Time to break my film amnesty to report on the lastest Terminator flick. I will be going back to it, it’s just some things need to be said about this one.
There are three letters that strike fear into the hearts of most film lovers- and they are “McG”- the vowel-less director of this and the Charlie’s Angels films. When I heard he was helming a new Terminator film, I immediately made a note to myself to avoid like the plague, swine flu and Paris Hilton combined. However, this changed when I heard Christian “Seriously man, you and me- we’re fucking done professionally” Bale was in it. I figured that since he probably didn’t need the money after the immense success of The Dark Knight, he chose it based on the strength of the script. Then, the aforementioned outburst leaked all over the ‘Net and I thought- “Well, he’s pretty mad, there must be some real intensity in the film.”. Also, my trusted film mags, Empire and Total Film, gave Salvation four stars apiece. Well, fuck! McG doubts aside, let’s see this film! I needn’t have hurried.
It’s the year 2018. John Connor (Christian Bale) is part of the Resistance waging war on Skynet, which is building the T-800 Terminators he remembers from childhood. But the future he knows is clouded by the arrival of Marcus (Sam Worthington), a stranger haunted by memories of Death Row. Let’s just get this straight, I’ve wanted to see the post-apocalyptic landscape of the future ever since the glimpses of it in the Cameron Terminators. However, I didn’t realise that it would be so…boring. Christian Bale is entirely wooden in this film. I don’t know if he has a problem with his voice, but it seems that nearly every character he plays these days has to have a ridiculous voice with varying degrees of gruffness. Whatever happened to talking normally? I quite liked Sam Worthington, but he struggled with anything other than the fight scenes. I did however, think that Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reese was great though, showing up Bale and Worthington with his genuine ability to act.
As you may know, I have no problem with brainless action films. Sometimes, I just want to go to the cinema, see some well done action sequences, eat a load of popcorn and go home happy. I figured that this would be the case with Salvation. I was wrong. Oh, there’s plenty of action but no heart to it. You can’t just blow shit up and expect people to be entertained. If anything, you need to try harder because today’s audience suffer from a serious case of “seen-it-all-befores” and will probably yawn no matter how big the explosions are. I quite liked the hand-to-hand fighting scenes and the scenes with the Terminator bikes (which are actually called Mototerminators) but that was about it. There were some nice ideas but they are poorly executed.
My finger of blame is pointed at McG, although it’s not entirely his fault. I feel that with better direction, the film could have been improved. There were too many moments that took me out of the film. One such bit is the nonsensical scene where John Connor gets in a helicopter to chase down a Skynet ship, there is a huge explosion and it crashes. In the hands of a decent director, this could have looked amazing, despite it making no sense. However, McG keeps the camera inside the helicopter in an effort to make it seem more realistic. It doesn’t work. He should have watched Cloverfield– now that’s how you do a helicopter crash-disorientating and frightening.
My final point is the all-encompassing question for all of Terminator
Fermentation Salvation – why aren’t the Terminators scary/ an actual threat? If we harken back to the original, the T-800 was entirely scary and threatening, same with the T-1000 in Judgment Day. Hell, even the T-X in Rise of the Machines had her moments. In Salvation, they’re just vaguely comical metal puppets, only taking slightly longer to kill than a hamster would if you were armed with a minigun that fired angry Rottweilers.
It’s disappointing as Salvation has its good moments (not to mention nods to the originals- it’s nice to know John Connor is still listening to Guns N’ Roses’ You Could Be Mine after all these years) but they really are few and far between. I’m tempted to say this is the worst Terminator yet, due to the fact that at least Rise of the Machines had a few decent action sequences, but only time will tell with that. Terminally dull.