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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Terminator: Salvation (2009)

I went to see Terminator: Salvation against my better judgment. I thought, hey, I love Christian Bale, and I enjoy the Terminator mythos, and any trailer with Nine Inch Nails in it can't be all bad, can it? Much to my dismay, I discovered that yes, yes it can be all bad.

The plot of Terminator: Salvation is a good one: Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is on death row and, at the last minute, agrees to donate his body to Skynet for mysterious experiments after his state-sanctioned death. We jump ahead to 2018 to find a future in which man and machine are at war. John Conner (Christian Bale) leads the resistance against Skynet with the support of various colorful yet never fleshed out supporting characters. Marcus wakes up in 2018, and it's not clear exactly how or why he has survived all these years and still appears to be in perfect physical health. He teams up with Kyle Reese (Anton Viktorovich Yelchi of Star Trek and numerous other films of late) in an effort to aid the resistance. None of this really matters, however, as the initially engaging plot devolves into a mindless hurricane of ballistics and over-the-top CGI. The film is overly concerned with giving shout outs to its predecessors (to wit, the dubious Arnold cameo, as well as Kyle's "come with me if you want to live," line). While this is momentarily amusing, it only serves to remind the audience of how much it fails to measure up with the first two Terminator films.

The sets are impressive, but again, the obvious big budget only made me regret (and resent) how crummy this installment was compared to the first two Terminator films. How dare they get a good actor like Christian Bale and then give him a crummy script and mediocre direction? Director McG has proven adept at handling light-hearted stuff like Charlie's Angels and the Offspring's obnoxious "Pretty Fly for A White Guy," video. Here he is in way over his head with Terminator: Salvation, a serious film that would have been better served by Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott. The shchmaltzy ending only served to piss me off more. In short, don't blow your hard-earned money on Terminator: Salvation unless you're seeing a matinee. And even then, do yourself a favor and have a few drinks first.