MONKEY REVIEW: Terminator Salvation

May 21, 2009

terminatorsalvation

REVIEW ASSUMES YOU’VE SEEN AT LEAST ONE OF THE TERMINATOR MOVIES

The first half of Terminator Salvation, the fourth and latest cinematic attempt to revive the Terminator franchise, is fast paced, gritty fun, with plenty of man vs. robot mayhem, depicted with some pretty dazzling special effects. It’s set in 2018, before John Connor (Christian Bale, occasionally slipping into his Batman growl) has ascended to leadership of the resistance against Skynet, which has devastated the earth with nuclear attacks. Instead, Connor seems to be a respected but still marginalized figure in the resistance, though he has the support of “the people,” as it were. The resistance is on the verge of a major strike against Skynet headquarters in San Francisco, which Connor has misgivings about, but is overrided. Meanwhile, in a parallel story, a death row prisoner named Marcus (Sam Worthington) executed 15 years before, wakes to find himself in the midst of a post-apocalyptic United States, and soon finds his way to a ruined Los Angeles, meeting up with two youths, one of whom is named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), future father of Connor. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the filmmakers came up with a decent set up, but didn’t bother to come up with a satisfactory conclusion. Instead, the second half, in particular the climax, settles for rehashing the climax of Terminator 2, minus any suspense whatsoever though with maximum (albeit PG-13) violence and destruction. This is pretty disappointing considering the time and expense, reportedly $200 million, that went into the making of Terminator Salvation. And you’re expecting any sort of story resolution, well, forget it, since this is a reboot, remember, and meant to be an entry way into one or more sequels. It raises more questions than it ultimately answers, though my central question after seeing the movie was this: Why do the trailers and even the toys for this movie give away a major plot twist involving one of the main characters? I imagine audiences would have guessed the twist, anyway, but the twist is revealed much later in the film than one would have been led to believe from the trailers. Plus, it’s treated as a big surprise in the movie, coming complete with a “Nooooooo!” The ending of the movie also had me rolling my eyes, as it felt more suitable to Terminator fan fiction than a official sequel. Oh, well, cool robots, anyway.

MONKEY RATING: THREE TERMINATOR MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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