Terminator 4: Salvation

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new-terminator-salvation-photo1.jpg

The end begins

2009

Genres:
Action, Sci-Fi, Post-Apocolyptic

Starring:
Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Helena Bonham Carter

Summary:
In 2018, machines have taken over the world after Skynet, a self-aware artificial intelligence, destroyed most humans years before in a nuclear armageddon called Judgement Day. The few survivors are members of dwindling pockets of rebels or prisonors in Skynet's holding pens awaiting experimentation. John Connor (Bale) is a leader of one of these rebel pockets along with his heavily pregnant wife (Howard) and lieutenant (Bloodgood).

After an unsuccessful raid on one of Skynet's facilities, Connor returns to base without knowing that the raid woke up Marcus Wright (Worthington), a death row inmate who had donated his body to a doctor (Carter) leading a mysterious defense project prior to Judgement Day.

Marcus journeys to Los Angeles and meets teenager Kyle Reese (Yelchin), from whom he learns what has happened since his death. Marcus and Kyle decide to join the nearest resistance base after hearing Connor on the radio. Along the way, Kyle is captured by Skynet, and Marcus and Connor must find a way to rescue him since Kyle is destined to become the father of John Connor. Ah, the beauty of the time travel plot line.

Response:
I was disappointed with the reviews of Terminator Salvation, but I was not disappointed with the film. It lived up to my expectations of a solid action movie that drew on and expanded the Terminator lore. The sepia tones of the movie and the desolate landscape contributed to the post-apocolyptic setting of the film quite well, and the action scenes were explosive with great effects. My only complaint with the action is that some of these scenes were so high-octane and occurred so frequently that some of the later scenes just lost a bit of their punch.

I'm not sure what the main critics of this movie were expecting... A life altering character study? Meaningful dialogue? Terminator has always been about big chase scenes, bigger robots, and plotlines that may not make the most sense but sure provide a great vehicle for the aforementioned chase scenes and robots. Having said that, Terminator Salvation does manage to tackle some well-integrated themes about human nature, sacrifice, and courage, most notably through the character of Marcus Wright.

Although this movie is filled with desperation and despair, it does provide a few moments of humor particularly for fans familiar with the previous films. Most of the famous lines are resurrected for Terminator Salvation as well as a surprising cameo that is thankfully understated due to some major CGI rejuvenation and the wise decision to keep the role non-speaking.

There has been some criticism of Christian's Bale's cold and detached demeanour in this film, with several people pointing out that he just recycled his Batman persona for Terminator Salvation. Now, Christian Bale is one of my favourite actors so I'm probably not the best person to give an unbiased review of his performance (is there such a thing anyway?). Yes, he is cold and detached throughout most of the movie, and he does deliver his lines with an almost monotonous gravel-voiced aggressiveness. But let's think about the character he's playing. John Connor spent his formative years on the run with Rambo-mum constantly drilling it in his head that he's the saviour of mankind. He had to endure all the crap that happened on Terminator 2, as well as the abomination that was Terminator 3. So perhaps he's not going to be the most open and friendly chap.... I think Bale made a conscious decision to play John Connor this way, and I liked it. It made his few moment of desperate emotion and frustration that much more powerful.

However, Sam Worthington was without a doubt the main star of this movie. His portrayal of a human-turned-cyborg was strong and tortured, ironically and probably intentionally, providing the most heartfelt performance in the movie. His sacrifice at the end of the movie was genuinely touching, although it begged the question why the resistance movement would prefer to all-too-mortal John Connor to the superhuman/robot Wright.

Point Blank:
Not as good as Terminator 2, definitely better than Terminator 3.