Monday, May 25, 2009

"Ohhhhh, Goooood For You."

I'd like to give Terminator Salvation a ringing endorsement. I'd like to do that and would if it was good enough to deserve one. The best I can say about Terminator Salvation is that it isn't the cinematic equivalent of a slimy, pus covered abomination ripped off the walls of Hell and dragged into the world of light and sanity and reason by ancient evils to to rob us of our sanity and send our spirits screaming into the void that I thought it would be. Oh, the popcorn was good too. Tastes like they added some sort of spice to it this week. I meant to ask them about that but forgot. I'll have to make sure to bring it up the next time I'm there. Also, they had this cool looking trailer for the movie Nine. I can't wait to see that. When's it coming out? September? Darn. I'd like to see it now. Oh wait, why did I start writing this?

Yeah, ok, Terminator.

On Friday, I clearly was not optimistic about this movie's prospects. I'm happy to say that the movie exceeded my expectations. That's not saying a lot as I think I vividly described above what my expectations were. It could have been some cheap YouTube video of kids getting high and singing the theme song from the Jetsons and still exceeded my expectations.

You all know at least part of the story. It's now 2018 and all that, a computer network called Skynet, whose designers apparently neglected to delete the, "Must destroy mankind," legacy code from its original COBOL program, took control of a crapload of nuclear weapons and detonated them. Amazingly, a large portion of the world still seems to be in pretty good shape. I was sort of hoping for some mutants who maybe worship the Holy and Everlasting Bomb but I guess everything we've always heard about radioactive fallout causing sickness and birth defects was garbage since the surviving humans all seem to be fairly healthy.

Enter John Connor (Christian Bale). His late mother told him all this was going to happen and that he would someday lead the human race to victory over the machines. Unfortunately, Mom was really short on the details of exactly how and when this would happen, something which made this movie possible. The only really specific thing that Sarah Connor ever told her son was that he was destined to send his own father, Kyle Reese, back in time so that he could knock her up and then be brutally murdered by a Terminator. This is why Connor, when not getting shot at by robots, is busy looking for Kyle Reese.

Reese (Anton Yelchin, seen just last week as Chekov on Star Trek), it turns out, is living in the ruins of Los Angeles with a little girl named Star. This is where the details in which the devil lives start getting filled in. He meets a man named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who seems remarkably ignorant of why all the buildings are falling apart* and why heavily armed killer robots are running around making the mess worse. We saw Wright at the beginning of the movie as a death row inmate who donated his body to the Cyberdyne Corporation though he missed the fine print about the nature of that research being to develop a series of homicidal androids to be used to eliminate what was left of the human race after most of it was killed during a nuclear holocaust. Wright doesn't realize he's a machine until he manages to make his way to Connor's camp and manages to set off the magnetic mines they have set up around their perimeter. And then, the fun begins.

By "fun" I mean basically the same series of explosions, rapid fire weapons, stunts and CGI effects that you see in pretty much every other big summer action film. It's entertaining though uninspired and forgettable but still better than I expected from the director of Charlie's Angels and the writers of Catwoman (one of the stupidest movies ever made, may you both be forced to watch it in Hell). If you see it, you'll probably enjoy it though it has about as much chance of creating demand for another sequel as Terminator 3 did for creating a demand for this one. This one was made because on the success of Terminators 1 and 2, not the mediocre 3.

Hard to believe it's been 25 years since James Cameron first ripped off Harlan Ellison** to create Terminator. I'm really hoping this will be the last chapter but I sense a storm coming in the form of probably two more sequels. Trust me, they'll be ba...oops, almost said it.

*How he knew that I don't know since parts of Los Angeles look like that today.

** True story. Google it.


Michael Clear said...

The title is part of Christian Bale's famous on-set meltdown. I go too in-jokey on titles sometimes but I liked this.

Joe Barlow said...

"It could have been some cheap YouTube video of kids getting high and singing the theme song from the Jetsons"No, no, no... that's T5.