Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation Review

There is no fate but what we make.....
The fourth installment in the Terminator Saga, is the story of Marcus Wright and his...Salvation. The movie begins in 2003 with Marcus on death row for murdering his brother and a cop. Wright signs a waiver donating his body to "medical research"
Fast Forward to 2018 Judgement day has finally come and gone and the human race is scattered around the world in small pockets of resistance, John Connor is struggling to find his place in this new world order. Meanwhile a young Kyle Reese holds down the Los Angeles resistance HQ.
After T3 I went into TS with very low expectations and when the movie ended I'm glad I did. Terminator Salvation isn't a bad movie, it has some incredible special effects and some decent performances from some of the cast. Most notably Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, the character's story is well developed and Worthington does a fantastic job of portraying a man lost trying to find himself. I trully appriciated the subtlties Worthington brought to the character such as a sideways glance at the name Connor, the quick snatch of a shotgun or the ability to repair a dilapidated Jeep. Regrettibly I had already spoiled myself and knew Marcus's fate but I think Worthington did a great job not making it obvious and when the "big twist" is revealed does evoke the proper amount of shock which the audience should share.
Another impressive performance was from Anton Yelchin, he plays a young Kyle Reese, and in my opinion does a great job building on the character made famous by Michael Biehn. The scenes where Reese helps Marcus escape from the T-600 was great and showed a young capable soldier looking to earn the respect of other resistance fighters, it made it easy to see the connection between Yelchin's Reese and Biehn's. It was also kinda cool hearing the famous line "what's today's date? The Year?" being asked to Reese....fanservice that works to build the story is fine by me but fansservice for fanservice sake I find is pointless and dumbs down the story. Regrettibly TS has way too much useless fanservice.
Another thing TS had too much of is pointless characters. First, Dr. Serena Kogan, no offense to Helena Bonham Carter but I would have laughed my ass off if Dr. Silberman showed up instead!
Other characters that were totally useless were Barnes, he's pretty much Connors' yes man. And for God's sake how can Michael Ironside be in Terminator Salvation, and have a character named Richter and NOT give it to Ironside....Come on!!!
I think McG dropped the ball on the Blair Williams character, Moon Bloodgood was a good choice but I felt like the character ended up as a plot when she could've been more of a Sarah Connor/ Ellen Ripley character. I would've paired Blair up with Reese and dropped Jadagrace's character Star. And that would've saved us all from the cringe worthy moment at the end.
Now on to the star of the show, the last best hope of mankind....John Connor! I couldn't believe Christian Bale had signed on to this project when I first heard the rumor, but when it was confirmed my doubt-a-tron 5000 lowered it's rating from FAIL to POSSIBLY MAYBE.
Surprisingly I wasn't blown away by Bale's performance, he was good but Bale's Connor was very cut & dry, I would've liked to see more of the anti authority aspects of his personality shine thru. There were a few WTF moments, like the drop off in the ocean, and the ol' trip a terminator cycle with a rope trick O.o. Hopefully Bale can make Connor more appealing in the next chapter so the audience actually cares if he lives
I was very impressed with the apocalyptic landscapes and the over exposed metallic look of the film. It definately added to the dire atmosphere and situation humanity has found itself in. I would've liked to see more T-600's throughout the movie, perhaps working in squad formations instead of solo units roaming around aimlessly. After seeing all the production art I thought the T-600 would've appeared larger than it did in the film.
I really enjoyed the chase scene with Wright, Reese and the terminator cycles. The Harvester was visually impressive and the sound effects for the Harvester were great....very ominous! But I gotta ask, how the hell did NOONE see it sneaking up on the gas station!?
The HK's once again have been slightly redesigned, it was cool to see the aerial dog flights between the A10 Thunderblots and the HK's old school Vs high tech.
TS moves a blazing pace with few chances for character development, the action scenes are well done for the most part but there are some parts that pull you out of the moment such as when Marcus falls off a transport ship and skids across a river like a stone, or when Marcus get's a "jumpstart" with two indrustrial size power cables or having a rather large pole tear thru John Connor's chest...that may have almost stopped Ahnold in T2 but it definately would've put the Kabosh in Connors career. Speaking of that, I'm willing to bet a 12pack of hydrogen fuel cells that's where the rewrite took place!
And since I brought up Ahnold I am pleased to say his cameo in Terminator Salvation is awesome! I was expecting just a breif shot of his face on the T-800 assembly line but we get much more!
The set for the final battle in the Skynet base felt a little to similar to the final set in T2 for my liking, but it could've been worse.
And I have to agree with my friends that the ending is pretty weak because thruout the movie everyone saying that the main offensive was against Skynet HQ and that if sucessful the war would be over....well Connor blows the whole joint to kingdom come and then we get some lame ass monologue reusing his moms line about a storm coming and that we won the battle but the war rages on. LAME!! That's just poor storytelling in my opinion, they should've made it clear this was only ONE of many Skynet bases and that the "core" is still undiscovered or something to that effect.
Here's my quick and dirty breakdown:
Christian Bale / John Connor = Nothing Special
Sam Worthington / Marcus Wright = Great
Anton Yelchin / Kyle Resse = Very Good
Moon Bloodgood = Underused
Bryce Dallas Howard = Underused
Arnold Shwarzeneggar = Awesome!
Originality = ZERO
Too many useless characters
Soundtrack = Weak
Special Effects = Impressive
Ranking within Saga:
T2
T1
T4
T3
Final thoughts:
It was a good sci fi summer flick, and opens up the opportunity to continue the saga. I wish Bale had done more with the saga's main protagonist. The ending was weak and had no emotional connection with the audience unlike T2. Sam Worthington is clearly the star of this movie and does a very good job with the character.
B-