Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation: Pretty Pedestrian

I had high hopes for this latest Terminator flick, due to the involvement of Christian Bale. He's normally a fairly good indicator of a quality film, my experience. But I guess he doesn't quite bat 1.000.

This film had such potential, but squandered it. While the effects are great, the script (or what of it saw the screen) was found lacking.

Bale wasn't given an opportunity to really act. Comparing this to the Batman movies, under Nolan he performs as an actor, but under McG he's simply a movie star. I'm sure he gave it his all, as he tries to lose himself in the character to the point of possibly being a personal mental health concern. It seems as though the script basically gave him scenes to yell in and then scenes to tell the audience what they should have been showing them.

Helena Bonham Carter and Bryce Dallas Howard are completely wasted in this movie. Carter is only in one scene that actually requires any acting, where she acquits herself nicely. Howard is just left to be pregnant and concerned. There's really nothing noteworthy about her character in the movie.

Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright) and Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams) are probably given the most to work with (which still isn't a lot). While their dialogue and scenes are no better written than any others, they are afforded a better opportunity to demonstrate a wider range of emotions. Anton Yelchin does a really good job of evoking Michael Biehn's version of Kyle Reese, helping you believe that this is the man that grows up to save Sarah Connor.

What the movie lacks is the chase element seen in the first three movies. Instead of a Terminator stalking our protagonists. Instead, we get one protagonist plodding across the first half of the movie to get to the other. While some of the Skynet machines do briefly chase from time to time, there isn't one consistent character stalking anyone. Due to this, it felt like the movie lacked any real tension through most of the two hours. You didn't have a sense that a terminator or other Skynet machine could pop up to attack the protagonists at any given moment, despite their being scenes of just that happening.

Maybe appropriately, the movie felt mechanical. It was just a collection of standard parts put together. Nothing too special about the parts or how well they were connected. In fact, some of the parts seemed worse than the standard. Take note, for instance, how obvious they try to make things about Marcus Wright by how he is posed for his execution. I half expected Keenan Ivory Wayans to pop on screen and shout, "MESSAGE!"

Despite all of the negatives I can rattle off about it, I didn't feel regret for having spent my $6 on a ticket. It was entertaining enough that I didn't want my money and my time back at the end of it...but JUST enough. The T-800 used towards the end probably put it over the top.

I wouldn't suggest running out to see this urgently, but I, also, wouldn't try to dissuade anyone who had planned to see it from taking the trip to the theater. If you're interested in the Terminator franchise, you're going to want to see this film. Just temper your expectations.

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