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:: Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is undoubtedly a much anticipated sequel to the previous trilogy of films, exploring a futuristic world where high-tech corporation Skynet has wiped out much of humanity, and manufactures robots with extreme power, intelligence and complex programming, to attempt to eradicate the remaining survivors, know as “the resistance”.

The sequel undoubtedly comes as an attempt to revive the Terminator franchise, akin to recent blockbuster hits such as Batman and Spiderman. Having never been an avid fan of the original Terminator films (Don’t shoot, I was after all just a young girl in their popularity prime), I have been offered consistently similar summaries from fans of the original films - the first movie was reasonable, the second one was terrific and by far the best, and the third delivered only disappointment. So how well does Terminator: Salvation do in reviving this franchise? Well, I’m sure for those who are Terminator fanatics, there will be a few bones to pick. I am not a fanatic, and taking on this movie as a straight action flick without really knowing the back story, even I have a few bones to pick.

What strikes me most about Terminator: Salvation, is that there is a lot of action once it gets started, but the action is badly used. There are too many gratuitous, random and chaotic action scenes. Granted it is meant to be an action flick, but the action has to stop long enough for us to care for and bond with the characters and there needs to be a break in the action so that when it is used, we are not desensitised to it. The first few interactions between the robots and humans had me on the edge of my seat. By halfway through the movie I was wondering when they would end. Action also needs to make an emotional impact, wherein we fear for or cheer on the characters, but it is hard to become emotionally connected to any of the characters but new hero Marcus and a teenage Kyle Connor.

Christian Bale as John Connor, does what Christian Bale does best - plays a gloomy, angry man, dealing with superiors he believes do not know what they are doing, and he knows how to do it better. Certainly, if a future such as the film portrays was to become a reality, there would not be a lot to laugh about, but from my personal memories, and certainly those regaled to me, the beauty of the previous Terminator movies was the ability to find moments in which to laugh. Whether that be at Arnie’s cheesy catchphrases and sunglasses, or at the ridiculous and improbable action scenes, it was a reality in which we could still find humour and entertainment. Director Joseph McGinty’s approach to this new world is as bleak as a Holocaust film. When the humans aren’t being obliterated in a mass of explosions and gunfire, they are being rounded up like cattle for various experiments by Skynet. In the entire film, the only funny moment is the Terminator’s unveiling, a horrible CGI donning Arnie’s face. But even then we’re laughing because hey, it’s Arnie, what is there not to laugh about?

Sam Worthington’s portrayal of Marcus, the guilt-ridden half man, half-robot, is a standout performance, and though his American accent slips a little in parts to reveal his Australian roots, that only makes him more appealing. Although Marcus is emotionally detached from those around him and a hard nut to crack, we connect with him through his self-hatred and with the kind interactions we see with Blaire (Moon Bloodgood), Kyle (Anton Yelchin) and mute kid cutie Star (Jadagrace).

Bale fails to connect the audience to Connor, even though we should have every reason to. He has a pregnant wife he loves (although her character feels like an add-on to make him more endearing), he is morally righteous, an outstanding commander, he risks his life to ensure to save the citizens held captive by Skynet and he listens to the tapes his murdered mother left him with remorse. Yet despite all these traits, Bale doesn’t create the respect and admiration that his character deserves.

Any sequel to a major film institution should push the envelope to be better than it’s predecessors, especially action films, who have at hand a wealth of special effects, sets and big budgets. Terminator Salvation is not quite the salvation fans will be looking for. Maybe it’s because with special effects, tons of money and impressive sets, there is no real heart in it. Just like we learn in the film, what separates us from machines, is heart, and if we leave machines to do all the work for us, one day they truly will take over the world.