Thursday, May 21, 2009

Terminator Salvation may just save the franchise, but loses its unique identity...

When does something move from being an homage filled with so many recycled scenes and nods to continuity from the classic franchise movies, that it becomes something that lacks imagination, originality and that 'spark' of a truly mind-blowing movie.

Terminator Salvation water robot movie prop
on display at ArcLight Hollywood
Terminator Salvation robot prop and 3D movie poster
No matter the number of motorbikes jumping over trucks recalling the stunts of earlier movies, final showdown scenes set in factory surroundings or the amount of times someone can spout "I'll be back", Terminator Salvation not only seems lacking ideas for a Terminator movie, but it's also a giant mash-up of various other classic films like Mad Max, Transformers, Aliens and Apocalypse Now.
Terminator Salvation movie poster
I know it's hard to make post-apocalyptic worlds seem fresh and new and there are only so many stories about people and robots being sent back from the future to protect John Connor, before it gets a bit stale and repetitive (just look at the underwhelming Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series), but I do feel that the fourth movie installment from the Terminator franchise has just become all CGI robots and big, loud explosions.
Terminator Salvation water robot movie prop
I find it's best not to think too hard about the time travel paradox implications that the basic Terminator premise raises (and I was surprised to see that this movie adhered to the history established in the preceding movies, rather than a total franchise reboot like J.J. Abrams new Star Trek) and ultimately the Terminator concept of the future is fundamentally flawed. Why haven't Skynet and the robots simply killed off all the humans with biological or chemical weapons, they used nukes after all?
Christian Bale Terminator Salvation movie billboard
The totally illogical moments in the movie also annoyed me. Towards the end of the movie when the resistance helicopter just happens to touch down unharmed in Skynet HQ (yes I know Marcus had de-activated the defense grid, but Skynet was totally aware he did this) and John Connor and Kyle Reese are only attacked by two Terminators in a factory that mass produces them, when they are top of humanity's 'most-wanted list'?
Terminator Salvation robot on display at ArcLight Hollwyood
Oh and can someone please tell directors to stop trying to give their tough action movies some heart and 'ahh-factor' with silent cute children (luckily this one didn't end up speaking, which was a blessing, but I was half expecting her to pipe up with "You're terminated" at the end).
Terminator Salvation skull film billboard
Now to totally contradict everything I've said above, I actually enjoyed Terminator Salvation. Even though it was loud, brash and unoriginal overall, it was great mindless Summer blockbuster entertainment.

The coolest moments for me included the Terminator motorcycles coming out of big Harvester Terminator's legs, all very Transformers-esque, plus the monstrous grapple hands coming down to snatch unsuspecting humans away like helpless cattle. I also got a thrill from the inevitable and impressive, yet predictable, iconic blast-from-the-past cameo (I won't spoil the surprise, but you can probably guess who).
Terminator Salvation robot movie prop
For all my criticisms I give Terminator Salvation four **** stars (mainly because at heart I'm a huge sci-fi fan). Let's hope that if this film does relaunch the Terminator franchise, in the next movies we are treated to some original concepts to excite and entertain us.

I hope you enjoy the movie and the photographs of the Terminator Salvation movie prop on display at ArcLight Hollywood, which was one of the robots that attacked Christian Bale's character in the water, plus was also captured by the resistance at the beginning of the movie.

"Hasta la vista, baby..."

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