19
May
09

Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

terminator_salvation

 

The future is bleak.

Starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, and Michael Ironside. Directed by McG

In the year 2003 a convict sentenced to death via poison signs a release for his body to be used for medical purposes. His name is Marcus Wright (Worthington) and this is a plot point.

Fast-forward to 2018. The world is friggin’ bleak. John Connor (Bale) is a member of the Resistance who answers to the high command (Michael Ironside and company going up and down the California coast in a submarine). His wife (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a doctor, pregnant with his baby. The Resistance itself are scattered cells dotting the post-nuclear SoCal wasteland while Skynet, the evil robot conglomerate, controls the San Fran/Bay area.

Skynet has been working on ever elaborate ways to destroy mankind. There’s a gigantic robot that can hunt down and pick up humans as if it were King Kong, Harvesters which “cattle herd” humans into cargo bays and drop them off at Skynet Central, robot motorbikes, flying “seek and report” scouts (reminiscent of “They Live”), and ones that reside in water (looking like Doc Oc’s arms from “Spider-Man 2”) Even with all of its technological achievements, Skynet has a problem with infiltrating the Resistance.

John Connor is sent on a mission. What he finds is that Skynet has been harvesting humans for… something. He ends up being the only survivor after the control room they enter self-destructs. Connor walks back to a pick-up point. Out from the ashes rises… Marcus Wright. Wright doesn’t know where or when he is, he just needs to head north for some reason.

Connor dangerously meets with Resistance command and finds that Skynet has a secret plot to eliminate him, the entire central command, and Kyle Reese. Using the mythos already set forth in previous “Terminator” flicks we, and John, know that if Kyle Reese dies in the present then John is never born and Skynet wins by default. John must find Kyle at all costs.

Marcus lumbers around and reaches what’s left of L.A. where he meets Kyle Reese (Yelchin) and a young girl named Star. Marcus gets a quick update on the “man vs. machine” world he’s stepped into and their off to find John Connor and the rest of the Resistance. Along the way Reese and Star are captured but Marcus is able to help out and buddy up with Resistance fighter Blair. The two travel to the base.

An altercation while going through the metal minefield surrounding the base leads the group to realize what’s going on: Skynet is abducting humans to use to create life-like “Terminators.” Marcus is one but the problem is he doesn’t know it. After an escape Connor faces Wright and makes a deal: Wright has to find Kyle Reese. Meanwhile the high command is demanding a full attack on Skynet (which would destroy all humans captured). John decides to ignore the orders and go after Wright and Reese.

Yes, it’s a little revisionist; I’m not exactly sure how Marcus escaped the 1997 Judgment Day only to end up in the executioner’s chair in 2003 and upon waking in the future NOT knowing about it. Or why John continues to listen to cassette tapes his mother made (Linda Hamilton’s voice makes a cameo) when he probably should know more about Terminators and Skynet than his mother ever did. Then again these are just logic points only made by geeks like me.

What works is that there is substance, nay a story, in this movie. McG, whose previous movies include “Charlie’s Angels,” and “We Are Marshall,” wraps the story in a white-washed world where the colors are muted, if not absent, and the only real shades are light, dark, and gray. It may have been because the WB wants to churn out darker fare (see also: “The Dark Knight”) but whatever the true motives it makes “Salvation” has a look and feel of desolation and dread which works better for the world of “Terminator” as opposed to say what a director like Michael Bay would do.

How does it compare with the others? Barring “T3” (because I never bothered to watch it), I would say it’s as good as “T2” but slightly less fun. Then again it’s a post-apocalyptic world and it’s not supposed to be. McG does give nods to the previous films: there’s the Polaroid pic of Sarah Connor, John hacks into a Skynet security door, a Skynet motorbike tears down the road looking for Connor while Guns ‘n Roses’ “You Could Be Mine” is playing on a radio, there’s a return to the gas station that was at the end of the first “Terminator” which is now all but a decrepit shack, and “I’ll be back,” is said at some point.

Should you go see this film? If you’re a “Terminator” fan, this movie is well worth the wait. If you’re a scifi geek/nerd/buff and enjoy movies like “Blade Runner,” this is worth your time as well.

Speaking of “Blade Runner,” McG reportedly had the cast read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (which has been adapted as a movie starring Viggo Mortenson) and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick (which became “Blade Runner”) so that they could “absorb” the dystopia he wanted portrayed. There is a scene in “Salvation” where San Fran looks a lot like L.A. from “Blade Runner…”

While walking out after the movie had finished a couple walking in front of me were commenting about the T-800 featured in the movie. “Isn’t it great that he…”

Guess you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

My grade: A

P.S. Before the movie they previewed the trailer for the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie with Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, directed by Guy Ritchie. It looks cool.

Here’s the new “Sherlock Holmes” trailer:

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1 Response to “Movie Review: Terminator Salvation”


  1. 1 S. David Brown
    May 19, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I’m glad you gave it a solid review. YET ANOTHER reason to watch it! – ODB

    Like


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