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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.54%
Worth A Look: 13.41%
Average: 26.83%
Pretty Bad: 23.17%
Total Crap28.05%

6 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Terminator Salvation
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by William Goss

"The Gears of Bore"
3 stars

In 1991, Edward Furlong was John Connor; in 2003, Nick Stahl. Now, in 2009, Christian Bale IS John Connor, and he’s not about to let you forget it.

But this is not the future his mother warned us about. His prophesized leader of the resistance against self-aware machines is now a walkie-talkie jockey under the thumb of General Ashdown (Michael Ironside, a rare match for Bale in sheer vocal authority), far from the Christ figure that his character’s initials and selectively flickering on-screen credit might indicate. In his place has stumbled Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a once-executed murderer who left his body to science in 2003 and yet finds himself alive in 2018 and journeying across the barren wasteland of Southern California.

The thrust of the plot boils down to these two men, though that doesn’t stop about a half-dozen other characters from tagging along. Connor runs with the likes of his pregnant wife (Bryce Dallas Howard) and token black friend (Common), while Marcus runs into an empowered and then impulsive pilot (Moon Bloodgood) and Connor’s eventual father, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who quite inexplicably has a little black girl in tow. (Actually, the brief confrontation that finally comes between this silent kid and Bale’s screaming soldier feels like an inadvertent reward all its own.)

Director McG (We Are Marshall) has cited “The Road” and Children of Men as influences on his post-apocalyptic vision, and while he nails the harsh sun and constant dust (kudos to cinematographers Michael Fitzgerald and Shane Hurlbut), his scope is often too close and too loud to pass for epic-epic. One tracking shot early on is disorienting to a fault; another one in the film’s second half falls closer (if still short) to Children’s critical balance of technical prowess and character stakes. His efforts to ground his action compared to the glossy aesthetic of the Charlie’s Angels films would work even better if his characters weren’t so often impervious to the many, many combustions about them. One character survives two helicopter crashes and willingly plummets down from another to the stormy sea below; a second character launches themselves at an aircraft with an axe; and a third character dodges an exploding vehicle shortly after surviving a close-quarters encounter with a rocket-propelled grenade – and only one of them is even (and just) part machine, yet none seem to suffer a scratch.

Worse yet than the wavering immediate peril of our protagonists against tireless technology is the overriding failure of screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (of the tolerable Terminator 3 and the terrible Catwoman; in fairness, rumored rewrites may have made the final product worse for wear) to inject the pre-destined events with any considerable dose of suspense, which in turn negates the very purpose of the film even existing beyond boffo box-office. The dilemma of Marcus’ resurrection – which I won’t reveal, despite a series of trailers that are more than happy to and a first act that tips its hand with increasing blatancy – ought to be fine food for thought, but the character approaches existential matters with aggravatingly redundant dialogue along the lines of “Don’t you believe that people deserve a second chance?” and “Noooooooooooo!,” while the actor struggles to meet the lackluster lines and American accent halfway. The emoting that he brings to what is essentially an arc condensed from that of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first two films is even flatter when compared to the Austrian’s relentless drive and deadpan charms. Going down the roster, from Worthington to Bale to Yelchin, not one human here matches the rooting interest of Schwarzenegger as either hero or villain. It’s a Terminator that’s missing its Terminator, and a last-minute digitally-enhanced appearance serves more as sobering reminder than fan service (which reminds me: just about every line rehashed from earlier entries is a cringe-inducing how’d-they-know-to-say-that exercise in checklisting, every bit as monotonous as Danny Elfman’s exceedingly generic score).

'Terminator Salvation' feels like an 'Animatrix'-level counterpart at best, intended to complement the existing mythos and insufficient at expanding it. All that’s really left to do is for Skynet to be conquered and Reese to be sent back – after that, maybe, could an original and thrilling story be told. Until then, this remains a half-hearted cash-grab at salvaging a franchise, and even when stripped of its legacy, it remains a summer-suitable paradox: full of noise, but with nothing to say.

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originally posted: 05/22/09 07:58:15
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell crap moving on 1 stars
10/04/14 chuck SHOULD BE NO STARS-----WTF IS THIS CRAP 1 stars
4/16/14 Charles Tatum Not terrible, but you didn't see it, so we suffer ANOTHER reboot 4 stars
1/07/14 bored mom Drop the repeated one-liners, and add more T-600s. The big robot HK mech was funny, though. 3 stars
10/01/13 Jeff Wilder Bleh 2 stars
1/18/12 Marc DC Makes T3 look like oscar material. Enough said. 2 stars
11/27/11 AEB Nothing new but exciting and worth the ticket price. 3 stars
8/08/11 Chris F Crap without Arnie 1 stars
6/27/11 DR Much better than many would have you believe. However, some plot points fall short. 4 stars
2/20/11 Richard79 Put it in the boxset with AvP and Live Free or Dire Hard. 1 stars
9/30/10 Aaron Smith Good to see post-JD, and cool new machines, but characters underdeveloped. 4 stars
8/24/10 Total Crap Better than T3 at least, but they re-use and recycle so many damn scenes from the first 2. 3 stars
5/01/10 mr.mike Better than I expected - plus Bale's not in it that much 4 stars
4/30/10 Jerome Cook wow that looked just like young Arnold! thats incredible and nobody even mentioned it!!!!!! 3 stars
1/06/10 KingNeutron Nice to see Ironside, but definitely could have been done better. Meh. 3 stars
12/27/09 randy todger dumbed down shite.McG stick to producing supernatural on are shit 2 stars
11/14/09 Meep Started out well enough but quickly degenerated into franchise disrespecting crap, T3>T4 2 stars
7/28/09 damalc should've stuck to my guns when i swore off Terminator movies after T3 2 stars
7/14/09 Linda The Image of the Terminator's have no effect on me like the first one, not scary or thirill 3 stars
7/03/09 roger federer This is a film that should have never been made 1 stars
6/17/09 JR Wow. What a piece of garbage. 1 stars
6/10/09 Koitus I thought it was okay - if you're a fan of the first 3. "R" rating probably wld hv bn btr. 3 stars
6/09/09 kerry i personally loved it - Bale's voice got on my nerves, but Yelchin was awesome as usual!!!! 5 stars
6/09/09 Kitana37 Remarkably decent...much better than I thought it was gonna be 4 stars
6/09/09 Abhishek Chakraborty Enjoyed it. Explosions with a purpose. makes more sense than Star trek 5 stars
6/06/09 Vince Best movie so far this year 4 stars
6/05/09 sumixam Loved it 5 stars
6/05/09 gc Plot tied in the other movies perfectly, good fx too 4 stars
6/04/09 owen fantastic movie well done mcg loved it 5 stars
6/01/09 K. Sear A serious improvement over part 3. 4 stars
5/30/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Blair Witch and Cloverfield meet the T-600. The future will be very, very loud. 1 stars
5/29/09 D McG is an amateurish hack and this movie falls in line with the rest of his hackwork 1 stars
5/29/09 daisysalter Sam Worthington carries the film, which is not great, but a good summer action film. 4 stars
5/27/09 Kyle Reese Knew we'd be in trouble when it was announced it would rate PG-13 2 stars
5/26/09 Ole Man Bourbon Reminded me of Uve Boll a little bit 1 stars
5/25/09 Lemoine Soundly kicked Wolverine & Star Trek's rear. 5 stars
5/25/09 travis Very disappointing, hell, the series on FOX was far more impressive 2 stars
5/25/09 jon robinson i think the movie just was hollow. it felt like they made this one JUST to make another 3 stars
5/25/09 Brandon Allin Visually spectacular, but lacking elsewhere. 3 stars
5/24/09 g. not terrible but could have been better 3 stars
5/24/09 Matt pretty great, not flawless, but well done. 4 stars
5/24/09 Jeff Teixeira Totally inconsistent with the Terminator series. 1 stars
5/24/09 Darkstar Much better than T3, good action, still think McG sucks donkey balls 4 stars
5/24/09 Greg No way. Terrible. I'm still upset. Not worth the wait (And I even liked T3!) 1 stars
5/22/09 Dan Johnson Good movie 5 stars
5/21/09 luke Ummm.....I thought it was good and not derserving more than 1 star, dont shoot me 5 stars
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  21-May-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Dec-2009


  DVD: 01-Dec-2009

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