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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Terminator: Salvation

Wahay, it’s the movie that everyone was asking for, a fourth Terminator film. Truthfully, we really didn’t need someone to make a fourth film, especially considering we did not need a third one. However, I will not give away my opinions of the film early on in the review, but put it this way I was not really entering the Strand Cinema with an open mind with regards to this film. For starters, the film is directed by McG, whose previous filmography consists of the majesterial Charlie’s Angels and it’s even more majesterial sequel. Now, for a man like McG to be taking the helm of what is arguably James Cameron’s finest work and some the finest work in cinema history was bound to raise a number of eyebrows, and certainly had a number, including myself, shaking fists in fury and outrage that this man could have the gall to destroy such a great franchise. However, needless to say I was pleasantly surprised whenever the film began, and needless to say I was pleasantly surprised leaving the cinema. For starters, after the opening credits roll, in which we are given an introduction to Marcus Wright, a character shrouded in mystery throughout the much-publicised production, we are blasted right into a battle sequence, which only serves to be the tip of the iceberg in a film laden with great cinematography. The film is superbly shot and looks brilliantly lavish, and one of the great achievements of the film is certainly this combination of great cinematography alongside some superb artistic direction, creating a completely credible world which the characters in the film inhabit. It is one of those great occasions in which for much of the film the computer graphics are indistinguishable from what is a physical set which has been created for the purpose of the film. Also certainly worthy of mention is the plot, which in itself is rather interesting and does distinguish itself completely from the previous films in storyline terms from the previous films in the series, which is perfect considering it seems that are attempting to reboot the series for a new trilogy catering to our Michael Bay-esque blockbuster generation. To bring the film back to its technical pros, instead of taking a page from the current trend of Paul Greengrass shooting style, which no one but Greengrass’ crew or JJ Abrams seem to be able to pull off, the film instead decides to go epic, with lavish shots of the apocalypse throughout, and action scenes in which you are actually able see everything which goes on. Finally, in terms of the acting department, Sam Worthington steals the show, delivering an intriguing, mysterious and completely tree-dimensional performance throughout, helped certainly by how well the character is written. Also, the big reveal mid-way through the film does pack quite a punch. Despite the film’s obvious praiseworthy parts, there are unfortunately some issues which in my opinion greatly hinder what could have been a genuinely great blockbuster. For starters, Christian Bale is the lead actor in the film. Not that this is a bad thing at all, the man is certainly one of the finest actors of this generation, but if you are going to enlist his talents to the project, you may as well use them to their fullest. His John Connor is completely one-note throughout, and the character is poorly written, with the producers and screenwriters obviously focusing more on the supporting role of Sam Worthington’s character. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard and Moon Bloodgood’s characters come across in this manner, particularly that of Howard. Another problem which did prove to be quite an annoyance throughout was the fact that the film is so self-referential and laden with ideas and bits seen from the previous film that it completely contradicts the idea of this being a reboot and stand-alone franchise from the previous series. It is like the producers have decided that the only reason people will get hooked is if there are references throughout so as to appease the angry fanboys. Granted, some of them are nice little references which work brilliantly well into the story (the scar’s Connor gains are the same as those seen in the Terminator 2 prologue) but others, such as action sequences which are effectively copied from the previous films, particularly Terminator 2, as seen with the extended final act in, you guessed it, a factory. These little things which occurred throughout failed to make it completely distinctive from the previous films, with most of my memories of the film coming from these rehashed sequences. However, to say that this is a bad film would be a great insult to the efforts here. McG makes his best film by default and delivers a thoroughly entertaining action film with brilliant cinematography and artistic direction and a great performance from Worthington, but if there is to be a sequel, there needs to be greater character expansion in order to enhance the performances, particularly that of the lead Christian Bale.

The Thin White Dude’s Prognosis – 6.2/10

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