May 23, 2009

What makes a Monster and what makes a Man?


"Skynet became self-aware."---one of the best movie lines ever, the stuff of sci-fi nightmares, science and technology gone awry. It gave me chills. And no one can have anything bad to say about Terminator's iconic theme music. But after James Cameron's excellent T2:Judgment Day and the disappointing T3: Rise of the Machines, I figured the series was over. So I was excited when Lynn told me that a fourth Terminator was in the works. Thankfully, writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris with director McG (while no James Cameron), have managed to passably resurrect the series with Terminator Salvation.

Christian Bale is Resistance leader John Connor, aided in his fight against Skynet and its HKs(Hunters-Killers) by Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard), Barnes (Common), Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood), and Sam Worthington as the enigmatic Marcus Wright. Anton Yelchin, most recently seen as Chekov in Star Trek, is a budding Resistance fighter along with his silent ward Star (Jadagrace). Helena Bonham Carter is the not-quite-mad scientist Dr. Serena Kogan, a role she supposedly accepted because boyfriend Tim Burton is a Terminator fan.

The movie started off slow for me. I managed a little catnap a few minutes into the film, despite the shoot-em-up, blow-em-up scenes, but then I quickly got into the plot. The post-apocalyptic world is appropriately bleak, and we even get to see Skynet Central---a high-tech Mordor/Isengard hybrid. Mr. Bale is his usual intense and angry self (thank goodness John Connor's voice is more intelligible than his Batman voice). The time travel bit is as mind-boggling as ever, but Sam Worthington's nuanced performance as the conflicted hero/villain provides the emotional center of the film. His character brings to mind XMen's Wolverine, trying to find his identity, but I cared more for Marcus than Logan. Having said that, this film is still probably the most unemotional and the least humorous of the series. Fans will appreciate the occasional nods and references to the previous movies.

Terminator Salvation is not T-rrible. It's summer...it's a holiday. Just have a good time.

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