‘Terminator Salvation’ – No Ah-nuld, big problems

‘Terminator Salvation’ – No Ah-nuld, big problems


Turns out a Bat can’t replace The Governator after all.

“Terminator Salvation,” the fourth entry in the sci-fi franchise, relies on Christian Bale to offset the absence of the big robot himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But Bale’s John Connor isn’t really the star here. Sam Worthington, chosen to anchor James Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar,” gets the meatier role as a man from the past with an uncertain future.

Both Bale and Worthington take a back seat to the film’s actions sequences, which will have audiences’ jaws dropped for nearly the film’s full running time.

When the violence ebbs, we’re left with a screenplay that often gives the actors no more than a syllable or two at a time.

It’s 2018, and John Connor is leading the resistance against Skynet and its robot army. The world is in full post-apocalyptic mode – every building has been reduced to rubble and only a few humans are left. But Connor thinks he may have found the robots’ Achilles heel courtesy of a jamming device which could change the balance of power in the ongoing battle.

Connor’s mission gets complicated when a stranger named Marcus (Worthington), a convicted killer who we learn from the opening scene was sent forward in time for reasons unknown, ends up in Connor’s dank headquarters.

“Salvation” is one loud, depressing movie, the kind that cries out for comic relief. The robots clank around the screen in a series of visually stunning action sequences, but after a few of these you’ll start to wonder why we should root for the human survivors.

Bale’s performance is perfunctory, and the movie needs so much more than that. Where’s the charisma that made John Connor such a pivotal player in the franchise? And why does the final battle sequence have more holes than Robert Patrick’s body in “Terminator 2?”

Even Worthington’s intriguing turn can’t make “Salvation” worthy of the franchise’s first two installments.

Those films had a sense of humor. Here, all we get is Bale robotically repeating the franchise’s signature line.

Say what you will about Schwarnegger’s acting chops. His absence is felt deeply despite an electronically manufactured cameo.

Bryce Dallas Howard appears as Connor’s supposed love interest, complete with pregnancy belly, but the impending birth isn’t referenced, nor does Howard get to do anything but look concerned when appropriate.

Director McG has been talking about how “Terminator Salvation” would be his coming out party, the film that proves he’s so much more than just a highly mockable name.

He got the money, the cast and the franchise to prove his point. But he’ll have to wait for another summer to prove he’s more than Michael Bay 2.0.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

BalrogV72No Gravatar May 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I wholeheartedly agree…I wish I could travel back in time to prevent myself from seeing this festering pile of Sci-Fi (or Syfy…ugh) Original trash….but I should have known from the director or the abysmal “Charlie’s Angels”

cftotoNo Gravatar May 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm

McG talked the talk … but not much else.

Floyd R. TurboNo Gravatar May 22, 2009 at 5:00 pm

How odd… we have Ah-nuld here in CA. Oh how I wish I could feel his absence. It must be heaven.

I’m sure I’ll still go see this if nothing else than to see the big screen booms!

Mad MinervaNo Gravatar May 22, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I saw the flick last night, and — honestly — I actually got tired of watching it while I was sitting there. There’s no emotional connection to any of the characters, not even John Connor. The only time the audience seemed energized was on seeing the brief Ahnuld “cameo” — which only reminded us of how good a Terminator flick could be. What a shame.

Ironically perhaps, the TRAILER for the movie was better than the movie itself. Which reminds of this:


And once more, life imitates the Onion!

James FrazierNo Gravatar May 23, 2009 at 2:30 am

My expectations were low, and I still thought that was an atrocious piece of garbage. I was already suspicious of McG when he would go to those comic conventions and argue with the audience and make absured claims such as “I don’t know if the film will be PG-13 or not.” I even shrugged my shoulders when he denounced those that mock his name, citing it as the one he had as a boy, as if that clears up why a grown man in charge of a $150 million movie would self-apply such a stupid moniker.

But wow, what a piece of crap. Terrible performances (looking at McG, here), one of the absolute worst scripts I’ve ever seen, zero suspense, an opening that was so pathetic I almost shuddered, and not so much as one iota of respect for the series as a whole. If this isn’t the summer catastrophe, then I don’t want to see what is.

cftotoNo Gravatar May 23, 2009 at 4:05 am

The wowza action hooked me, James, but I find it hard to argue with anything else you said.

And yeah, McG’s antics are simply not acceptable when he can’t bring his A-game to an A-list franchise.

AkJNo Gravatar May 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I saw it. Wish I skipped it. There were more holes in this movie than the deer crossing sign near my uncle’s farm in North Dakota. I want all my money back.

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