactions of a human; I guess that’s an in joke but it doesn’t help. At least he shows us he feels something with his half and half heart.
Moon Bloodgood is no substitute for Linda Hamilton who eschewed sexy strut for true power. And Bryce Dallas Howard’s natural elegance and sophistication is wasted in this ashes coloured world of dread and death. Jane Alexander looks slightly Mad Max-ish and is almost certainly wondering where the beef is in her woefully underdeveloped part.
Governor Schwarzenegger appears, or virtually appears, as his terminating self of old, naked and as arresting as ever. But his appearance is compromised by the lousy CGI especially in his face and eyes.
It is after all, a compromised movie - clichéd ridden, shallow, bombastic and nihilistic. More’s the pity as Terminator 2: Judgement Day is one of my favourite films of all time. It’s broke new ground in the worn out sci-fi genre, had a powerful female character and was beautifully written and executed. It had meaning and muscle, and spiritual and visceral experiences that left audiences gasping.
What leaves us gasping here is the sense of wasted opportunity. It is a deadly hollow experience, fleshed out by every imaginable cliché of the genre. There is nothing new, nothing to care about, no surprises and it’s oppressively, gratuitously noisy.
If a film doesn’t engage emotionally, no matter how big and cool the explosions are, then why bother? It becomes a series of garage fires in a gasoline factory. Big dumb explosions, one after the other, seat rocking, predictable and uninteresting.
And it’s going to make a fortune.
35 mm action adventure
Directed by McG
Written by John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Opens: May 22
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language