Directed by McG.
Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris.
Starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin and Moon
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 5/21/09
Even after I learned that the new
"Terminator Salvation" movie was going to get a PG-13 rating, I was
still excited to see the next addition in one of the better action
franchises of our era...and, in a midnight showing prior to opening
night, my boy Rob "Jellybean" Grant and I both thought that the
movie delivered the goods. If it weren't for the "Terminator"
lineage--and the fact that you really can't top the second film in
the series--this might have been an Opening Weekend.
Three major action set pieces, great special
effects, the famous "Terminator" theme music and a strong
performance by second banana Sam Worthington make this a film worth
watching. Christian Bale takes over the role of John Connor in
the year 2018, 11 years before the future events of the first film
and soon after John Connor has become a major force within the human
resistance movement against the machines in their ongoing war.
This time around, Connor and his band of merry men and women are out
to take down the San Francisco-based HQ of SkyNet, the global war
network that has driven humans to the brink of extinction.
But, because Connor knows how vital certain pieces are to the
future--which, of course, means the past, which then makes the
future stay "intact"--he learns that the machines are on the hunt
for one Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), a young man leading the
resistance in Los Angeles who is key to Connor's place down the
road. A man who was apparently executed in 2003, Marcus Wright
(Worthington), surfaces in a prison breakout and links up with Reese
as the two men and another resistance member try to make their way
to San Francisco in lockstep with Connor's mission.
What can I say? Almost everything in
the new "Terminator" film works...even as it doesn't completely make
sense, given the series' penchant for a moving timeline, machines
with odd serial numbers (which is newer, the T-101, the T-1, the
T-600, the T-800, the T-X, or the T-1000? which is better?
which has more advanced technology? why does one model appear
to be based on a fucking ship pirate, complete with old white
bandanas on their robot heads??), references to lines that happen in
one version of the past ("I'll be back!") but not in Connor's, and
an incessant desire by humans to fire bullets at bullet-proof
Terminators. "Salvation" is part thrill ride, part
story-driven drama, part horror film...and, given how much I hated
McG's "Charlie's Angels" films, I have to give him credit here for
generally doing a good job of making a summer action film.
Worthington is probably the biggest surprise
here. I don't think I have seen anything else he's done, but
after this, he'll clearly be doing a lot more. He's half of
the new "Salvation" film and, along with Bale, makes for fine
viewing and I'm sure the ladies will not be left unsatisfied by the
hunks of flesh they have to sit through during the two-hour film.
The other acting is hit-or-miss; Common is terrible as Connor's
right-hand resistance man, and Bryce Dallas Howard continues to
baffle me. Even Michael Ironside--who looks like he has
essentially been eating since "Total Recall" and "Top Gun" made him
famous--is kinda useless here. But, Moon Bloodgood--so
terrible in the recent
"Street Fighter" disaster--is serviceable, Yelchin is fine and
Helena Bonham Carter has a nice cameo to start the film.
(However, please note--the weirdest cameo of
the year so far has to go to Terry Crews, who literally plays the
dead body of Common's character in the early moments of the film.
Like, literally, the camera pans over, there's Crews lying there
dead, cut back to Bale's Connor, they move on. No lines,
barely a screen shot. Crews has been a bit player for years
now--you can look at his bio
here on IMDB--and it's weird to see a
recognizable face in a big-budget film with no lines. It's not
even a cameo...it's like Zac Efron playing a dead guy who gets four
seconds of camera time before being zipped up in a bodybag.
Anyway, "Terminator Salvation" is a winner.
This is pretty incredible--three straight better-than-average summer
action films that all had pretty huge hype coming in. You KNOW
this means that sooner or later, the tide is going to turn.
(My guess? "Land of the Lost." That movie looks
completely fucking awful.)
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard