TMR Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

video inside post The fourth installment in the Terminator saga on the 25th anniversary of the 1984 movie is a devastatingly awesome piece of filmmaking magic with director McG pushing all the right buttons.  Yes, the giant Terminator sounds like the aliens in the Tom Cruise version of War Of The Worlds, but it does more than just sound terrifying, it packs power and punch and in a medium that is lacking originality, the director takes the cliches and makes them bigger, better and very scary.  When Christian Bale goes into “machine city” it is a combination of The Matrix and The Wizard of Oz, the big plumes of flame resembling Oz and Australian actor Sam Worthington even referencing the L. Frank Baum classic.

The second Terminator film was 1991 – 7 years after the first with T3 appearing in 2003 – so Terminator: Salvation is the first to come so closely to the prior installment of the story.   Plus there’s the Sarah Connor Chronicles on TV which, though good television, puts the story in a sort of alternate universe.  Key trivia here is that Christian Bale is the fifth person to play John Connor (who was the un-named actor who played him in the 1984 version?) and Dr. Peter Silberman is not in this film as the shrink who just kept coming back.  Anton Yelchin is in luck this year as he plays Chekov in the new Star Trek as well as a key role here as the young Kyle Reese Keep in mind that Paul Winfield had essential parts of both the original Terminator in 1984 and Star Trek: The Wrath Of Kahn in 1982.

Set in the year 2018, only 9 years away, Total Recall villain Michael Ironside finds a different role in this as a major commander in The Resistance,  the familiar Sci-Fi faces adding a level of familiarity, and john Connor’s interesting relationship with Marcus Wright is a unique addition to the character development.  And that development is spot on most of the way throughout, you have a real sense that these are real souls struggling against a dark power.  What is great about McG’s world is that it isn’t all bleak like the flashbacks in Terminator 1 and the Alien films and John Travolta’s Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 If you’ve been waiting for a Sci Fi film that isn’t drenched in dark tones, this movie ably leaps that notorious hurdle even going to a place Science Fiction fans have only dreamed of in the past, right into the heart of the manufacturing lab of the Terminators.  Sure, there are glimpses of I, Robot and even stagings from Terminator 1 and 2, but the recycled aspects work fine as this is a big, explosive vibrant film with Bale and Sam Worthington (and Anton Yelchin ) all working together to build a very cohesive fabric of survival.

Where Trinity in The Matrix was a strained love story with Neo/Tom Anderson and a bit distracting – just not enough testosterone for the war against the machines,  T-SALVATION is more of a battle for the men in the house, and they take on the metal hunter/killers with ingenuity and desperation.   And where the X-Men films missed a golden opportunity, only displaying a bit of one of their most potent villains – The Sentinels – this Terminator series goes there in a way that Professor X should have.  These metal monstrosities are more versatile than the X-Men Sentinels and even more dangerous.  McG, Christian Bale, Worthington and the cast deliver what the fans want – this isn’t Star Trek by way of Star Wars, this is a reboot of The Terminator series, a prequel (of sorts since the time travel even puts that word in question) that satisfies in a way that the three Star Wars prequels from George Lucas should have, but did not.  This movie is fantastic and with Wolverine, Star Trek and Angels & Demons simultaneously on the big screen, it is a component of a big Hollywood push to make intelligent science fiction that matters.  Can’t wait for the next episode.  The CGI Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a euphoric gasp and applause from the audience.  Schwarzenegger had anywhere from 52-72 words of dialogue in the first movie and 700 or so lines (according to in Terminator 2, here he has no lines yet his image packs a powerful punch, even if it is a CGI shadow of sorts.   But this Terminator works without Arnold, he’s the frosting on the cake and the cake is splendid, indeed.