On the Big Board
|Well cast and enjoyable in a mindless sort of way.
|Should have been titled Transforminators
|For a movie with so much action, it sure was boring.
|The machine cycles are great, as are the aerial shots of the action. The plot evokes a lot of Matrix 2. Anton Yelchin is having a great summer at the movies. (I loved the reveal at the climax.)
It's hard to believe that just a few years ago the Terminator franchise was unrivaled in the sci-fi genre. It had done what all other franchises could not do. It ended. The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day told their stories, ended on ambiguously positive note, made millions and were widely regarded as classics. The franchise was one of the best one-two punches in modern sci-fi history, fitting arguably between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back and Alien and Aliens. However, those two franchises became textbook examples of oversaturation, thus minimizing the comprehensive impact of the name brand. The Star Wars quality fell off dramatically after Empire, with Return of the Jedi completing the first trilogy. The original trilogy was then subsequently followed by another trilogy, followed by a cartoon movie, which was then followed by a cartoon series. Same goes for the Alien films. Both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection were commercial and critical disappointments, while the spinoffs with the Predator franchise are best not mentioned.
Not to be outdone, the Terminator franchise took notice that money spends better than critical accolades and decided to continue the tale. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a modest hit (although worldwide grosses were needed to recoup that $200 million price tag) in 2003 and didn’t embarrass itself quality wise. However, the film was nothing more than a retread of the previous two, Arnold Schwarzenegger looked middle-aged, and James Cameron’s (director of the first two) presence behind the camera was sorely missed. In early 2008, Fox premiered the television spinoff The Sarah Connor Chronicles to promising reviews and ratings. There was talk that the show could be cancelled due to poor ratings, but it has held on to survive given the fact that the writers' strike has created a void in quality new product in the short term. Either way, the quality of the show has been up and down.
Terminator Salvation is at least advancing the formula of the previous entries. The first three films were about a cyborg, Schwarzenegger in his iconic role, time-traveling from the future to kill and then later on protect John Connor, the leader of the human resistance in a future war. Another time-traveler (a man in the first and machines in the subsequent two) is sent to counter Schwarzenegger’s mission. Chaos and explosions ensue. The third film and television show lead the viewer to believe the war between machines and man is inevitable and John Connor is man’s only hope. Terminator Salvation will reveal the immediate ramifications of Judgment Day and early days of the war. Christian Bale takes over the role of John Connor and Sam Worthington (soon to be seen in Cameron’s Avatar) stars as Marcus, a man with a mysterious past or future. Connor and Marcus embark on a mission that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they find out a terrible secret that may lead to the possible annihilation of mankind.
There are, however, causes for concern with
Terminator: Salvation. While Schwarzenegger is fairly long in the tooth, not to mention busy running the state of California, to believably portray the T-101, there is risk of removing the franchise’s star. Can you imagine Die Hard without Bruce Willis or Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford? No, Mr. Lucas and Mr. Spielberg, I cannot. Cameron, the series creator, has been quoted as saying he has had nothing to do with this Terminator reboot. To make matters worse, McG has taken over the directorial reigns. Listen, McG seems like an alright guy, but nothing in the man’s portfolio (Charlie’s Angels, We Are Marshall) indicate he has the capability to add depth and emotion to all the explosions. Even his inability to execute a discernable action scene that isn’t straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon makes ‘fanboy nation’ nervous.
All that being said, there is one reason I will be in the theater when the lights go down that very first showing of opening day and one reason only. Christian freakin Bale. I watched in awe as the man slayed dragons with Matthew “Wooderson” McConaughey in Reign of Fire, chased a victim through a condo wielding a chainsaw naked in American Psycho, watched Jeffery Wright take a dump while plotting against Shaft, and sliced Taye Diggs' face off with the courtesy of minding Digg’s suit in Equilibrium. The man takes every role seriously and makes every film better with his presence. Heath Ledger owned as the Joker. There's no disputing that. But go back and watch Bale’s understated performance in The Dark Knight again and you will see why its impact was significant enough to propel the film’s popularity. Anyone can play crazy (maybe not as well as Ledger), but it remains exponentially more difficult to play it straight and still wow people. Bale will make Connor his role and turn him into the hero the previous films promised he would become.
What other reason does one need to go see a movie? (Joel West/BOP)
Comparison films for Terminator Salvation
|Matrix Reloaded, The
|Planet of the Apes
|Lara Croft:Tomb Raider