Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Terminator: Salvation

I have seen the future, and it is LOUD.

As soon as the film starts, it's a cacaphony of noise on the screen. It's 2018, and Skynet has taken over the earth, save for a few pockets of resistance which greet the terminator robots with as many explosions as they can muster. We're not really sure why Skynet wants New York, however, since there's not a decent plot of grass or life left, and everything is in rubble. Still, we know the canon of Terminator, unless you've been living in a cave for over 20 years, and we know that John Connor is the leader of the resistance, and their whole survival depends upon Kyle Reese getting back to save John Connor's life some 20 years before.

Yeah, we admit, it's a little confusing. Thankfully, Terminator: Salvation has an understandable storyline even though there are a few interesting twists and turns.

The story explains how John Connor and Kyle Reese meet, how the resistance works militarily, and also how a rogue terminator plays a very important part. I don't want to lead with any spoilers here, but it's a fascinating plotline with an age-old question attached: what constitutes "human?" It's a question T2 spent some time perusing, particularly when a robot makes a better parent to a young John Connor than his schizophrenic mother ever could.

The film features great battle scenes, with, yes, lots of skull-shaking BOOM!, superior effects -- and you can't tell me those robots are animated! -- and heart-stopping action. But these wouldn't mean anything without a linear storyline, and we have that here.

Christian Bale, as John Connor, keeps us anchored. Connor is about 40 here, and obviously a lot has happened since we knew him as a teenager. And remember that little trick that hoodlum John pulled when he stole money out of the ATM? Well, the movie gives a nod to that kid and then some.

It's great to see Michael Ironside, whose gravity even trumps Bale's, as the boss of the resistance. And how wonderful to hear the voice of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor on John's cassette tapes, telling him all she knows. There aren't very many heartwarming scenes in this film, but this is one of them.

The denouement takes forever to arrive at, complete with lots of explosions, but it's worth hanging in for, especially due to a gape at Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bit more than a cameo.

Thumb's up.


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