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Films: Terminator Salvation (12a)

Lew Baxter thinks we're all doomed after watching the saviour of the human race

Published on June 4th 2009.

Films: Terminator Salvation (12a)

WHAT was engaging about the earlier Terminator movies, starring the “grip and gurn” Arnie Schwarzenegger, was the occasional flashes of tongue-in-cheek, cheesy humour as Sarah Connor battled to save her lad, John, from the wicked intents of the futuristic robotic killers, so that he could eventually save the world.

Director James Cameron had a firm hand on the first two, and persuaded us that we were involved in a universal struggle of good over evil, so much so, in fact, that the US Library of Congress preserved Terminator number one in its collection for having “cultural, historical and aesthetic significance”. As you would.

Now, after three films in the franchise and the distinctly enjoyable TV spin off, the ‘Sarah Connor Chronicles’, the director of the latest in the cyborg cycle is the marvellously named Joseph McGinty Nichol, or McG as he prefers.

And in comes a lantern-jawed Christian Bale as John Connor whose sole purpose in life is to lead the human resistance to fight the mighty Skynet computer - think internet with a really nasty streak, which, by 2018, has gone totally dipstick and levelled most of the world to post nuclear apocalyptic ruins.

Bale reprises his recent sepulchral Batman role with, ahem, baleful stares and a brittle, barking manner of speaking while wearing a glowering expression, which is probably largely justified because Skynet is mobilising its machines and Terminators for the final push to snuff out its potential nemesis – namely us.

Whereas Cameron and the Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines director, Jonathan Mostow, pitched in some hefty hardware and nail-biting encounters, good ol’ McGinty, sorry McG, has gone full pelt for the Boys’ Own all-action hero; an edge of seat, explosive, slam-bang-you're-dead kind of theme. It's Die Hard meets Van Diesel en route for War of the Worlds.

Strewth, it moves at a pace that leaves little time for gulping down popcorn. It's a visual stunner and assault on the eardrums as the human resistance fighters gear up for a “kick ass” attack on the Skynet HQ, which could be a folly as the machines seem rather on top of their game, so to speak.

Oddly though, what McG - oh heck McGinty’s better – and its four writers have managed to do is to eviscerate the female content of the series: remember the focus was on Sarah Connor’s swashbuckling attempts to protect and prepare her son for the forthcoming conflagration; where Linda Hamilton was the original siren-like, raw knuckled mom, feisty Lena Headey equally impressed in the television Chronicles.

Here the women are merely supplementary to the blokes and even when clearly fit for a scrap need the lads to step in save them from stuff happening.

Connor’s wife – apparently a doctor - is clearly pregnant and utters a few bon mots but little else. We are misled at first because Moon Bloodgood (that’s her name, honest), as the fighter pilot Blair Williams, certainly seems to be a handy kind of lass to have around in a ruckus.

But the nod to Boadicea is abandoned when the Oz actor Sam Worthington has to shift in as freedom fighter Marcus Wright, the dark horse in this little escapade, and see off a bunch of buckaroos who mean to harm Blair.

It’s a huge shame as this change of emphasis does ultimately reduce the film to - an admittedly action packed - adventure yarn for chaps who are, of course, the world’s salvation rather than Sarah and the gals.

Meanwhile, Marcus turns out to be rather like the Trojan Horse - but let’s not spoil the fun.

In steps Helena Bonham Carter as the, erm, serene Serena Kogen who works for the Cyberdene Systems outfit and who later, with a spectral presence, quite literally, is the face and voice of Skynet.

It is seeking to eliminate Connor’s dad, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin from Star Trek), who is still a young man and has not yet been sent back in time - by Connor - to meet his mother and…well… bring forth the saviour.

The main plot, then, is to rescue and save Kyle, who has been captured by a squadron of lethal, fire-spitting steel skips and dustbins after a short spell as a sidekick to Marcus who is much more than a pretty, bristled face, as Blair and Connor find out.

On the downside, there is little depth to the Connor character, or any of the others come to that. And if he is the great hope of humans then we are all doomed as he probably couldn’t even rabble rouse, much less lead us to victory although he’s a corker with a machine gun.

Oh, and Arnie gets a kind of - naked - cameo role, maybe. It certainly looks like him and his muscles, although he did come across more like the Jolly Green Giant with attitude. Maybe, that was McGinty’s joke, the old goat.

6/10: Terminal excitement
*On general release from today (June 4 2009).

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Jaysuss 3rdJune 4th 2009.

This is a parable of our times. Had Hitler had his way we would now all be fighting these machines, the one exception being that the heartlessness and logic of the machine would be in human form - the Wehermacht.It is a superior political paradigm for our times.

philly p.June 4th 2009.

Boring film for 15 year old hoodies to watch while they smoke drugs in Liverpool cinemas.Fit for morons and cyscopaths only.

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