movies: terminator salvation

terminator salvation - the end beginsI think I read this somewhere... but shouldn't Terminator Salvation have a colon between the two words, otherwise it means that it's the salvation of the terminators... right?

*weighs the concept up in my head*

Well, that kinda works in a way, but not really...

I hope this is it for the Terminator franchise actually... or if not, that the only other movie that they make shows the humans defeating the machines once and for all (but then, given what we know of the future events, that movie won't be featuring John Connor... but that does have a nice sense of symmetry, since the first one didn't have him in either).

It does feel like a story we've seen a hundred times before... it has touches of Resident Evil: Extinction, War of the Worlds, The Matrix Revolutions, Reign of Fire and Independence Day among others.

It's all a bit old hat really... there wasn't anything that was especially ground breaking in any part of this movie.

But then I was just reaching that impressionable age when T2 came out, and they were doing effects that nobody had even thought they could do... it pushed the envelope and influenced a whole generation of movies to push CGI further and further. This movie is much more in the T3 oeuvre... it uses available technologies, but it doesn't really seen to push anything.

I'm slightly pissed off with whoever cut together the movie trailer... they essentially give away a major plot point that you may or may not work out on your own without the trailer, but it would have been nice to work it out for myself rather than having the information thrust upon me. That's also part of the reason that I've not let myself watch any of the trailers for Transformers 2 all the way through...

I think the story is somewhat conflicted... its a Terminator movie, so you're supposed to be rooting for somebody with the surname of Connor who is battling against one specific Terminator, but Christian Bale somehow manages to make the character not only uninteresting, but occasionally unlikeable. I found myself wondering if Christian Bale actually has another mood/acting style other than "intense and angry" any more... the way he plays John Connor is very similar to the way he played Quinn in Reign of Fire... and not that far removed from his version of Bruce Wayne (and yes, I know he's done a bunch of other stuff, but I haven't seen a lot of it, so I can't judge).

Sorry, I lost my train of thought there for a second... oh, right... conflicted. The movie flicks between two stories... one is John Connor, naturally... the other is Marcus Wright, who in many ways is a much more sympathetic character. But during the first half of the movie I wanted them to get away from the Marcus story and concentrate on John... but then as I became less and less interested in Christian Bale, I wanted to see more of Marcus.

And unlike every other Terminator movie, there isn't a villain... well, not a concrete, visible, singular villain... and I think the movie suffers for that a little bit... it also means that at various points both John and Marcus feel like they are taking on that role a little bit. All of which adds up to me not particularly caring about either of the characters by the end of the movie.

On the plus side, Aussie actor Sam Worthington pretty much mops the floor, acting-wise, with almost everybody he shares screen time with (and he's going this rough and sexy-looking thing going on too)... with the possible exception of the lovely Anton Yelchin (who looks absolutely nothing like Pavel Chekov in this movie) who was so radically different from the last time I saw him, I didn't recognise him even though I'd noted his name in the credits... the boy can certainly act. I definitely expect big things from both of them.

Like the new Star Trek movie it also plays with the idea of time travel a bit... which you would expect, since all of the previous Terminator movies involve things come back from the future to change history... and this movie is set before any of those time travel events happen (or rather, before the "future" parts happen). So at one point I did find myself wondering what would happen if they were to destroy Skynet before it could create the Terminators to send to the past, which would mean that history that has already happened would be rewritten, but could it be rewritten because the things that happened in the past caused John Connor to be who he is, which would mean that if they don't happen then he wouldn't be the same John Connor so would he be able to do the things necessary to destroy Skynet... at which point I think my brain started to leak out of my ears... thankfully, none of that is actually relevant to the movie, although I thought it was going to be for a while there.

There are some nice tie-ins to all three of the previous movies... lines of dialogue, similar looking locations, certain action beats... which was nice, none of it felt particularly laboured or over-emphasised, it was just woven into the fabric of the movie. And it makes sense that there are things that John Connor would remember from the events of the first three movies, and once he's in that kind of situation again it would come back to him (at least that's the way I interpreted some of it). Even the not-especially-secret "digital cameo" at the end of the movie didn't feel out of place (because really, he's not the most expressive actor ever)... and it made more sense (and rounded out that feeling of continuity) than having a live action cameo would have.

I do wonder how effective the Terminators are though... surely one Terminator on a suicide mission where it just blows up it's fuel cell, levelling a number of city blocks would get the job done... and without giving too much away, there does seem to be a lot of throwing people needlessly around and bouncing them off walls during the later fight scenes when a simple neck snap would fix your problem.

One thing that I would have expected to see, possibly as a post-credit sting, was rows and rows and rows and rows of T800's in their final, finished glory, especially given the way the movie ends.

yani's rating: 2 moto-terminators out of 5

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