May 25, 2013
Written by MATTHEW SCHUMANN
Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:38
For several years, Matthew Schumann contributed film reviews as part of the “Take Two” father-and-sons movie reviewer team. This week, his father Mark, “the reel dad,” steps aside to bring Matthew back to the column for a guest appearance.
It seems only appropriate that my hiatus from this column should end with a review of Terminator Salvation. Much like the Terminator franchise, my glory days as a movie critic are well behind me, but there’s no harm in giving it one more go. Unlike the movie, though, I promise this review will be short and sweet, and won’t leave you regretting the time you spent reading.
In a perfect world, we would all remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s descent into molten lava in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as the classic conclusion to a film series that truly expressed our collective fears of Artificial Intelligence and nuclear annihilation. Unfortunately, Hollywood often acts in its self-interest rather than in the interest of good taste. Terminator Salvation, the fourth installment in the 25-year-old film franchise, tries to honor the glory of the first Terminator films with a creepy computer-generated Schwarzenegger look-alike chasing Christian Bale around in the concluding fight scene. Terminator Salvation is simply a movie that should not have been made.
The film has the basic characteristics that define a bad movie. The first is bad special effects, a glaring flaw in a futuristic Sci-Fi action thriller. I don’t quite understand why production companies feel they can skimp on computer-generated visuals. The difference between good and bad is the having your audience experience a collective “wow” or fearing they are watching someone play Nintendo 64. The second is assigning an amateur director to be in charge, an inexperienced director with a cryptic vowel-less name. Yes, McG has made movies, but none of them represents any degree of artfulness. This is apparent in the film’s awkward transitions, which leave the viewer confused and disoriented. And, finally, a bad movie often features non-actor celebrities in prominent tangential roles. Though I enjoy the rapper Common, who plays one of John Connor’s (Christian Bale) top lieutenants, he simply can’t act for longer than the time of a music video.
Throughout the film, Terminator Salvation is fraught with bad acting. Christian Bale does a terrible job portraying the essential figure of John Connor, the leader of humanity’s resistance. Rather than displaying any degree of emotional depth, which you’d expect from someone with the future of the species on his shoulders, Bale runs around squinting and grunting. The greatest concern he displays is his struggle to speak with an American accent. Aussie Sam Worthington plays the man/machine Marcus Wright, and does so dully and coldly, glaring and yelling a lot. While he tries to express the emotional conflict intrinsic to a character caught between warring sides, he mainly just looks confused.
It is easy to see Terminator Salvation as just another below-average summer blockbuster that producers believe will make a lot of money without making any contribution to filmmaking. Now, not every film has to be art, but a popcorn movie should at least entertain, and Terminator Salvation fails that final, essential test. Take it from this guest critic: Stay home this week and rent the original Terminator or Terminator 2. You’ll save time, money, and frustration.
2 Popcorn Buckets
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