Saturday, May 23, 2009

Movie Review - Terminator: Salvation

I loved The Terminator, in the way that only a 12 year-old boy can when he just saw the most awesome R-rated movie he'd seen up till then. It was everything I wanted in a movie: time-travel, guns, robots, boobs, and explosions. By the time T2 rolled around, I was 17, and though I was excited, it just didn't push the same buttons, mostly because they didn't really exist anymore, or rather, I hadn't gotten mature enough to discover that some of the immaturity of youth was worth holding onto. For all of the ground-breaking effects in that movie, I never saw it as much more than a perfectly adequate sequel. We'll just ignore the third one, mostly because everyone else has.

Anyway, that all was just my way of saying that, while my inner 12 year-old was suitably chuffed for the latest movie, it just didn't hold the same vibe for me. Finding myself with a few hours to kill yesterday I said "what the hell" and checked out Terminator: Salvation. It was pretty darn good.

Ditching the time travel scenarios that have defined the previous three films (and the TV series), we start up after Judgment Day, with the machines thoroughly winning the battle against humanity. John Connor, rather than being the leader, at this point is simply middle-management in the resistance, screaming to anyone that'll listen that he's the one who's going to save them all. Some listen, some don't. After a disastrous mission in which all of his men are killed, Connor and the leadership discover they may have a way to finally win the war, and also discover that they're all on Skynet's hit list, though some kid named Kyle Reese is #1. Also during this mission, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) finds himself among the ruins. During the prologue we met Wright on death row, signing his body over to Cyberdyne Systems. From there on we have two storylines, Wright's traveling through the post-apocalyptic landscape, meeting with Reese and trying to figure what's going on. And Connor, planning the attack, and also trying to find Reese on his own.

It's no secret that they all eventually meet up, and that Wright proves to be a terminator. But regardless, the plot is just something to keep the action scenes coming, and they do, at a pretty quick clip. It's all pretty cool, lots of big robots, blowing things up, and if that's what you want, you can't go wrong here. Sam Worthington's pretty darn good here, though his Australian accent does slip a few times, overall, he does well facing off against Bale. Christian Bale does the best that he can with what he has to work with, but it's not much. Essentially, he's asked to play Batman, without the Bruce Wayne scenes to bring some pathos to the character*. Connor is all gruff, grumbling anger, which, let's face it is to be expected in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Obviously, a lot of the character development of this movie has been left on the cutting room floor. Connor and his wife, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, have virtually no time together, and the baby she's obviously pregnant with is not even mentioned. Also, Wright strikes up a relationship with a pilot played by Moon Bloodgood, that had to have more to it originally than the few meaningful glances that are included in the movie.

Anyway, this movie is virtually all action, and it's all well done. Is there anything deep or meaningful to the movie? No, but there wasn't anything deep to the previous three, so why should that be held against this one? Star Trek** is still my favorite movie of the summer so far, but this one will do when you've gotten tired of seeing that one. McG proves himself to be a pretty darn good action director, but it still doesn't make up for the fact that he had a d-bag name and unleashed two Charlie's Angels flicks upon the world.

*FYI, this movie is 82% more awesome if you just go into it thinking that rather than a terminator movie, it is, in fact BATMAN VS. ROBOTS.

** Actually, Star Trek is my favorite of the year so far.

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