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Terminator Salvation
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Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation PosterRelease Date: May 21, 2009
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: McG
Screenwriter: John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Jane Alexander, Helena Bonham Carter
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language)
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Plot Summary: The highly anticipated new installment of "The Terminator" film franchise is set in post-apocalyptic 2018. John Connor is the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future that Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

EN 5 Second Review: Post Apocalyptic action that we love. Its a little dark as it should be. It does miss on the humanistic feeling the first films had, it plays a lot darker which is not a bad direction for the franchise.


DVD Spotlight

Terminator Salvation on DVD, Blue Ray, at huge discounts.

DVD Review by Peter Veugelaers © 2009

I have quite a bit of faith in director McG after the hyperventilating Charlie’s Angels (2000), his feature debut at the start of the decade. He uses his skills in narrative energy and drive to create a suspenseful next generation Terminator movie.

James Cameron directed The Terminator (1984), a quieter, low-budget, down-key, but appealingly no-nonsense sci-fi action movie. The antagonist, a cyborg from the future, played by former body-builder Arnold Schwarzenegger a few years after his Mr. Universe wins, is pretty convincingly nasty and ugly, leading to a stunning climax.

Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) is more action-packed, with stronger hooks, effecting a stylish and suspenseful narrative drive. Linda Hamilton as the resistance leader’s mother is butch and tough, but I remember being put-off by the type of violence in some places, and it’s sometimes too cute when Schwarzenegger plays Daddy to the future’s leader.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
still has Schwarzenegger, yet without Cameron it seems a lost cause. This intermittently explosive entry has an explosive storyline, but is also flat, dry and mediocre, including the performances, and doesn’t surpass the energy, style and suspense of T2.

As a music video director McG knows what works for effect. It works a treat with Terminator Salvation although I grudgingly admit it’s too much like the cute post-apocalypse of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome . Still, it works, and it’s a story which I think we should hear. This time out the story is simplified for more grunt than brain and it gets its message across without much subtly, which makes it less evocative than T1 and T2, but still finely made.

It’s set in 2018, post-apocalypse, where there are human survivors (naturally, I’d say, after all, how many of these films don’t?). They’re led by John Connor, played by Christian Bale, whose awful nasal whine has carried over occasionally from The Dark Knight while overall he’s more reserved and mature as the respected leader of the resistance movement against Skynet.

This is a movie we not only should hear, and is also one well-made. It’s the collusion of Connor and a death row inmate which bulwarks the narrative spine in the final half. The only mixing of the future and past, which invigorated the first films, is when this man on death row, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), comes from 2003. His raison d’être is shrouded until the ending. Suffice to say he’s not trusted by Connor but makes friends with sexy resistance fighter Blair (Moon Bloodgood). Wright offers more masculinity than Connor, but both induce our empathy.

The wasteland reminded me of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, where there are a variety of dilapidated characters squatting in makeshift confinements as Wright and his companions, including a young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the father of Connor, journey through to met with Connor. It’s an uncomfortable, messy, but compellingly vivid world, photographed in lucid sand-white and an almost 3-D ambiance, including the conflagration of choppers, men and robots. The movements of the resistance at the beginning have that Aliens underground suspense. The robots are sometimes reminiscent of The Matrix’s machines with that dark-reddish look and tentacle form. The other forms have that usual scary menace that terminators are renowned for, yet without that fleshly organic form, that Schwarzenegger made famous – including that sly, know-all grin, which is actually bad gums, and should tell us that their day has ended, almost, which quite abruptly finishes the movie’s discourse. There is one humdinger action sequence in the middle which is special effects heaven, and suspense-laden. The climax is life-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, albeit imperfectly, if you tend to think about a certain crucial moment that seems implausible.

Like The Matrix, Terminator Salvation harks back to Star Wars with its thematic pulse of machinery verses humans. The Terminator franchise is intriguing science fiction/action where self-aware machines are fighting a remnant of humans trying to survive. The irony is that the humans created the machines in the first place and now they have to climb out of the mess. The irony is that fighting violence with violence is the key to regaining what society has lost once it has got out of hand. Can humans harness technology? Can they learn to let go? It can’t harm us, someone will say. The question the movie poses is how far humans safely can go with technology when as a reflection of their own natures the beast or the machine underlines the human desire for war.

Apart from the scientific implications this state in humanity leaves one asking, is this movie anti-war? Yet what’s presented is thorough-going death and destruction. The irony is that if the humans win against what they're created what will they have learnt? Not to fight anymore? Or are they locked into this perpetual state?

Terminator Salvation is beginning to answer that. We can only live in peace once we come to terms with this contradiction and take the road to redemption which involves sacrifice (There’s been some vague speculation that John Connor’s initials stand in for J.C. (Jesus Christ). That’s conjecture, but certainly no irony). In line with most of the film’s tone, there's quite a simple answer. It involves sacrificing one’s selfish interests – certainly not simple. It’s about crucifying evil in the heart. That is the way forward. And onto the anticipated T5, which I’m looking forward to.

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