Terminator: Salvation - Movie Review

Terminator Salvation

There's a special place in my heart, a place where massive robots crush piles of human skulls and roam freely across a landscape of charred rubble as nuclear mushroom clouds bloom in the distance. Is that so wrong? Probably. But it always looks awesome and gives me reason to stockpile food resources just in case. Well, Terminator Salvation has finally arrived. After years of repeatedly rewinding our VHS copies of T2: Judgement Day and watching those armies of robots marching relentlessly against the fledgling human opposition, the series has finally caught up to that moment of unbridled destruction.

In the age of "series reboots" and straight-up remakes, it is somewhat depressing to come to the realization that an actual movie sequel is perhaps the closest we'll come this season to an original film. Terminator Salvation faces a unique dilemma in that it must function as both a prequel and as a continuation of the previous story-lines simultaneously. This is primarily due to its emphasis on time-travel, a dynamic which understandably relies upon previous events which occurred in the original Terminator, which was released over 20 years ago.

I haven't actually seen the original since junior high, and interestingly enough Salvation may function better if the viewer has never seen it at all. In this film John Connor has to save a teenager named Kyle Reese from the clutches of Skynet. The reason for this could have made for a fascinating reveal, even further, it could have led to a confrontation containing numerous layers of introspection and emotion as the fatherless John Connor confronts a man who is both younger and less experienced than himself. The film unfortunately side-steps this in leu of mass mechanized mayhem, however it keeps things open for the next film to explore these recesses which lurk in the more human portion of the Terminator franchise.

As a matter of fact, John Connor is largely absent for most of this movie. As a film plastered with Christian Bale on every poster, it's surprising to find that most of the action remains with Sam Worthington in the role of Marcus. Marcus appears as an ex-con who awakes in the year 2019 instead of being sent to the electric chair. He also has an uncanny ability to kill terminator robots as if by luck, and survive incredible falls, abilities which the film surprisingly accounts for.

The director McG (Joseph "McG" McGinty Nichol) uses some surprisingly inventive camera work reminiscent of Brian DePalma. Hidden transitions frequently abound in shots that seemingly continue for extended periods of time. The most notable, and frankly friggin awesome, occurs early on when John Connor leaves a crater, crosses a charred battle field, enters a helicopter in the midst of an attack, crashes, crawls away, and then battles head-to-head with a Terminator, all seemingly in one swooping shot. It's enthralling, intense, energetic, and everything that this movie should be.

Terminator Salvation may miss a couple back-alleys we would have enjoyed exploring and focused on some that we may deem unnecessary, yet the film is no less enjoyable and remains entirely satisfying. It's largely inoffensive (unless giant naked governors aren't your thing) thanks to the pg-13 rating, and is surprisingly enjoyable for everyone. See it.

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