Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The End Begins

Terminator Salvation (2009)
Directed by: McG
Writers: John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris
Starring: Christian Bale (John Connor), Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright), Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams), Helena Bonham Carter (Dr. Serena Kogan), Anton Yelchin (Kyle Reese)

Can you imagine the Terminator series without the swashbuckling Arnold Schwarzenegger? Of course not. Even if the new Terminator movie stars today’s action hero, the Dark Knight, Christian Bale. Therefore, it was imperative that we had a Schwarzenegger lookalike, even for a few minutes, to fight the brand-new John Connor. But this buffed-up Schwarzenegger look-alike Terminator model does not speak. So, it’s Connor, Bale’s turn to speak that immortal line, "I’ll be back." And he says it like a Terminator, though he is the leader of the resistance against the marauding machines of the skynet, the handful of human survivor after the Judgement Day at took place in 2004. So much for salvation!
Terminator fans, take heart. As the film ends, we know there are
at least two more sequels in the offing. So, don’t complain if you miss the more sophisticated Terminators of the first three films, especially, Judgement Day. Salvation is set in 2018, whereas the terminators in the earlier films came from 2032 and thereabouts. We are still dealing with T-600 models, and possibly a lone T-800 prototype. There’s still lot of time for T-1000 and time for a lot of sequels, provided this one is able to conquer the box office.

Salvation is a blockbuster, there’s no double about it. It’s an action fiesta, from start to finish. This may be one of the reasons why you still miss Judgement Day. There was an emotional resonance in Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor’s inhuman efforts to alternate what was inevitable. When she wrote "There's no fate but what we make for ourselves," we rooted for her.

The sentence is repeated in Salvation as well, as it must. For one thing, Bale’s John Connor knows the past and guesses the future. In 2018, as a foot soldier for the resistance, he knows he must save Kyle Reese from the machines. If Reese is killed, he would never be born. Hah!
So, he goes in a mission to save his young father, much younger than him, who haven’t even earned his badge. The stage is set for a showdown between the man and the machine. So far so good.

But Connor is not the focus of the story here, despite Bale billed as its star (he actually gets less screen space than Marcus Wright brilliantly played by Sam Worthington. No matter, there would be sequels for Bale to star in.)

There are grapevines that Bale was approached to play Marcus, but chose to play Connor instead. Which is a good thing, and it somewhat saves the film. Worthington, who looks a shade like Heath Ledger (Australian connection!), is more convincing than Bale’s machine-like demeanour. In short, it was a wrong vehicle for Bale after the supper success of ‘The Dark Knight.’

Anyway, Salvation concentrates on Marcus, a human turned cyborg, probably a T-800, who still thinks he’s human. So, instead of killing Reese, for which he was purportedly made, he ends up saving him, and at the end, also saves Connor as well, by donating his heart, prompting Connor to utter the "what makes us human" monologue...

As an action fare, Salvation works well. Till the end, you are not bored, even if you may not really care! The tone is that of a post-apocalypse genre, which, in reality, it is, made famous by all those zombie movies, 28 days... and Resident Evil series. And it works well, even though you have seen them all before.

Looks like I’m taking the film too seriously. It’s very easy to pen a film like this, as so many people have already done, from Roger Ebert to the reviewers of imdb... (I, however, don’t agree with Ebert’s JC, John Connor, Jesus Christ symbology mumbo jumbo... The Ebert review here.)
But, I am a Terminator fan and am waiting for the next film whenever it hits the screen.

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