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Movie Review – Terminator Salvation

June 9, 2009

Terminator Salvation1By the time I got around to seeing this movie, it had been so reviled by a majority of critics that my expectations were pretty low. Indeed, after reading some of the reviews I was thinking that if I was not pelted with a water balloon full of urine at any point during proceedings, I would probably be coming out ahead.

I’m pleased to say that didn’t happen, and it may just be due to the diminished expectations I had from this flick, but I thought it was solidly average. Not a great Action/Sci-Fi movie in the Aliens mould perhaps, but certainly better than Terminator 3, and for mine, a worthwhile addition to the franchise.

There are some plot holes here that you could drive a semi trailer through, and there is a definite tendency to put action over story in a number of places. Of course, nobody walked into this movie expecting to see Terms of Endearment. McG gives us story telling in the Michael Bay format (indeed, there are a couple of moments in the movie you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Transformers), and it is fast, cool and eardrum shatteringly loud. It can also be gimmicky, and as a guiding principle, you can be fairly sure that character development will play second fiddle to good old fashioned ass-kickery in any given scene.

Christian Bale does a decent job as John Connor, mankind’s best, last hope in a world where all of Linda Hamilton’s fears from the second movie have become realized. The machines have taken over, and Skynet is in the midst of a crusade to destroy human life as we know it. Pitted against them is a determined yet curiously well armed coalition of resistance fighters, led by the always grim Michael Ironside.

Sam Worthington does a fine job in playing Marcus Wright, a convicted killer with more to him than meets the eye. Plenty of critics have claimed Worthington steals the show here, and whilst I wouldn’t go that far, he is the one driving the story forward for most of the time.  Moon Bloodgood meanwhile brings some sex appeal to the movie, but her character is driven more by the necessities of plot mechanics than any sense of realism.

As you would expect, there are some outstanding special effects here – explosions within explosions, buildings are collapsed, machines are incinerated at white hot temperatures and the gunplay is constant throughout. We also see a new wave of machines, terminators of all different shapes, size, model and make with the capability of hunting their prey over air, land or sea – the result of continuing experiments into what hunts humans the best (experiments that culminate with Big Arnie in the first Terminator movie I suppose).

For all its frenetic action, this movie is let down by some poor writing and whilst the acting is committed and believable, some of the dialogue is pretty suspect. The first two films in the Terminator franchise went a long way toward proving that this genre was capable of delivering solid story and character development amid the cacophony of explosions, and it is a disappointing that they didn’t achieve that this time around.

If you like fast paced action sequences however, and can appreciate a movie that is held together by some solid actors in spite of its obvious flaws, this movie may be for you. A solid effort – but not a home run.

Rating: 6/10

Random Quote: Two day old coyote. It’s better than three day old coyote.

Random Actor You’ll Recognize From Somewhere Else; Anton Yelchin, who was seen most recently as Chekov in the Star Trek reboot, does an outstanding job as Kyle Reese here, filling the enormous shoes of Michael Biehn admirably

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