Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Film review: Terminator Salvation

Director: McG
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood
Country: USA

"So that's what death tastes like." – Marcus Wright

It was hard to imagine a more meaningless addition to a cinematic franchise after Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans. Kudos then to McG and the ‘creative’ team behind Terminator Salvation for such a valiant effort: not only have they managed to neuter a once genuinely terrifying vision of the apocalypse, but they have done so in a way that inspires little more than apathy for all involved. In fact, if this John Connor is the man they’ve been crooning about for 25 years then frankly we’ve been conned because apparently he couldn’t inspire so much as a story in a room full of writers.

Traditionally this is the point at the reviewer gets into some synopsis of the film, which is all well and good, but there are some many holes perforating John Brancato and Michael Ferris’ (the geniuses behind Catwoman and The Net) script it would take a thesis to explain it all. Not that they haven’t tried, starting off the film with exposition in title cards, forging on with voice-over narration and rubber stamped with dialogue straight out of daytime soap territory.

For your benefit: a man on death row, Marcus Wright (Aussie Worthington), signs his body over to Cyberdyne to for scientific research in the year 2003. Fast-forward to 2018, a computer defence network Skynet (develop by Cyberdyne) has become self aware and nuked humankind almost to extinction. The resistance leader is a man named John Connor (Bale, scowling/growling/dreadful) and he is trying to find another man called Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who he will eventually send back in time to protect/shag his mother so that he can be his dad. All the while there are machines that take the form of planes, motorbikes, water snakes and terminators (pretty much anything you can welt a machine gun to) working hard to eliminate humans. Oh yeah, turns out Wright is a machine who thinks he’s a man and may be the resistance’s only hope, or something metaphorical, sorta.

The resulting film takes itself so seriously it is left utterly lifeless and is so devoid of likeable characters that any supposed tension is striped from the relentless action sequences. Not only that but everything is derivative of/ripped off Every Other Post Apocalypse War Movie Ever right down a pointless mute child called Star; it may as well be one of those genre parodies, which works because they aren’t funny either.

Asking lofty questions like “doesn’t everyone deserve a second shot” while single-handedly sending girl power back to the 50s (tough as nails female fighter falls instantly in love with Wright, Connor’s wife is a pregnant doctor) Terminator Salvation fails to accomplish anything other than blowing shit up bigger than ever before and more frequently. If this is the best of humanity has to offer then perhaps it isn’t worth saving after all.


Terminator Salvation is released nationally in Australia 4 June, but only go if you can't get tickets for the Sydney Film Festival, actually I wouldn't bother going at all...