Friday, July 30, 2010

Terminator Salvation

Why isn't "Terminator: Salvation" the accepted rendering of this film's title? I don't really get that. Anyway, despite a number of factors working against it, I found this movie to be reasonably watchable rather than completely terrible. I understand that that's not exactly high praise, though for something by McG it kind of is. Despite its plot making the absolute minimum of logical sense, and the fact that it completely ignores much of what we learned from the other movies, and that the very idea of a PG-13 Terminator movie seems abhorrent, I did manage to wring some enjoyment out of its one hundred and ten minutes. Yeah, the story has holes, but they're just more obvious when you compare them to some of the impossible scenarios in the other movies. Yeah, it conveniently forgets some things we knew about the machines and the war in the future, but the series stopped following its own rules long ago. I don't want to sound like I'm praising it too much, because it's not very good at all, but I didn't hate it.

I mean, let's be real. It's weird how these Terminators seem immune to molten steel yet vulnerable to bullets, but the series is so inconsistent about what can and can't kill these machines and what they're made out of that it hardly matters at this point. The fact that all those sweet laser weapons are missing is disconcerting, but it sort of wouldn't match the aesthetic they were going for if they were there, and it is after all ten years before the flashbacks from the first two movies. Maybe they just haven't been invented yet. I found it easiest to get some fun out of the movie when I was just watching it as an apocalyptic, very loud action film, and ignoring its blasphemies against the more beloved entries in the series. I actually thought McG did some good stuff here and there. Visually, it really captures the future war thing in places, with some extended takes that really pushed the desperate nature of the fighting. Of course, the performances he got from some of the cast are another story.

There's quite a few recognizable faces in this movie, and not many do much to distinguish themselves. Christian Bale, ostensibly but not really the main character, is decent as usual, though you can make a case he wasn't really trying terribly hard here. I appreciate that Sam Worthington has the look and physique of a more old school action hero, but in two big roles he hasn't really done that much. Someone should just give him a part he can freely use his Aussie accent in. Michael Ironside gets to push himself not very hard at all in a typical hardass authority role, which is always fun, and Helena Bonham Carter is creepy enough in a multifaceted part. I liked Anton Yelchin as Chekov in Star Trek (even more than Walter Koenig, honestly), but he can't save a poorly written, teenage version of Kyle Reese from damaging the character's legacy a bit. There's a few other notable people here and there, but not much to say about them.

And there's really not much to say about the rest of the film. There's some decent action and effects for the first two thirds, and then it sort of comes off the rails in the final act as the plot gets less and less believable. Really, the most offensive part of the whole project is how it plays around with what's already been established by superior works, but for whatever reason I found that relatively easy to ignore. Certainly watchable, but just as easily avoided.

No comments: