Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Terminator Salvation

I skipped this movie in the theaters for a few reasons:

#1.) It got terrible reviews and horrible word of mouth.

#2.) Terminator 3 was awful and that TV show was even worse.

#3.) Prequels suck.

#4.) Christian Bale is one of the more overrated, annoying actors out there.

#5.) I'm cheap.

So I finally broke down and rented it because, well, despite all of the above, I always thought it looked kind of cool. And it was. This was a fun, exciting, well done movie. I liked it. But I can see how long-time fans of the series might think it was kind of a letdown. However I wouldn't really consider myself a fan of the series as a whole.

The first Terminator was a great film, and T2 was an absolute masterpiece -- the best action/sci-fi film of all time, in my opinion -- but, as I said above, part 3 sucked and the TV was just plain boring. The first film worked not only because it was a cool story, but because James Cameron is a fantastic director who hired some terrific actors. The sequel was even better because it continued the story in an intelligent, creative way, with the characters logically evolved and changed from their experiences in the first film. Then the third film was just a remake of terminator... and the TV show was more of the same. Neither had the heart, intelligence, or creativity of the first two films. They were just... terminators sent back in time to kill John Connor... again.


I've never understood why they keep trying to kill John Connor anyway? Because he's the only human being who can stop the machines in the future? Pfffft. I don't believe that anymore than I believe all of those alternate history novels about the Nazis winning the second World War because Truman or FDR died before they could take office. If an Army is only as strong as one man in the lead, that army isn't going to win, ever. And why do the terminators keep coming back in time later and later anyway? After they failed to kill off Sarah Connor in the first film, they should've jus gone back in time one day earlier and killed her then. Why keep coming back after the people are ready and prepared?

But whatever.

So at least this new fourth film had some novelty of being slightly different, in that there was no time travel, John Connor was finally an adult, and it took place in the future. Visually, conceptually, and tonally, this is entirely different from the previous films in the series, though there are plenty of homages and inside jokes. Like when John Connor tries to attract the terminator by playing You Could be Mine on a radio. Or how they had another chase scene between a truck and a motorcycle. Or, best of all, was when they digitally put Arnold's face on a T-800. That was strange and kind of unnecessary, but the special effects were flawless.

About the story I can't really say much since it didn't really make a whole lot of sense, was overly convoluted, and kind of poorly thought out, all things considered. It didn't really add much to the mythology of the series or even show us anything all that new. Then again, neither did Terminator 3. Basically, it just showed us the future we already knew about, and presented John Connor the adult as the ass-kicking solider we already assumed he was.

And that's fine, because the action set pieces were totally off the hook! Seriously, if you like action movies, this film was killer. Yeah, it had some problems with logic (like how did that giant robot sneak up on those people in the 7-11? Or why did they set up that elaborate trap to kill John Connor and then only have ONE terminator waiting for him? Why not have, like, a hundred waiting?), but it was all so exciting to watch because McG is just a great action director. This movie was awesome.

Acting wise, this was also pretty satisfying. Like I said, I'm not a Christian Bale fan, but he did pretty well here. His gruff, Batman growl was kept to a minimum, and he actually seemed like some kind of leader humanity would want to follow. Sam Worthington is an actor who has been in everything lately, though I had only seen him -- after which I had all but forgotten about him -- in Avatar. But he was actually pretty awesome in this, making it clear why he's being cast in every action movie currently in production. But best of all was Anton Yelchin as a young Kyle Reese. This kid is just a great actor and he does a killer Michael Biehn impression. He stole the movie in my opinion. Oh, and Bryce Dallas Howard is a beautiful woman, but she didn't really have much to do.

So, yeah. Terminator Salvation. Worth seeing if you like big, dumb, exciting action movies where giant robots fight humans. And who doesn't like that? But don't expect anything remotely resembling the creativity, intelligence, and craft of James Cameron's original films.

1 comment:

Justin Garrett Blum said...

This doesn't have anything to do with Terminator, but I thought I'd just mention that I watched The Machinist recently, and it was pretty interesting. Kind of like a really long but good episode of "The Twilight Zone". Christian Bale doesn't do a lot for me, either, but that movie is worth seeing just to witness how disgustingly skinny he got for that role. It's insane. You can't fault the guy's dedication.