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Terminator Salvation (film review)

Posted on July 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM

To be brutally honest, I wasn't particularly disappointed with Terminator Salvation (McG, 2009). The franchise "jumped the shark" in the last installment, so I went in, not only expecting nothing, but expecting crap. And it actually started off okay - I liked the grainy textures and the scene with the downed helicopter grabbed my attention, but it eventually degenerated into some aborted Transformers sequel with vague allusions to characters I had once loved. Bale started off fine (better than the last Connor anyway), but it quickly became apparent he was only a one-note character (scowl and grunt), with zero personality and even less depth. Reese was whisked away just before we had gotten to know anything about him (though his portrayal seemed somewhat reminiscent of Stahl's direction), and while Worthington performed well, even he struggled to turn his stale dialogue into something engaging.

 

Apparently, this film cost over $200 million... Where the hell did all the cash end up? Cause it certainly wasn't on the screen. Advertising? Christian Bale's paycheck? Hey, the guy's proven he's got talent to burn, but his performance here is so completely phoned in; one wishes he displayed half of the passion that was captured in that leaked on-set tirade. I certainly hope it wasn't the GCI, because it doesn't hold a candle to the sheer terror audiences felt watching that stop-motion endoskeleton limping towards them, in the 1984 original.

 

Truth be told, the material was too big and too complex for a director like McG to handle; too many characters, too much back-story, and no clear vision or theme; stretched a huge film into insignificant and shallow particles for a bored audience to begrudgingly piece together. If the film was ever going to work it had to focus on one or two characters, in close quarters, and strong plotline for them to follow. It's about creating an engaging and coherent story, which McG has failed to accomplish. It's an action film with poorly executed action sequences and gratuitous amounts of CGI. It's war movie without the emotional trauma, harrowing consequences, strategic discussions, or fierce skirmishes. It's an adventure movie with no destination or excitement. It's a sci-fi with very little intelligence and even less common sense. And the acting and dialogue ranges from stock-standard to weak. Forget mythology and continuity, this film fails on its own merits and by its own standards. It may not have been as visually assaulting or morally devious as Transformers 2, but this is a film utterly devoid of life. Nothing could live up to the originals, but at least part 3 was a fun, light-hearted romp with some killer action scenes. Salvation was just this big, dusty, empty, soulless corporate product, punctuated by Bale's erratic ranting and raving.

Categories: ARTICLES, Cinema

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