Combustible Celluloid
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With: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Jadagrace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Jane Alexander, Michael Ironside, Ivan G'Vera, Chris Browning, Dorian Nkono, Beth Bailey, Victor J. Ho
Written by: John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris
Directed by: McG
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language
Running Time: 115
Date: 05/14/2009

Terminator Salvation (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Droidian Slips

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the fourth Terminator film, director McG throws in a few action scenes so amazing I wanted to applaud. But by the time the film wore down to its conclusion, the cheers had subsided, replaced by unintentional laughter and boredom.

The film is really more of a sequel to James Cameron's original 1984 entry. In that film, the adult Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) transports himself back in time to find and protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from the evil title robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger). They fall in love and conceive little John Connor, who will grow up to lead the revolution against the robots. On Cameron's tiny budget, we saw a few glimpses of a dark, grimy future in which ragged humans fought with horrid metallic monsters. McG basically expands those sequences into a full-blown war with lots of bullets and explosions.

Connor (Christian Bale) is aware that he must find teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) so that he can send him back in time to save the future. But a new breed of cyborg -- created from the remains of an executed convict named Marcus (an appealing Sam Worthington) -- finds him first. The terminators capture Kyle and Marcus decides to rescue him. He stumbles across one of Connor's soldiers, the pretty Blair (Moon Bloodgood), and she leads him to Connor. Connor doesn't trust the cyborg, but Marcus may be his only chance to rescue Kyle.

McG films some of his key action sequences in delicious long takes -- with very little camera shaking -- and his clawing, relentless terminators are some of the flat-out scariest creatures since the original entry. Sadly, the rest of the film apparently didn't warrant such attention. Bale's ultra-serious performance is all over the map, and he even reverts to his annoying Bat-whisper from time to time. The other characters aren't characters at all: Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Jane Alexander and Michael Ironside are on hand, with little more to do than read technical dialogue, and Helena Bonham Carter appears for a few scant minutes of screen time with slightly more character development.

Finally, logic begins to fall apart as various issues, such as timing and motive, are raised and ignored. I doubt I'll see such exciting, clear action sequences for the rest of the summer, and it's a shame they had to be stuffed into such an ill-considered package. On the plus side, it is a good deal better than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

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