published Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Matinee Melee

‘Terminator Salvation’ tanks


by Laura Galbraith

HOLLY LEBER: It might have been an act of salvation had someone seen fit to terminate this series a few years back. However, there’s already a “Terminator 5” in development for 2011, so there goes hope for the future.

In “Terminator Salvation,” John Connor (Christian Bale) has to lead the human resistance against Skynet’s attempt to annihilate humanity. I’m sure there is supposed to be some metaphor about technology and man versus machine. Generally one of three things was happening on screen: something was exploding, a robot was attacking someone, or people were beating each other. Loudly. Very loudly. There’s loud, and then there’s “Terminator Salvation.”

LAURA GALBRAITH: I know what most readers are probably thinking right now. Why would the paper send two young women to review a film that is clearly geared towards men? However, I’m actually a big fan of the Terminator series, and I was excited to see the new installment. The inevitable Judgment Day occurred in the last movie, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” released in 2003. I was curious to see how the survivors, especially hero John Connor, would manage in such a bleak, postapocalyptic world.

Simply put, I was disappointed and, above all, bored. Oh yeah, deaf as well, although I was sort of expecting that. Christian Bale, despite his overly husky voice, is a great actor, but he just didn’t seem like the John Connor I know and love so well. Even 21-yearold actor Thomas Dekker, who plays the young Connor in the now defunct television series “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” had more personality and depth than Bale.

HOLLY: Laura, that’s Bale’s “action hero” voice. It’s very similar to the one he uses in the Batman movies. He’s taken on the mantle of turning camp roles into a serious head, as he did with Bruce Wayne in the Batman movies. Previous reports have stated that he worked with director McG to do that with John Connor. The end result looked like Ingmar Bergman had been resurrected and decided to make a postapocalyptic action flick.

Unlike you, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this movie. It’s been 18 years since I’ve watched a “Terminator” film and though I remember enjoying it then, my tastes have changed since I was 11. But I went into this one with an open mind. However, hearing lines like: “This is war; leadership has its costs” just left me wondering where original ideas go to die. That utterance is just another version of: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Also on the note of repetitiveness, let it be known that “I’ll be back” just doesn’t have the same ring without the Austrian accent.

LAURA: I think you’re onto something, Holly. The same thing goes for “Come with me if you want to live.” Maybe the reason behind the film’s lackluster impression is because Governator Ahh-nold Schwarzenegger is too busy to save the world, again.

One aspect of the film that did keep my interest, however, was the character of Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), John Connor father who will eventually go back in time to protect (and ... um, impregnate) Sarah Connor. Time traveling makes the whole thing confusing, so Connor doesn’t actually get to meet his father, who’s only a teenager, until part way through the film.

Unlike the other Terminator films, this one didn’t have one, true antagonist. Humans are just dodging machines left and right, and while I do enjoy a good fight, things just got repetitive. I missed the thrill of the lone bad machine whose only priority is to shape shift and kill unsuspecting humans. Oh, well.

HOLLY: Ultimately, this film really doesn’t stand on its own. If you’re not invested in the “Terminator” saga, you’re going to have trouble caring about Connor, his wife, any of the resistance fighters, or why someone shouldn’t just let the already desolate purgatory go to pot. The eardrum-splitting induced nausea wasn’t worth the price of admission.

E-mail Holly Leber and hleber@timesfreepress.com.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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