Thursday, May 21, 2009



My expectations for this film were very high walking into the theater Wednesday evening. Ever since the announcement that the great Christian Bale would be playing the legendary character John Connor, this film has been on my mind. Fast forward to the first epic trailer of Terminator Salvation, and you have my mind racing towards today, May 21st.

Terminator Salvation is of course a continuation of the earlier series Terminator featuring the current governor of California as machine sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor and to save a young John Connor. Now Connor is all grown up, and one of the lead members of the Resistance against the machines of Skynet. The year is 2018, and the machines have pushed humans to the brink of extinction.

Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is an inmate sentenced to death in 2003 for murder, but donates his body to science. He wakes up and it is 2018. His circumstances of existence in the future are unknown to himself, and the Resistance members that he encounters. He is wounded while trying to get back to Resistance HQ. The lovely Bryce Dallas Howard plays Connor's wife, and she discovers Marcus is actually not a human, but an advanced machine. Marcus thinks he is a human, and vows to help the Resistance win this ongoing conflict.

The film was directed by McG. Once you see the Terminator Salvation there is no way you won't know this because the screen flashes his name as the director two times before the movie really begins. I was very impressed with McG's creative, raw style which is best displayed in a John Connor helicopter crash from his point of view. McG bleaches the color of the film to grainy white and black during the day scenes giving the feel of a post apocalyptic and dead planet.

The camera is up close in the actors faces (minus lens flare like Mr. JJ Abrams) to show their emotions like losing everyone close to them and trying to survive this turbulent time. The action sequences were amazing too; from the special effects standpoint as well as the direction. The action was a huge plus in this movie, especially some of the new and deadly robots we got to see.

The special effects as mentioned were near perfect. In the scenes featuring the Skynet machines the viewers feel daunted by the superiority the mechanical foes have over humans. This almost makes the audience feel part of the action.

The worst effects were facilitating the return of "Arnold" as the newest Skynet creation, the T-800. You only see Schwarzenegger's computer generated face for brief seconds in the dark; but it looks similar to The Rock's face when he showed up at the end of The Mummy Returns in one of the biggest CGI blunders of all time. If you have not seen it, the picture below is an actual screen shot from Mummy Returns. Yep, it's that bad. Not to say Arnold looked that bad, but these bad effects reminded me of those horrible effects.

The effects crew tried so hard to make Arnold look the same as he did when he was younger, that they overdid it. Connor thankfully launches a grenade into the face of the T-800 and destroys his fake skin revealing his metallic structure and those terrifying beady red eyes.

The acting from the cast was good, but not great. Sam Worthington struggled early with his role as Marcus, but he improved as the film progressed. Bale was awesome in some parts and actually less than good in others. Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) does a fantastic job as the young version of Kyle Reese from the original Terminator. Moon Bloodgood also provided some nice support to the story with her character.Ok, on to the reason the movie is only in the "B" category after all that praise I have been giving. The script was very weak and hurts this movie the most. All I have to say is the screenwriters for this project also wrote arguably the worst superhero movie ever Catwoman.

Some of the dialogue was cheesy and some was mistimed. Every now and then redeemable quotes came along, but these mostly came from Bale. Not a lot of details where an audience would like to know more about this alternate reality. Example: What is the importance of the humans winning the war right now? Why are the machines taking human prisoners? How about more details about the Resistance??

The story moves almost choppy and really does not provide real direction for the characters or the story in general until the middle of the film.

The story only focuses on the characters of Marcus and John Connor, but still leaves important elements of their lives untouched. Connor and his wife needed more screen time to show that human element in the story. The movie constantly refers to the difference between machines and humans is humanity, but the filmmakers rarely focus on the characters to show this. Anton Yelchin and Moon Bloodgood needed more substance in the film to round off the story. Especially with the importance of Yelchin's character to the Terminator series as John Connor's father.

Overall, this film fits right in with all the others of the series. It has the same feel but with a different warfare setting. Viewers that have not seen the first three movies in the series will be in the dark for much of the storyline, so keep that in mind if you plan to see it. My overall appeal to this series is why I would rate Terminator Salvation this high. If you are not a fan, maybe skip this one. But the action, acting, and direction are good enough to make some newbies appreciate the final product. Unless you have not seen Star Trek, see the new Terminator Salvation.


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