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.

Terminators are everywhere in the year 2018, and theyre all frighteningly competent.

Terminators are everywhere in the year 2018, and they're all frighteningly competent.

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.

The action sustains the movie, but emotion should be fueling the fire.

The action sustains the movie, but emotion should be fueling the fire.

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.

Wright carries the benefits of both humans and machines, but he does have a crucial weakness. Oh, just take a wild guess.

Marcus wields the benefits of both humans and machines, but he does have one crucial weakness. Oh, just take a wild guess.

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.

You wanna talk about it? Are you kidding? That would mean mushy character depth and growth. No thanks.

"You wanna talk about it?" "Are you kidding? That would mean mushy character depth and growth. No thanks."


May’s Pull-O-Rama is up and reviews BATTLE FOR THE COWL #3, Witchblade Annual, Kick-Ass #6, and an early look at The Supremacy #2!


New Girls Entertainment Network articles, hot off the press! Don’t forget to check out my feature video game review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine! Read it here.

5/18/09 A little dash of Mercury
5/19/09 Graphic Novel Review: Mad Love and Other Stories


I took some time out of my day to finish catching up with Marvel’s PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT limited series—one of the cutest comics I have ever read without wanting to douse myself in pink and set something on fire. Err, that came out wrong.

This was my first encounter with Hellcat, and Kathryn Immonen’s writing introduced me to the fashion-smart superhero with spunk. Each issue’s introduction was entirely creative and unique, and the responses on the letters pages were answered in the tone of Patsy herself.

The comic wouldn’t have been quite as much fun, however, without the good graces of David LaFuente Garcia. His art mixed in a light-hearted and incredibly colorful flair that fit the ridiculous and silly (but well-done) story perfectly.

I’ve had a strong aversion to rabbits ever since one of my favorite films, Donnie Darko (now rabbits are just harbingers of doom and freak me out—just watch DD and think of all the rabbit references you know, and you’ll get it), but Garcia made them furry little bunnies again. Some of the poses for the over-abundance of the critters in the last two issues were hilarious to spot. Garcia even threw in what I imagine is an Alice in Wonderland homage.

With prices on the rise and frustrating storylines mucking up the stands, PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT acts as a refreshing step back from the usual. If you haven’t checked this out, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Then kick off your shoes, relax, and enjoy the show.


At 1:00 PM PST today, Nate Fox and David Meyer opened up the floor to fans and chatted live on the PlayStation.Blog for a half hour about the upcoming Infamous game from Sucker Punch. So what was revealed during the Q&A session? I’ve got a run-down right here.

Concept

Cole McGrath, the main character, begins as a bike messenger. “Well, bike messengers are counter-culture figures that make sense in an urban environment,” Nate Fox explains, “but they don’t really follow the law. Plus, Cole is supposed to be a guy who has not got a lot of prospects, so it makes sense.” Jason Cottle provides the voice-acting for the static-charged bike messenger.

That's a lot of ground to cover on bike. Good thing you have handy super-powers.

You’ll have people to care about and save. “Where would Superman be without Lois Lane?” Inspirations for the game were drawn from Batman Begins as well as the comics DMZ and BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND. “It is a sincere pleasure to be able to zip along the rooftops, spot a mugging down in an alley, jump down there building up a charge all the way, and smash into a villain’s head. It’s just … it’s the core super hero patrol fantasy.”

Fans will be happy to know that there are indeed stray Sly Cooper references in the game, especially around movie theaters.

Good Versus Evil

Cole’s powers are manipulated by his moral decisions, and whether you course through the game as the hero or villain impacts the play style of the game. “Really you get two very different play-throughs depending on which side of the moral fence you land on,” says Fox. Even the 2D, stylized cutscenes you end up viewing rely on whether you’re good and evil, but ultimately you’ll face the same threats despite what team you play for.

Use the Force, Cole. Or, uh, electricity.

Use the Force, Cole. Or, uh, electricity.

Mission variety plays an extremely important role in open-world games, so the creators incorporated a wealth of opportunities for players to check out along the way. Completing side missions will not only make the streets safer, but also a lot less cumbersome; cutting down the number of thugs trying to shoot you will come in handy down the line. There are three gangs in the game: the Reapers, the Dustmen, and the First Sons. If you decide to cause crime rather than clean it up, you’ll soon be working side-by-side with the baddies. The city and its inhabitants will react to you, good or evil. If they approve of you, positive posters will appear around the city; if you become infamous, they’ll spread anti-Cole propaganda around the dirty infrastructure.

Your abilities evolve over time. For example, the grind function seen in trailers won’t be available from the start, but you can unlock it as you develop the character. Powers differ depending on whether your karma changes to good or evil; some people might find being good easier than evil, or vice versa. Fox adds, “The good shock waves allow you to shoot guys out of the air like skeet, while the evil version allows you turn cars into huge bombs.” If you decide you want to turn over a new leaf, your Karma meter will allow for you to make amends and play the hero.

In addition, your electrical capacity can be altered throughout the game. Some choices you make will reduce your power charge, while finding blast shards will boost your limit. As you progress, you’ll gain experience points that will allow you to upgrade the powers you want. “Your Cole McGrath and my Cole McGrath will not be the same character,” states Fox.

Gameplay

Robots versus an electric man. Hmm, tough one.

Robots versus an electric man. Hmm, tough one.

You can’t exactly go anywhere you’d like in Empire City at first. The city is over 100 hexes, each the size of one Sly Cooper open world exterior. In other words, “big enough to get lost in but not so big that it’s a pain in the ass to get around.” When you complete the game, 99% of the areas will be accessible. The remaining 1% will be locked down. The city resembles the real-world NYC, but tweaked enough to make it more of a playground that Cole can freely climb and explore. “Old brick buildings work better than skyscrapers.” After all, he’s not Spider-Man!

There are a variety of ways to move around the city. “Obviously you can walk,” points out Fox, “but you can also ride trains, climb buildings, slide on high voltage lines, etc. And you can use static thrust to float between buildings. You know … super hero things.” You can even cruise on top of cars. An automated checkpoint system will save your progress and ensure that you don’t end up retreading the same ground over and over again.

What can you interact with? Virtually everything. The whole city has been rigged to act as a giant power grid, and all the metal in the game will conduct electricity appropriately. “We really wanted to become a super hero simulator where the player got to experience an origin story,” mentions Fox. You’ll know when you take damage thanks to visual effects cues, and Cole will be able to heal himself by draining electricity from the environment.

Audio

What, was the Electric Slide to cheesy? Yeah, good point.

What, was the Electric Slide too cheesy? Yeah, good point.

The developers wanted to make the music bring the city to life by using a mix of ambient and heavy percussive sounds.

Lifespan

As usual, game length depends on your skill—although if you decide to go for the Platinum Trophy you can plug in 25 hours, easy. The trophy won’t be a cake walk, but “you don’t have to be a gamer ninja to do it,” Fox confirms. “You just have to be good with electrical powers. What I mean to say is it’s not for elite gamers only; it’s for people who have taken the time to master Cole’s super powers.”

DLC remains a future possibility, but currently no plans have been made for the PS3 exclusive. Infamous releases on May 26.


A brand new Pilot is up over at Impulse Creations. This time, it focuses on the Top Cow/Marvel crossover FUSION.

UPDATE: I’m happy to report that WITA 2.0 is coming along quite nicely. Hang onto your pants, amigos!


New Girls Entertainment Network reviews, hot off the press!

5/11/09 Graphic Novel Review: Resurrection Vol. 1
5/12/09 Graphic Novel Review: Scarecrow and Two-Face Year One
5/14/09 Comic Book Review: Fusion #1