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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Terminator Salvation

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Terminator Salvation –   Lots of Heavy Metal,  But No Soul

By Judy Thorburn
The Flick Chick

You could have fooled me. Although I am a big fan of all three Terminator films, I thought it was over, as in terminated, end of story.  But no, the series has been given a reboot with the release of yet another chapter, the fourth installment of the beloved sci fi franchise that gives the series another run for the money. And yes, you can expect at least one more film in the future.

This time Christian Bale steps into the role of the adult John Connor, whose younger version was previously portrayed by Edward Furlong and Nick Stahl. It’s not a stretch for Bale, who traded in his black Batman suit for that of a heavily armored freedom fighter, but brings along the same low raspy voice and intense attitude.

Before I go on, let this be a forewarning to those who haven’t seen the prior films in the series.  You may very well get lost in the whole time travel aspect and won’t have a clear understanding as to what is going on.  Even though I had seen the previous films, I had to dig deep into my memory bank to try and make sense of the plot device and follow along.

The year is 2018, fourteen years after Judgment Day, when Skynet, a network of artificial intelligent machines, or cyborgs, became self aware and set out on a mission to destroy the human race. In this post apocalyptic tale, what is left of humankind among the rubble of bombed out cities are a scattering of people that stay hidden under the threat of capture and destruction by any one of a number of Terminator killing machines including giant Transformer–like robots, bikers and humanoid creatures of steal.




Leading the war against the machines is John Connor, the prophesized leader/potential savior of mankind (no co-incidence his initials are the Christ-like JC) of the resistance movement. Left with cassette recordings from his mother that foretells his future, John’s knows he needs to find and protect the man who would be his father, teenager Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, who can be seen in Star Trek as Chekov).  Kyle and his sidekick, a mute but tough and resourceful child named Star (Jadagrace, who could pass for a mini Janet Jackson) has been captured by the machines and kept prisoner along with other humans at Skynet control for some devious plan, not to be divulged here.

Eager to join the movement and help John in the quest to track down Kyle is Marcus Wright (Australian Sam Worthington, star of James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar) a former death row inmate (for an unexplained crime) and organ donor from the past who suddenly appears from the wreckage of an explosion. I’ve got to say, handsome, hunky Worthington stands out with his natural charisma and great screen presence.  He steals every scene from Bale, which says a lot about this up and coming star.


The supporting cast includes Rapper Common and Helena Bonham Carter in small roles. Moon Bloodgood portrays one of three strong female characters, but the other two, Bryce Dallas Howard and especially the great Jane Alexander, are wasted since they are given little screen time.


That’s as much as I will give away.  Unfortunately, the film lacks human drama and a narrative focus that gave the original films a broader appeal.  Both elements have been sacrificed in place of full throttled action.  It is clear director McG’s main objective is to rev up the action and bombard scene after scene with as many loud explosions, crashes, CGI effects, and unbelievable stunts that he could fit into one feature film.  I felt like I was watching an extended video game aimed for younger audiences who revel in this sort of entertainment.

Missing, was the perfectly cast Arnold Schwarzenegger. Call it cheating or not, but via the use of CGI effects, Schwartzenneger, or rather his digitally created likeness, appears in a cameo that introduces his killing machine character. Along with his strong physical presence, the man Californian’s refer to as their “Governator”, brought some humor to his role as the original Terminator with classic lines like “I’ll be back”.  Somehow, that line doesn’t have the same impact when delivered by Bale.

If you prefer a darker, louder, intense, and more action filled Terminator you won’t be disappointed. I couldn’t get past unanswered questions, lack of character development and necessary elements I previously mentioned. There was nothing to draw me into the storyline, other than the worthy Worthington, which wasn’t enough.  Wish I could say Terminator Salvation was saved by the Bale. I can’t; at least not yet!