In the aftermath of Judgment Day and the machine takeover, resistance leader John Connor (Christian Bale) must counter Skynet’s plan to terminate mankind. Rallying his underground street fighters for a last, desperate battle, he realizes that to save the future he must rescue his own father Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). But the most shocking discovery comes with the arrival of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a mysterious loner from the past who challenges Connor with an impossible choice and leads them both on a brutal journey into the heart of the enemy.
Perhaps it’s hard to live up to fans expectations given the Terminator universe is created from scratch by a certain James 'King of the World' Cameron.
Or perhaps Terminator Salvation is helmed by a guy named McG who is more well-known for his flashy “Charlie Angels” remakes than anything else in the filmmaking arena.
But to be frank, McG certainly outperformed himself this time round given the large shoes he has to fill in. Certainly, Terminator Salvation has its share of flaws and unmatched to the superior first two instalments though definitely a plus compared to the third one. The movie opens in the year 2003 where a man Marcus Wright (Newcomer Sam Worthington) is sentenced to death row. Before his death, a scientist Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) from Cyberdyne request Wright to agree to let his body be used for experiments by her corporation. 15 years later, Wright woke up in a post-apocalyptic America, led by Resistance fighter John Connor (Christian Bale), men have been waging war against machines, the Skynet.
For the newbie audience who happen to stumble upon Terminator Salvation, he or she might be at a loss as to what the hell is going amid the loud explosions and kinetic visuals. Who is John Connor, the dubbed savior of mankind? And how is a teenager named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) be the father of Connor? Is Marcus Wright, the half man-half machine cyborg turning out to be the chosen one instead?
These and many more questions propel the plot further and manage to achieve an interesting extension to the world which James Cameron initially created while at the same time pays homage to the original characters, machinery and timeline. To be fair, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was an excellent showcase in terms of visual effects and massive pyrotechnics, McG continues the tradition with some really crazy, exhilarating chase involving the Harvester (a gigantic Transformer-like machine), Moto-Terminator and Hydrobots which in some ways or other established the power of the menacing Skynet.
While Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad/good Terminator and John Connor was the soul of the previous instalments, in Salvation, the introduction of Marcus Wright becomes the heart of the franchise, a character that deserved much more than what’s projected onscreen and truly the one that injected an air of fresh breathe to the ailing series. Unfortunately, Christina Bale’s character is reduced to a grunting angry man, a far cry to the more layered tortured Bruce Wayne. Together with his onscreen wife, Bryce Dallas Howard who plays Kate Connor, they are mere disposable roles as far as I’m concerned.
Watching the visual effects by ILM with a combination of physical effects from Stan Winston is a mind-blowing experience on the other hand. McG really knows to stage major action sequences minus the usual irritable Hollywood close-up shots and the set designs (for example the gas station’s scene) are simply breath-taking given the stunning ruined barren landscapes decorated by the production team and the chilly Terminator factory line towards the end. You got to credit the man for insisting on physical sets rather than green-screen effects Lucas’s style.
The time-travelling portion might be a tad confusing and characters such as even the main protagonist John Connor and supporting cast such as General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) and Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) has little flair and screentime to justify. But the franchise is finally off to a brand new start after a period of limbo and I highly recommend you give McG a chance. The director’s cut which is 3 minutes longer however is forgettable with just additional scenes of carnage and brief nudity courtesy of Bloodgood which adds nothing to the storyline.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
For the theatrical version, you can follow director McG in Maximum Movie Mode as he shows you storyboard, still galleries, pop-up trivia and behind-the-scene footages etc as you watch the movie. This is a visually far superior feature as compared to the more traditional or in some cases, boring and dry commentary track feature. This is the perfect supplement that highlights why McG makes a very persuasive salesman.
Focus Points consists of 12 individual short features, roughly two to three mintues which can be viewed in Maximum Movie Mode or via the main menu. Interesting segments include how Stan Winston workshop creates the Hydrobots and also the amusing An Icon Returns.
Reforging the Future runs 19 minutes and features the cast & crew talking almost everything about the making of Terminator Salvation including the story, set design, costume, visual effects and shooting locations.
The Moto-Terminator which lasts 8 minutes takes an interesting look at how the moto-terminator are inspired and created from ordinary Ducati motorcycles.
Ironically, the trailer for Terminator Salvation is not included in the disc except for the usual promo reel for Blu-ray.
Terminator Salvation Blu-ray is presented in DTS-HD 5.1, a superior audio demo piece that will tear your house down. Expect swirling aircrafts, loud firearms and explosions at nearly every corner which at times overwhelm the dialogue a little. Do hold on to the remote in your hand so you can adjust the volume accordingly. Salvation is definitely a title that matches Michael Bay’s Transformers series in the audio department.
Presented in widescreen 2.40:1, the visual is intentionally darken, particularly enhance with a grittier layer of dirt and dust to bring out the grim of post-apocalyptic America. Fortunately most of the major action pieces took place in the day which makes it less of a chore to figure out the motion.
by Linus Tee
Posted on 12 December 2009