Wednesday 3 June 2009

Review Terminator: Salvation

Year: 2009
Director: McG (Dickish name)
Screenplay: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris
Starring: Christian Bale, Anton Yelchin, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Common, Helena Bonham Carter, Micheal Ironside

Plot (what there is of it) is here.

Terminator: Salvation reminded me of my favorite footy team Arsenal (shut up!) and their 08/09 season. Forth is well placed, respectable and better than most. However I'd rather be winning the league. That's the best allegory I could come up with and I feel it's better than the Christ imagery that is placed in this forth installment (it's laid on thick).

I've realized for a little while that the narrative within Hollywood blockbuster is slowly imploding in front of my eyes. Gimmicks (3-D, Imax and the like) are becoming the in thing and the executives are slowly beginning to get what they wanted: hyper edited, kiddy friendly (read: toy friendly) franchises which are more a series of moments than an actual full length story. I've realized this and I'm begrudgingly coming round to Hollywood's way of thinking. The days of Jaws, Star Wars and the like are gone. I get it and I'm almost kinda fine with it.

Terminator Salvation has no real plot and the tiny bit it has is shoved in right at the end to try and make people believe that the film makes complete sense etc. It's all very silly. Never the less McG succeeds in making a watchable sci-fi action movie that managed to keep my attention for the most part. Terminator canon is messier than a baby eating pasta sauce and T4 will not improve things. BUT and it's a big one here If you want good action, a ton of bravado and some smart effects McG is your man.

After a ludicrous prologue involving a prisoner named Marcus, T4 goes into full swing. jumping from action sequence to action sequence with unabashed pride. Memories of the pile of LSD fuelled piece of shit that was Charlies Angels 2: Full Throttle, left me extremely quickly. For me McG has matured as an action director and gives us some strong set pieces that would have Micheal Bay nodding in approval. You wanna blow some shit up? Ask the 'G' Man.

If only they had the writing to back it up. John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (the writers of Catwoman...jesus) have taken on a franchise which unfortunately very difficult to continue on with. Despite the film blabbering about fate being in their hands and that, the roles have already been predetermined. In fact this and Rise of the machines (also watchable enough despite it's dubious tone) have cause a hellish timeline loop which has Kyle Reese (played in this by an energetic Anton Yelchin) royally boned. This should be an undetermined future for these characters however, the source material will not allow this. Why? Because of who they are. It's hard to see any thing happening to John Conner and Reese because like Wolverine, we know their future. Because of this, it's hard to truly love the good work McG has put forth. We kinda know they will pull though so why care? Take away the Terminator elements, a bit of re-tooling and we have a brand new franchise. Oh well.

Some of the other elements work better. Despite a hokey beginning, Sam Worthington's character of Marcus is a strong one. A man whose lost his sense of identity and is the only character who has more free will than the other supposed main characters. Worthington slips into the role well and I honestly didn't pick up on his Oz accent. it's a shame that the films marketing (and writing) ruins the film only interesting plot twist. Moon Bloodgood has a silly name but is an interesting side character who could be given given a good story in the sequel (not a spoiler as the fifth film is just waiting for a good box office report)

Christian Bale's display is harder to nail down. There's a lot of ballsy yelling but Bale's Connor is a very flat creature. However despite this odd lack of conviction, a mediocre Bale is better than well....a lot of actors. He still holds a hell of a lot of screen presence, which is more than I can say for Common and Bryce Dallas Howard...who can claim the crown of king and queen of non-entities (your pregnant...and? your fucking purpose?). Helena Bonham Carter and Micheal Ironside are placed in roles that pay the bills. Nothing spectacular but not shite. In fact Ironside is clearly channelling Jean Rasczak which is something I have no problem with.

Terminator: Salvation could have done with some story tweaks but the film is what it is; dumb summer action. When it's not shoehorning "homages" into scenes for no reason or trying to explain plot it's pretty damn watchable (if a little bit forgettable). When the fifth film makes it's appearance, it could do worse than having McG on board, who, despite having a stupid name, is competent enough to make a well paced (until the last third but that's a writing thing again) action flick which is for the most part fun. So much like Arsenal....pretty to look at but not a complete package. 4th is qualifies*.

*To those across the pond who don't "do" football.....It's means we get into the champions league.

Note: I'm am fucked off that both this film and Rise of the machines have rendered the death of Miles Dyson useless. Skynet's face should have been his for shitz and giggles.