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Terminator: Salvation (2009)

R 130 minutes

Directed by McG
Written by John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris

 · Christian Bale
 · Sam Worthington
 · Anton Yelchin
 · Bryce Dallas Howard
 · Common
 · Moon Bloodgod
 · Helena Bonham Carter

Review by Philter

When I heard Christian Bale was going to be playing John Connor I thought, "Wow, it must be at least decent because Christian is pretty picky when it comes to movies." To my surprise a few days later he was signed. That came as a relief because I love the first two Terminator movies, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was one of the best written shows on television. Having three preceding movies and a t.v. show to tie in would pose a problem for Salvation. Unfortunately Salvation does not acknowledge any events from it's television counterpart. It's hard for me to ignore the t.v. show because it did so many great things. It terminated the lackluster third film, Rise of the Machines, and was as creative and original as T2: Judgment Day. If you can get around the unfortunate decision to ignore Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Salvation is executed very nicely with stellar special effects, and intense action sequences. The only downside of Salvation is it treads very closely to being a complete rehash of T2.




I like to think of the basic story of Salvation as a call to the old saying "history repeats itself". There are some almost silly points that mirror T2, but I don't understand why it is any different than the massively popular and loved Back to the Future trilogy. When you start comparing the two, its pretty interesting to see the similarities. However, The Terminator series is certainly not an example I would use to explain time travel to anyone. The basic premise from James Cameron's 1984 original film and all subsequent sequels revolves around the notion that John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor (John's mom) and ends up impregnating her (with John). Trust me it is as hard to understand as it is to type out for a review. I think fans have come to the consensus that trying to rationalize the effects of time travel is as ridiculous as the plot hole all together. One of the biggest disappointments of the movie is it really focused on Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) and Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) more than John Connor.

While John owns a few action sequences early on, there was nothing to connect the character to audiences. Instead we are given lone L.A. resistance fighter, Kyle Reese, and a death row convict turned Cyberdyne science experiment, Marcus Wright, to care about. Anton frankly outshines Michael Biehn's original character in this prequel. I have nothing but praise for Anton for shining in both Star Trek and Salvation. His relationship with Worthington on screen is very reminiscent of Furlong and Schwarzenegger from Judgement Day and is worth the price of admission. I only wish we could have seen Kyle and his son John on screen for more than the last 10 minutes. Worthington truly executes his role perfectly. By the end of the movie I could care less if John Connor had died, I just wanted to guarantee seeing Marcus in a sequel. For new comer Sam Worthington this is a great thing; however it's not so great for Bale. Terminator movies have always revolved around Sarah Connor and/or John Connor. Finally, we have a bad-ass leader John Connor and he is completely overshadowed whenever he shares the screen with Marcus. Salvation delivers a very shallow John Connor preventing Bale from shining like he is so great at. It makes sense that Christian Bale yelled and flipped out on set because that's pretty much all Connor does in Salvation.  




The other key element worth the price of admission is the action. Where another director would mount the cameras on his robots chests, McG is able to build intensity through his shots he keeps everything in great perspective. There is an opening scene that flows as if it's one shot that takes you from a giant hole in the ground, to in the air with a helicopter, then crashing back to ground. You are pretty much looking over John's shoulder as everything happens. I earned an immense amount of respect for McG because of that shot alone. Unfortunately the final fight of Salvation suffers from being, at times shot-for-shot, similar to T2. The movie was more than capable of standing on its own but recycling visuals of prior movies proved to be more cheesy than anything. While some of these nostalgic moments are fun, the best part of the fight are the few shreds of originality.



Terminator Salvation is certainly an action packed thrill ride with a very touching sub-plot that asks the audience and John Connor the question: what does it take to be human. Unfortunately it is overshadowed by the same cliche main plot we have seen in all Terminator movies which is to stop Skynet. It seems pretty logical that after three attempts were thwarted in the past, any future attempts would be pointless. That being said I am glad we get to see a Terminator set in the post-apocalyptic world described to us but hardly ever show to us. Salvation had everything to let it stand on it's own, but senselessly relied on the same plot devices we have seen for 25 years. That being said, at least Salvation relies on an action, story rich, franchise that had great writing. Which is more than I can say for the other robot movie due out this summer. If you are a fan of the Terminator movies I highly recommend seeing this in theaters. For those out there that just like a fun movie, check it out when it comes to DVD.

940 Words Published: 27 June 2009

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