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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

(Not a) Film Review: Terminator: Salvation

A full review will be appearing tomorrow on the Comics Bulletin. It was decidedly Not Good but here are a few thoughts about what I saw (in no particular order):

***Mildly, slightly, kind of spoilerish points if you haven't seen any of the trailers. I mean, like if you haven't paid ANY attention to the promotion of this film.***

  • The movie was a weird battle of the accents with Australian-born Sam Worthington and British-born Bale attempting to mask theirs in a sort of gruff approximation of middle America. (It was bothersome enough to remind me of the Family Guy bit about Liam Neeson attempting to bury his own magnificent accent anytime he plays an American).
  • Moon Bloodgood threatens to be this generations Tia Carerre: attractive and exotic enough to jazz up your movie but not terribly interesting otherwise.
(Pictured: Bloodgood in Terminator: Salvation)

(Pictured: Tia Carerre - Celebrity Mudfighter)
  • Can we do away with the shorthand of action characters becoming sympathetic by looking into the dewey eyes of a mute moppet?
  • I would love an artbook filled with the mechanical design from the film. It seemed to be where a lot of the passion for this project went (or at least where it was most productively focused).
  • Do the events of this film and John Connor's reactions to the new breed of Terminators mean T2 never happened? I worry this is the kind of thing that will keep me awake at night.
(Have we lost this rad little bastard to continuity?)*
  • It seems really easy to traverse war-torn California in 2018. Characters seem to be able to just hop their way to their destinations without much trouble, zipping from L.A. to San Francisco as the plot requires.
  • Between this and Reign of Fire I regret to say that it's in the latter that Christian Bale makes the most interesting post apocalyptic leader in charge of a rag tag group of survivors against an implacable, deadly force.
  • Helena Bonham Carter wasn't a name that floated to the surface too often in the prerelease discussion of the movie. It was a surprise seeing her name in the opening credits and odder still to see how she was used in the movie. Her appearance was... distracting.
  • I'm trying to recall the last time I enjoyed a film score by Danny Elfman. It sucks when you're the guy complaining about the band's new sound because you miss the old sound, but seriously, I miss Danny Elfman's old sound. He seems misplaced in recent films.
  • I hope I'm not projecting, but the audience seemed deflated at the end of the movie. Usually at the end of a big film like this there's a burst of applause (one of my pet peeves, but still). Here, everyone rushed out the second the credits started. The call outs to the previous movies and jokes didn't elicit very many responses either.
  • Seriously, there are like 6 references to the previous film. Only a few really work, whereas the others kind of happen - used only to remind us that they "get" that these movies occurred in the same universe.
  • It's such a relentlessly joyless movie. Compare it to the other three (yes, even Rise of the Machines) each of which was energetic, in parts humorous, and generally about living people trying to overcome the odds. Here it's this sort of dour humanity dedicated to survival in the abstract as a way of defeating the machines. I think maybe this is my biggest gripe with the film all things considered because it robs the movie of any essential life and makes the entire experience a grim, gritty, slog.
* It's disheartening Googling photos of celebrities who aren't working as much anymore. 9 times out of 10 the internet just wants to remind you of how much weight they've put on or how bad their hair is now.

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