McG's TERMINATOR SALVATION
This is a worthy continuation of the Terminator franchise. There’s enough new stuff here to keep your attention, the action is spectacular, and the characters are sufficiently differentiated to create some dramatic tension despite being frequently out-staged by the savage action sequences.
It’s not perfect. Certain plot points are a bit obtuse (e.g., why does SkyNet need all those warm bodies?) But that’s OK. This is a Summer movie that nods enough to its predecessors while keeping us guessing about what’s going to happen next.
One very positive aspect of the film is that the machines are shown frequently enough to let the viewer see the great amount of work that has gone into design; the airborne vehicles, for example, are quite impressive without looking like cartoons. The interaction between machines and humans is also very well done, even in the confines of the final factory-space showdown.
Even the explosions are well done; the chase through the outdoor minefield is particularly well done with shadows, explosions, and beams of light orchestrated for maximum effect. There’s a weird beauty about some of the sequences that shows the very strong visual sense of the director and staff that makes this movie unique among the scores of “post-apoclypes” SF films that have come before.
I was also happy to see Michael Ironside active in the film. Ironside is one of my favorites whom I haven’t seen since The Machinist (which also starred Christian Bale). Ironside plays the actual leader of the Resistance whom John Connor challenges in Terminator Salvation.
The film is dedicated to special effects guru Stan Winston who died during its production.
Review text copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald