Man versus machine versus man-machine
Terminator Salvation—directed by McG and written by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris—throws us into the heat of the future war between the machines and the human survivors of Judgment Day. In 2018, the prophesied savior of humanity, John Connor (Christian Bale), must lead the Resistance into the heart of Skynet while protecting the real key to the war and the top man on Skynet’s termination list: Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), John Conner’s father. Unfortunately, Salvation‘s own heart just flat lined. Stop, the irony is killing me.
From start to finish, the newest addition to the Terminator movies packs in the action. John Connor realizes that Skynet wants Kyle Reese dead first in order to drive a wedge in the coming threat of humanity—when an adult Reese travels back in time to stop the Terminator and save Sara Connor—by wiping the slate clean. Meanwhile, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) stumbles upon Reese and his companion, Star (Jadagrace). After failing to rescue them from a machine en route to Skynet—where countless humans are being captive—Marcus meets Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood), a member of the Resistance, who brings him to John Connor. However, Marcus and the others soon learn that while Marcus appears to be human, he was actually crafted into a living machine on behalf of Skynet.
The film boasts many positive attributes. Not only do the action and special effects grab your attention throughout the long running length (130 minutes), but the story actually holds until the end. The two star actors, Bale and Worthington, gave wonderful performances, and I loved the ending scene with Connor and Wright.
If it weren’t for one central and incredibly essential problem, Terminator Salvation would have been a brilliant movie. Instead, despite all the fancy, inspirational speeches about humans versus machines and how our hearts make us special, blah, blah, when it came to scenes with interaction between characters (and not machines), the dramatic moments were dry, humorless, and robotic. The movie earns a right to take itself seriously, for it fills you with a desperate sense of what life has become for Resistance survivors. However, even when the dialogue aims to demonstrate the strengths and unifying connections of humanity, it falls flat emotionally … which kind of undermines the whole point—as even John Connor obliviously said so. When the end credits roll and you walk out of the theater, you’re impressed, but you can’t really think of one damn memorable thing. In other words, you’re not rushing to tell somebody about this one really exciting and oh-my-God enjoyable part, because the whole movie turns out emotionally stunted. Funny how it’s hard to actually care about the numerous characters in a film when the writers fail to remind you why you even should. Yeah, the fate of humanity and all that, but the characters end up more as pawns in an extremely important game rather than living flesh and blood with hearts and souls.
Also, was it just me, or was Kate Connor (Bryce Dallas Howard) pregnant and they just forgot to mention that? Who would even think to have a kid in such a world, anyway? Not to mention Star was a completely useless character without a purpose other than to stand paralyzed with fear again and again. Oh, and hand the heroes guns. Guess somebody has to do that.
Terminator Salvation delivers a solid plotline with a well-orchestrated combination of stunning visuals and intense action, but the movie falters terribly when it comes to character development and emotion (other than raging anger born out of survivalism). Otherwise, the movie probably would have been one of the most highly-praised hits of the summer. Plus, it all ends with an apology: “Oh, by the way, we only kind of took out one speck of the global Skynet and Terminator community. Crap, anyone have any ideas about how we’re going to save humanity for realz?” Yeah, not quite salvation. Nice try, though.
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