Saturday, July 4, 2009

Terminator Salvation **

Director: McG
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington
Common, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard
Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Alezander

The fourth installment in the "Terminator" series begins in the year 2003 where Dr. Serena Kogan (Bonham Carter in full Burton, necrophylia mode) convinces death rown inmate Marcus Wright (Worthington) to donate his body to science. After this "random" prelude we flash forward to 2018 where Judgment Day has taken place and humans are living in hiding under the threat of Skynet and their terminators.
After a Resistance attack, Marcus Wright wakes up and finds himself with no memory of what happened to him after his death. He decides to find answer at Skynet.
John Connor (Bale) is now a leader of the Resistance planning a massive attack on Skynet enterprises. Little does he know that the company has a plan of its own and are trying to kill his yet-to-be father, the young Kyle Reese (Yelchin) who is unaware of being a target.
Before you can say Arnold Schwarzenegger their stories become intertwined and fans of the "Terminator" franchise will hopefully be thrilled to find out new links in the mythology they follow religiously.
For the rest of the audience the film will seem yet another mindless summer blockbuster and that is obviously its biggest flaw.
The characters' history is quite easy to follow, you just need to know "John Connor must die" and disengage all scientific notion of time travelling to get in the film's universe.
This however doesn't justify the fact that the movie feels mostly like a very long prequel to the upcoming sequels.
The film's very existence is impossible to justify as it doesn't add much to what should feel like a saga. You never really care for the characters because early on the filmmakers reassure us that life is expendable if you have time travel and evil machine corporations.
This leaves them time to fill two hours with explosions, all the kinds of robots they can invent (look it's a Motonator!) and references to the previous movies.
The ensemble is mostly uninterested and uninteresting; Bale loves his time in the spotlight and squeezes even the last tough scream and grunt he can get out of a single line of dialogue (is his character dislikable because of the arrogant incident between the actor and the film's cinematographer? It obviously adds a little something to those watching the film), Alexander is cast as one of those "wise and eccentric post apocalyptic priestesses" sci-fi has reserved for respected actresses, Yelchin lacks presence to feel as if his character is important and the underrated Howard is left as an accesory.
The film overall would be a complete miss if it wasn't for the electrifying Worthington who convinces you there is something meaningful going on, at least through his character's eyes.
He turns Marcus into a battlefield of emotions and after a twist (revealed in one of the trailers...) he finds the humanity nobody else in the film ever achieves.
Even when the plot gives him opportunity after opportunity to revel in grandiose moments deemed to be iconic for the franchise (the whole Jesus Christ metaphor is ridiculous and lacks subtlety...crucifixion motives, the whole resurrection issue, John Connor's initials and their connection in the end...) Worthington keeps it down to Earth and visceral. He is this sequel's salvation.

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